Types Of Dog Harnesses

Dog harnesses don’t get nearly as much credit as they deserve as dog accessories. Most dog owners gravitate towards dog collars more as a force of habit than for specific benefits. In order to truly appreciate all the perks of dog harnesses, you have to choose the right one for based on important features and your dog’s specific needs.

The style of the dog harness is one of the most important factors to consider here. In the sections below, we will take a closer look at 18 unique types of dog harnesses including rarer designs like the head halter, saddlebag backpack, and dog lift harnesses.

18. Head Halter

We recommend: GoodBoy Dog Head Halter

The word harness is used very lightly with head halters as is unlike any other harness design that you will find on the market. Most other harnesses have straps that go around the neck, chest, shoulders, and/or torso. With head-halters, on the other hand, the straps go around the head and neck.

Specifically, head halter dog harnesses feature straps that are meant to go around the dog’s snout as well as a neck strap to keep the entire setup secure and stable once you put it on the dog.

Due to this design, the thickness of the straps on head halters is a very important factor to consider. 1 inch thick bands are the best to go with as they are thick enough to distribute the force properly without being so thick that they cause chaffing and discomfort.

The material should also be of high quality and the construction nothing short of superb. This is because you want your head halter harness to be able to withstand chewing on and jaw opening by the agitated doggy.

Head halter harnesses are worth considering for dogs with an aggressive side especially those that have a habit of biting. The head halter design of dog harnesses also works best with dog breeds that have long snouts.

17. Saddlebag Backpack Harness

We recommend: Doggy Styles Service Dog Harness with Removable Saddlebag Backpack

The most outstanding feature of the saddlebag backpack dog harness is the presence of the backpack attachment. This may be present either on the back, one side, or both sides. It offers convenient and easily-accessible storage for items that the dog owner may need.

These backpacks are usually fastened using zippers or Velcro for security. That way, you don’t have to keep picking things up that popped out of the pockets.

With many saddlebag backpack harnesses, you also get the choice of attaching or detaching the backpack. That way, you do not have your dog walk around with a bulky harness with empty storage.

Considering all the additional weight that the dog will be bearing, it is best to go with saddlebag backpack dog harnesses whose straps are designed to maximize comfort and weight distribution. This could either be through wide bands, multiple straps, or even padding.

The saddlebag backpack style of dog harness is ideal for outdoorsy dog owners. You can store anything in those backpack from your phone and keys to snacks for yourself and treats for the doggy.

Saddlebag backpack dog harnesses are also convenient for use by service dogs as the extra storage can be used to store things like ID information for the owner or even emergency medication.

16. Escape Proof Dog Harness

We recommend: Rabbitgoo Escape Proof Harness 

Before dogs get used to harnesses, they will make several escape attempts. Some try pulling themselves out by reaching forwards and wriggling out. Others may try to back out of the harness which is not that hard with most basic designs. The escape proof dog harness shines with its unique design that is meant to prevent escape through both of these strategies. 

The extra secure design of escape proof dog harnesses is as a result of multiple strap and fastening levels. While most dog harnesses only have 2 straps with one on either side of the forelimbs, escape proof dog harnesses can have up to 2 straps. 

Most of these will be on the torso end of the harness and reinforce the firm grasp over the dog’s body. That way, the dog will not be able to escape especially by backing out as the chest will not fit the straps that were adjusted for narrower parts of the torso. 

To truly appreciate the effectiveness of the escape proof dog harness design, it is best to use it on larger dogs that are still learning to be comfortable with harnesses as their proportions are the best suited for the style.

15. Waterproof Dog Harness

We recommend: TellPet Waterproof Dog Jacket Harness

Waterproof dog harnesses are designed to keep the dog as dry as possible when walking in the rain.

Contrary to popular misconception, they are not just regular strappy harnesses made from waterproof materials. Instead, they have more of a jacket or raincoat-like design meant to offer as much coverage for protection as possible. 

The materials used to make waterproof dog harnesses are usually blends including waterproof options to serve their purpose of protecting the dog from getting wet and cold. 

What sets the waterproof dog harness apart from a dog raincoat is the presence of straps and leash clips. In most cases, the straps are fastened at the front leaving the back completely covered for maximum protection.

The design could also allow for overlapping flaps that are Velcro or zipper fastened, in which case the harness is secured from the side.

This is a fantastic option if you have a very young or very old dog especially in places where the weather is predominantly rainy or snowy. They also come in handy for fun outdoor adventures where the dog may end up getting wet including waterfall and cave exploration expeditions.

14. Blind Dog Harness

We recommend: Walkin’ Halo Harness for Blind Dogs

Blind dog harnesses are designed for use by blind dogs and not service dogs for blind individuals which is a mistake that many people make. We shall take a look at the type of harness meant for the latter job shortly. 

