Walking your dog should be a walk in the park. We mean that figuratively, though you can also take it literally if you want to. But not all of us have a perfectly well-behaved pooch. A collar and leash is good enough for dogs that never pull, jump on people, and zigzag around. Dogs that do all those things and more require something a little different – a harness.
A dog harness makes it easier to control and manage your dog while you’re out of the house. You can use it to train your pup proper manners; a harness helps discourage a dog from pulling. More importantly, it prevents your dog from getting injured. A harness does not put pressure on your dog’s neck that can cause him to choke or injure his trachea. In addition, it can prevent your little escape artist from getting away.
Just like with collars, you can find dog harnesses everywhere. There are several types available – Roman harness, no-pull harness, and multi-use harness. You’ll find padded harnesses and ones that feature reflective stitching. Some are best for large dogs while others are designed for small ones. You’ll even find dog harnesses with more than one attachment point (chest and back). The question you have to ask is, what’s the best dog harness in 2021 for my favorite pooch? Well, that’s what we’re here for. Our brief guide should give you an idea of what features to look for as well as how to safely use a dog harness. Below that, you’ll find the dog harnesses that are the best in the market according to the battery of tests conducted by our team (pets included!).
How to Choose a Dog Harness
Your dog’s harness should fit properly to ensure your dog’s safety and comfort. To get the right size for your dog, you will need to measure his chest (the widest part of his torso) and his lower neck. Add two inches on your measurement to allow for adjustment. If your measurements fall between two sizes, choose the larger size.
You should consider if the harness has secure attachment points that won’t break even when your pup pulls with all his might. The buckles should be easy to use, but won’t accidentally open while you’re out walking with your dog.
Your dog should feel comfortable while wearing the dog harness. It shouldn’t cause skin irritations and/or fur loss. Find a harness that features soft straps and extra padding for maximum comfort.
Naturally, you’ll want a dog harness that’s easy to clean. Get a machine-washable one if possible to make cleaning it stress-free.
How to Safely Use a Dog Harness
Before you start strapping the harness on your dog, you should first read the instructions carefully. Take the harness out of the packaging and leave it on the floor along with a treat or two. Let your dog sniff it and associate the harness with treats.
When you put the harness on your dog, make sure he is calm and in a standing or sitting position. Once you’ve buckled the harness, make sure to adjust the fit. You should be able to put two fingers between your dog’s body and the strap. Attach the leash and try pulling the harness to test if the harness is secure. It will take some practice to become familiar with how the harness works. The most important thing that you need to keep in mind is that your dog is comfortable wearing it. He should be safe and secure in that harness at all times.
The Top Picks for Best Dog Harness in 2021: Ranked
#1 Best Overall Dog Harness: Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Harness
- Everyday Dog Harness - Comfortable, lightweight walking harness with 5 easy adjustable points and plastic quick release buckles to make it easy to take on and take off when on the go. Suitable for walking or jogging
- No-Pull Training Clip - Pet harness has a front D-Ring to use as leash attachment to train dogs not to pull; it will turn them around when try to pull; also features a back leash ring for regular walking or jogging
- Includes Dog seat belt - Comes with dog seat belt 10-inch tether that can be used during car travel as a pet seat belt to restrain dogs and prevent distracted driving: or as a training tether. Harness doesn't crash tested
- Size and Fit - Small fits dogs with neck 12-20 inches and chest 16-22 inches; Please refer to Kurgo size chart for information on how to properly measure your dog
- Committed to Quality - Product comes with a hassle-free Kurgo lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects. Call Kurgo customer service for more information
In our search for the best overall dog harness in 2021, there was only one that ticked all of our boxes – the Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Harness. This Roman harness was easy to use on our favorite golden retriever. We didn’t have a problem picking out the right size and adjusting the straps were a breeze. We also didn’t have any difficulty slipping the harness off due to the quick-release buckles.
Comfort definitely wasn’t an issue because the padded chest felt soft enough. Our enthusiastic doggo didn’t show any signs of discomfort whenever we pulled him back a little. We also liked how the straps remained in place during our entire walk outside. This harness comes with a front and back D-ring, so you can choose to use it for normal walking or no-pull training. It even comes with a seat belt tether to help keep your pooch safe and out of your hair while in the car. Pet owners will also appreciate that this harness is machine-washable (delicate cycle) and comes with a lifetime warranty. Plus, it features a reflective trim for when you walk your dog at night or early morning.
Take note that this is not a step-in harness. If you have a nervous dog that is not open to having a harness slipped over his head, this might not be the best choice for you.
Click here to check out Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Harness at Amazon.com.
