Welcome to the world of tactical dog harnesses! You’ve started doing some research, but you want to know which is best!
This buyer’s guide to tactical harnesses is here to help. I’ve personally tested all of these, and put them through their paces to get a decision for you on which one is actually the best. This is aimed at pet dogs, not working dogs.
As a german shepherd owner, a lot of harness suggestions are for tactical harnesses, such as the Icefang harness, but there’s not a lot of information. So my goal was to remedy that! I wanted to actually give you the best info possible.
But, let’s start with a few first things before we move onto the best tactical dog vests.
What Is A Tactical Harness?
These are harnesses for the normal dog owners of a pet dog or family pet that are styled after those worn by military dogs or police dogs. They’re made of really durable material and often steel leash attachments.
They’re not a specific brand, nor a specific design. There’s no real definition for a tactical harness, so it’s typically easier to describe it by listing the consistent features found in harnesses labelled “Tactical” harnesses.
Typical Features Of A Tactical Harness
- Metal Buckles
- Quick-release buckles
- Thick Strapping (High D Nylon*)
- High Adjustability
- Molle System (modular lightweight load-carrying equipment)
- Velcro Patches
- Sturdy Handle
- Multiple leash attachment points
- Stronger attachment points
- Usually “Military” color tones
*High D Nylon refers to “High denier” nylon, the higher the denier the stronger and more durable the nylon!
It’s also interesting to note that move of these harnesses are over-the-head style and forgo the option of metal shoulder buckles.
They also often do not often have a front clip option. Usually their attachment points are more focused on functions such as handles and tracking.
To ensure it’s a comfortable harness, please also make certain to fit it properly. Read the instructions for each harness to ensure the right size and best fits.
And when you get it home, here’s a really useful guide to Getting a Perfect fit on a harness.
Why Would I Use A Tactical Harness?
These y-shaped harnesses offer maximum control over a traditional collar, and don’t create restrictions or pressure points like other harnesses might.
If you have a large, strong dogs (such as German shepherds) these harnesses are structurally different. They’re more harness to contain your dog, specifically made for the strong, for hard-wearing, for active lives, for minimal upkeep.
You may also want to consider these if you have a large reactive dog as these are some of the most reliable harnesses I’ve ever had the pleasure of testing.
A Service dog handler usually find them quite useful because of the strength and handles and the ability to attach patches that can alert others to not approach or touch their working dog.
You may also consider a tactical harness for your furry friend if you like military stylings. Yep, it can be as simple as that!
If, reading this you’re thinking that this may not be the right choice for you and your dog? Then go check out my 22 Best Dog Harnesses 2022.
Can I Use A Tactical Harness On My Small Dog?
Typically, Tactical harnesses don’t come in a small size. Why? Because they don’t work so well for small dogs because of the weight of them. When you compare the weight of an appropriately sized tactical harness to a smaller dogs weight, then we get the issue that the harness is simply too heavy for them.
Best Tactical Harnesses For Dogs: The Testing
I’ve actually tested all of these harnesses, and it’s safe to say that they’re all very different, despite looking very similar – and worse! The prices vary from $30 to $300 – it’s the biggest variance of pretty much everything I’ve ever tested (except beds!).
So knowing which are the best to choose, and which ones will work best to your budget or needs, is really tough.
These were tested with the family pet in mind, and aren’t necessarily tested for lift and assist, crash tested or tested in agitation sports at this time. However they are;
- Swim tested
- Washing machine tested
- Lunge tested
- Hike tested
- Run tested
To name but a few! But my tests are definitely designed for the average pet dog!
Best Tactical Dog Harnesses
- Strongest harness I've ever tested
- High quality nylon
- Forged steel attachment points
- Adjustable Straps (girth, chest, neck)
- Made In The US
I've never had a harness that can stand up on it's own. I'm serious, totally shocked, but it's wonderful. It took some time to fit this harness, because the straps secure to themselves with velcro, but it creates a strong bond that doesn't move.
