When walking with a zigzagging Chihuahua or a Great Dane that doesn’t want to wait for the streetlight to go, experienced dog owners understand that the traditional leash and dog collars combination isn’t adequate.
That’s when a designer dog harness might be useful and give you more confidence and control — but there are a lot of factors to consider before making a purchase. “Consider why you’re purchasing a harness for your dog. Is it to relieve tension on their neck? Is it to take pressure off their neck?”
Do you feel secure when walking on the leash? Dr. Zay Satchu, chief veterinary officer and co-founder of Bond Vet, asks. “Is it because you like the style or is it for a different reason? These are all good reasons to use a harness, but knowing why will help you hone in on the right one for your pup.”
Because each dog is unique in terms of personality, body type, and specific walking habits, each will require something different in a harness. What’s appropriate for a French bulldog may not be suitable for a bullmastiff, and this does not take into account the preferences of the owner.
We consulted with professional dog walkers, trainers, and more than one Labradoodle-owning veterinarian to determine which harnesses are the best for each kind of dog and its owner. If you’re relatively certain what you’re searching for, going directly to the table of contents will save time. If that doesn’t work, continue reading for nine outstanding harnesses that our experts highly recommend, as well as the one I picked for my own dog, Uli, after trying out dozens of them.
What we’re looking for?
Comfort and security: A harness that is too loose or uncomfortable poses a serious risk to your dog’s safety. If the harness is too large, the dog may slip out of it and damage themselves.
If the harness is too tight, it might prevent the dog from breathing properly and freely moving about. Inflating a too-tight harness can irritate the skin because it rubs against it frequently. Look for a harness that’s tailored to your dog’s size and in some cases their body type, as even within the categories of tiny, medium, and large, there are marked differences.
The greatest harnesses can be adjusted in multiple places to accommodate barrel-chested dogs as well as slenderer breeds. Some dogs, such as flat-faced Boston Terriers with breathing difficulties, will require harnesses that cater to their specific requirements.
As a result, it’s advisable to begin your hunt by asking your veterinarian for suggestions. Keep in mind that the harness you choose should cater to your dog’s preferences as well. I discovered a harness with thin straps that she barely feels because Uli is sensitive to bulky material under her arms.
We tried on a few different kinds before we discovered one that she would want to walk in. Finally, Chowdhury recommends using a lightweight carabiner to connect your dog’s harness to a collar for added safety while training. We’ll use both a harness and a collar with skittish dogs or rescues who are afraid of truck noises or other loud noises.
Designed of long-lasting and machine-washable materials: The ideal harness for your dog should be comfortable to wear all day. And if you’re able to succeed, you’ll want it to be durable and simple to clean. Fortunately, most brands consider these aspects when designing their harnesses. Nonetheless, we have given extra points to those that are made of materials that can withstand extended wear and tear and can be tossed in the washer on a regular basis.
Both front and rear leash-attachment points are recommended by Kraut: Look for harnesses with leash-attachment points in both the front (on the underside of the harness, closer to the dog’s chest) and the back.
A front-clip harness is ideal for a big dog. A front-clip harness, on the other hand, is a poor option for a tiny dog since the leash will get caught beneath them all of the time. So, with a little dog, you should use the leash clasp on the rear to avoid having the leash dangle in front of their faces.
The harness company would be a good fit for your business, no matter how big or small your dog is. As long as it can clip in the front and rear, Kraut would prefer it. Harnesses with extra attachment locations allow you to use a double-ended leash for greater command.
Although not all of the harnesses on this list have both front and rear leash rings or loops, we’ve noted the ones that do and don’t below.
Over-the-head, step-in, or around-the-neck: The way you get your dog into a harness varies drastically depending on the type you choose. Some are rather simple and involve slipping over the dog’s head and clipping behind their back.
Some harnesses are more complicated, feeling like a difficult puzzle to solve. Whether they’re effective or not is debatable, but the best harnesses should be simple to figure out and pleasant for your dog to use. Many people overlook the importance of socializing their dogs with new equipment such as harnesses.
You want to make sure it’s a good experience for them. Food is a fantastic way to divert their attention away from the fact that you’re putting things over their head. If your dog is scared of being lifted, try using a step-in harness.
Best overall dog harness
PetSafe 3-in-1 Harness
As a dog walker, the proper harness makes his work much easier. It’s a significant problem for us. We’re rushing all over town picking up dogs all day, so if you make a mistake and get your dog the wrong one, we lose sleep.
If you can’t try one on or buy it online, the best option is to get one with fully adjustable straps like the one recommended by Pet Safe. It has five adjustable buckles that may be tightened or loosened at various locations.
It also has a top-mounted handle for more control, front and back metal rings for leash attachment, and reflective stitching for safety, as well as an adjustable vehicle control strap to keep your dog seated while you’re driving.
