best harness for german shepherd

Top 6 Best Harnesses for German Shepherds in 2020

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German Shepherds are one of the most popular dog breeds in the country. In fact, they’re second only to the Labrador Retriever in popularity according to the American Kennel Club (AKC).

However, their size, strength, and head shape mean that walking them on a collar may not be the best option.

There are a lot of different types of dog harnesses on the market, though. How can you pick the best harness for German Shepherds?

We’ve got you covered with the different types of dog harnesses, features you should look for, and our picks for the best dog harness for a German Shepherd.

german shepherd dog harness

What to Look For in a German Shepherd Harness

So, what types of things do you need to consider before buying a harness for your German Shepherd? Here are some important features you’ll want to see in a dog harness for your German Shepherd.

Style

There are several styles of harnesses available on the market. To determine which style you want, you need to think about the primary reason you’re buying a harness for your German Shepherd.

There are styles for dogs that pull, keeping dogs safe in cars, general walking, and more. We’ll go into more detail about the styles and types of dog harnesses later in this article.

Safety and Visibility

Do you walk your German Shepherd in the dark very often? If so, it will be important for you to find a harness style that includes reflective stripes or LED lights for improved visibility.

Do you take your dog on frequent car rides? Look for a design that can be attached to a seat belt to keep your German Shepherd safe in the car.

These are just some of the safety and visibility features you should consider when looking for a German Shepherd harness.

Material

Dog harnesses come in a variety of materials from nylon to leather to denim. Each material has pros and cons. Again, you should consider your main purpose for buying a dog harness before choosing which material would best suit your German Shepherd.

Heavy-Duty/Durable

Most likely, you don’t want to have to buy a new harness several times a year after your German Shepherd has beat up (or even chewed up) their current one. It may be worth your while to invest in a durable, heavy-duty harness that will last for a few years rather than something cheap that will need frequent replacing.

Breathability

Even though dogs don’t sweat like humans, it’s still important to find a harness with a bit of breathability. Otherwise, your German Shepherd could overheat. That’s an especially big thing to consider if you buy a more full-coverage harness like a tactical harness.

Water-Resistant

Water and mud can destroy cheap harnesses faster than you might expect. If you live in an area that gets a lot of rain or your German Shepherd loves to swim, you should look for a harness that’s water-resistant.

Adjustability

No two dogs are exactly the same size or shape. That’s especially true with German Shepherds, who can have unusual dimensions with their large chest and small neck. You want to find a harness for your German Shepherd that adjusts in as many ways as possible to get the best fit.

Chest Strap

A chest strap should be high enough to help give you more control over your German Shepherd without being so high that it can injure their neck or affect their breathing. This is one reason that finding the right fit is crucial when looking for a German Shepherd harness.

Metal or Hard Plastic Buckles

The buckles are one of the most common places for a harness to fail. The last thing you want is for your German Shepherd to pull so hard that a buckle on their harness breaks and they escape. Look for harnesses that have metal or hard plastic buckles that are unlikely to fail.

Comfort

The best harness in the world won’t mean much if it causes your German Shepherd discomfort. Look for harnesses that have padding, especially under the front legs, to ensure that your dog is comfortable wearing the harness during a long walk without getting any irritation.

Cost

You may choose a cheap harness now, and that’s OK. Just know that you may need to replace it sooner than a more expensive harness. Investing in a quality harness now (even if it’s expensive) could save replacement costs down the road.

best dog harness for german shepherd

Best Dog Harness for German Shepherds

#1 – ICEFANG Tactical Dog Harness

About: Not only is this the best tactical harness we could find, but it’s the most highly rated harness we came across. With 4 adjustable points, you can get an excellent fit for your dog. There is a front D-ring leash attachment for dogs who pull and another D-ring on top of the harness for dogs who don’t pull. Additionally, this harness has a handle near the front of the harness.

Notable Characteristics and Features:

  • Many different sizes and colors to choose from
  • Comes with hard plastic or metal buckles
  • Highly adjustable
  • You can add Velcro patches to the sides of the harness

User Reviews: As always, there were a handful of complaints about defective harnesses breaking and putting their dogs at risk. However, the vast majority of reviews mentioned how durable the harness is. Many reviews specifically mentioned how well it worked for their German Shepherd and helped reduce pulling.

Bottom Line: This is one of the best harnesses you can buy for your German Shepherd. Always inspect any harness for defects before putting it on your dog. Otherwise, this tactical harness fit the needs of most people who bought it.

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#2 – BABYLTRL Big Dog Harness

About: If you’re looking for something a little simpler and cheaper, this harness has great features like reflective stitching and breathable padded mesh to help control larger dogs.