May not be great for a growing dog? But this harness is an investment in your dogs security.
- Unbelievable Adaptability
- Not just a harness
- Highly Functional
- Forged Steel attachment points
- Solid handles
This harness is not just a harness. It's a system. That system? Is hugely impressive.
With skid plates that can attach, with a blanket attachment, with the ability to strip it down to it's "Skeleton", and then the strength it offers? This harness might be pricey, but it's powerful, and built for the hardcore dog who is stronger than the average dog, and made to work harder than the average harness too.
It's really impressive.
- Stainless steel D-rings
- Neoprene lined
- Little more flashy
This harness may not have an adjustable attachment on the front, but it is a wonderful fit, and feels very secure and sturdy.
It offers everything the other harnesses offer, but, it also has an added flare that many of the others don't offer. This uniqueness may not be for you - but the good news is that you don't have to get the flashy one if that's not your taste!
So if your dog is more inclined to chaffe? This one is a great option for you.
- Quick attachment
This harness might be minimal, but the biothane itself is wonderful for dog parents and jut so so practical. This one might me a little a little unconventional for the "tactical" harness list, but it is definitely designed for the rugged dog, and especially for IPO/Schutzhund and bite sports!
Note: Whilst the harness is biothane, the chest plate is leather and sheepskin.
- Lots of color options
- One Cobra buckle
- Two Forged Steel Attachment points
- Adjustable straps (neck, girth, chest)
- Made in the US
K9 Tactical are one of the oldest brands of tactical harnesses available to pet dogs, they offer a lot of strength and consideration in their rather minimalist design.
This harness ages well, and toughs out everything I've thrown at it, from swimming to hiking.
- Plastic Cobra style buckles
This is a more affordable option than most of the higher ranked "tactical" harnesses, and it is shorter in the body than most too, but the harness itself compromises nothing.
It's lightweight, flexible, and strong.
The plastic cobra-style buckles had me concerned, but it's stood up to every test so far... I'll keep you posted!
- Two handles
- Adjustable Straps (neck & girth)
- 2 Steel Attachment points
- Open shoulder space
- Made in China
This harness is the best of the "Affordable" tactical harness options, to me. It offers everything that a tactical harness should! It's solid, it's reliable, it just isn't quite as bombproof as some of my higher ranked harnesses.
This tactical harness from Rabbitgoo may not be all that flashy, it feels pretty basic too, but it is kind of the spartan choice. It's a strong, sturdy harness that offers everything you want from a tactical harness. I was pleasantly surprised by this and it absolutely outstrips a lot of the other "affordable" options.
- Adjustable straps (neck & girth)
- Steel attachment points
- Three handles
- Made in China
This harness is a sturdy vest style tactical harnesses, and it's super solid. For me, this harness is reliable, it's just a little over fussy? Personally I prefer a more spartan design. I'd prefer less features and a simple, but stronger harness. For example? I don't need three handles, one is more than enough. It is also a little limiting around the shoulders, but nowhere near as bad as others.
- Two attachment points (chest & back)
- Adjustable straps (Neck & Girth)
- Covering vest
- Multiple top handles
- Made in China
This is a harness that has a very narrow arm hole that I find restricts the motion of my dogs. It's also relatively low quality, and has a tendency to fray and come unstitched. It's not my favourite by a long way. It does have the MOLLE Loop panel (so you can attach things like water bottles), but it doesn't offer anything unique or advanced.
- Adjustable straps (Neck & Girth)
- 2 Attachment points
- Made in China
This product has a handle and has two attachment points (one on the chest and one on the back), but to me, this isn't a tactical harness, it's closer to a "Hybrid", but it's relatively low in it's quality and (personally) I wouldn't suggest it.
There you have it! With greater control offered, stronger design and uniquely positioned for powerful dogs, a tactical dog harness vest is a great option. They’re the most durable option of harnesses for pet parents (typically!), and a good tactical harness is a perfect choice for your big dogs.
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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!