Blind dogs run the risk of walking into objects from wall corners indoors to trees outside. These could cause serious injuries and distress to the already suffering dog. Blind dog harnesses help make life easier for the blind pooch by bearing the force of bumping into things and protecting the dog from getting hurt

Blind dog harnesses do this by using halo or ring attachments that go around the dog’s head. That way, if they walk too close to something potentially dangerous then the ring will touch it before they do. Consequently, the ring signals the presence of an object to the blind dog.

This also comes in handy as a way to stop blind dogs that are running towards objects before they get hurt. 

The blind dog harness is ideal for dogs with different levels of vision problems from poor sight due to cataracts or old age to full on blindness. That way, the dog can have an active life without getting hurt.

13. Guide Dog Harness

We recommend: YogaDog Heavy Duty Harness with Elastic Handle 

Guide dog harnesses are designed for use by service dogs that aid human individuals with physical impairment. They are often confused for blind dog harnesses which are meant for dogs with vision problems. 

The aim of the design is to allow the user to conveniently and safely receive guidance from the dog whether it is by pulling of wheelchairs or actually guiding visually impaired humans. For this, most guide dog harnesses will have a special handle at the back for firm and comfortable grip. 

The handle may be elastic which allows the dog to lead without dragging the owner behind. They may also have bridge handles attached. This handle design is longer and firmer and offers better control for the user than a regular leash or handle. 

Another important thing for guide dog harnesses to have is a label. They usually have labels like “guide dog” or “service dog” which can be very important in case of emergencies or where the dog is unfortunately separated from their owner. 

The guide dog harness style is ideal for service dog owners. In these cases, it is important to only work with dogs that have a strong sense of loyalty, independence, focus, and even-temperedness.

12. Dual-Clip Dog Harness

We recommend: Rabbitgoo Double Clip Harness

Dual clip dog harnesses have two clip rings with one at the front and one at the back. The design combines the front clip and back clip styles for the best of both worlds

The best thing about this design is the versatility that it offers to the user. It is a dog harness that you will be able to use throughout from the training stages to when the dog is disciplined and used to being strapped up. 

During the training period, you can make use of the front clip. This allows you to establish yourself as an authority and teaches the dog to take your lead. The position also comes in handy when dealing with potentially volatile dogs that tend to run off without warning. 

Once the dog has proven that they can be trusted, you can now switch to the back clip. This allows the dog to enjoy a bit more freedom which will definitely make your outdoor adventures together a lot more fun. 

The dual clip harness is the type of dog harness that can be used on any dog with any type and temperament. They are particularly awesome for unpredictable dogs that are cooperative one day and problematic the next.

11. Step-In Dog Harness

We recommend: Voyager Step In Air Dog Harness

Most dog harnesses are worn either from the head or the back. This can prove a bit difficult especially if the dog is uncooperative. That is where step-in dog harnesses come in handy. 

Step-in dog harnesses are designed to be worn from the bottom up. The dog harness is spread out on the floor and the dog can then step into the limb openings. Once the limbs are in place, the harness is pulled up and fastened either at the top or at the sides. 

This style of putting the dog harness on is easier and more convenient than trying to force the dog’s head and limbs through all manner of holes or straps. 

More often than not, step-in dog harnesses have a back clip design. This is because having it at the front may lead to unfastening of the dog harness if it is pulled at.

The positioning of the leash clip at the back means the dog gets to enjoy a bit more freedom and control than they would with front clips. 

The step-in dog harness is ideal in situations where the dog may not be comfortable with putting on the harness but is generally well behaved once it is already on.

10. Dog Shoulder Harness

We recommend: ChokeFree Velpro Mesh Pet Shoulder Harness Collar

Shoulder harnesses have a very unique design that features a single, continuous band of fabric that goes around the shoulder area. The bands will have cutouts for the forelimbs and are almost always fastened at the back either using Velcro or buckles. 

One of the most important benefits of shoulder harnesses is the fact that they are extremely easy to put on. The lack of multiple straps and multiple panels means that you just need to get the forelimbs into their holes and you are good to go. This comes in very handy when dealing with dogs that don’t necessarily enjoy the putting on part of wearing a dog harness. 

Another important benefit of shoulder harnesses is that their design makes them no-choke as all the pressure is designed to focus on the shoulder girdle. This makes it one of the safest dog harness styles

The shoulder dog harness is a great option for well-behaved dogs that are unlikely to pull. This is because restraining the dog would put too much pressure on a small amount of space which can be incredibly uncomfortable for the dog.

Shoulder harnesses are also best left for use by small to medium dog breeds.

9. Tactical Dog Harness

We recommend: Icefang Tactical Dog Harness

Tactical dog harnesses are very popular for use on working dogs. They are meant to ensure improved functionality with the dog harness serving as extra storage for accessories and small items that the user may need. 

