I’ll be the first to admit that I have spent an embarrassing amount of time and money while trying to find the best dog harness for our requirements. I really did not think it would be that hard.
The simple truth is, when it comes to picking the best dog harness, the process can be quite complicated.
After all, there are hundreds of different harnesses out there to choose from, and all our dogs are built differently. So, what’s a good fit for one dog might not be a good fit for another dog.
This is why we’ve put together this article in which we’ll help you choose the right one for you and your pup. Let’s get started.
Types of dog harnesses
The Perfect Fit Harness (Modular harness)
The Perfect Fit Dog Harness is recommended by many vets and dog trainers in Australia, and has worked the best for us.
In fact, it’s often sold through local vets which means that when you buy it, the harness can be fitted by someone who knows what they’re doing.
It’s a modular dog harness, so the idea is that if your dog outgrows it, you only buy a bigger module and not a whole new set.
Read our full review here: Are Perfect Fit Harnesses Good?
What’s the best harness for a puppy?
The best harness for a puppy is one that’s a good fit.
To help fit a harness correctly, it’s best to ask your vet or dog trainer for feedback. Puppy socialisation group classes are a good opportunity for this.
That said, the above mentioned Perfect Fit Harness is often recommended for puppies. It’s often sold through vets and dog trainers who can help you find the right size, and because it’s a modular harness, it can grow with your puppy.
Read our full article here: Are Harnesses Good For Puppies?
Nervous dog harness (Awareness harnesses)
Awareness harnesses are available in different variations to help communicate our dogs special needs to the general public.
Are leather harnesses good for dogs?
Leather harnesses are good for dogs as long as they’re a good fit. It’s just like it is with all other harnesses really, and the main difference is the material.
In fact, most dog owners use leather products because it’s their preferred material for one of the following reasons:
- Leather is a natural material and a by-product from the meat industry
- It’s durable and can last a lifetime if it’s well-cared for
- Appreciation for the craftsmanship of leatherwork
Read our full article here: Where To Get A Leather Dog Harness In Australia
What’s the best dog car harness?
Dog car harnesses are specially made to protect our dogs during car trips.
The “Drive Harness” from EzyDog has two webbing handles on the top of the harness to feed a seatbelt through, so you can then click the buckle into your car, similar to how a human would put their seatbelt on.
Personalised dog harnesses
Personalisation adds a great touch to any product, but when it comes to dog harnesses, it also provides extra security in case your pup wanders off.
Read our full article here: 5+ Personalised Dog Harnesses For Australians
Are tactical harnesses good for dogs?
Tactical dog harnesses are specially made for service and working dogs, and they’re also great for outdoor activities such as hiking and camping.
Read our full article here: Where To Get A Tactical Dog Harness In Australia
Dog harness backpacks
Dog harness backpacks are great for outdoor adventures with our dogs. Also, many dogs love wearing them, because they like having that extra job to do, and it gives us humans more space in our own backpacks.
Read our full article here: 3+ Great Dog Backpacks For Australians
How does a step-in harness work?
Many dogs don’t like putting a harness on, especially if it needs to go over their head. That’s where step-in harnesses can be helpful, as your dog can step into them without having anything pulled over their head.
Cute & stylish dog harnesses
If you’re after a cute dog harness, you’ll have lots of choice by browsing small businesses across Instagram and Etsy.
Read our full article here: 5+ Cute Dog Harnesses For Australians You Need To See
Harness by breed
There are many different breeds of dogs, so finding a harness that’s a good fit can be challenging. Below are further explanations about how to pick the best dog harness by breed.
What’s the best Dachshund harness?
The best dachshund harness is a harness that’s custom-made or adjustable, because dachshunds tend to slip out of them easily.
What kind of harness is best for a French Bulldog?
Frenchies often wear harnesses to avoid the risk of breathing issues that they’d be exposed to if they pulled on a leash while wearing a collar.
Read our full article here: 5+ Best Harnesses For French Bulldogs
What is the best harness for a Greyhound?
The best fitting harnesses for Greyhounds are often custom-made or specially made for the breed.
Greyhounds have a lean head and relatively long body, which is why many regular harnesses aren’t a good fit for Greyhounds.
Read our full article on Greyhound harnesses here: Where To Get A Greyhound Harness In Australia (4+ Recommendations)
What’s the best harness for a Chihuahua?
Because Chihuahua’s are such a small breed, the best harness for a Chihuahua is often either an adjustable harness, or a custom-made harness, as they can slip out of harnesses that aren’t a good fit easily!
Read our full article here: What’s The Best Harness For A Chihuahua?
What’s the best harness for a Staffy?