#2 Best Multi-use Dog Harness: Kurgo Journey Multi-Use Dog Harness
- GREAT ACTIVE HARNESS: Perfect pet harness for active dogs that enjoy the outdoors and love adventuring with their humans; great for running, hiking, camping, and walking; includes 10-inch lead to use as car dog seatbelt to prevent distracted driving
- V-NECK AND PADDED FOR COMFORT: Dog-friendly design of adventure harness provides freedom of movement to dog when running around without strain on neck or chest; padded chest plate; has four adjustment points to provide a near custom fit for dogs of all shapes and sizes
- STRONG WITH BACK HANDLE: All steel nesting buckle system designed after harnesses for rock climbers to ensure strength and durability; features back handle for better control over your dog or to assist dog over water and obstacles
- SIZE AND FIT: Size small fits dogs with neck 12-20 inches and chest 16-22 inches; neck is not adjustable for this harness; please refer to Kurgo size chart
If you want a dog harness that can accommodate different outdoor activities, then your best bet is the Kurgo Journey Multi-Use Dog Harness. This multi-use dog harness is perfect for walking, running, and even hiking.
This Kurgo model is quite similar to our number one pick. It is made of ripstop fabric, featuring heavy-duty stitching for extra durability. It also comes with D-rings located in the chest and the back. In addition, there’s a seat belt tether to ensure safety during car rides. But the similarities end there.
We found that this particular harness featured a V-neck design that allowed our dog to move more freely. The padded chest added comfort while the four adjustment points made it easy for us to create a snug fit. For increased security, this multi-use dog harness comes with steel nesting buckles, the same type used by rock climbers. We must admit, however, that these buckles weren’t as easy to use as quick-release plastic ones. That should give you peace of mind though; they won’t accidentally open while you’re climbing over rough terrain.
Speaking of rough terrain, this harness has a back handle that allowed us to gently lift our dog up over obstacles around the house as we couldn’t go outdoors at the time of our testing. This is a necessary feature if you plan on going on outdoor adventures with your pooch over bodies of water, large rocks, or other similar obstacles. If you want a harness that will go the distance, whether on the trails or up a mountain, we recommend this one.
Click here to check out Kurgo Journey Multi-Use Dog Harness at Amazon.com.
#3 Best Affordable No-Pull Dog Harness: PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness
- Vet and trainer recommended: Created by a veterinary behaviorist over 15 years ago, the easy walk harness stops light to moderate pulling
- Safe solution for pulling: Allows you to control light to moderate pulling and rests across your dog’s chest, instead of their throat, so there’s no choking or coughing
- Quick and easy: Fit the harness on your dog in just a few minutes with the quick snap shoulder and belly straps, the front clip chest d ring gives you extra control over your dog
- 1 year chew damage replacement: If your pooch decides to turn the harness into a chew toy, we will replace it for a minimal fee
- Comfortable fit: Our patented Martingale loop on the chest piece helps provides relaxed control and prevents twisting
No-pull harnesses are not really that expensive. But what’s affordable for one pet parent isn’t always budget-friendly for another. Fortunately, there’s a no-frills harness that would fit anyone’s budget – the PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness.
We found this harness to be pretty basic compared to our other picks. It doesn’t have a padded chest and reflective trim. It features simple but sturdy nylon straps with quick snap shoulder and belly straps. There’s a D-ring located on the chest strap which features a martingale loop that will help you correct your pup’s pulling behavior.
In our testing, we found that this is one of the easiest harnesses to use. The Easy Walk Harness comes with quick snap buckles. We were able to get a snug fit using the four adjustment points. Plus, we loved that one of the straps – the one that goes around the belly – had a different color. This made it easier for us to know which way was up.
Walking around with the harness on didn’t seem to bother our golden retriever who happily went on his way without a care in the world. When he started to pull the leash, he would get turned around. This made him stop and stare at us a little before turning to walk again. After a couple of “corrections,” we did notice that he was more well-behaved and less likely to jump towards anything that caught his attention.
We also noticed that the straps weren’t rubbing on his skin, though we might have his coat to thank for that. If you have a short-haired dog such as a French bulldog, we recommend getting the PetSafe Easy Walk Deluxe Dog Harness which comes with padded straps and reflective accents to boot.
Note: we read some reviews that mentioned how their dogs went swimming with their harness on. While water will do nothing to damage your new harness, leaving your dog wearing the wet harness can cause skin problems. So, please take care.
Click here to check out PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness at Amazon.com.