Tactical harnesses can easily be distinguished by the presence of utility features like pockets and accessory nooks. These hold items like handcuffs, water bottles, radios, and whatever else the dog handler may need out in the field. 

The tactical harness design may also have specific colors and patterns depending on their intended audiences. For those meant for military use, the theme may be camouflage-based or military-associated shades of beige and green. These ensure that the dog is camouflaged together with their handler even out in the battle field. 

With tactical dog harnesses meant for use in law enforcement or in prisons, on the other hand, black is the most popular color. 

In addition to the aesthetic and storage, tactical dog harnesses need to be well constructed using high quality materials. They are meant for use in some of the harshest environments and need to be able to resist damage for as long as possible. 

If you have a dog that serves as a companion and working dog in military or law enforcement settings then the tactical dog harness is the style for you.

8. Winter Dog Harness

We recommend: Dociote Dog Jacket With Built In Harness

Winter dog harnesses combine winter dog jackets with harness features for combined benefits. That way, you can take your doggy out for walks and other adventures without having to worry about them getting too cold. 

One of the most important markers of a good winter dog harness is the degree of coverage. Above all else, the winter dog harness should keep your pooch warm and one of the best ways to do this is to cover as much of the dog as possible.

Good options in this style will cover everything from the neck to the base of the tail leaving the legs free for unhindered mobility and agility. 

Another very important feature of winter dog harnesses is that the material should be the perfect balance of warm, strong, and light on the dog. The material should also be weatherproof to protect the dog from elements like rain, snow, and wind. 

Finally, ensure that you go for a winter dog harness that doesn’t slack on the harness part of the design. the straps should be of good quality and placed appropriately for the best support and secure fastening. A strap in front of the forelimbs and another mid-torso should be enough. 

Winter dog harnesses are perfect if you live in a cold area where winters can be brutal.

7. Sled Dog Harness

We recommend: Neewa Sled Pro Harness

Pulling isn’t always a bad thing with dogs attached to harnesses. In the case of working dogs that pull things like carts and sleds, it is a habit that you should strongly encourage and support by selecting the right dog harness for the job. 

Sled harnesses are meant to make the job of pulling loads easier for the dog by redistributing the force used to pull. That way, the work is not only comfortable for the dog but as safe as it can be. 

For this redistribution, sled dog harnesses often feature multiple crisscrossing straps at the back and at the front to distribute the pulling tensions.This is different from regular dog harnesses that may only have straps over the chest, neck and torso. 

A no-choke design is non-negotiable when choosing the best sled dog harness. The last thing you want is for your dog to get seriously hurt by a strap choking them while they run full speed dragging a heavy load behind them. 

Padding is not always compulsory with sled collars but it definitely makes the harness more comfortable. 

The sled dog harness is perfect not just for sled dogs but for working dogs used to pull loads in general.

6. Reflective Dog Harness

We recommend: Winsee Dog Harness Reflective Vest

The main purpose of a reflective dog harness design is to help increase the dog’s visibility. Most reflective dog harnesses do this using reflective strips that are sewn into the fabric of the straps and different panels. 

Once light hits these reflective strips, it bounces off and makes them appear shiny. This makes it easy to visualize the dog both during the day and at night.

The feature is especially important at night when walking your dog on a poorly lit road. That way, as drivers approach, their lights reflect off the harness making the dog visible and minimizing the chances of the pooch getting hit. 

In most cases, reflective harnesses are also brightly colored in addition to having the reflective strips. These bright colors actually increase the visibility when the strips become illuminated which is a huge advantage over dark harnesses with the same strips. 

If you prefer walking your dog at night, a reflective dog harness is definitely a must-have for the safety of both you and the dog. They also come in handy during outdoor adventures in the dark whether it is camping or cave exploration.

5. Self-Tightening Dog Harness

We recommend: Harness Lead Escape Resistant Harness 

If you do not want your dog to pull at the dog harness, then a self-tightening dog harness is a style worth looking into. They offer the best support in terms of helping you restrain dogs that are pulling too much or trying to dart off. 

Self-tightening dog harnesses achieve their restraining and corrective effects through their slip knot design. When the dog applies pulling forces forwards, the knot tightens and by extension the straps around the dog become tighter and uncomfortable. This makes the harness uncomfortable for the dog and discourages them from continuing with the unwanted behavior. 

The best part is that you don’t even have to put in too much effort on your end. In fact, all you may have to do is just hold your ground and let the harness do the rest for you. 

Self-tightening harnesses almost always have the leash clip at the back. This is fantastic as it allows you to give the dog some independence while simultaneously having a backup plan if they misuse their freedom.

The self-tightening dog harness is ideal for well-trained and disciplined dogs that occasionally forget their training and pull. The gentle tug back by the dog harness is enough to remind them the acceptable behavior.

