Why Pugs Need a Harness (and why they shouldn’t Wear Collars on the Leash)

Any owner of a pug is obviously lucky. Few things can actually match having this loving and light-hearted short-nosed pup as a companion or as part of your family. While their gorgeous wrinkles and squashed snouts make them absolutely irresistible, they’re friendly and silly (in a good way) dogs that love to cuddle, play and eat! Like most of us, pugs are adventurous and happiest when out exploring. This is why it’s important to take your pug on regular walks to make them happier, active and keep them fit. But given their distinctive short faces, pugs do have unique breathing problems. For this reason, you should consider their special needs when it comes to choosing harnesses and collars for their comfort and safety.


Taking your pug for regular walks is of great importance in keeping them active and maintaining a healthy weight. However, do you know that it’s not a good idea to walk your pug by attaching a leash to their collar? To protect his fragile trachea and reduce stress, it’s always important to use a proper no-pull harness.

While the harness plays a vital role in the overall health and well-being of the pug, many pug owners still wonder whether a harness or a collar is better for their pugs. In this article, we’ll look at the importance of both accessories for the pug and how each will serve different purposes.

Walking Your Pug with a Leash

Pugs are very social animals. They tend to love strangers almost as much as they love their masters. However, they’re notoriously stubborn, curious and can get over excited when going out for walks. As a result, they’re always determined to pull on the leash as they attempt to be friendlier with strangers and other dogs.

Unfortunately, using a collar that’s attached to the leash can choke your pug and may hurt his delicate trachea. And because you don’t want to risk injuring your pug’s neck or trachea, it can be proper to use a leash that’s attached on a harness and placed through the pug’s broad shoulders instead of a collar placed on his delicate neck.

Why are Pugs Prone to Trachea Collapse?

Pugs are categorized as a brachycephalic dog breed. They have a shortened head with a flat face and short nose. With its flat face and smaller upper jaw, pugs have bigger respiratory tissues than their small jaws and flat faces can allow. 

The above features have made pugs prone to tracheal collapse. When the trachea collapses, your pug will be unable to breathe properly. Some of the symptoms of a weak trachea include frequent coughing, honking cough, and exercise intolerance. Simply put, tracheal collapse is an obstruction of the pug’s airway, and so it’s important not to use anything that might put stress or pressure on the pug’s neck area.

Why Use a Harness and not a Collar?

With that in mind, using a collar with a leash can pull on your pug’s larynx, making breathing cumbersome while putting a lot of strain on his respiratory system. This is caused by the constant compression and constriction that occurs whenever you pull the leash. Again, serious injuries can occur to the windpipe if your pug playfully and forcefully lunges ahead or jerks his head.

To avoid the above-stated issues, it’s quite important to use a proper harness whenever your pug is on a leash. Unlike a collar, a harness will evenly distribute the force, tension, and pressure across the pug’s broad shoulders, chest, and back. These areas of your pug’s body are generally sturdier than the neck area. They have bones and muscles and not soft cartilage and ligaments found in the neck area.

Using a harness not only allows your pug to breathe easily when on a leash but also frees his neck from any potential injury. With the right harness, you’ll be able to have better control of your pug when out on walks. You’ll not have to worry about causing any type of injury to your pug’s neck or inhibit his breathing, which is already a struggle given his brachycephalic head structure.

Does this mean that a Collar is a no-no for Your Pug?

While collars can cause respiratory and breathing issues to your pug, it doesn’t mean that they’re of no use to your pug. A collar can be vital for holding your pug’s ID tag, especially if you live in areas there are laws that require dogs to have ID tags as proof of registration information and/or of rabies vaccination.

Again, a collar can be crucial on your pug to facilitate easier grooming but this should be done with care so as not to cause any injury on his neck area. As the holder of your pug’s ID tag, a collar is important in the event that your adorable pug goes missing.


Although having a collar with an ID tag isn’t a 100% guarantee that you’ll have your pug back if he goes missing, it will definitely increase those odds. It’s therefore always advisable to have your pug’s name, your current address, and contact information displayed on the ID tag. 

How to Choose a Proper Harness or Collar for Your Pug?

There are a few crucial details to consider when looking for a proper harness or collar for your pug.



A quality harness should be structured using sturdy material that’s also soft not just when touched but also on your dog too. It should be strong enough to provide proper support for your pug when tugged on the leash. Some of the best harnesses in the market are made from mesh polyester given that this material can provide these two features: soft and sturdy. Nylon is also a perfect option since it is lightweight, sturdy, and odor resistant.

Flexible Sizing Adjustments

It’s vital to look for harnesses that are specifically designed for the pug. These harnesses should be adjustable to create a perfect fit. For instance, the harness shouldn’t be too big to allow your pug to easily slip out or get jumbled in the straps. Similarly, the harness shouldn’t be too tight to the point of cutting into your pug’s skin or make him uncomfortable.

