A Buying Guide To Help You Choose The Best Dog Harness

A high-quality harness is an indispensable tool that almost all dog owners need. But while there are a variety of different harnesses on the market, relatively few are appropriate for large dogs. Some are simply too small to fit large breeds, while others lack the requisite strength and durability to withstand the wear and tear a large dog can dish out. Still others simply lack some of the most important features you would want in any leash.

Dog Wearing a Harness Pulling on the Leash

But we are here to help. Below, we will discuss some of the most important features good harnesses possess, as well as explain the best ways to obtain a harness that fits your dog well.

But if you just stopped by to find some of the best harnesses for large dogs, you can just check out the table below.

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Product Name

Rating

Picture

Prices

Julius K9 IDC Powerharness

4.7/5
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Newbury Paws Classic Harness

4.4/5
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Ruffwear - Web Master Harness

4.4/5
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Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Dog Walking Harness

4.5/5
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DEXDOG EZHarness 

4.3/5
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Features of Good Harnesses

While no two harnesses are exactly the same, and different owners prioritize some features more than others, most high-quality harnesses feature or provide the following:

Dog on Snow Wearing a Harness

Secure Fit

A harness that doesn’t fit your dog well can lead to chafing and discomfort, and it may even allow your dog to slip out of the harness – a truly frightening scenario. To a degree, the fit of a harness is influenced by the basic design and materials used in its construction, but most rely on adjustable straps to help ensure the best fit possible. While some harnesses only include one or two places in which you can adjust the length of the straps, the best harnesses typically provide four or five places to adjust the fit.

Multiple Attachment Points

All walking harnesses will obviously feature a place for you to attach the leash -- usually on the top of the harness, between your dog’s shoulder blades or a few inches behind them. While this placement works well for many dogs, it encourages others to pull on the leash. Accordingly, most of the best harnesses (especially those designated as “no-pull” harnesses) also include an attachment point on the front of the harness, which sits in the center of your dog’s chest. By attaching your leash to this ring, you can better control dogs that are prone to pulling.

Padding

Although some harnesses fit comfortably without padding, most of the best harnesses on the market feature padding on the straps and near the chest. These padded areas help to spread out the tension and help prevent the harness from chafing your dog’s skin or pulling out his hair.

Reflective Stitching or Trim

It is important to ensure you are visible to passing motorists and pedestrians; so, many premium harnesses feature reflective materials or stitching. However, you can purchase reflective stickers and similar items for harnesses that do not feature reflective surfaces, so this is not a deal-breaking criterion.

High-Quality Hardware

If you have a 5-pound Chihuahua, you don’t really need to worry about him breaking the metal D-ring or the buckles on his harness. But if you have a 150-pound Mastiff, you better select a harness with hardware robust enough to withstand your dog’s strength. Generally speaking, premium harnesses come equipped with very robust D-rings and other accessories, which are strong enough to withstand your dog’s pulling and lunging.

Harness Sizing Guidelines

When you set out to purchase a harness for your dog, you’ll see that most are labelled by familiar sizes, such as small, medium and large. However, taken by themselves, these labels mean very little. One manufacturer’s “large” may be another manufacturer’s “extra-large.”

Trying to Measure a Dog

You always want to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and sizing chart, as different harnesses fit in different ways. But, almost every harness on the market uses some combination of four different measurements to determine the proper size.

Chest Circumference

Chest circumference is the single most important measurement to consider when purchasing a harness. To obtain an accurate measurement of your pet’s chest, wrap a tape measure around the largest part of his rib cage, behind the front limbs.

Neck Circumference

Neck circumference is also an important measurement for ensuring a good fit, although not all harnesses list the neck circumference range for their harnesses. Measure your dog’s neck circumference the same way you measured his chest, by wrapping a tape measure around the largest part of his neck, near the shoulders.

Torso Length

Although torso length is not an important consideration for most harnesses, a few products recommend using this measure in addition to the chest and neck circumference. You’ll have to consult the manufacturer’s instructions for measuring your dog’s torso length, as different manufacturers measure torso length differently.

Weight

Although weight alone should never be used as a criterion for determining the proper harness size, it can be an important consideration with some harnesses. The stitching, metal hardware and buckles are typically rated for dogs of a given size, so you’ll want to be sure your dog’s weight falls within the range recommended by the manufacturer.

