A harness is not required for every dog. In fact, a lot of dogs do well with just a collar and a leash, but in some cases, a harness may be needed. Harnesses are most commonly used for a variety of medical reasons, as a preventative measure, or for dogs that tend to pull a lot. Harnesses come in different designs, materials, and each harness has a different purpose. Some are specifically designed for dogs who are severe pullers, while others are designed for being used on long backpacking trips. It is important to find the type of harness that is designed for your needs. Using a harness that is used specifically for pulling might be counterproductive if you use it while taking your dog for a long run. In this article, we break down different types of harnesses for a variety of purposes to assist you in choosing the best harness for your dog.
ANALYSIS & AWARD WINNERS:
Best dog harness: Tallup dog harness
The Tallup dog harness ranks in as best harness due to its functionality and comfortability for all different types of dogs. Its design works well to reduce tugging and pulling in small and large dogs alike. The harness itself is soft and comfortable and it has a padded neck opening which reduces irritation to your dog’s skin. With the adjustable neck and chest straps, the harness can be fitted for your specific dog’s body type. In addition, the harness also has reflective strips to make your dog visible at night. The handle on the back allows for you to obtain greater control over your dog when the leash is not enough. Overall, the Tallup harness is the best dog harness because it is useful for all different sizes of dogs, but it works for a variety different behaviors in which a dog requires a harness for.
Best harness for puppies: Lupine Originals Roman Harness
Lupine Originals Roman Harness takes second place due to it’s all around quality and ability to fit a wide range of dogs. The harness has a different design compared to the Tallup harness. Instead of having to clasps, one on the chest and one under the belly, the Roman harness slips over the dog’s head, the dog’s legs step through, and then it has one clasp on the back. The Lupine originals roman harness is the best harness for puppies because it is not overly bulky, adjusts easily to your growing puppy, and also is guaranteed even if chewed. The harness comes in a variety of sizes and designs, and as a bonus, the company also has a variety of matching collars, leashes, and key chains for all your needs.
Best harness for active dogs: Ruffwear- web master multi-use harness
For the adventurous canine, the Ruffwear – web master multi-use harness is the best harness for the job. The anatomical design and customizable fit guarantee comfort for all different types of dogs and allow for extended wear. It includes secure leash attachment points and a padded handle but also has a unique third strap to provide extra support. The harness is recommended by adventures for all your camping, climbing, and hiking needs. A backpack can be purchased to attach to the harness for those extra long excursions. In addition, the harness is used and recommended by veterinarians to help support dogs who have had some major surgeries and also assist older dogs with ailments such as arthritis.
Best harness for large dogs: Big dog soft no pull reflective harness
The Big dog no pull reflective harness is very similar to the Tallup dog harness, but it has a little more surface area and is sturdier for larger dogs. The fast drying durable fabric, neoprene lining, and adjustable straps ensure a comfortable design for wear. In addition, the nylon handle allows for greater control and can assist with training your large breed dog. In review, the harness does have one flaw in which the straps tend to loosen up with use. If using this harness, make sure to check straps frequently, especially with dogs who tend to pull a lot, and also have a collar for secondary leash attachment if needed.
Best harness for small dogs: Puppia Dog Harness
Small dogs tend to need harnesses the most frequently and out of all the harnesses available, the Puppia dog harness was deemed the best for small dogs. The harness has a lightweight, flexible design to protect the neck, back, and trachea and yet it doesn’t weigh them down. The harness itself is machine washable and easy to use. Primarily this harness is used to protect the health needs of small dogs and is not used to deter pulling.
Factors to consider when starting your harness search:
- What type of dog do you have, are they large, small, narrow chested, short nosed? The anatomy of dogs vary and you may have to search for a harness that will fit your dog right. Feel free to discuss this with your veterinarian at your next check-up to see if they have any recommendations.
- What would you like to do with your dog? If you are just planning on taking your dog around the block every evening for a potty break, your needs might differ from those who are wanting to take their pooch on a run. Look for a harness that will fit into your lifestyle and activities.
- What does your dog need? If your dog is a puller they may need a sturdy harness that is more geared towards reducing or stopping pulling compared to those that are used just to protect the neck and trachea.
- Does your dog need a harness for medical reasons? If so, the first step is to talk to your veterinarian about your dog’s specific needs. They will usually be a wonderful guide on what type of harness you should get and may even know the best place in which to purchase it.
A harness is a wonderful way to walk your dog, but it is recommended to still keep a collar on your dog if you are using a harness. The collar has your dog’s identification tag on it which is important when you are leaving the house, but it also can serve as a secondary measure if something goes wrong with your harness. Some dogs are amazing and can escape out of anything and a harness is no exception. When you first start using a harness, put it on your dog in the safety of your home. More than likely they will try and bite at it or try to get it off by rolling on the floor and against the furniture. Let them do this for a little bit, but then also distract them with positive re-enforcement. Ask them to do tricks and get rewards for them. Feed them dinner when the have the harness on. Make it familiar to them and when they get relatively comfortable with it, then you can take them out for their first walk with the harness. Doing this step by step process and getting them familiarized to the feel of the harness will make that first walk a whole lot easier and enjoyable.
When using a harness check the fitting frequently and look to see if there are any pressure sores or areas of irritation. Make sure to check all the areas in which the harness may rub just to confirm that the fit is right. These areas may be red, have hair loss, or in some cases even have some bruising. Unless your harness is specifically made for use over long periods of time, only use it when needed, such as going out on walks. If you leave the harness on for an extended amount of time it may cause pressure sores or open wounds.
This can be one of the most difficult challenges when looking for harnesses. When looking online, look at the reviews for the harness you are interested in. A lot of people will post about fittings for their specific type of dog. This will help guide you in what will and will not work for your dog, after that I would recommend going to a pet store with your dog and actually trying on harnesses to see what works. The most common comment from online harness purchases is the fact that they run smaller than the guide. If purchasing a harness online, consider measuring your dog using the guidelines they recommend and then adding 5% to whatever those measurements are. If you are using a harness for a specific medical need, talk to your veterinarian and see what they recommend.
Harnesses can protect your dog’s health:
Not all dogs will need a harness, but for some dog breeds it is recommended for their health and physical wellbeing. In general, almost all small dogs can benefit from using a harness. A harness protects a small dog’s trachea, neck, and back. When a small dog wears a collar and pulls on their leash they cause pressure and small amounts of trauma to the trachea. The longer this trauma and pressure goes on, the more likely a small dog can develop a dry cough, respiratory distress, and issues with drinking and eating.
For brachycephalic breeds, also known as short nosed or smashed faced breeds, harnesses also are recommended over the use of a collar. Usually these types of breeds are already prone to having respiratory issues and the tugging and pulling of a collar can exacerbate these issues. Using a harness that protects the neck and trachea but is also light will help protect these types of breeds.
Lastly, dogs that are prone to back or disc disease, such as dachshunds, can highly benefit from using a harness. Though it will not fully prevent them from having an injury to their back or developing the disease, it will help reduce any additional strain that a collar can cause.
For all your medical questions, always refer to your veterinarian for final guidance in decision-making. This information is just a guide to help you choose a harness that is best for your dog.