Choosing a dog harness is one of those things that new owners seldom think about before getting their dog. Before you actually sit down and look at the wide range of options available it seems like an almost trivial decision that doesn’t merit a second thought.
However, as you probably already know (as you’re reading this article) picking a dog harness is nowhere near as straightforward as it seems. What kind should you choose? How are they different? Are certain harnesses better suited to certain dogs?
Today we are going to answer all those questions (and more) in this comprehensive dog harness buyer’s guide. We’re going to conclude with a review of what we think are the best dog harnesses on the market in 2018 (and provide you with a few recommendations).
Let’s get started.
Different Types of Dog Harnesses
So, before we get into the review section it’s a good idea for us to take a look at the different types of dog harness on the market and see what makes them different from one another.
Back Clip Harnesses
Back clip harnesses are one of the most popular kinds of harness for smaller dogs, they can either be large one-piece items or they can be a series of straps. As the name suggests the leash attaches to the harness on the dog’s back.
Many dogs find back clip harnesses the most pleasurable to wear as the attachment point on the back provides pressure (when being pulled) in the most agreeable way. This is one of the reasons that they are so popular for smaller dogs as their throats are more delicate and other types of harness may cause harm or discomfort.
They are exceptionally easy to put on (usually), even with the most excitable dogs. As the leash is attached to the back of the dog the potential for it to get tangled in their legs is greatly reduced.
The one issue with back clip harnesses is that they offer reasonably little control over your dog. This is because the back mount makes it reasonably comfortable for them to pull on the lead (compared to other harness types). As such, back clip harnesses should only be used with well-behaved dogs that are not going to be pulling on their lead all the time.
Front Clip Harnesses
As the name suggests, front clip harnesses have their lead attachment point on the front of the dog – usually around the chest at the base of the neck. This provides the owner with much more control over the direction the dog is walking in compared to a back clip harness.
It’s much more uncomfortable for a dog to pull on their lead when they are wearing a front clip harness. As such they are often the harness type of choice for dog trainers who are trying to remove bad behavior while leashed.
Front clip harnesses have a couple of issues that can cause headaches if you’re not expecting them. The most obvious one is that the lead can become tangled in the legs of the dog reasonably easily due to the position of the mounting point. To solve this, you’re going to need to keep the lead reasonably tight at all times and avoid excessive slack.
Front clip harnesses are certainly better than back clip harnesses if your dog is displaying bad behavior while on the lead (pulling/jumping etc.), but they’re not perfect. If your dog is very poorly trained or has severe behavioral issues, then you may need to consider a tightening harness instead.
Tightening harnesses are almost always a variation of a front clip harness with the attachment point on the chest. They are designed to tighten and apply pressure to the dog’s body when they pull on the lead to try and discourage the behavior.
They’re not usually meant to be a long-term solution, and on their own, they will not enable your dog to walk on a loose leash. They should be used in conjunction with a proper training routine as a temporary measure until you can move over to a collar (or a back clip harness) instead.
You should be very careful if you do decide to pick a tightening harness, some of them can apply pressure in a painful way for the dog – which is not what they are supposed to do. It’s supposed to be uncomfortable for them, without hurting them. If a tightening harness does cause pain it will potentially make your dog learn aggressive behaviors (and they’ll often associate the pain with seeing other humans and dogs).
What Should You Look Out for In A Good Harness?
There are a few different things that you should take into account when shopping around for harnesses that will make your life (and your dog’s life) that little bit easier.
Take into account the number of adjustable points that are on any harness you are considering. The more you can adjust it, the better it will fit your dog (and the more comfortable it will be for them). With most good harnesses you won’t have to adjust it again once you’ve tailored it to your dog – so don’t worry, you won’t have to customize the fit each time you put it on.
Harnesses are made from a wide range of different materials. Some are designed to be super strong to restrain big dogs, others are designed to be more comfortable and easy on the eye. Decide if your dog is likely to be pulling hard on the harness often, and then try and find the strongest and most comfortable product that is suitable for your needs.
If your dog is the kind of pooch that loves to go swimming then you should take into account drying time. Some harnesses are specifically designed to get wet and are made from quick-drying materials. Unless you’re going on a super long walk, it’s probably not going to dry while it’s being worn – regardless of what it’s made from. But at least it will be dry for the next time you want to use it.
Strength is only usually a factor with very specific types of harness such as car harnesses and aquatic harnesses. You need to know that they are going to be able to withstand the forces of their specific needs (for example a car crash or being lifted out of the water). Check that the attachment points are strong, and check that the material is durable.