Notable Characteristics and Features:

  • 100% satisfaction guarantee
  • Front leash attachment prevents pulling
  • Has a handle on the back of the harness

User Reviews: A fair amount of people complained about quality issues, but most people say this is a sturdy harness and a great value for the price.

Bottom Line: If you want to start with a harness at the lower end of the price range, this is a great option to try.

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#3 – EXPAWLORER Big Dog No Pull Harness Vest

About: This harness is designed specifically for large dogs, so it has better proportions than some other harnesses. It easily goes on over your dog’s head, so you don’t need to wrestle their legs into a harness.

Notable Characteristics and Features:

  • Several sizes and many colors to choose from
  • Rubber handle on back for better control
  • Reflective tape makes dogs more visible at night

User Reviews: Many reviewers reported that the straps would loosen easily, and their dog could escape from the harness. Overall, though, people think this is a quality harness and love being able to put it on over their dog’s head.

Bottom Line: This harness doesn’t do much to reduce pulling. However, it is easy to put on and take off and should be a sturdy option for a dog who doesn’t pull on walks.

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#4 – Kurgo Dog Harness

About: This harness is crash test certified for dogs up to 75 pounds, making it a great harness if you take your dog on a lot of car rides. It also has a front leash attachment to help reduce pulling.

Notable Characteristics and Features:

  • Tested at Calspan’s Buffalo, NY crash test facility
  • 5 adjustment points help it fit most dogs
  • Includes hassle-free Kurgo lifetime Warranty against manufacturer defects

User Reviews: On the downside, this harness can be very difficult to adjust. On the plus side, it’s also more difficult for dogs to slip out of. In general, people who primarily use this as a car harness seem happier than those who use it as a walking harness.

Bottom Line: If you primarily want a harness that will keep your dog safe in the car, this may be a great option for you. If you’re looking for something to reduce your dog’s pulling, there are better options out there.

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#5 – Petacc No-Pull Pet Harness

About: This simple, adjustable harness is highly reflective, making it ideal for nighttime walks. D-rings on the front and back allow you to walk your German Shepherd whether they walk well on a leash or not.

Notable Characteristics and Features:

  • Highly reflective
  • No-pull and choke-free
  • Breathable, lightweight mesh lining

User Reviews: There are a worrying number of reviews that mention the front D-ring being pulled off the harness when dogs pull too hard. Otherwise, most people love how adjustable this harness is and the handle on the back is a nice bonus.

Bottom Line: This is a great basic harness that’s highly reflective for walking in the dark. However, the sturdiness of the front D-ring is questionable, making this harness a poor choice for dogs that pull on the leash.

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#6 – Embark Adventure Dog Harness

About: This harness is highly adjustable, won’t choke your dog, and is easy to get on and off. It’s more padded than many other harnesses and is made from military-grade nylon for extra strength and sturdiness.

Notable Characteristics and Features:

  • Strong military-grade nylon exceeds the national pulling strength guidelines by at least 130 LBS
  • Long straps make it highly adjustable
  • Comes in 3 colors

User Reviews: Interestingly, there is no common theme amongst the complaints. Negative reviews range from poor stitching to a weak D-ring to the straps being too long to the harness being too small. However, there are plenty of positive reviews talking about how sturdy this harness is and how well it prevents dogs from backing out of it.  

Bottom Line: While this harness is more expensive than some of the others on this list, it’s worth the money. It’s more durable and better fitting than the cheaper models on this list.

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Why Should You Use a Harness for Your German Shepherd Instead of a Collar?

You may be wondering why you should get a harness for your German Shepherd rather than walking them with a leash attached to the collar. There are actually several reasons why it’s better to walk your German Shepherd on a harness rather than a collar:

  • With their fine head and skinny neck, German Shepherds can back out of and escape from collars more easily than they can from harnesses.
  • You can get much better control over your German Shepherd with a harness rather than a collar. This is especially important if your dog likes to pull when being walked on a leash.
  • Collars can be a major choking hazard, especially for large German Shepherds who like to pull when they walk. That’s why harnesses are especially important for dogs who tend to pull on the leash.

Collars are great for keeping your dog’s ID and rabies tags handy. However, collars just aren’t the best tool for walking large breed dogs like German Shepherds.

dog harness types

Types of Dog Harnesses

There are many different types of harnesses, and it’s important to find the right one to suit your needs. Here’s a guide to some of the most common types of dog harnesses to help you find the best harnesses for German Shepherds.

Back-Clip, Front-Clip, or Dual-Clip

Harnesses that only clip a leash to the back are best for dogs who already walk nicely on a leash. You won’t get enough leverage with a back clip if your German Shepherd likes to pull while wearing a harness.