4. LED Dog Harness

We recommend: Noxgear LightHound LED Illuminated and Reflective Harness

LED dog harnesses are an alternative to reflective dog harnesses if you want a design that will offer as much visibility as possible. LED dog harnesses make use of LED strips and spots that emit their own light.

This eliminates reliance on external sources of light including street lights and vehicle beams. As a result, they are generally safer and more reliable than reflective dog harnesses.

Something very important to consider when looking into LED dog harnesses is the battery life. This is because most models out there are powered by rechargeable batteries. A good quality LED dog harness that is worth your investment should give you 8 to 12 hours of lighting at the very least. 

Some LED dog harnesses also have additional features that help with locating the dog. These include various lighting modes including blinks that draw attention to the dog and make them easier to spot even from long distances.

LED dog harnesses are worth considering especially if you want to take your dog out where there may not be other sources of light. This includes camping in remote locations as well as exploring dark places like cakes and thick forests.

3. Dog Support Harness (Dog Lift Harness)

We recommend: Coodeo Dog Lift Harness

Dog lift harnesses are known for their hammock-like design and long straps. The harness is meant to facilitate easy carrying of the dog if for some reason they are not able to walk on their own.

The hammock section has a step-in design. What makes it different from the step-in dog harness is the degree of coverage. Dog lift harnesses cover the entire torso and will therefore have cutouts for both the forelimbs and hindlimbs. This design allows proper balance and distribution of weight so that the dog isn’t hanging awkwardly and uncomfortably as they are being carried.

The straps on the other hand are usually long and adjustable so you can change the length to whatever is most comfortable for you to carry the dog at. The straps on good dog lift harnesses will also have padding to ease the pressure and stress on your shoulder as you carry the pooch.

The dog lift harness design is meant for people with dogs that can either completely not walk or cannot walk for very long distances. This includes old dogs or dogs with musculoskeletal issues including arthritis, or joint dysplasia.

2. Front-Clip Dog Harness

We recommend: Eagloo No Pull Dog Harness 

Front clip dog harnesses are the exact opposite of back clip varieties and have the attachment clip for the leash on the front side of the collar. The attachment ring for the front clip harness is centrally located to provide the best force distribution. 

The location of the clip is designed to offer whoever is walking the dog better control over the pooch. With you as the lead instead of the dog, they are unlikely to pull or run off as you enjoy your daily walk together. 

Unfortunately, the front clip design requires a may feel a bit counterintuitive both for you as the user and for dogs, especially those with dominant personalities. You also have to constantly monitor the setup to avoid having the dog wrapped up by the leash

The front clip style of dog harness works well if you have an unruly dog that is prone to getting easily distracted and agitated outdoors. It is also ideal for aggressive dogs where you may need better control over them if they happen to have an outburst in public. Here, the design of the harness prevents the dog from charging forwards and attacking.

1. Back-Clip Dog Harness

We recommend: QQPets Back Clip Dog Harness

The distinguishing feature for back clip dog harnesses is in the name and is the design that has the leash attachment clip at the back. More often than not, this clip or ring is at the level of the shoulders along the midline. This gives the best control with even distribution of restraining force when it is needed. 

With some back clip dog harnesses, there may be multiple clips at the back with one at the level of the shoulder and another lower down towards the end of the harness. The lower clip is hardly ever used alone and exists to allow for attachment of other accessories including bridge handles. 

Back clip dog harnesses offer the benefit of freedom for the dog. With its position, the dog can walk in any direct and even turn frequently without risking getting tangled by the leash. 

However, the freedom also means that the dog can pull, which means you need to be ready to pull back if your dog tries something dodgy.

All factors considered, back clip dog harnesses are ideal for well-trained and disciplined dogs that are not likely to get overexcited and pull.

Related Questions

Why Are Harnesses Bad For Dogs? Dog harnesses can be bad for dogs as they encourage pulling. Unlike dog collars that immediately correct the habit by getting uncomfortable, harnesses allow dogs to get away with pulling which may make them think it’s okay. It is therefore best to start with collars especially for non-aggressive dog breeds.

Is It OK For A Dog To Wear A Harness All The Time? It is not advisable for a dog to wear their harness all the time. Even the best quality harnesses can get uncomfortable and restraining which frustrates the dog. By having it on for very long, the dog will develop a strong dislike for the harness and may refuse to have it put on them later on.

What Age Can You Put A Harness On A Puppy? You can start putting a harness on a puppy when they are over the age of 8 weeks. Even then, it is best to wait a little longer and just start with collars. This is because harnesses can be bulky and incredibly restrictive. They also pose a danger of choking in case the little pup gets tangled between all the straps as they try to wriggle free.

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Pete Decker