RUFFWEAR _In my opinion, the Anny X Fun is currently the best everyday harness for dogs thanks to its great fit and adjustment options! The dog harness with neoprene from Hunter® is a well-made harness with a good fit, especially for larger dogs. This harness is designed for small dogs, but will also provide good support for puppies and active large dogs if it suits the individual dog.
In the “collar or harness” debate, I advise teaching the dog to accept both and to be guided by them in a mannerly manner.
However, since it is often unavoidable in normal everyday life that the dog pulls here and there or that someone other than you holds the leash, a good dog harness is the significantly healthier alternative for the cervical spine and the dog’s respiratory tract, this is particularly important for dog harnesses for puppies !
When looking for a good everyday harness, you quickly notice that there is a breathtakingly large number of different models and that there are considerable differences in quality between different dog harnesses.
So that you don’t have to struggle through the jungle of offers, I’ve taken a closer look at the top dog harnesses that are usually recommended. Here I share my insights about what makes a good harness and why some models are recommended more often than others or come out as test winners in dog harness tests.
The best harnesses for dogs at a glance
I have already written about the criteria for a good fit in a dog harness. Therefore, I will not even list dog harnesses that are difficult to carry for the dog. Please note, of course, that not every harness fits every dog’s body equally well and that it is normal to have to search a bit.
So here are the harnesses that I think are the most suitable after many years of dog ownership.
Anny•X HarnessIn my opinion, the currently best harness for large dogs with an athletic build such as German Shepherds, slim Labradors, or Border Collies. But even with smaller dogs and above all with dogs with a body that does not quite correspond to the standard, you will find a really good product here thanks to the great adjustment options, which fit many dogs very well!
Otherwise, be sure to check out the harnesses with a front clip. Even if you don’t want to use this option at all, you will find other dog harnesses with a good fit that are suitable for everyday use.
ANNY X DOG HARNESS ‘FUN’
The Anny x dog harness can be adjusted for almost all dogs thanks to its fit and the many adjustment options so that it sits almost perfectly.
- Very, very good workmanship
- Very high wearing comfort
- Lots of setting options
- No reflectors (but they are in the Protect series )
- Not suitable for short wide dogs
Processing and materials
My opinion: clear purchase recommendation! If your dog is one of the lucky majority that fits this harness, then you really don’t need to look any further for a great dog harness.
The harness doesn’t fit my older little Schnauzer girl. It’s kind of too short and lumpy to hold the chest ring in place, so it slips forward as she walks.
Tip: You can sometimes find this dog harness directly from the manufacturer in special edition colors!
CURLI BELKA COMFORT
The dog harness from Curli inspires me with its great fit for large, athletic dogs with long and deep chests.
- Great workmanship
- Very high wearing comfort
- Grab handle
- Two leash rings
- Harness length is not adjustable
- May roll over short-built dogs
Processing and materials
My opinion: Purchase recommendations for all dogs for whom other dog harnesses are always too short and too close to the armpits!
HUNTER NEOPRENE HARNESS
The dog harness with neoprene from Hunter is a very high-quality branded harness that has few adjustment options and does not fit every dog.
- Very, very good workmanship
- Very high wearing comfort
- Adjustable underbust strap
- The neck opening and back strap are not adjustable
- Turns out small, possibly order a larger
- No reflectors
Processing and materials
My Opinion: If the dog doesn’t happen to fit a standard size, then this harness will slip and be way too tight around the head and armpits. However, if it fits, you get an absolutely great dog harness with high-quality workmanship.
For the hunter neoprene harness
RUFFWEAR AND LIGHT
The ‘lightweight’ harness from Ruffwear can’t keep up with the cult harness of this manufacturer (I mean the Front Range Harness, which you can find in the harnesses with breast ring ) in terms of adjustment options, but it is a great lightweight alternative for dogs in the medium size range without a lot of frills and extra light wearing comfort.
- Abrasion and dirt resistant
- With reflectors
- Extremely light
- Little setting options
- Turns out small
- Leash ring with an opening that is too small for very large carabiners
Processing and materials
My opinion: For medium-sized to large dogs with a not-too-long physique, you will find a high-quality, uncomplicated, and above all durable and super-light dog harness here.