The Five Best Dog Harnesses for Large Dogs

The following five harnesses represent the best options for large dogs. Just be sure to consider the specific needs of you and your dog before making your decision. 

1. Julius-K9 IDC Powerharness

The Julius-K9 Powerharness is an ergonomic and secure harness that is constructed from high-quality materials, so that it will last your dog for years. Designed to fit your dog very comfortably, while still ensuring that it provides a snug fit, the Julius-K9 Powerharness is a great choice for large or exceptionally muscular dogs.

Price

$$

Notable Features

  • Available in 15 different colors and 9 adjustable sizes
  • Largest size will fit dogs with a 54.5-inch chest
  • ​Includes hand loop on the top for additional control
  • Easy-on, easy-off one-strap design
  • Very strong D-ring ensures your dog won’t break free of his leash
  • Unique design makes it easy to put on or take off
  • ​Custom side patches can be purchased to make your dog’s harness unique
  • Chest belt, edges and Julius-K9 patches are all reflective to keep your dog visible to motorists
  • Large sizes include a loop for attaching a mini flashlight to the harness

User Reviews

The Julius-K9 IDC Powerharness received very positive reviews by the overwhelming majority of dog owners who purchased it. Most owners found that it fit their dog well (including breeds that are notoriously hard to fit into a harness, such as bulldogs) and was easy to slip on and off.

Several customers praised the clips, which were easy to fasten and unfasten, and seemed rugged enough for long-term use. The D-ring was also widely regarded as strong, and several owners loved the location of the D-ring, which gave them better control over their dog. Additionally, despite the position of the D-ring (on the back), many owners stated that this harness helped stop their dog from pulling.

There were very few negative reviews of the Julius-K9 Powerharness. A handful of owners found the harness too stiff and bulky, and a few had problems obtaining the proper size. However, these types of problems were very rare.

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2. Newbury Paws Classic Harness

The Newbury Paws Classic Harness is a premium harness that is specifically engineered for use with big breeds. A feature-packed product, the Newbury Paws Classic Harness fits most large breeds well and allows you to keep your dog safe and secure on walks. Additionally, the comfortable materials used in the construction of the harness will ensure that your dog doesn’t mind wearing it.

Price

$$$$

Notable Features

  • Two different D-rings: One on the back and one on the chest
  • Quilted fabric shell with designer trim
  • Constructed from breathable, water-resistant fabric
  • Includes a cellphone-sized pocket (fits an iPhone 5)
  • Available in three sizes and two color patterns
  • Made in the USA
  • Developed in collaboration with canine physical therapists to ensure your dog’s comfort and safety
  • Unconditional, satisfaction guarantee from the manufacturer allows you to purchase with confidence

User Reviews

Most owners who tried out the Newbury Paws Classic Harness loved it. Several spoke very highly about the fit and security of the product, explaining that the Newbury Paws model prevented their dog from backing out of the harness (a common problem with some other brands). Most owners found that it was easy to put on or take off, and most dogs appear to love the fit of the harness, and find it comfortable to wear.

One of the things that customers loved most about the harness was the dual D-ring design. You can use the one on the back if your dog is calm during walks, or use the one on the chest to help prevent your dog from pulling.

Complaints about the product were very few and far between, and typically involved one-off problems, such as a broken snap-lock or frayed stitching. Nevertheless, these problems were quite rare and most owners were very pleased with their purchase.

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3. Ruffwear - Web Master Harness

Ruffwear is one of the leading manufacturers of dog harnesses, and their Web Master Harness is one of their best models. Designed with your dog’s anatomy in mind, the Ruffwear Web Master Harness distributes the load over your pet’s entire torso. This ensures greater comfort for your dog, and helps to prevent injuries.

Price

$$$

Notable Features

  • Five different adjustment points provide great sizing flexibility and ensure a good fit
  • Foam padded chest and belly straps provide comfort for long walks
  • Provides two different attachment points on the back of the harness: A metal V-ring and a fabric loop
  • Available in six sizes and three different colors 
  • Largest size fits dogs with a 42-inch chest 
  • Hand loop on the back gives you greater control of your dog and allows you to help lift him up over obstacles
  • Reinforced stitching helps ensure this harness will last for years 
  • Reflective trim helps keep your dog visible to motorists in low-light conditions

User Reviews

The Ruffwear Web Master Harness is one of the best-reviewed harnesses on the market. Most owners absolutely love the design and recommend it highly. Owners explain that the harness fits very well and allows for a great range of motion, while still being secure and preventing dogs from backing out of the harness and escaping.