#4 Best Dog Harness for Large Dogs: 2 Hounds Design Freedom No Pull Dog Harness
- ENJOY MORE WALKS: Easy to use & comfortable to wear, four adjustment points plus Swiss Velvet lining prevents rubbing
- BETTER CONTROL: Two connections give you better training results with your dog
- TRAIN WITH EASE: Recommended by veterinarians, trainers, and dog behaviorists worldwide - helps you train your dog.
- MADE IN THE USA: Stainless steel hardware and super strong nylon webbing.
- CHEWING WARRANTY: Chewing replacement warranty included by 2 Hounds Design.
It can be difficult to find a harness that fits your large dog, especially for ones that weigh above 150 lbs. The 2 Hounds Design Freedom No Pull Dog Harness comes in 7 sizes including an XXL size that can fit big breeds such as Newfies, Great Danes, and St. Bernards.
Similar to the Easy Walk Harness, this model features sturdy nylon straps. But it also has Swiss Velvet lining on the belly strap to make it more comfortable and prevent chafing.
Speaking of straps, dog trainers often recommend this harness because the front strap sits low across the chest, far away from the neck to prevent choking. More importantly, it doesn’t restrict shoulder movement at all. There are two connection points – on the chest and at the back – which give you more control over your dog. The martingale loop on the back spreads the pressure across your dog’s body to avoid creating pain points.
In our testing, we used the double connection leash offered with the harness (a package deal) on a rambunctious Newfoundland. Having a leash connected to the front and back did help us keep the dog on point whenever he saw something he wanted to chase. The heavy buckles and rings were quite durable; we had no doubt the harness wouldn’t break while our dog was at his most enthusiastic or stubborn.
All of that being said, we did find it a tad tricky to put on the harness. Adjusting it wasn’t easy compared to the other harnesses we tried out. Other than that, this is one harness that lives up to the hype.
Click here to check out 2 Hounds Design Freedom No Pull Dog Harness at Amazon.com.
Last update on 2021-06-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Best Dog Harness: Reviewed for 2021 FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What harness is best for my dog?
Based on our testing, the best harness is a Roman harness that is comfortable, secure, and easy to use. We’re talking about the Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Harness. It features a padded chest for extra comfort and a reflective trim for visibility in low light conditions. There are 5 adjustment points that make it the ideal choice for most dog body types.
However, if you have a nervous dog who isn’t ok with having a harness slipped over his head, then the best choice would be a step-in harness. If your dog loves swimming or playing in puddles, then you should get a dog harness that easily dries. In short, the best harness should have features that are suitable for your dog’s temperament, personality, and lifestyle. It should be one that he is comfortable wearing. It’s no use buying the most popular harness if your dog is not willing to wear it.
What is the most comfortable harness for dogs?
The most comfortable dog harness for your pooch is one that fits perfectly. A harness that is too tight or too loose can cause discomfort. Of course, in addition to fit, the material used can also influence comfort. A padded chest, for example. Some dog harnesses feature a soft lining of cotton or faux fur. A breathable fabric can also make your dog feel comfortable, especially if he’s wearing the harness in the heat of summer.
Are harnesses bad for dogs?
Compared to collars, experts believe that harnesses are the safer option. They prevent you from injuring your dog’s throat when you or your dog pulls on the leash. But it is important to note that not all dog harnesses are created equal. There are different types of dog harnesses such as step-in harnesses and no-pull harnesses. Some experts do not recommend no-pull harnesses because they believe it can negatively affect his gait, causing him to walk with a shortened stride. This is why it is important that you choose a harness that does not restrict shoulder movement.
Another example is non-padded harnesses. They are fine for the most part, but they’re not always the best choice for short coated dogs. The straps can lead to chafing and cause skin irritations. As you can see, It’s important that you do your research before making your purchase to ensure that what you buy is safe for your pooch.
Are harnesses better than collars?
According to experts including the American Kennel Club, a dog harness is simply the safer, more comfortable choice for your pooch. Harnesses give you better control while preventing your dog from getting injured whenever he pulls on his leash. The design of a harness allows the pressure to get distributed to different points of your dog’s body. A harness is also the more secure option when it comes to escape artists. Moreover, if you have a dog that requires assistance getting up from a sitting or prone position, a harness will enable you to pull him up without causing pain or discomfort.
That being said, you should still get your dog a collar because it’s the most visible place for his ID tags. A collar can be worn when you’re indoors or he’s just in the yard. In any case, you should not let your dog wear his harness 24/7 because that can be uncomfortable, no matter how soft your dog’s harness is. This is especially true for harnesses that got wet in the rain or when your dog went swimming while wearing it. When the webbing gets wet, dirt can get stuck on it which can lead to chafing.