Harnesses! With hundreds on the market, what ones are actually the best dog harnesses?
These are everyday walking harnesses for the regular family dog – from small dogs or a large dogs! These are harnesses built to withstand daily life, and they are not specialist equipment, niche equipment, or equipment that should be inappropriate in any way for day-to-day life.
From hiking trail to a walk around the block, to training a solid recall on a long line! These harnesses are the very best. And this is the only truly unbiased list on the internet so that you, my dear pet parent, can pick the right fit for you and your four-legged friend!
- How I'm Comparing The Harnesses – As a Professional Dog Trainer
- Why Y-Shaped Harnesses?
- The Goal Of The Best Dog Harness Rankings!
- Best Dog Harnesses of 2023
- Your Harness Questions Answered
- Do Harnesses Make Dogs Pull?
- Why Are Front Attachment or multiple attachment points important?
- Are Harnesses Better Than A Traditional Collar?
- Are Harnesses Better than Head collars (Head Halters)?
- How Should A Harness Fit?
- Can A Harness Remove Dog Hair?
- Can A Harness Be Worn With A Coat?
- Can A Dog Harness Be Left On A Dog?
- Can Any Dog Harness Be Worn In The Car?
- What Do I Do If My Dog Doesn't Like His/Her Harness?
- Can Dogs Escape Their Harnesses?
- Why Do Some Harnesses Have A Handle?
- Can I Attach An ID Tag To A Harness?
- Best Dog Harnesses – Conclusion
- Author, Ali Smith
How I’m Comparing The Harnesses – As a Professional Dog Trainer
- Positive only (no restrictive parts)
I’ll also be highlighting if there is reflective trim (reflective strips, either or), space for patches for Service dogs, front attachment points, and the use of materials such as the width of nylon or whether you’re looking at an aluminium v-ring or stainless steel.
Most every harness I’ve tested is machine washable – except leather & Biothane! But there are not many of those on the list as of yet.
I less so go into whether they come in different colors, because, to me, this is a “nice to have” – I’d rather have a harness that works perfectly for my dog than a harness that looks great.
This said, there is also an element of personal preference that’s hard to nail down, per se.
These are all harnesses I’ve tried out with my dogs – who are anything but gentle on their wares. Unlike a lot of lists online of the best harness – this one isn’t based on amazon reviews but actual hard testing and facts and experience! It’s also not limited by the fact that I have sponsors, or by who will pay me a commission (ever seen those listicles that only list stuff on their own site? Or only on Amazon? Yeah, that’s not me!).
This is based on my genuine experiences with these products. It’s also made with a knowledge of canine behaviour, understanding of motion.
The only limitation I have is my dog breeds! As a German shepherd and coonhound mum, all my dogs are 75-90lbs, so small breeds are a little tough to include. Eventually, I’ll find a way to represent you guys better too!
Why Y-Shaped Harnesses?
The Y-shape (denoted by the front breast plate looking like a Y as it goes over your dog’s shoulders and down the chest) is the most ‘freedom granting’ shape for a dogs body. It gives the openness for a dogs shoulders to move at full rotation when properly fitted.
Front strap harnesses, such as the very popular “Petsafe Easy Walk” and the “Julius IDC” have been eliminated for this reason.
The Goal Of The Best Dog Harness Rankings!
Is to give you an unbiased view point of how I find these harnesses in practicality. We (Indie, Lucy, Shelby & I) give them an incredibly thorough testing, and will continue to adjust the reviews and this list with our findings together.
So whilst you might find the ruffwear front range harness in one position today, it may change with the next update.
How should you use it? Take my learnings from the hard wear that a big dog provides and find the most appropriate harness for you and yours. Just because I love a product, doesn’t make it ideal for you! But it does give you a benchmark to work from. That’s my goal. Let’s make informed decisions! So here are my top picks of the best harnesses on the market.
This one includes all of the harnesses on my other lists like the Best Tactical Dog Harnesses (these can offer greater control if you want that, or are just a great heavy-duty, solid harness for large dogs!).
