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Ultimate Dog Harness Buying Guide

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Choosing a dog harness can sometimes be a real challenge. There are many variations to consider: from use to the type of harness, from the breed to the size of your 4-legged friend, from the type of handle to the material with which it is made.

Unlike the collar, the harness holds the dog by the shoulders and chest rather than by the neck; it must be completed with a leash and it is much more comfortable for the dog, even if it needs a period of time for it to get used to carrying it.

Are you looking for more information to understand how to choose a dog harness that is right for you? Keep reading this guide and you will find the answers you are looking for!

Beagle wearing harness
Beagle wearing harness

Which dog harness to choose?

The choice depends on some determining factors, especially if you have a growing dog whose measures are to be monitored.

The first elements to consider when choosing the right harness are the size of the dog and the breed. These aspects will help you identify the morphology of the animal’s body, consisting of muscle mass, anatomical shape, back length and coat thickness.

This starting information is necessary because the harness must fit well , be snug and, at the same time, leave the dog free to make all the natural and daily movements: running, walking, stretching and sitting.

On the market, harnesses are sold based on a categorization: harnesses for small , medium and large dogs.

Sizes of dog harnesses

As anticipated, based on the size of the dog you can choose the size of the harness, which is usually also adjustable, so that your dog can wear it perfectly.

The bibs for small dogs , such as Chihuahuas or possums are soft and light, otherwise they risk weighing the little dog, messing up the hair and irritating the skin.

If you have to buy a harness for a medium-sized dog , however, you must pay attention to the build and strength of the dog. If it is a braccoid or a retriever, for example, it is always better to opt for more resistant materials such as reinforced nylon.

The same goes for harnesses for large dogs , always choose good and resistant materials, capable of withstanding the strength of your dog. Also keep in mind that large dogs apply a greater force on the harness than that produced on the collar, due to its enveloping conformation.

Dog harness size measurement chart

3 types of harnesses

In large stores, specialized in the sale of pet products, you can find all types of harnesses on the market.

Roman-style harness with H

The H-harness is made up of two circles, one in the neck area and another that surrounds the back of the trunk. The two circles are joined thanks to two straps, made of the same material as the circles, one placed on the dog’s back and the other passes between the two front legs. Due to its shape it is suitable for both small or medium-sized adult dogs and puppies, as well as being an excellent harness for dogs that pull.

The advantages of this product lie in the structure. Designed not to damage the dog’s posture and not to exert pressure on more delicate points such as the armpits, the H model guarantees a uniform distribution of tensions thanks to the two well-spaced bands and to the attachment of the leash positioned in the center of the trunk of the dog.

Before purchasing a Roman-style harness of the right size, it is important to know the length of your dog’s back, in order to keep the attachment point at the center of gravity of the animal.

H style dog harness

Swedish Y harness

This harness model is made up of two circumferences, one wraps around the chest and the other around the chest, which come together in a single attachment point on the dog’s back. Unlike the previous one, therefore, it does not have an additional band on the back.

The Y harness exerts pressure on the chest area while your pet pulls on the leash, this is a very important aspect since the chest is a definitely stronger and less delicate part of the dog, compared to the neck, which protects it from any injuries caused by sudden blows and very strong tugs.

The advantage of this harness is represented by the position of the front band which, being very close to the neck, allows it to send warning and deterrent impulses to the dog. Finally, the Swedish harness is very easy to put on and has only one clip to clip on the chest strap.

Due to its conformation, this is a recommended harness for large dogs and adult dogs .

Swedish Y dog harness

X-shaped scapular bib

This harness is composed of two semi-circumferences of fabric that hold the dog under the neck and under the armpits, joining between the shoulder blades where the closing hook and the leash attachment are provided.

The X-shaped harness , in fact, releases all the tension in a very narrow point of the animal’s body: the shoulder blades. Its use, in fact, is strongly not recommended for dogs that pull strongly as they lead the animal to open its elbows and spoil its posture, causing, in the long run, potential damage to the joints of the front legs.

Finally, by exerting pressure under the armpits, it causes hair loss due to rubbing, skin inflammation and excessive stimulation of the glands.

X-shaped scapular rib dog harness

Harnesses with handle and pockets

The harness with handle allows the animal to be lifted and serves to block it promptly in case it gets caught by instinct; it is also useful in the case of elderly dogs to facilitate lifting, for example to get in a car or climb stairs, but also to relieve the dog of its weight if it has pathologies in the hips.

The bib with pockets are very comfortable, especially when you go to play sports with your four-legged friend. Regardless of this, you should buy one that has at least a couple of them, useful for carrying documents, keys and some kibble for your dog.

In addition to the diversity of models available on the market, to choose the best harness you will also have to take into account the material with which it was made and the use you want to make of it.

Harness with handle and pocket

Materials and durability

One of the variables that lead to choosing the right dog harness is certainly the material with which it is made. This aspect determines its quality, which guarantees safety for you and your best friend during outdoor walks, and durability.

Remember that your choice must be guided by the size of the dog and the purpose for which you use the harness.

There are harnesses suitable for small dogs that do not pull, usually have low costs and are made with light materials such as nylon, which certainly do not last long.

If, on the other hand, you need a harness for a medium or large dog, and even more so if you need a racing, trekking or best dog harness for hiking , you will have to orient yourself on more resistant models and products with heavy materials and knitted fabrics. These materials last a long time and can cope with adverse weather conditions, as well as withstand frequent washing.

Dog harness for trekking

Some harnesses are equipped with reflective strips, both on the chest and on the back, an added value designed to ensure the safety of the dog, especially in the winter when it gets dark early. The reflective strips, in fact, help to keep an eye on the dog and help others to perceive its presence.

Remember that regardless of resistance and duration, the harness must first of all be comfortable for your dog, it must be breathable, especially if worn for a long time, and make the animal feel comfortable also in order to avoid rejection. .

Reflective harness

Does your dog not want to wear the harness?

Although it is highly recommended by vets and trainers for the type of control that can be exercised on the dog without stressing too sensitive and delicate areas such as the neck and throat, sometimes you are faced with a dog who does not want to be put on the harness .

Some may have happened to witness yelps, escapes, hiding places of various kinds until they hear their dog growl at that object chosen with such care. All signals that your best friend is sending you because the harness just doesn’t want it!

To understand the problem and find a solution, it is necessary to analyze case by case as the reasons can be of various kinds.

Is your dog an adult and not used to wearing the harness ? You have to make him familiar with the new “item of clothing”.

Wore it willingly and quit? There has probably been some negative event that the dog associates with the harness.

The advice is to always listen to your dog, understand and observe his behavior, avoiding forcing him to do something that makes him feel at risk or uncomfortable. Also consider contacting an expert, perhaps a trainer, to deal with the situation in the best possible way.

Growling dog because of uncomfortable harness

Better the harness or the collar?

At this point you may be wondering if it would be better to go the collar route. Starting from the assumption that both the harness and the collar must be connected to a leash , as underlined from the beginning, the choice must be dictated by the breed of the dog and its size, but also by its nature. Some dogs, in fact, are calmer with the harness, others are more predisposed to the collar.

Always try to also contact your veterinarian who knows the animal well or in any case to go to a pet products shop where you will find expert consultants who can direct you to the purchase of the best dog harness !

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