Original Feltmann Cross Harness
With the cross harness from Feltmann, the underbust bar is widened so that cutting and slipping are prevented. It’s a mystery to me why these harnesses are still relatively unknown.
- With reflectors
- Very soft
- Deep neck opening
- No padding
- No adjustment options on the back bridge
Processing and materials
My opinion: Clear purchase recommendation for everyone who just wants to buy a simple nylon harness, but still values a good fit.
Special fit: Feltmann® for bullies and pugsWith this pug harness from Feltmann® you get all the advantages of these harnesses with a fit that is designed for stocky dog bodies.
Nylon harnesses from various suppliers
The Hunter® Vario RapidThe Vario harnesses from Hunter® are perfectly adequate if your dog does not constantly walk on the harness and you are only looking for a harness for in-between.
Wolters Professional ComfortThe nylon harness from Wolters® is padded in strategically important places and is absolutely comparable to other high-quality branded harnesses
HAVNBERG dog harnesses nylon harnesses in an H-shape and many colorful patterns® are available in many different very colorful designs (on the sales page you can click on the brand name under the product title and you will find the dealer shop there).
The “best dog harness”, does that exist?
No of course not. Even if some websites would like to sell it that way.
I think the Anny•X harness should fit most dogs well, but certainly not all of our dogs!
Every dog is shaped differently. And since it depends very individually on the adjustment options, the cut shape, and the different size specifications of the manufacturer, how well an individual harness fits an individual dog.
It is always best to try them on in a specialist shop, but very few of us are lucky enough to have a well-stocked pet shop around the corner.
Even here in the big city, you usually only find a small range of relevant wholesale goods.
It is absolutely normal to try out several harnesses for individual dogs until finally, one fits perfectly. Don’t despair!
What is a harness?
It is nowhere defined what exactly constitutes a harness or harness for dogs. Basically, all dog harnesses are placed around the chest and are designed to lead the dog in everyday life.
In order to use the term “lead harness” is common for harnesses that, in contrast to special harnesses, are intended for everyday walks and normal everyday life with a dog and do not belong to one of the other types of harnesses.
Harnesses consist of a neck ring and a chest strap, which are connected to each other via the back strap and the waist strap (or: under-breast strap).
Areas of application for a harness
Lead harnesses are designed as everyday harnesses.
A good harness allows free movement and is absolutely suitable for running, romping, and playing. It does not bother the dog and ensures optimal pressure distribution, especially under tension.
This is very important for dogs who, due to a lack of training, are still dependent on a leash for most of the time outdoors, or who prefer to walk the dog on a tow leash or pull leash thanks to realistic expectations of retrieval in a wildlife area.
Dog harnesses are also wonderful for normal training.
I don’t mean the various dog sports, but the normal everyday training and leash training. Even those who like to unconsciously tug at the leash are doing their dog a great favor with a harness.
Since a harness should of course not sit “on press”, I recommend taking off the chest harness when swimming and playing with the dog.
Because of course, it can happen by a stupid coincidence that a branch or the paw of another dog pushes itself under one of the nylon straps. The dog cannot classify this and reacts in panic. This can lead to nasty misunderstandings between dogs and really threatening situations.
And also in dog sports, there are good reasons why harnesses are only allowed in the companion dog test and not in any further test sport. On the one hand, chest harnesses are a source of danger due to the aforementioned snagging, especially in equipment sports such as agility. On the other hand, the vast majority of harnesses do not allow the dog any freedom of movement.
And also for the companion dog test, I would only do the street part of the test in a harness. For me, a dog harness is not compatible with well-trained beautiful footwork.
Types of harnesses
Occasionally, designations such as H-harness, T-harness, Y-harness, or X-harness are used for different patterns of this type of harness.
The H or Y designations are commonly used and refer to the shape of these harnesses when laid flat in front of you.
- The simple standard variant forms an “H” or “T”
- The variant with a more ergonomic neckline forms a “Y”
- The variant without the back bar forms an “X”
The big difference is the wide neck opening in the X and Y harnesses. This contributes to a better fit in the neck area.
