With so many different types of dog harnesses on the market, choosing the one for your pup can get confusing. Take a closer look at the pros & cons to each.

Types of Dog Harnesses: A Complete Guide


With so many different types of dog harnesses on the market, choosing the perfect one for your pooch can get confusing! The major benefit of using a harness over a traditional collar for walks is to decrease pressure on your dog’s neck, potentially preventing injury to the trachea. This is especially important with smaller and brachiocephalic dog breeds, and if your dog tends to be a puller. 


2 Main Types Of Dog Harnesses

There are two primary types of harness you’ll see on pet store shelves. The main difference? The “ring” placement for where the leash hooks onto.

Back-Clip Harness

The back-clip harness is perhaps the most common. A dog’s leash clips to a ring located on the back of the harness. It may be at the neck area or it may have a ring further down on the spine – or both.

Pros

  • Great for small dogs
  • Decreases pressure on the trachea
  • Easy to put on your furry companion
  • Comfortable for your pooch to wear
  • Less chance for a dog’s legs to get tangled up in a loose leash

Cons

  • Less Control if your dog is a puller – especially if he’s large and strong. For a dog who pulls, the back-clip attachment makes it easy for him to pull you along, like you’re a wagon behind him. If your pooch needs to learn proper leash manners, you may want to try another option. 
Front-Clip Harness (AKA No-Pull)

The front-clip harness puts you in control during walks. The leash is clipped to a ring on the front of the dog’s harness, at his chest. If your dog starts tugging and pulling while you’re walking, a front-clip attachment won’t allow him to continue moving forward. Instead, he’ll be redirected and forced to pivot around toward you. It shouldn’t take very long to get the message – that pulling isn’t going to get him anywhere. Before you know it, you and Fido will be having much more enjoyable walks. 

Pros

  • You have more control 
  • Discourages pulling and tugging

Cons

  • The dog’s legs can easily get tangled in a loose leash
Dual-Clip Harness

Let’s call this one the best of both worlds since, with a dual-clip, there are clips in the front and the back. This type is commonly used by dog trainers. They attach both clips at once – the back-clip serves for normal walking and the front-clip allows for immediate control if the dog starts to pull. 


Pros

  • Superior control

Cons

  • More expensive

Styles

Now that you’re familiar with the types of harnesses, let’s talk about styles. There are several styles, and within each, you’ll notice there are many variations.

Vest Harness

The vest harness is a comfortable and secure option that comes in a variety of styles. Vests tend to be padded, decreasing the chance of underarm chaffing. They can have a back-clip, front-clip, or duel clip and they’re a great choice for small dogs.

Step-In Harness

Just as the name implies, you spread the harness onto the floor and your pooch steps in. Then you pull both sides up and around your dog’s chest and clip it closed. Step-in harnesses usually have a back-clip attachment.  

Padded Chest Harness

This harness mimics the step-in harness. The difference is the chest plate is padded. 

Roman Harness

If you have a pooch who likes to wiggle out of his harness then the roman harness could be the choice for you. This type of harness keeps pressure off the trachea and inhibits a dog’s ability to back out. It’s a great choice for your little Houdini! The harness slips over the head, then the pooch steps in with one foot and the remaining strap gets wrapped around the dog’s girth area. It clips at the top for a back-clip attachment. Watch this process in action:

Halti No-Pull Harness

The Halti is a training harness that works in conjunction with a traditional dog collar. It gives the person in charge complete control. There are two lead attachment sites. One in the front, which allows the handler to steer and guide the walk by controlling chest and shoulder direction, and the attachment in the back which prevents pulling. A double-ended lead provides the best control.


Safety and Fit

It’s important to make sure your pooch’s harness is high-quality and fits correctly. A poorly fitting harness can cause pain and injury. The harness should be snug-fitting, but not too tight or too loose. You should be able to fit two fingers between your dog’s body and his harness – no more. Looser than that, your pooch may back out or wiggle himself free and escape. Make sure there are NO chaffed or bald areas around their armpits.   


Measuring and Sizing

  • With a soft cloth measuring tape
  • Measure the thickest point around your dogs neck (where a collar would normally sit)
  •  Measure the dogs girth – the area behind the shoulders at the largest part of the chest