Best harness for small dogs
Puppia Authentic RiteFit Harness With Adjustable Neck
For tiny dogs, the Puppia harness is highly recommended by both Stephanie Liff, a co-owner of Pure Paws Veterinary Care, and Nelli Chowdhury, the creator and owner of Brooklyn Tails & Trails. We adore Puppia products. It’s soft, mesh, lightweight, and very comfortable for little dogs, according to Chowdhury. They’re simple to keep clean for dogs that live high off the ground and get filthy frequently. You may just throw it in the wash if you have a muddy winter or whatever else is going on. The Puppia is made of breathable, cushioned polyester mesh and has a step-in design with Velcro and a strong clip around the dog’s back that closes with Velcro.
Best harness for big dogs
Coastal Pet K9 Explorer Reflective Dog Harness
For large dogs, we like to use something with some kind of reflecting detail, according on Chowdhury. They’re perfect for German shepherds or boxers, as well as other large breeds. It’s padded and reflective in case you’re out at night with your dog or walking him in low light. Because these dogs have a lot of strength and are rather big, the straps on this harness are extremely robust. The chest pad is especially useful for protecting sore or harness burn on powerful dogs that pull hard.
Best harness for flat-faced dogs
Gooby — Perfect Fit X Harness, Small Dog Choke Free Step-in Harness
In flat-faced dogs, whose naturally shaped faces frequently make breathing difficult, Dr. Chris Kraut, Dr. Jurema Chowdhury, and Dr. Marina Liff emphasized the need for a harness that doesn’t compress the neck and chest. Pugs and Boston terriers have flat faces, thus they need a harness that will protect their throat and neck area. The X-shaped front of this one is made specifically for that purpose, and its breathable and cushioned mesh fabric is both comfy and machine washable. It’s another step-in design that closes with a robust clip around the dog’s back.
Best harness for toy- and teacup-breed dogs
PetSafe Come With Me Kitty Harness and Bungee Leash, Harness for Cats
This harness, which is actually intended for cats, is a fantastic choice if your dog falls into the toy or teacup group. The straps are gentle and thin, so they don’t feel bulky or elicit discomfort in the armpits. There are a variety of adjustments on each side for torso girth, as well as sliding adjustments around the neck and chest, providing for a more personalized fit. If the dog (or cat) pulls, the harness tightens somewhat, adding security and assisting with training.Plus, it has a bungee leash that absorbs any shock your dog may receive when she barks at pit bulls in the park as Uli does on a regular basis.
Best harness for hiking and off-leash training
Ruffwear Front Range Harness
“The Ruffwear Front Range harness is a great choice for hiking-type activities,” Cawley says, adding that it’s what professional trainers use to teach dogs about off-leash etiquette. You may attach your dog’s leash to the front or back of the harness for extra security while training or clip it to the front to prevent pulling on walks. The harness is made with a soft foam padding that won’t irritate a dog’s skin, and the wide straps ensure that it doesn’t. It also has bright trim and a pocket for attaching tags, which are usually attached to a collar.
Best cooling harness
Dog Cooling Vest Harness
A cooling vest may be beneficial for dogs that overheat, especially when the summer heat is long and intense. Rachel Bowers of Brooklyn Bark Dog Walking and Pet Sitting suggests this one for when it’s hot but not scorching (and thus still safe for a brief walk). To make it colder on those days, she submerges the vest in water and rolls it out before putting it in the refrigerator or freezer. Short-haired dogs should wear vests like this, according to Dr. Lee.
Best harness for dogs who pull
PetSafe Easy Walk Harness
The popular PetSafe’Easy Walk harness was mentioned by multiple professionals, including Satchu, Raysor, and Bowers. Chowdhury is also a fan and uses it on all four of her dogs. It’s reasonably priced, available on Amazon Prime, and excellent since my dogs pull a lot. They’re a lot of fun, says Chowdhury. They’re inquisitive and want to taste and smell everything. But it’s also popular among dog walkers because it’s very straightforward to attach and It works in any direction, according to Kraut. The top and bottom of this product are both multicolored, so it’s easy to tell them apart. Multiple clasps allow you to adjust the length depending on their preference.
Best harness for dogs who lunge or eat off the ground
PetSafe Gentle Leader Head Collar
Veterinarians Dr. Jeff Weber and Dr. David Cawley, as well as dog trainer Kraut, suggest that a head collar, often known as a pleasant leader, be considered in addition to the Gentle Leader. Many dogs require a soft-headed lead, according to veterinarian Dr. David Cawley. The name comes from the word “charger,” which is a term used in dog-dog agility to describe a dog that charges at other dogs. I’m not talking about walkies or off-leash enjoyment. When we’re out walking, there are plenty of dogs who will lunge at kids or a skateboarder coming by. If you’re in a situation where you need to have complete control of that dog at a moment’s notice, and if you can control their head, then you effectively have total control of the situation. It’s also helpful for dogs who ingest everything they find on the street, which is a problem in Brooklyn.