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Ruffwear Front Range Harness: The Fit, The Durability & Everything Else – An Honest Review

September 9, 2021
September 9, 2021

I love a well-fitting harness for a dog, but which one? This piece will review the Ruffwear Front Range harness – Ruffwear’s ‘all rounder’. 

Harnesses are a piece of kit I wouldn’t be without for a full grown dog, because they make for safe travel, they make for safe walks and safe long line use. They’re also great for scent work, for dog sports, and for day to day long walks. 

I like to see people with a well fit harness for their dog, and it’s often a recommendation for my clients too. 

But then comes the question “okay, but which one?” Because there are hundreds. All at different price points, some exorbitant, some affordable, and others are somewhere in the middle. Then there’s durability, tummy straps, handles, webbing, fleece lining, sizing and a whole range of complicated things that no one really understands. 

Yet, these are your first, last, and ultimate line of defence for a reactive dog, for an escape artist, or any dog that’s in between. 

I’ve been using the ruffwear front range now – solidly for a year, then intermittently thereafter, and I feel really confident in giving you a full review with all the deets. So that’s what I’ll do to make sure that you can make your mind up! 

Myth Busting: Harnesses Make Dogs Pull

This is something I hear a lot. Often followed by “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. That said? They 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 contain your dog better than a collar, 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

Introducing The Ruffwear Front Range

Front Range® Dog Harness
✅ On Leash Walks
✅ Off Leash Walks
✅ Washable
✅ ID Tag pocket
✅ Front attachment point
✅ Clever Design
✅ Reflective
✅ Durable
❌ Doesn’t cater for XXL dogs
❌ Doesn’t Work For Bulldog-type breeds
❌ Not crash tested

How It Works

The neck and the sides are adjustable, usually with quite a good amount of space too. It’s constructed of a basic nylon-webbing base with a Y-shaped front, and back piece that are made ‘softer’, these catch less, pinch less and provide more comfort. It also has both front and back attachments which make this harness a wonderful entry-level harness.

It secures at the sides and is really quick to fasten. Though it does go over the head, so it’s something to think about if your pup is slightly nervous about these things.

Ruffwear Front Range harness is a wonderful example of a front clip harness. Something I used with my reactive dog whilst we were learning.
Ruffwear Front Range harness is a wonderful example of a front clip harness. Something I used with my reactive dog whilst we were learning. (This may be eventually replaced with a video review!)

Useful Features

Colourful & Reflective

The front range comes in a nice range of colours, striking and bold, though not intricate or overly detailed. This does mean that you can be expressive with your pup, but it doesn’t go into the finesse that boutique brands may offer. 

However, it does have reflective stripes to it! Which I love to see. For anyone walking in the evenings (especially in winter) they offer a little additional light and protection for your pup for oncoming bikes or vehicles (Yay for safety!)

Strength

In the year Indie wore this, was the worst of his life in terms of reactivity. But his original harness’ wear and tear was nothing structural – only cosmetic where he ran through bushes and undergrowth and got the panels snagged slightly on twigs, thorns and the threatening mouths of the dogs he loved to play with and such the likes. All in all? It was still in perfect condition, just a little scraggly around the edges. 

Practicality

A quick on and off, it’s a pretty easy harness to get your pup into and out of for every day walking – even a wiggler can be contained pretty quickly with this! As there are minimal moving parts, it means that 

Washable

They wash up pretty well. They’re nylon bases so they don’t feel as nice, but it does also mean that it doesn’t tend to absorb a huge amount of smell and tends to be a sniff more water resistant than the perfect fit which does absorb water like a sponge. 

Note: Do not use fabric softener on your dogs’ attire or bedding, it actually creates air pollution and can be harmful. So just wash with fragrance-free detergent to ensure your dog is not breathing in anything they shouldn’t – no matter how tempting the smell of your fabric softener may be.

The ID Pocket – (My Genuine Favourite Thing Ever). 

I love, love, love, love this feature. Genuinely? I cannot overstate my adoration for this. I hate having dangling tags, whether that’s on a harness or a collar, and on harnesses? It often meant that to be ‘street legal’ with Indie, I’d have to put a collar on, as well as the harness, and then when was wearing a muzzle too? It was like he had all the equipment, which then looked stifling? So to have the ability to ditch the collar, and tuck his ID safely away on the inside of the harness? Was just the best thing since sliced bread. 

Now… playing devil’s advocate should he get lost, would anyone have known 

Flexible and not stiff

The build of this harness offers a full range of motion, and doesn’t impede on any jumping, turning, running, walking or otherwise. It is built as it should be, to compliment your dogs natural body and agility. It doesn’t compromise that motion at all, and instead is built around that – which I love.

no matter what breed, the ruffwear front range harness is a great option
no matter what breed, the ruffwear front range harness is a great option

Who Needs This?