Although this is not a no-pull harness, many owners were pleasantly surprised that it stopped their dog from pulling. Additionally, while many of the owners found that the Ruffwear Web Master Harness was great for young, strong and active dogs, others found it very useful for older or injured dogs, as the fit allows owners to lift dogs gently and securely.

Some owners did complain that it was time-consuming to adjust the many straps at the outset, but once the proper fit was achieved, the strap buckles did not slip as occurs with many other harnesses.

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4. Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Dog Walking Harness

The Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Dog Harness is designed a bit differently than many other harnesses, to help ensure that the pressure from the leash is primarily applied to your dog’s chest. This not only provides superior comfort, it helps protect against injuries to the throat and neck.

Price

$$

Notable Features

  • Largest size fits dogs with 42-inch chest
  • Kurgo’s lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects allows you to buy with confidence
  • Broad, padded chest plate ensures a comfortable fit for your dog
  • Available in five sizes
  • Five different adjustment points ensure a great fit for any breed
  • Largest size fits dogs with a 44-inch chest
  • Comes with 10-inch lead for training or clipping your dog to the seatbelt in your car
  • Two different attachment points: V-ring on the back and a no-pull D-ring on the chest 
  • Harness is black with yellow trim

User Reviews

The Kurgo Tru-Fit Harness received good reviews from most owners who tried it, with many claiming that it was the best harness they had ever tried. Many of the owners found that it stopped leash-pulling behavior almost immediately, and it encouraged their dog to walk by their side, rather than lagging behind or racing ahead.

Most owners who tried the Kurgo Tru-Fit found that it was easy to adjust and obtain a secure fit. Most dogs appear to find the harness very comfortable to wear, and the padded chest plate did not rub, chafe or cause any problems.

A few users found the design of the rear strap to be slightly problematic, as it moves around a little bit, but other owners failed to mention this at all. A very small number of customers also complained about the front clip coming unfastened. Additionally, a few owners noted that their dog was able to chew on the front strap, which could lead to problems.

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5. DEXDOG EZHarness

The DEXDOG EZHarness is a lightweight, minimalistic harness, made from nylon webbing, high-quality quick-release snaps and a sturdy, metal D-ring attachment point.

Designed to be one of the easiest harnesses to put on or take off, the EZHarness features only two quick-release snaps and can be donned or removed in seconds.

Notable Features

  • Available in four sizes and six attractive colors
  • Newly upgraded metal D-ring is stronger than in previous models
  • Reflective straps help keep your dog visible to motorists in low-light conditions
  • Largest size fits dogs with a 38-inch chest
  • Backed by manufacturer’s 365-day money-back guarantee, so you can shop with confidence
  • Over-the-head, slip-on design makes it easy to put on or take off
  • Washable materials and design allow you to keep the harness looking its best 
  • Works for dogs with either long or short hair

User Reviews

The DEXDOG EZHarness received mostly positive reviews from customers who tried it. Most owners agreed with the manufacturer’s claim that this is one of the easiest harnesses to put on, and many found that it was very helpful for dogs who become anxious when a harness is placed on them. Several customers were also happy to find that this harness did not slide up to the neck region when under tension, which is very important, especially for smaller dogs or those with some health conditions.

However, the DEXDOG EZHarness also received its fair share of complaints, primarily relating to its durability and strength. While the manufacturer has upgraded the D-ring used on the harness, some customers reported that the stitching tore or the straps simply came apart. Accordingly, this is not a great choice for large, strong dogs who pull during walks.

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The Best Harness for Large Breeds: Our Recommendation

Taking all factors into consideration, the best harness for a large breed dog is clearly the Julius K9 IDC Powerharness. It is extremely strong and durable, and it is built from some of the best materials available.

Additionally, it is available in a wide variety of sizes, making it easy to achieve a secure and comfortable fit. Further, the Julius K9 Powerharness is very reasonably priced for the quality and can be customized with Velcro patches to help your dog stand out from the crowd.

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