Overall Best Dog Harness in 2018: Blueberry Pet 3M Reflective Multi-Colored Stripe Padded Dog Harness
On the whole, this product from Blueberry is hands down the best dog harness on the market in 2018.
It’s a padded back clip harness that is made from durable mesh and polyester. The padding is thick and the materials are strong, making it extremely comfortable and secure. It’s adjustable in several locations which means you can custom tailor the size and give your dog a snug fitting, comfortable harness that’s going to stand the test of time.
If you walk your dog late at night you’ll already know how important visibility is. There are several reflector strips that have been added to the sides and top of this harness for maximum safety in low light situations. It’s available in a wide range of colors and patterns to suit your tastes, and it’s very reasonably priced too.
If you’re looking for a back clip harness, this product should be at the very top of your shortlist.
Best in Class Dog Harnesses
No Pull: HDP Big Dog No Pull Dog Harness By HDP
This harness has been specifically designed to stop dogs of all shapes and sizes from pulling on their lead. It’s a back clip tightening harness that discourages bad leash behavior without being painful for the dog. The no choke design ensures that it’s a good solution for all dogs, ranging from young puppies, through to elderly dogs that get a little excited.
It’s got multiple adjustable points for a custom fit, and it’s made from high-quality durable polyester. The several strong clips make it super simple to take on and off, and the wide padded design provides comfort (when they’re not pulling on the lead).
Mesh: Best Pet Supplies Voyager All Season Pet Harness
This mesh harness is one of the most comfortable products on this list. It’s made from a super soft mesh fabric (that is slightly padded) to provide a gentle surface that your dog will love wearing. It uses an innovative step in design pattern that is specifically designed for dogs who dislike harnesses being put on over their head.
As it’s a mesh product it’s super breathable, which means that it’s going to keep your dog cool and comfortable on particularly hot days (this is something many other harnesses struggle with). It’s available in a wide range of different colors and patterns (we love the camouflage one), and it’s available in various sizes (from extra small through to extra large) too.
Car: Solvit Deluxe Car Safety Dog Harness
This is one of the best car harnesses on the market. Its been crash tested and DOT approved and its able to handle forces of over 3,000lbs if you’re ever in an accident. It’s made from a super strong and super durable nylon, and it’s comfortable enough to be worn for long journeys without issue. It can easily be attached to a leash for bathroom breaks along the way, and the breathable nature of the material ensures your dog will stay cool until you reach your destination.
Small: Chai’s Choice 3M Reflective Dog Harness
This is a great little harness that’s perfect for small dogs who are a little bit boisterous on the leash. It’s a front clip harness which will discourage them from pulling, but it’s also made from a slightly padded material to ensure that they are content and comfortable when they are behaving themselves.
There’s a clip section on the back that can be used to secure your dog while in the car (but this is not a crash test approved harness). It’s covered in reflective strips for low light safety, and it is also available in a wide range of colors and patterns.
Large: Best Pet Supplies Voyager All Season Pet Harness
In our opinion, the best large harness on the market right now is the same product we chose as the best mesh product earlier. It’s strong and durable enough to handle a large dog safely, but it’s comfortable enough for it to be enjoyable at the same time.
Giant: Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Harness with Steel Nesting Buckles Enhanced Strength
If you’ve got a large dog that’s going to need a heavy duty car harness, then this is the product for you. Its been designed from the ground up as car harness (instead of a converted one that was originally designed for walking). It provides large dogs the safety they need if they’re ever in an accident.
Its been crash tested, its got 5 adjustment points, and it disperses the kinetic energy of a crash across the chest of the dog to reduce chances of injury. If you want to keep your large pooch safe on the road – then this should be at the very top of your shortlist.
Tactical: OneTigris Tactical Service Vest Dog Harness
Our final harness is a back clip product from the respected brand OneTigris. It’s designed for active dogs who love to play hard in the great outdoors. It’s a comfortable and heavy-duty product that’s padded and water resistant (and it’ll stay reasonably dry if they go for a swim).
It’s even got little pouches on the side for them to carry their own little supply pack (which is as useful, and as adorable as it sounds). If you and your dog love going off the beaten track, this is a product that you should strongly consider.
So there you have it, a wide range of different dog harnesses and a little bit of information about the kinds of things you should be taking into account when shopping around.
All of the products we have mentioned today represent very best on the market in 2018, and they are all winners to have made it into this article. Any one of them is more than worthy of your consideration.