Measure the Harness around Your Pug’s Ribcage

While most harnesses are available in various sizes, it’s always advisable to go for a harness that has multiple adjustable features and straps for perfect fit. Better still, it’s best to know the actual measurement. This could mean measuring the harness around your pug’s ribcage and ensuring that it fits perfectly before spending your money on it.

Basically, the correct harness size is essential in keeping your pug happy and safe. You should keep in mind that the width of the harness strap should be half an inch for a puppy pug. You can also go for a three quarter to one inch for an adult pug depending on your pug’s size and weight.

Non-Chafing Material

Nylon and polyester are the best materials for your pug’s harness. This is because they’re soft materials that are gentler on your pug’s skin. You should keep in mind that harnesses can rub and chafe the pug’s skin.

For this reason, it’s quite important to use a harness made with a non-chafing material. Pugs have sensitive skin that can be irritated easily and suffer from skin allergies. You should therefore go for a harness that won’t cause skin irritation. Some of the best harness models to choose from include Puppia and Pupteck.

No-pull Design

It’s advisable to go for a no-pull harness since they gently tighten around the pug’s chest whenever he attempts to pull. This will not only discourage him from pulling the harness but will not cause any pain or injury whenever he pulls.

In essence, a no-pull harness helps in spreading the pressure around your pug’s torso, thereby reducing stress and leaving the airway and neck area free, unobstructed, and protected from any likely injury.

It should be Easy to Use

Unlike collars with ID tags, harnesses aren’t meant to be worn by your pug all the time. Instead, you should only put your pug on a harness when taking him out for a walk. It’s therefore imperative to go for a harness that’s easy to put on and remove. Look for a harness that’s designed with quick-snap buckles to make using it a simple and direct process.

On the same note, most harnesses that are currently available in the market are designed with straps with different color codes to ensure that you’re putting everything in the right place and as required.


As we’ve mentioned, having a collar for your pug is also vital particularly in terms of holding his ID tag and other pertinent information. When choosing the perfect collar for your pug, you should look for these features:

Size and Width

It’s vital to choose a collar that’s wide enough; not too big and not too small. This is crucial in providing adequate support and also preventing the collar from cutting into your pug’s neck.

The easiest way to ensure that the collar is the right fit for your pug is by putting two fingers between your pug’s neck and the collar when it’s on his neck. You should continue adjusting this measurement and upgrading to an appropriate collar as your pug grows. 

Sturdy D Ring

The D ring is important in a collar as it is where you attach your pug’s ID tag. It should be very sturdy, made of high-quality material and durable. In other words, it shouldn’t be weak since it can break easily and let the tag loose.

Which Type of Harness is Suitable for Your Pug?

Harnesses come in two different forms: front-attaching and back-attaching harnesses. Front-attaching harnesses can be perfect if you have a larger pug and he’s likely to want to lead from the front. On the other hand, you can use a back-attaching harness if your pug is smaller as he’s likely to be more sensitive to pressure and front-attaching harness may cause them pain.

How Many Harnesses and Collars should you have for Your Pug?

It’s advisable to have at least two quality harnesses and two quality collars. The main idea here is that you’ve got an extra one whenever one is misplaced. You should have a backup so that you don’t get stranded whenever you want to take your pug out for a walk just because you misplaced one harness. You should also regularly check your pug’s harness and collar for wear and tear although they generally last for two to five years depending on how frequently you use them.

What are the Most Important Factors to Take into Consideration when Using a Harness?

Comfort and Safety

Comfort and safety are the most important features to take into consideration when using a harness on your pug. As noted earlier, you should choose a harness with appropriate and perfect fit measurements for your pug depending on his size and weight. You should keep in mind that a harness with very thin straps may not be suitable for your pug as they’ll pinch and cut your pug’s skin, and may cause redness, discomfort and even skin irritation. With that in mind, go for a harness that is lightweight, weather resistant, odor resistant and durable. Polyester and nylon made harnesses are the best options. Needless to say, try avoiding harness made from leather materials.

Taking Off the Harness

Given the delicate nature of pugs, you shouldn’t keep a harness on your pug for extended periods of time. You should consider removing it from your pug as soon as you remove the leash immediately after your walk. In most cases, leaving the harness for long periods can lead to the accumulation of body oils under the strappings, which may then block the much needed healthy air circulation to both the skin and coat.

To this end, the importance of a harness and a collar on your pug can no longer be downplayed since pugs need frequent exercise and walks to keep them fit and healthy. While you should never use a collar on a leash to walk your pug given their delicate trachea and neck area, you can choose a high-quality collar for holding your pug’s ID tag.


In terms of walking your pug, you should choose a high-quality harness that gives you more control and support while still being comfortable and safe to your pug. Go for a harness made of nylon or polyester and make sure that it’s of the right size and fit. Hopefully, you’ll have more happy walks!

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