The 6 Types of Dog Harnesses

Updated: May 09, 2024

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

If you’ve ever shopped for a dog harness, you know how overwhelming the process can be. As a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and a lifelong dog lover, I understand the importance of choosing the right harness for your furry friend. In this article, I’ll guide you through the six types of dog harnesses, explaining their positive features and drawbacks. Additionally, I’ll share my top pick in each style.

Here are the six types of dog harnesses and the pros and cons of each.

1 / 6

Best DUAL-CLIP HARNESS

Hurtta Y-Harness

Pros:

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

Cons:

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

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.

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.

2 / 6

Best Step-In Harness

Blueberry Step In Back Clip Dog Harness

Pros:

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

Cons:

  • 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 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.

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.

3 / 6

Best Safety Harness

Kurgo's Tru-Fit Smart Harness

Pros:

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

Cons:

  • Can be expensive

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.

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.

4 / 6

Best Day-Pack Harness

Outward Hound DayPak

Pros:

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

Cons:

  • May be too bulky for everyday use

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.

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

5 / 6

Best Back-Clip Harness

PetSafe Back Clip Dog Harness

Pros:

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

Cons:

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

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.

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.

6 / 6

Best Front Clip Harness

PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness

Pros:

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

Cons:

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

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.

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.

What to Consider When Buying a Dog Harness

When purchasing a dog harness, several factors should be considered. First and foremost is your dog’s temperament and behavior during walks. Some types of dog harnesses are more suitable for pups that pull or don’t pull on their leash. Evaluate your dog’s behavior to determine which features will best suit them.

Harnesses distribute the weight and pressure of the leash away from your dog’s collar and neck, transferring it to their shoulders, chest and back. This significantly reduces the risk of neck strain or choking. Even if your dog doesn’t pull, harnesses are generally more comfortable and can offer you more control.

Why You Should Trust Us

As a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, a graduate in animal welfare and behavior and a recognized author by the Dog Writers Association of America, I bring a wealth of expertise to this guide. Most importantly, my lifelong love for dogs drives my passion for helping others find the best products for their furry companions. Combining my personal experience with the expertise gained through my studies, I have carefully selected the best of every kind of dog harness on the market.

How We Found the Best Dog Harnesses

When selecting dog harnesses, our process began with thorough research of the wide range of options available on the market. We carefully considered factors such as size, material, design and price point. Additionally, we looked for harnesses that catered to specific dog behaviors, including those suitable for dogs that pull, active hounds and pups that travel frequently with their owners. To further refine our choices, we analyzed customer reviews to gain insight into the real-world performance and durability of each dog harness.

FAQ

What is the best harness for a dog that pulls on walks?

If your dog tends to pull on the leash during walks, consider using a front-clip harness. With a front-clip harness, if your dog pulls, it will cause them to turn towards you instead of moving forward, which can help reduce the pulling behavior. Additionally, the harness will reduce pressure on your dog’s neck, providing a more comfortable walking experience.

What is the best harness for small dogs?

Most harnesses come in a variety of sizes, so there isn’t one specific design that is best for small dogs. It’s important to measure your pooch to ensure that the harness will fit comfortably before purchasing. It’s always a safe bet to select one with adjustable straps so you can get the perfect fit.

Should my dog only wear a harness on walks?

Wearing a harness for extended periods can potentially cause discomfort and irritation for your dog. However, harnesses can be used for various purposes beyond walks. They are ideal for securing your dog in the car using a seatbelt, during training sessions and indoors, especially in new environments where you may need better control over your dog.