Note! This is a live document! I’ll be adding things in and changing ranks on a regular basis with every harness review that I add to the list. Which means that if you go away and come back? It may have changed!
Whilst I’m doing the note-thing, some of these will be affiliate links – because I deserve a little payback for all the work I do on this blog haha! But you can see that I’ve already tried all of these. These are genuine thoughts.
None of these rankings have been bought, none of them are paid for. I have not been swayed or influenced in any way – which is why as many of these as are affiliate links, aren’t affiliate links, and you can check if you want but there’s zero correlation between my receiving money and the rank of the harness
Best Dog Harnesses of 2023
This harness has seen Indie from the UK to the US and is, and as far as I can tell, will always be my go-to harness – and especially when it comes to a front-clip harness as both this and the back clip are stainless steel.
We’re talking about reliable, strong, with two attach points, and it’s snug fit and secure fit is phenomenal (like the name would imply). The fact it has 5 points of adjustment (left and right shoulder, left and right chest along with the chest strap!) and the fleece lining ensures that this is an ideal fit for everything from a Frenchie to a Great dane.
The materials are super durable too, this nylon and even the fleece wash well, and have never snagged.
The only real consideration is that the plastic pinch clips that clips on their chest can be a little clunky for lighter built breeds, and on the odd occasion? I have heard of dogs being ‘between sizes’ which seems strange, but it happens.
|Perfect FitClean Run|
I was totally unexpecting of this harness, in all honesty.
Whilst it’s incredibly simple, the nylon is the softest I’ve felt, whilst not compromising strength, it’s pure quality.
Handmade in Italy, these harnesses can fit pretty much any dog and provide comfort and inhibited movement – no matter how oddly shaped.
This harness is unbelievable. This would be my top harness if it weren’t for the cost. It’s an expensive harness. But in terms of strength, finish and even down to the hardware? This outstrips the competition by a country mile. It has supremely durable materials.
It does come in larger size too Indie is wearing a medium – and it goes up to a 40 inch chest in an XL.
The downsides to this harness? Is the price, maybe the lack of a front attachment point and reflective features.
|Modern IconRead Review|
The Nomad IHS is another incredibly strong harness, this one weighs a good bit (so not great for smaller breeds), but it's all invested in really quality materials, from the steel joins to the cobra buckles - every ounce of this harness packs a punch.
This harness, whilst a tactical harness and has a matching pricetag, is super solid, and it's a harness I would rely on in in pretty much any scenario. There's no doubt that it's been well constructed. It's only downside? Is the price.
This black and gold harness really highlights some of the wonderful creativity that exists in Britain. This one actually was designed and is sold from just up the road from where I used to live!
Slightly flashy, but it's strength is apparent. I love that. The cobra style buckles are strong, and sturdy, and this harness is also super comfortable too.
This harness may not have a whole bunch of features, but what it offers is quality and flexibility.
It's adjustable along the chest, neck and girth which is wonderful when you have barrel chested dogs like I do.
The handle? Is a wonderful addition too because it feels fully integrated into the harness, not just like a tick box exercise. With really rugged metal attachments - except for a plastic cobra-style buckle - the guardian harness is a phenomenal choice.
Personally, I love how light this harness is. It’s bright, it’s reflective trim is phenomenal, it feels tight and secure, and do you see the space it provides around the arms? Gosh, I’m really impressed with this harness.
A high quality front clip harness that has very little reason not to like it. With quality hardware, a light, flexible build and good reflectivity? This harness is a harness I can trust.
It snagged a little as Indie went through brush and played with his buddies, but it never once moved, or yielded in any way that wasn’t predictable (aka, exactly where it was meant to). It’s wide enough that it doesn’t impede motion. –
This one also has my favourite feature of any harness – an ID Tag pocket!! Amazing.
The second harness from OneTigris I’ve tried. This one arrived and I was really excited to see how much feedback they had actually incorporated from the previous review, and this one? Is definitely an upgrade. It’s not too heavy (for what it is) and all the hardware is really strong.
