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Best dog harnesses: Get the right fit for your pooch

best dog harness
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you're looking to ensure walkies are both comfortable and secure, the best dog harness for your pup is one that suits your canine companion's size, temperament and activity types perfectly. Available in different materials, fits and styles, there's a wide range of dog harnesses to choose from, each with their own pros and cons.

It's most important to think about your dog's behavior come walk time to inform which style will be best. For instance, if your dog is likely to wrestle with a harness anytime an attempt is made to place it over their head, consider a step-in style vs clips. Similarly, if your dog sweeps you off your feet on a regular basis, a front-clip dog harness is a great option for training. 

One of the key benefits of using a dog harness is that it doesn't put pressure on your dog's neck. Instead, it disperses the pressure across the body and discourages your dog from pulling on their lead. However, it often doesn't have a particular space to apply an ID tag so you can choose to use both a collar and a dog harness to fully kit your dog out.

If you're just starting out with your pup, be sure to read our guide on how to train a puppy to walk on leash, while if you have multiple pets in the household you may be interested in our best cat harness picks for your feline friend too. 

PetsRadar's pick of the best dog harnesses 

  • Best overall dog harness: Julius K9 - IDC Powerharness
  • Best front-clip dog harness: PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness
  • Best step-in dog harness: Blueberry Pet Step In Back Clip Dog Harness
  • Best dog harness for travel: VavoPaw Dog Vehicle Safety Vest Harness
  • Best back-clip dog harness: Buddy Belts Classic Leather Back Clip Dog Harness
  • Best dog pack: Outward Hound DayPak for Dogs

best dog harness julius k9Best buy award

(Image credit: Julius K9)

Julius K9 - IDC Powerharness

Best overall dog harness

Features: Reflective; water-repellent; custom tags | Type: ‎Back-clip | Suitable for: All breeds

Unbreakable buckle
Great durability
Multiple colors
Reflective
Smaller sizes available
Custom tags
Pricey

If you're looking for a hardwearing dog harness, then look no further than the Julius K9 brand. Their IDC Powerharness is a sturdy and reliable dog harness that offers peace of mind to pet owners looking for the most durable option for their canine. 

It comes with a price tag, but there are some great features on offer here that can make it worth shelling out the extra money. One of the key features is its unbreakable buckle; no matter the size of your dog there's no fear here of them slipping out or chewing through. The safety feature in the strap is also a nice touch as it allows the handle to be closed so your dog doesn't get caught up. Plus, the harness features reflective areas and the top layer is water-repellent too. We also love that you can add a custom tag to the harness to personalize it for your dog and there's a few colors on offer here, including a snazzy American design.

For dogs who are wary of putting a harness on, there's no need to lift up their legs to put on: simply pop their head through and buckle underneath. Whether you have a large dog or a small canine like a Maltese, French Bulldog or a Pug, the harness comes in a range of sizes, including mini and extra small, to get that perfect fit; be sure to check the measurements before you buy. 

clip on dog harnessPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Petsafe)

PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness

Best front-clip dog harness

Features: Quick-snap buckles; dual color straps; front loop | Type: Front-clip | Suitable for: All breeds

Easy to put on
Multiple colors
Adjustable
Perfect for training
Sizing can be difficult
Could be more durable

Often recommended by dog trainers, a front-clip dog harness is ideal for teaching dogs good walking habits; the PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness is great for "pullers."

One of the key features is just how easy is to put it on your dog in the first instance. It features quick-snap buckles that allow you to put it over their head and buckle up and is easy to adjust, perfect for growing pooches.

If you have a dog who's likely to pull you off your feet at any opportunity this harness really can work wonders when it comes to training.

Available in a range of different colors and sizes, there's plenty of options to choose from for all breeds, but getting the perfect fit can be an issue for some dogs.

Generally, the product is quality-made, but the very nature of the design can pose a challenge in the durability department, especially according to your dog's temperament. This dog harness is not suitable for aggressive chewers, while plastic clips and thin straps might not be sufficient enough to give larger dog breed owners peace of mind that their dog will stay inside for long. 

Blueberry Pet dog harnessPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Blueberry Pet)

Blueberry Pet Step In Back Clip Dog Harness

Best step-in dog harness

Features: Eco-friendly plastic; metal D ring; adjustable straps | Type: Step-in | Suitable for: All breeds

Easy to put on
Inexpensive
Multiple colors
Adjustable
Not for aggressive chewers
Sizing can be difficult

If you're looking for an easy way to get your dog harness on your pup, the Blueberry Step In Back Clip Dog Harness lets your canine companion simply step on in, then fasten the clip around their shoulders.

If you have a canine escape artist in your family, rest assured that this dog harness is much more durable than it may look at first sight. The harness is comfortable, safe and secure for most dog breeds, but beware if you have an aggressive chewer as this dog harness can be chewed apart.

Fortunately, it comes in at a great price. If you have a growing puppy and don't want to fork out a lot of money to buy an expensive harness they could potentially outgrow, this is a perfect choice, while also being fully adjustable.

The harness is available in a range of sizes from small to large, but run a little big on some dogs. 