To me, this is a great ‘low investment’ harness that is sturdy and reliable and will pay you back every penny of your investment, I’ve worked with a lot of dogs (over 1300 to date!) and, I will say, I’ve yet to find a breed (or cross) for whom the Ruffwear Front Range doesn’t work well for, so don’t feel limited (unless by size).

For Those Learning Not To Pull.

There is a front attachment on the front range, just like the perfect fit. So for those who are large, or strong and learning to walk on a leash nicely, this is a wonderful option. It takes the strength out of your dog, gives you great control and means that learning your loose leash? This will be handy. That said? Unlike others, this is a coated fabric attachment that doesn’t feel as sturdy and reliable… But I’ve never seen if yield any either. 

For The Practical Puppy Parent

Whilst they aren’t the most colourful on the market, there is enough there to get great personality shown, and to feel safe and secure with them on. The quality is not to be denied, they’re well made and sturdy, they wash well, and they are a fantastic option from Cockapoo to Cane Corso. 

For the Noise Averse.

Some harnesses can be loud, depending on how much metal they have – they can become quite loud? For example, the perfect fit’s front D-ring can knock on the clasp as they knock together, but the Ruffwear Front range is freaking solid, and silent. With the ID tucked away too, they’re wonderfully considered! 

Vizsla breed pictured in a ruffwear front range, notice the narrowness on the chest here
Vizsla breed pictured in a ruffwear front range, notice the narrowness on the chest here. Despite this this harness still offers a great fit.

For Those With A Narrow Chest

For long-legged, slim chest and more delicate frames? Sometimes the Perfect fit’s front clip can be a little chunky? So for them, this design is great, it’s strong, secure and fits between even a tiny little chest width!

For the Reactive dog parent

I found this harness to be my saviour – in all honesty. This harness during indie’s fear reactivity time, meant I knew I could trust his harness not to give out on me. It was never a question – and he tried at times!! Naturally he was also on leash…

And it can be that for you too. Find one that fits properly, and there’s no real ability to wiggle out of it. There’s little chance that you’re going to find yourself with a broken clip due to poor quality. Sure it’s going to cost you a smidge more, but overall? This will last you longer and be cheaper in the long run. 

For The Outdoorsy Dog

And I don’t mean the local park (though it works just as well). If your dog loves to go through the thorns, the bushes, and narrow spaces they’re possibly not meant to? Climbing rocks, and adventuring through streams? This harness can deal with it. 

Simply put? It works. It’ll snag, but it’s close-fitting, flush, and doesn’t inhibit them. Even the leash clips are small, petite, and extremely unlikely to become entangled with other things and leave your dog stranded as a branch hooks into a handle or oversized attachment point. 

Who This Is Not For.

This harness isn’t for “Giant” breeds. It’s largest size fits Indie (40kg/90lbs of dog) nicely – comfortably with a little extra room, but not a whole lot. So if you’re going much over German Shepherd size? It may be best to source a different type of harness! 

Due to the dimensions, they can occasionally present problems for English Bulldogs also.

Retriever cross in a blue ruffwear front range harness overlooking mountains
You can see this gorgeous blue harness stands out nicely on this black woof, the colour varieties on this harness are wonderful.

What’s My Favourite Features Of The Ruffwear Front Range?

The ID holder – truthfully. I love that it’s there, it’s a really well considered idea that shows that Ruffwear know their market. They truly understand that there are risks involved in larger pieces of equipment like a harness, and that any snag-room is an added risk! Their design compensates for that and allows you to feel secure in their equipment – on or off leash. 

Is There Room For Improvement With The Ruffwear Front Range.

Sure. There’s room for improvement everywhere, right? 

My biggest criticism? Is the lack of flexibility in the chest piece. Because of it’s fixed size? For deeper chested dogs it can fit a little clunky? It’s a very ‘average dog’ tool. So Labradors, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, all fine. But when you start moving to coonhounds, to sighthounds and such? That have a different physique? The ruffwear harness can feel a little cosy on the front legs when it fits on the chest.

Do I Recommend It?

Yep! I love these. They’re one of my favourite recommendations for my clients. Especially border collies and light framed dogs? 

They’re strong, reliable and a fantastic investment with very few downsides. As a ‘starter’ harness, they’re really great. The only time I would prefer another harness to this for the average dog? Is if your dog isn’t keen on the overhead movement? Then the Perfect fit works really nicely.

Where Can You Get One?

Amazon, or at ruffwear.com – make sure to measure your dog properly too to make sure that you find the right fit, as a close fit can result in escaping? We popped Shelby in Indie’s sized harness, and decided it was a nice fit – turns out it wasn’t quite enough? And she slipped it really quickly! So make sure to size it as well as you can. 

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