Another incredibly adaptable harness and absolutely will provide the best fit for your dog. However, it doesn’t have any extra padding. I don’t like that. It’s also narrower than the perfect fit for Indie’s size and lacks that teency element of being over built – but in general, it’s very sturdy, very adaptable.
It doesn’t have a chance to mess up how it goes together (unlike the perfect fit, which I’ve seen done!). It doesn’t have any reflective trim either. But the fit can be phenomenal.
This harness looks a little different than most of the list, but it's because it's made of biothane. So you can finally skip the washing machine and just rinse off your dogs gear in the sink (Hallelujah!). This harness is very adjustable, very strong and is really well made.
It has a handle, and it features brass (which makes a big change!), but it's also very minimalist in it's features. It's also great for dogs who chafe easily, because biothane is super smooth, and then with the added sheepskin chestplate? It adds that extra layer of comfort.
(Do note, that the chestplate is made of leather! It's not necessarily a "vegan" option.)
I love to find harnesses that come in strong, fashionable and fit for a big dog. This doesn't happen much! But Max & Molly have created strong, large and comes in a bunch of cool designs to match the season or holiday or anything! I love that.
The Ezy Dog X-link is a little more padded than it’s predecessor – see how much coverage there on your dog’s chest – we find it a little tight on the chest for our deep chested crew, but generally speaking, it’s strong and reliable.
Would be absolutely perfect for bull breeds!
|Check PriceRead Review|
A sturdy built harness that is quite attractive in it’s design. This harness fits better than most for Indie and features double D-rings. It has two points and is clearly very nicely built, my only complaint so far, is that there are some odd parts?
Like the loops at the chest… I’ve been racking my brain what they could be used for, and the best suggestion I’ve had is “Shotgun shells” from Mr Rebarkable – pretty sure he was wrong though… ah, bless him.
This harness is strong and comes in a lot of big sizes, so even the biggest of mastiffs shouldn't have an issue with this harness.
It does (however) only come in black and has no reflectors.
This tactical style harness is a really solid option for the pricepoint. Please don't get me wrong, there are features that could be stronger (and I would expect to be stronger for something marketed as a 'tactical' harness), but if you're going for the aesthetic, and not necessarily the strength component? This is a really great choice.
This harness doesn't actually fit my dogs - even though the measurements are correct (go figure?) but generally speaking, it's soft, it's light, it lacks reflectors too, so I wouldn't want to walk in the dark with it, but for a small puppy or for a small dog? These are a good option.
I’ve been using this harness for quite a while, and it’s a great, reliable harness that is a valuable long body harness (no escape!).
It’s not as well finished as the flagline, but it’s still a great quality harness in it’s own right. Though, there’s no instance (in my mind) where it would be beneficial to have this over the flagline.
I don’t know why, but I wasn’t expecting a whole heap from this harness – I think because they’re “Trendy Instagram harnesses” you know? But I have to say, there is a lot of function behind those nice designs!
We’ve only just reviewed it but it’s a new entry at a very respectable position!
This harness rather surprised me. It's from a small maker who is rather popular on Instagram and I was a little hesitant, but actually? This is a really high quality product! It's been well stitched, it's sturdy made and it's not choosing style over function. Which I like a lot.
It doesn't have any reflectors though, so that's a thing to note.
This long body, tactical style harness is a really sturdy option. With three handles, three attachment points and the flexibility to not have to put this harness over-head, this is great.
I also love the velcro that you use to secure the chest piece in place whilst you secure the side clips! Delighted about that incredibly considerate piece of design!
Whilst this does have a “belly strap” it doesn’t fall behind the floating rib, and consequently wouldn’t be deemed “inescapable”
A nice, affordable harness with a little more design than some of it’s competitors. It may not be the sturdiest harness on the market, but it’s quite nice, comfortable and reasonably well made for the price point.
Developed in Switzerland, this harness is very light, very long (meaning it doesn’t encroach on your dog’s leg motions), and it is sturdy.
There’s been a lot of consideration gone into this design, from gentle elastic covering the buckles to keep them relatively flat, and even down to the long flap beyond the point where you secure your dog, created to ensure your dogs back is protected from the leash fastener!