In order to improve the distribution of force in the chest area, many dog harnesses have a fixed chest plate. This also reduces cutting into the connecting ring between the straps at the front and makes it easier to put on, because “front” and “back” can be distinguished more intuitively.
Comparison of harnesses with other harness types
Compared to the other harness types for dogs, at least the good harnesses offer more adjustment options and thus allow an individually adjustable fit.
You can read here how a harness should ideally fit.
In my opinion, this makes them ideal as a stable everyday harness for every dog, which, when properly adjusted, fits better than any Norwegian harness, no matter how good it is. A functional harness is also ideal as a harness for training and dog sports, as it allows maximum freedom of movement.
If you are looking for a harness that is intended to serve a special purpose, you will find particularly escape-proof safety harnesses, harnesses with a chest ring for leashing in the chest area, harness for pulling dogs or hiking harnesses, which can also be used as carrying aids and supports for frail dogs.
However, the straps on very small dogs are sometimes a bit thick, so you should definitely take a look at the step-in harnesses and soft harnesses for toy dogs.
Pros and cons of harnesses on dogs
Here is an overview of all the points that need to be considered before buying crockery:
Advantages of normal chest harnesses
- With high-quality H-harnesses and Y-harnesses, you will find options on both sides of all straps to adjust the length of the respective strap.
- The adjustment options make these harnesses the ideal “growing” harnesses for puppies.
- These dog harnesses are available in an unbelievable number of variants and often with padding and all the bells and whistles at moderate prices.
- With a good fit, no harness lies over the dog’s shoulder or neck. And that’s what most holders are after when buying crockery. For round-headed dogs with broad chests and flat noses, you will find the models with the greatest freedom of movement and breathing.
- Harnesses of this type are the best models for tow training. A wide chest plate and a good fit around the dog’s neck are essential if you know that the dog regularly bangs into the end of the leash.
- If the dog is to pull, it can use its full weight on a well-padded and well-fitting harness without having to worry about its health.
Disadvantages of normal chest harnesses
- If the fit is poor and the contact area on the chest is too small, the forces when pulling at the front act too precisely on the chest or cut into the soft tissue at the back.
- Harnesses that are too tight can sit too close behind the elbows and cause chafing.
- With cheaply made harnesses, the chest strap and the back strap are often not sewn firmly to the waist and neck straps. This allows these straps to shift slightly.
- Not every dog likes something slipped over their head when getting dressed
- Some dogs feel restricted in even the lightest harness. If your dog seems unhappy or suddenly doesn’t want to push itself back through the grass anymore, it’s better to invest time and money in good leash training.
Criteria when buying a harness for the dog
The harness is not just harnessed!
You don’t have to spend a fortune on a well-fitting and robust harness. So there is no reason to save on the wrong corner here.
Because an ill-fitting harness is then no more valuable than a collar in terms of the effects on the dog’s health.
Because that remains the real reason for buying crockery and should have top priority when making your selection:
The dog should be able to move more safely and healthily in a harness than on a collar.
The leash on the back
With the harnesses for dogs presented here, I concentrated on models that, as usual, have a leash option on the back.
This is more than sufficient for normal excursions and activities with the dog. A leash possibility in the chest area of the dog is of no use and should only serve as an educational aid (you can find these harnesses with a chest ring here ).
What I’m concerned with here is the placement and nature of the leash location on the top of the harness. Unfortunately, this is often not quite as self-explanatory and simple as you might think.
- With normal harnesses, the D-ring protrudes beyond the harness to attach the leash. At the latest when the dog is unleashed, this ring may rattle up and down on the dog and be annoying when it is pushed on its back. You can see this commonly used attachment on regular nylon harnesses and the Hunter
- With better-padded dog harnesses, this D-ring lies on the padding and the dog doesn’t notice it. As seen on the Das Anny X harnesses and the Ruffwear Hi and Light.
- A mold made of aluminum is also often used instead of a stainless steel ring. These are very durable and rust-free, but for me they are too fiddly to put on a leash with small carabiners and without good padding they press into the dog’s back like a toy toy when rolling. With the Ruffwear ® Hi and Light ™ , this part therefore rests on a textile layer on the back.
Adjustment options on the dog harness
If you have a “normal” built lean dog, you have quite a wide range of harnesses that fit fairly well without much adjustment to each individual strap.