Harnesses that clip in the front are great at helping to prevent your dog from pulling or jumping. However, they can cause the leash to get tangled around your dog’s front legs, so a front-clip harness may not be ideal for a German Shepherd who heals well on a leash.

To get the best of both benefits, look for a dual-clip harness to use the clip you need for your current situation.

No-Pull Walking Harness

Some harnesses are designed specifically to help control dogs who like to pull while being walked. The leash usually attaches in the front, and the harness may tighten when pressure is applied to where the leash clips.

Step-Through

Step-through harnesses are usually the most basic type. While many harnesses go over your dog’s head, step-through harnesses require getting your German Shepherd’s legs into the harness instead. If your budget is an issue, this may be a style for you to consider. Some dogs like to tap dance when they know they are going on a walk, though, which can make it difficult to get this type of harness on.

Padded Harness

Harnesses can apply a lot of pressure to your dog. That’s why it’s best to look for harnesses that are appropriately padded to prevent chaffing, especially in your German Shepherd’s sensitive armpits.

Car Harness with Seatbelt

Did you know that attaching a regular dog harness to a seatbelt can hurt, rather than save, your dog if you get into a car accident? If your dog goes on a lot of car rides with you, you should consider investing in a car harness with a seatbelt. That helps keep your German Shepherd safe as well as you – a 100-pound German Shepherd is a mighty projectile to hit the back of your head during the force of a car accident.  

Reflective Harness

If you walk your dog during low-light times of day or near where people commonly hunt, you will want your German Shepherd to be as easy to see as possible. That’s why a reflective harness (or one that comes with an LED) light may be the best option for you and your dog.

Tracking Harness

Do you plan on using your dog for hunting, military, or other tracking work? You will want to look into a tracking harness. Tracking harnesses usually give dogs the best freedom of movement while also providing a handle for you to grab onto as well as heavy-duty materials that will survive a day out in the field.

Tactical Vest/Military Harness

Tactical vests and military harnesses are most often used on working dogs However, you may be interested in using one of these heavy-duty harnesses yourself.

How to Fit a Harness on Your German Shepherd

Part of the hard part about finding a harness that fits your German Shepherd well is that each harness company wants measurements of different parts of your dog’s body. Before shopping for a harness for German Shepherds, you should know your dog’s weight and what they measure around the widest part of their chest and the largest part of their neck.

If you aren’t quite sure about your dog’s size, it’s often best to go for a larger size, then adjust down if necessary. Even after it’s adjusted, a harness that’s even a little too small when at its biggest can be very uncomfortable for your German Shepherd.

dog harness for a german shepherd

How to Get Your German Shepherd Used to a Harness

If you’ve only ever used a collar on your German Shepherd since they were a puppy, it may take a while for them to get used to the idea of wearing a harness. Go slow and give plenty of praise and treats during this process:

  • First, leave the harness out so your German Shepherd can sniff it and get used to its presence.
  • Then, put the harness on your dog and praise them for allowing you to put it on them.
  • Let your German Shepherd roam around your home with the harness first before taking them out on a walk to see how they do with it on.
  • Now, it’s time to walk your German Shepherd with their harness!

Frequently Asked Questions 

Hopefully, we’ve answered most of your questions about finding the best harness for German Shepherds. However, here are some frequently asked questions.

How Do I Find the Right Size Harness?

Measuring your German Shepherd and following each company’s sizing guidelines are key to finding the right size harness. It’s also a good idea to check reviews to see whether a particular brand seems to run larger or smaller than advertised.

How Do I Teach my German Shepherd to Stop Pulling on the Leash?

Not only is it annoying, but it can be very dangerous for your German Shepherd to be constantly pulling on the leash when you walk them. Teaching your German Shepherd to heel can take a lot of time and patience, but the process is simpler than you might imagine.

When your dog pulls, you immediately stop walking. Only when they relax enough to relieve tension on the leash should you start walking again. You might not get very far before your German Shepherd starts to pull a bit.

It can be a very annoying game for you as the human to take 3 steps, then stop and wait, take 3 more steps, then stop and wait some more. However, this is the most effective way for your German Shepherd to eventually realize that leaving the leash loose is the only way to make forward progress while going on a walk.

Wrapping Up: The Best Harness for a German Shepherd

Hopefully, we’ve given you some great suggestions to help you find the best harness for your German Shepherd. You may still need to try a few styles and return them before settling on the right one. However, the right harness can make all the difference in the world when it comes to walking (or driving) your German Shepherd.

You May Also Like…

10 Best Collars for German Shepherds [2020 Reviews]

When Does a German Shepherd Stop Growing?

Are German Shepherds Aggressive?

Best Dog Food for German Shepherds: 8 Top Picks

German Shepherd Lifespan: Ways to Increase Life Expectancy in Your GSD

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