Both affordable and better quality than others in the same price bracket, this harness seems to be better constructed and offers all the same features as others in this category. It also comes in a variety of sizes.
A fiddly design with a lot going on. And there’s a lot of … excess stuff?
This harness is pretty basic, it's low production value, and it's not a harness I have a lot of trust in.
Affordably produced, these harnesses don’t necessarily fit the best for any of my dogs, They do come in a wide range of colours and it has good reflective trim!
The hardware is not that strong and even the stitching isn’t done with strength in mind.
All in all though? What this harness does well is it’s different sizes and cost effectiveness.
With 4 metal buckles (though they’re cobra style, it’s good to note they are NOT official cobra buckles and do not have this strength testing) this military-style harness is quite attractive, but it cuts in quite close to Indie’s arms, and as a consequence, I cannot rate it any higher. It’s properly fitted, but it totally limits his movement.
That’s a lot of list, right? There’s so very much to choose from, but I’m hoping you find this useful! My aim is to always be honest, to always create a reliable resource for you and dog owners everywhere to use!
Your Harness Questions Answered
Do Harnesses Make Dogs Pull?
This is a question I hear a lot, whether your dog pulls already, or you’ve just been taught from a more old school of thought.
Often followed by accusations that “Huskies use harnesses to pull sleds” and whilst this is true It’s also … not really the same thing? The shapes are incredibly different because they’re built for different purposes.
Pull harnesses (like those used by huskies) do have the same goal of evening pressure across your dogs body – but an everyday sort of harness doesn’t do this to the same amount as a mushing, joring or canicross harness.
So, yes, a harness is going to contain your dog’s body better than dog collars, but it doesn’t mean they’re going to charge you across the park suddenly.
Let me let you in on a secret.
The only one to blame for your dog pulling? Is you.
Pulling is something dogs do naturally, and it’s something you can overcome if you put in the work and train them. If you need help on that? Head over to How To Stop Your Dog Pulling On A Leash – The Ultimate Tried and Tested 7 Step Solution
Why Are Front Attachment or multiple attachment points important?
Great question! I love a front attachment point because it’s a great for leash training. They’re also wonderful for containing a strong dog, or a reactive dog.
Other than that, they allow for huge flexibility of tasks – from Canicross to scentwork. It takes a bit of understanding sometimes as to which point you might need – but generally? A harness with more points can give you options.
If you need help on loose leash training? Head over to How To Stop Your Dog Pulling On A Leash – The Ultimate Tried and Tested 7 Step Solution
Are Harnesses Better Than A Traditional Collar?
They are certainly safer than a collar for the trachea, and they should be a lot less easy to slip out of. Any dog that pulls can risk damage to the dog’s neck on another device.
Are Harnesses Better than Head collars (Head Halters)?
Harnesses are definitely safer, and much more comfortable than a head collar, no matter whether you’re talking about daily walks or full hikes. And the best part, is that you absolutely do not need a headcollar to walk your dog, every dog can learn to walk loose lead with just a harness! There’s a reason qualified dog trainers everywhere recommend harnesses!
How Should A Harness Fit?
To start with, follow the manufacturer’s directions. But a good measurement around the dog’s neck, and around the chest is normally the beginning.
Following on from that, you want to make sure that the harness does not cut in under their arms, gives them full range of motion. You should also be able to fit two fingers in under the harness at ‘cinch points’ like above the spine, at the chest etc.
How To Fit A Harness For Your Dog
Can A Harness Remove Dog Hair?
A harness that is too tight or ill fitted can absolutely chafe away dog hair – other than the normal collection of floof you might find in the crevices of course!
Can A Harness Be Worn With A Coat?
Generally, a lot of harnesses are designed to go over most onesies or sweaters, (like these gorgeous ones for Italian Greyhounds by Harvoola! Gosh I wish I had an Iggy… I wonder would they size to fit a coonhound…). Other coats will come with them built in, but its important that you check our best coats guide!
Can A Dog Harness Be Left On A Dog?