Too many adjustment options can even be annoying here, because of course there are additional controls and overhanging belt straps in all these places and then dangling around pointlessly.
The quality of the adjustment options also varies greatly between different dog harnesses. I only presented high-quality harnesses above, but I will briefly go into the topic anyway.
On good dog harnesses you will find elastic loops and well thought-out belt systems that cleverly hide double belt straps and protruding belt ends. Because protruding belt loops are not only uncomfortable, but also dangerous, since the dog can otherwise get caught in branches when running.
If you start sweating while adjusting the length of the straps and have to tear at the straps with such force that you almost break your fingernails, that is no fun and can almost never be changed again, at the latest once the harness has been worn and wet a few times has become.
Of course, too easy an adjustment indicates that you have to keep readjusting here, because loose fasteners move when worn and will loosen simply through the force applied during a normal trot. That’s not the point of the exercise.
Harnesses that grow with the child are also not always useful, especially for puppies of large breeds , since there is usually far too much webbing dangling back and forth on loosely adjustable ladder buckles and constantly becoming loose. You don’t put an adult’s trousers on a toddler and just adjust the belt from time to time.
If you feel that the length of the straps can be adjusted too easily, then don’t bother. Then it’s better to buy one or two harnesses while they are growing or – that’s how I do it – rent them.
In individual cases, you can (or have) help here if you otherwise like the dog harness and the dog is fully grown: Cut off the excess webbing, carefully seal the cut edge with a lighter and sew the ends to the harness with the sewing machine.
Padding of plastic parts and fasteners
Because of the many straps and adjustment options, dog harnesses must have a number of connecting rings and sliding parts.
This is of course unavoidable, but can become a source of problems with cheap or not so practically designed harnesses.
Because, of course, unfortunate attached plastic and metal parts without padding press and rub when walking. This is particularly relevant for dogs that have hardly any padding fur, because here the connecting parts and seams rub directly on the dog’s skin.
But even with dogs with a thick undercoat, the owners often cannot explain why the dog constantly has matted areas on its body or hair breakage on its back.
If the harness does not fit perfectly, the material, which is reminiscent of a seat belt, can even cut into the dog.
Especially for dogs with skin problems and a tendency to allergic skin reactions, I advise you to look around for a dog harness that does not irritate the skin of your four-legged friend and can be washed and disinfected quickly.
The solution: padding, padding, padding!
Good padding not only prevents chafing. Rigid materials also prevent the dog harness from slipping when pulled from the side, but may be too uncomfortable for that. Here you have to look for the best possible compromise.
But: There is also too much of a good thing. Because some dog harnesses are so well padded and sewn that they are more reminiscent of a rigid vest than a comfortable piece of clothing.
And a fleece padding that is much too wide increases the contact surface of the dog harness, is no fun in summer at the latest and has a scary effect on some dogs when putting it on.
If these harnesses get wet on a rainy day , they will never be dry again until the next walk (a second harness makes sense anyway). That’s why I only picked out harnesses with quick-drying padding above.
Don’t forget the heat factor either. Because especially on smaller dogs, a well-intentioned additional layer of fleece or neoprene is too thick in summer and can be overwhelming.
That’s why the soft harnesses have become popular with dwarf dogs, and with good reason.
Dogs hardly lose any heat through their skin, but if the padding is too thick, congestion heat can of course build up here in summer.
It is important to find a good balance between functional padding and excessive packing of the dog.
Neckline and chest plate
Unfortunately, there are many harnesses on the market that give the impression that a breastplate has been attached, no matter what, because we owners are so into it at the moment.
Yes, a wide support in the chest area ensures a more ideal distribution of pressure under tension . However, one should note that the chest plate must of course rest on the chest under tension.
Very rigid materials and a neckline that is too narrow with a straight end are often chosen here, so that the chest plate protrudes from the front of the dog and the pressure point under tension is not on the tip of the breastbone, but either on the trachea or much too far below.
A good test to uncover this weak point is, on the one hand, to encourage the dog to pull on the leash during the fitting and to scatter a few biscuits for him to collect.
