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The 6 Types of Dog Harnesses

If you're in the market for a dog harness, figuring out what kind you need can feel overwhelming. Here are the best options.

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Beagle wearing a dog harnessJohner Images/Getty Images

Buying a Dog Harness

If you’ve already shopped for a dog harness, you know the process can be overwhelming. We can help. There are six types of dog harnesses, so we’ll explain the positive features as well as the drawbacks of each, plus our choice for the best in each style.

There are multiple factors to take into consideration when buying a dog harness:

  • The most important is your dog’s temperament and behavior on walks. Certain types of harnesses are better suited to dogs who pull or do not pull on their leash. Evaluate your dog’s behavior and decide what features will best suit them.
  • Harnesses distribute the weight and pressure of the leash away from your dog’s collar and neck and onto their shoulders, chest and back. This greatly reduces the risks of neck strain or choking. Even if your dog is not a puller, harnesses are more comfortable and can give you more control.

Here are the six styles of harnesses and the pros and cons of each.

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Dog harnessvia amazon.com

Back-Clip Harness

Back clip harnesses are one of the most basic and versatile types on the market. They have a metal D-loop sewn into the fabric at the back of the harness where the dog leash attaches.

Pros:

  • Widely available;
  • Leash is less likely to get tangled or tripped on;
  • Dogs can’t reach the leash to chew on it.

Con:

  • If your dog has a tendency to pull, a back-clip harness will not discourage this behavior.

If you’re considering a back clip harness, the PetSafe Back Clip Dog Harness is an excellent choice. Covered in soft padding and featuring an elastic neckline, you won’t find a more comfortable harness for your dog. Another great feature is the top handle, which allows you to easily grab your dog if necessary.

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Dog harnessvia amazon.com

Front Clip Harness

Front clip harnesses are also known as anti-pull harnesses. They help teach your dog not to pull and tug at their leash. The style is similar to the back-clip type, except the loop is located in front of your dog’s chest.

Pros:

  • Widely available;
  • Preferred by dog trainers for teaching good leash manners.

Con:

  • Your dog can easily get the leash tangled in their legs if you don’t carry the leash high enough.

There are many great front-clip harnesses on the market. The best is the PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness. It’s available in four sizes to fit any breed. The straps are clearly labeled “belly/shoulder/chest” so you’ll never be scratching your head about what goes where.

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Dog harnessvia chewy.com

Dual-Clip Harness

With a dual-clip harness, you have the option of attaching the leash to the front or back of your dog, depending on their behavior.

Pros:

  • Versatile walking action;
  • Best of both worlds (front and back clips).

Con:

  • Two metal loops may not be the most comfortable for your dog as the unused loop may rub against their skin.

If you think a dual-clip would be right for your dog, the Hurtta Y-Harness is a good choice. This model features wide neoprene padding to reduce chafing, and its built-in reflectors help with visibility at night.

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Dog harnessvia chewy.com

Step-In Harness

A step-in harness is great for dogs who dislike having a harness put on over their head. Lay the harness flat on the ground and have your dog step into the two loops formed by the straps. Then simply pull up the side straps and buckle them together around your dog’s back.

Pros:

  • Great for small dog breeds;
  • Most are back-clip;
  • Easy to put on.

Con:

  • If your dog is easily excitable or not the most obedient, you may have trouble maneuvering them into the correct position to put on the harness.

A great example of a step-in harness is the Blueberry Step In Back Clip Dog Harness. It’s made of machine-washable durable nylon and comes in seven bright, fun colors.

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Dog harnessvia chewy.com

Safety Harness

If you frequently travel with your dog in the car, you should have some way of keeping them safe and restrained. One option is a safety harness that easily attaches to the seat belt, keeping your dog comfortable and secure on the road.

Pros:

  • Can also be used as a walking harness;
  • Compatible with all cars.

Con:

  • Can be expensive.

Before you hit the road with your dog, look into Kurgo’s Tru-Fit Smart Harness. It includes a dog seat belt loop and is crash tested for dogs up to 75 pounds.

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Dog harnessvia chewy.com

Day-Pack Harness

Certain breeds or activities will require something sturdier than your everyday harness. If your dog loves to accompany you on long hikes or camping trips, a heavy duty/backpack harness will make it a breeze for them to carry their gear in comfort and style.

Pros:

  • Storage for food, dog toys and other items;
  • Best for medium-to-large dogs.

Cons:

  • May be too bulky for everyday use.

We love this Outward Hound DayPak’s four expandable pockets and breathable mesh fabric. It’s also water resistant.

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John Woods
John Woods is a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and has been a dog lover since he was 13 years old. He is also graduate in animal welfare and behavior and a recognized author by the Dog Writers Association of America.