In some instances, it’s necessary, but in and around the home? I would not recommend it. Partially because it’s often then used to physically move a dog – which you just don’t need to do, okay? Learn to ask them to move and typically they will.
If, however, you’re out hiking for the day, or camping? It could be an idea to just keep a collar for ‘down time’ where they’re unlikely to be ranging.
Can Any Dog Harness Be Worn In The Car?
Yes! And it is recommended (and lots of car insurance in fact insists) that your dog be contained. That does not, however, mean that your dog is going to be safe in a crash. No matter how strong the harness is, if it is not crash tested for your dogs weight, then it is not entirely car safe.
What Do I Do If My Dog Doesn’t Like His/Her Harness?
You can always desensitise a harness, but it takes time. It also depends on why your dog doesn’t like their harness.
If they don’t like things going over their head? The perfect fit, blue-9, onetigris harnesses all offer the ability to close around the neck as well as around the chest. This avoids the over-head.
Ensure a proper fit a harness that is too small will be uncomfortable and represent exactly that to your dog, which can create a dislike. Check the fit, check for chafing and if this appears to be the case change the harness to one that fits properly and that should help!
If all else fails? Desensitise and counter condition. Essentially, make the scary harness less scary. A great way to do it is to leave it on the floor, with a whole bunch of high value treats left on it and around it. Do this exercise until you see a lack of fear approaching it.
Then try sitting on the floor, show your dog the harness from behind your back for two seconds, praise reward and hide the harness.
Repeat that until fear isn’t shown. Then add in the ability for your dog to sniff it.
Advance that to opening it up, advance that to luring their head through – with no weight.
Then leave the weight of the harness. Advance to closing the clips and presto!
As always, if you’re seeing regression, go back a step and start again.
Can Dogs Escape Their Harnesses?
A well-fitted harness is usually quite hard to get out of – at least easily. But some dogs do learn the trick of how to slip them. If your dog can do this? Or you’re worried about them escaping, a harness that includes a tummy strap is something I’ve never known a dog to be able to escape.
Because the tummy strap goes in behind the floating rib of your dog? It means that it would have to extend over the chest. With most dogs who have a ‘typical’ canine shape, their chest will be significantly larger than their waist, and consequently these harnesses become your single most secure option for containing your dog.
Why Do Some Harnesses Have A Handle?
Really good question.
Some dog sports (Bitework, usually, so IGP, IPO, Schutzhund etc) use these for easy release action. However, it’s filtered into “Main stream” use. Some harness users think that a handle can give them better control.
However, my argument is two fold, first, if you need to have your dog this close, then just slip your hand inside the harness itself, and second, outside of very few “Danger” scenarios, there is no reason you should be physically moving your dog.
I don’t really consider this as a part of the “Best dog harnesses” criteria for those main reasons.
Can I Attach An ID Tag To A Harness?
Yes, you can and you should. Some harnesses (like the Ruffwear Front Range) have a special pocket for your dogs ID tag – but many don’t.
Alternatively, ome have velcro-attachment points where you can get a patch made special with your dogs’ ID on there (which works really well). But usually there is somewhere you can attach an ID tag to – just try and remember to make it as secure as possible.
Oh! and some harnesses give the ability to write your dogs name on the inside like you might a kids’ jacket when they go to school.
Best Dog Harnesses – Conclusion
Harnesses are important! Picking the best harness for your dog is a key part of your relationship with your dog – no matter whether they’re a service dog, a working dog or a pet! The right harness, will minimise pain for them, maximise your control, and allow for continued safety.
They are used to keep our dogs safe, they stop them from damaging their throat, it keeps them safe and secure, whilst you’re out and about, whether you’re hiking or exploring local stores together. Hopefully this has helped you figure out which harness is the best way for you and your dog in order to set you both up for your best lives together!
If you want more input as to trying to find the best option for you and your dog why not book a Bark Day and we’ll discuss everything you might want to know and I can guide you through what will be best for you and your dog.
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Author, Ali Smith
Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.
Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ best pet blog!
Thanks to depositphotos.com for the images!