If the harness is already protruding from the body when standing or cuts into your dog’s flesh when bending over for the treats, the material used here is too rigid and not very ergonomic!
Dog harnesses with continuous padding over the dog’s underbreast also lack the option of length adjustment. If you don’t pay attention to a sufficient length from the beginning, these harnesses will be too close to the armpits.
A continuous underbreast plate naturally has the advantage that the dog is well padded here even when pulled upwards. This is particularly relevant for smaller dogs and puppies with large holders, since we accidentally pull the holder upwards.
And almost everyone has met a dog owner who has been hysterical due to bad experiences and who, out of fright, jerked his small dog up into the air. Apart from the unspeakable habit of some owners to lift the dog on purpose because they are too lazy to bend down.
At that point at the latest, a stomach plate is essential and a carrying harness is probably the better interim solution.
Small knowledge of materials for dog harnesses
Dog harnesses come in a variety of different materials.
Here I would not reconsider the choice and trust in proven standard materials from brand manufacturers.
Basically, the materials used should meet a few simple requirements:
- They should be functional and comfortable for the dog,
- They should be robust, weatherproof and durable,
- They should be dimensionally stable
- They should also be able to withstand high tensile loads.
In the end, you are usually better off with synthetic fibers than with natural fibers.
Because we must not only infer the material properties or functionality from our preferred wearing comfort. A dog harness is not a piece of clothing, but above all a useful piece of equipment.
Plastic or metal on the dog harness?
Depending on the model and cut, a greater or lesser number of fasteners, sliders and connecting parts are used on dog harnesses.
The connecting rings between the straps are mostly made of metal, the click fasteners and ladder buckles are made of hard plastic.
There are, of course, a few points of criticism to consider:
Hard plastic buckles and snaps
Leash rings made of stainless steel and brass
Aluminum leash ring
Padding and strapping materials for dog harnesses
Webbing and nylon webbing
DIY harnesses made of paracord, round braided ribbons and plaited straps have their fans.
However, this type of decorative ribbons is extremely chafing on fur and skin and rarely sits as it should.
If you absolutely want to have a visually extraordinary harness, I advise you to buy a suitable dog harness, which you can then decorate, embroider or otherwise enhance from the outside according to your own wishes.
Fit and freedom of movement
I have already written about the optimal fit for dog harnesses.
Brief summary: The dog should be able to breathe freely in all positions. Nothing should press on the shoulder blades from the front, top or sides. And an underbust bar that is too short is the Achilles tendon of most harnesses and causes the chest strap to cut into the armpits.
When measuring the dog before buying the harness, you should always pay attention to the manufacturer’s measuring instructions.
Anyone who guesses “about the thumb” can be spot on, but when shopping online, in case of doubt, they often have to pay for the exchange themselves.
Usually the harness manufacturers need the neck circumference, the chest circumference and occasionally the back length.
If your dog is exactly between two sizes , I advise you to look for a better fit from other manufacturers or, if in doubt, always order the larger size.
Owners of extremely (under)wooly dogs such as Chow-Chows or Wolfspitz should also consider whether their dog needs a slightly larger dog harness, because the whole plush is still quite thick even when flattened.
With normal long hair, on the other hand, this is usually not a problem. Here (as with all dogs) you should not choose a harness that is too tight, so that the beautiful dog fur is not rubbed to pieces.
Here is everything you need to know about the fit of the harness
A harness is only better and healthier than a collar if it fits well.
Many owners naively buy their dog any dog harness that looks nice and think they have done something great for the dog and its well-being.
However, that is not correct at all.
A good dog harness must fit well all around , even under tension , must not slip easily and should offer maximum freedom of movement. For this purpose, no belt should go over the shoulders or upper arms of the dog and a hand’s width should remain free behind the armpit.
In the front area, the pressure that occurs when pulling is to be distributed over a wide contact surface.
And even when pulled backwards (if the dog tries to escape backwards or refuses to be pulled further), the harness should not pull itself over the head. This is neither comfortable nor safe (if your dog panics easily, I recommend a safety harness anyway).
The dog must be able to breathe freely in its harness and needs a correspondingly large neck opening for this . This is not only, but above all, a very important point for the bully breeds.
How do you put on a harness?