VavoPaw dog harnessPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: VavoPaw)

VavoPaw Dog Vehicle Safety Vest Harness

Best dog harness for travel

Features: Adjustable safety seat belt; carabiner | Type: Car safety | Suitable for: All breeds

Good price
Comes with adjustable seat belt
Easy to put on
Good quality
Seatbelt not long enough for some larger breeds
Can be too stiff for puppies

For keeping your pup secure in the backseat, VavoPaw Dog Vehicle Safety Vest Harness is ideal. At a great price, you get good quality and a few nice extras too.

Included is an adjustable seat belt and the brand has opted for a carabiner style of attachment to fit most cars. 

Made from polyester and Oxford fabric, there's a solid D ring on the back for security, while it's soft enough around the chest area to ensure optimum comfort for your canine. Simply slip it over their head and it clips on both sides. An added bonus is is that you can use it for walking too, then clip it in the vehicle once their long distance walk is complete. 

It's durable enough to withstand pulls from large breeds, but if you have a puppy it can be a little on the stiff side. If you do own a large dog, one drawback is that the attachment can be too short, but at the price, many pet owners opt to buy another. 

Sizing can run small; but be sure to measure your dog using the manufacturer's provided instructions on the site for the best fit. 

Buddy Belts dog harness

(Image credit: Buddy Belts)

Buddy Belts Classic Leather Back Clip Dog Harness

Best back-clip dog harness

Features: Durable leather; one buckle | Type: Back-clip | Suitable for: All breeds

Great for dogs with trachea problems
Durable
Multiple colors
Easy to get on
Pricey
Not for aggressive chewers

Whether your dog suffers from trachea problems or you're specifically concerned about unnecessary strain around your pet's neck area, Buddy Belts Classic Leather Back Clip Dog Harness is specifically devised to alleviate the tension in this area.

It comes with a fairly lofty price tag but for your buck the durability is great. It's made from leather and welded metal hardware designed to last for years. Whatever activities your dog loves to embrace, this dog harness will go the extra mile.

It's easy to put on too, with the snap located underneath the chest. Plus, the chances of your miniature Houdini getting out of this one is rather low; the product is snug providing you get the perfect fit. Some pet owners recommend sizing down to ensure the excess strap doesn't hang down too much.

One of the drawbacks of leather is that is can be on the stiff side, which won't be to every dog's liking. If this sounds like your canine companion, you can opt to add in a soft liner for an extra layer of comfort.

If you have a puppy or a particularly aggressive chewer in the family, this might not be the best option for them as tiny teeth can cause quick destruction in this expensive harness, but senior dogs with a laidback attitude should have little problem. 

best dog packPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Outward Hound)

Outward Hound DayPak for Dogs

Best dog pack

Features: Reflective; water resistant | Type: Day pack | Suitable for : All breeds

Perfect for hiking
Leash attachment
Space for dog essentials
Reflective
Lightweight
Lack of small size
Could be more durable

If you and your dog are frequently on adventures together, you'll need the best dog harness for the job. 

The Outward Hound DayPak for Dogs allows your pup to comfortably carry extra gear and essentials like their favorite comforter toy, plus it has a leash attachment that allows you to attach your pup’s leash directly to the D-ring clip.

You've got to admit it looks pretty cute to boot, too. Available in a vibrant green from Chewy, it not only looks the part by turning your dog into a mini-me hiker, but enhances visibility in the dark.

Sadly, it's not available in a small size for teacup breeds, but medium to larger breeds will be able to wear it with style.

It's lightweight enough to carry around but this can pose a challenge to the durability of the product. Be sure not to overpack the bag as this can lead to the material being ripped, while it does have a tendency to slide a little. 

How to choose the best dog harness

best dog harness

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Type of dog harness

Be sure to kit your dog out with the best type for their temperament. Styles of dog harness include front-clip, back-clip, step-in, no-pull, a head collar and a safety harness designed specifically to be used in the car. You can also buy a dog pack harness if your dog is particularly adventurous.

No-pull, front-clip dog harnesses are ideal for dogs who pull or tug at their leash, with the clip located at the front; while back-clip harnesses tend to have a D-ring located at the back so dogs are less likely to become entangled, plus it can be ideal for preventing unnecessary strain around their neck. Step-in options are great if you foresee a struggle placing a dog harness over their head.

Special types of travel dog harness include ones for the car or dog packs, while a head collar, also known as a head halter, is a device that fits over your dog's nose to give more control. 

Durability

Much like choosing the type of dog harness, it's important to think about your dog's temperament too when it comes to durability. If you have a puppy or an aggressive chewer, you'll want to pick a product that can't easily be chewed through, while plastic clips can be prone to breakage. 

Activity type

Is your pup frequently hitting the road or the puddles? Some dog harnesses feature a waterproof layer, while if you're looking to keep them secure in the car you'll need a secure attachment and the ability to walk with it too is a handy feature.

If you love hiking, a dog pack can store their essentials. If you plan to take them on the trail at night, you'll want to consider reflective material or features that can glow in the dark for greater visibility.  

Fit

Getting a great fit is essential for any dog harness as you don't want your pup to wiggle their way out nor to experience any pain with too tight a fit. Ensure you measure around your dog's ribcage before you buy and check in with the manufacturer's sizing advice.