The best harness for a Staffy is typically one with a soft inner lining (such as fleece), to protect their skin as they have short fur.
Why use a harness for a dog?
Dogs need to be exercised to assure their well-being, and in most public places the law requires us to have our dog on a leash. The leash needs to be attached somewhere, and that’s typically a collar or harness.
If you’re wondering why someone would use a harness for their dog rather than a collar, the answer typically is to prevent potential health issues further down the track if you have a dog who pulls strongly.
How To Fit A Dog Harness
A harness is far less likely to hurt our dogs as opposed to a dog collar, but it’s all in the fitting. When fitting a harness, it’s important to to ensure that when there is tension on the lead, the strap over your dog’s chest does not impinge on their windpipe or gullet.
You also need to make sure that the harness is not impinging your dog’s shoulders. It can cause issues if the straps of a harness do not allow for the shoulder blade to ‘float’ over the body as it should.
To fit a harness you want to measure your dog in two places:
- Around his neck where the collar normally sits, and
- Around the thickest portion of your dog’s chest.
You can do this with a tape measure or with a piece of string and measure against a ruler if you don’t have a tape measure.
The Anatomy Of A Dog Harness
It seems that even though many dogs commonly wear a harness, not much is understood regarding the biomechanical impact of their use.
Overall, there appears to be consensus that a harness is more comfortable for dogs and better for their health by putting less stress on a dog’s neck than a collar.
Most modern dog harnesses are divided in two groups:
These Harnesses are positioned between the neck and shoulder joints of our dogs. That’s because the most stable and robust part of a dog is the chest. So, with a Y-Harness the strength of the spine and chest muscles can be used to the fullest extent, which means he can pull in an efficient, ergonomic manner.
Breast Strap Harnesses (also known as Chest Harnesses)
This type of harness connects a dogs two shoulder joints horizontally at the level of the chest bone. They are often easier to put on than a Y-Harness, but need to be well-fitted as it will otherwise pull over the head easily.
Can A Harness Hurt Your Dog?
Yes, in some cases a harness can hurt your dog. The harness must be well-fitted, as incorrectly fitted harnesses can have a bad impact on your dog’s mobility. Incorrect mobility can lead to joint conformation and function, which in turn can lead to abnormal wear, which can cause inflammation and arthritic conditions.
Always make sure that your dog’s harness is well-fitted, and teach your dog how to walk on a loose-leash as soon as possible to avoid pulling, which will otherwise cause a negative impact on your dog’s body.
Which Harness Is The Safest?
Be cautious of harness reviews. All dogs are different, so there isn’t one fit or make for all. For example, long-legged dog breeds will need differently adapted harnesses than other dogs. The length of the back of your dog plays a decisive role in the right choice of dog harness.
That said, there are a few things to watch out for when buying a harness:
- First of all, the harness must be properly adjusted for your dog. One of the most important aspects when buying a dog harness is the right fit.
- Make sure that when there is tension on the lead, the strap over your dog’s chest does not impinge on their windpipe or gullet.
- An adjustable waist belt prevents pressure on the spine and enables individual size adjustments to your dog
- Ideally, the buckles for putting the harness on and off are on the back, which makes it easy to put it on and off.
- Be aware that the harness is not impinging the shoulders of your dog. If the straps of the harness do not allow for your dog’s shoulder blade to ‘float’ over the body as it should it can cause issues.
Are Collars Bad For Dogs?
Collars can be bad for dogs that pull. The area around a dogs throat is one of the most vulnerable parts of their body. The neck contains many veins, glands and muscles, which collars can both irritate and damage, especially when your dog pulls.
So, if your dog tends to pull, dog collars can lead to the following problems:
- Irritate a sensitive throat
- Thyroid disorders
- Unintended posturing of a dogs head when meeting another dog face to face
- Eye problems
- Damage to the Trachea
Discomfort Can Cause Reactivity
There are various results from clinical studies that show how tension in the cervical spine in dogs can lead to the same symptoms as in humans, e.g. dizziness, headaches, and pain.
Dogs can’t tell us about their pain, at least not by using words, so it’s possible that reactive behaviour on walks can be due to a bad choice of collar or harness (a harness needs to be well-fitted, I’ll explain this in more detail further down below).
I hope this article has been helpful for you.
Personally, my biggest takeaway is that there’s no single one dog harness that’s the best fit for every dog, because all dogs are different. Both in physique and trainability when it comes to loose-leash walking.
If you get stuck, have a chat to your local vet and go by their recommendation.
- Writtle University College – A Systematic Review of the Biomechanical Effects of Harness and Head-Collar use in Dogs
- The Bharcs Blog – A myotherapists perspective on harnesses
- WholeDog Journal – The No-Pull Harness Debate