Putting on a harness is actually quite easy and becomes much easier when you have routine and the dog cooperates well.
However, not all harnesses are so intuitively recognizable where up and where is down, which is why during my time at the dog training area, especially in beginner training, I saw a number of dogs wearing their harnesses the wrong way round.
As a rule, however, this only happens with non-padded H harnesses, which are seldom the best alternative anyway.
Since putting on the dog harness is apparently not a self-explanatory activity, here are a few instructions for all those who are desperate:
- First you loosen all click fasteners and lay the dishes flat in front of you. Do you see the closed ring in the middle? The dog’s head has to go through here.
- Only on one of the webbing leading away from this ring will you find a moveable leash ring. This harness must face up onto the dog’s back.
- So slip the neck opening over your dog’s head and make sure that the dorsal bridge actually rests on top of the dog’s back and the belly bridge hangs down.
- Not all dogs like to slip on, so always reward it with treats until the dog realizes it’s not a bad thing. If you have training experience, you can clicker with your dog to put your head through the neck opening voluntarily.
- Now connect the click fasteners that belong together on the right and left of the flank. Make sure that the waist belt does not twist unnoticed. Another good idea is to pair the sound of snapping the click fasteners with a biscuit until the dog can hardly wait for the harness to be closed on the right and left.
Harnesses for specific dog breeds and body shapes
A dog with a special build requires a harness with a special fit.
Particularly long, round or narrow dogs are particularly affected.
Basically I recommend for extremely built dogs a consultation with relevant experts in specialist shops. You have a good chance of finding a suitable nylon harness with the cross harnesses from Feltmann.
Many conventional harnesses do not fit optimally on greyhounds and other dogs with very narrow and pointed chests.
Chest straps that are too narrow slip to one side and then tie right or left in the armpit. Chest straps that are too wide or padded, however, touch the inside of the dog’s elbows even when standing and chafe when walking.
A solution to this is offered by so-called cross harnesses, in which the chest strap runs in two parts “crosswise” and thus ensures stable positioning over the dog’s breastbone.
Harnesses for pugs, English and French bulldogs and their mixes usually differ from other harnesses in their shortened back bridge and overall wider fit.
This is already the case with most X-harnesses, but there are also special-design harnesses for these dog breeds.
A particularly wide fit is also important in the neck area so that you can breathe freely. Nevertheless, even with these small bully-type dogs, the neck opening must not be so far down that it further restricts the already restricted range of motion.
With the harness for dachshunds and other dogs with long backs and short legs, you should make sure that they fit well. These breeds are predisposed by their body shape and are prone to spinal disc problems.
Nothing should press on the back and you shouldn’t lift a dog and especially not a dachshund-shaped one in the air with the normal harness!
FAQ about dog harnesses
Does a dog harness ensure that the dog no longer pulls?
No, even if some manufacturers advertise it that way. There are products euphemistically called training harnesses that restrict the dog’s range of motion and contract painfully under the armpits when the harness tightens.
I find that very worrying on several levels. In addition to the ethical aspect of using punishment in training, you should at least understand enough about dog training to be able to train the dog yourself faster than any harness.
For me, these harnesses are primarily tools for naive dog owners who don’t give much thought to good training methods or who, out of desperation, hope for the promised training success of such dog harnesses.
Unfortunately, these harnesses don’t work at all, or only at a price that you, as the person responsible for the well-being of your dog, should not be willing to pay!
The harnesses with a front clip are more practical and animal-friendly , i.e. with a leash option on the dog’s chest.
Can the dog keep the harness on 24/7?
No, because even the best dog harness will eventually get wet and start to rub against the dog. Skin irritation and sores are then inevitable.
Apart from the comfort factor, the dog should never wear anything when he is unattended, because in the worst case collars and harnesses can of course get caught somewhere and become a suffocation trap.
Can you sew a dog harness yourself?
Yes. Should? No. I have yet to see a homemade dog harness that has convinced me of the fit or the workmanship, sorry.
It looks better if you have a good template and copy existing crockery or have it made to measure by a specialist. However, the majority of all harnesses are made by hobbyists themselves with the aim of looking pretty. And that shouldn’t be the top priority.