Dog Harness Review

Updated: Sep 10

We must admit, we don't like dog collars. We've had healthy dogs and dogs with orthopedic and neurologic issues and none of them appreciated being tugged around by their neck. We don't blame them! In general, harnesses provide better support and control, and definitely help ouchy dogs get around better.

For dogs with injuries or who have trouble getting around, harnesses are indispensable. For hyperactive dogs who want nothing more than to chase that rabbit or squirrel, harnesses are safer and provide better control. Bottom line - harnesses are more comfortable for dogs and they make handling injured or active pets a lot easier, both on them and you/your body.

Which dogs benefit most from using a harness over a collar

Collars put pressure on a dog’s neck, which can injure their neck and trachea. This is especially true for dogs that are pullers but it's also true if you're the one pulling on the dog's collar, for example, if you're trying to pull your dog away from a piece of trash on the road or holding the collar to help your injured dog walk. Though most dogs benefit from being walked with a harness, there are some where harnesses are a "must have".

  • Dogs that pull on their leash or that need to be coaxed away from danger are controlled better with a harness.

  • Dogs who can easily slip out of their collars, such as Greyhounds, are much safer being walked with a harness.

  • A harness is an indispensable aid for older or injured dogs and those that have trouble getting around. Most harnesses have one or more short handles and longer handles that give you options to help injured or painful pets get around easier.

Things to look for when choosing a harness

  • Comfort: Everyone appreciates being comfortable and so does your dog.

  • A harness should fit your dog snugly throughout. It shouldn't twist or slide.

  • Your dog's legs should be able to move freely when wearing the harness. Some harnesses can block movement at the shoulders so be mindful of this when choosing a harness for your pet.

  • Straps should be soft and not irritate or cut into their skin (the armpit and groin areas should be either free from straps or have straps that are padded with soft materials like fleece).

  • The chest and belly areas should be wider and padded since this part of the harness bears most of the dog's weight.

  • Job Specific: Choose a harness that's specific for your dog's needs. Is your dog a puller? Does your dog have weak back legs or a leg that's been amputated? Do you have a wide-chested dog? There are harnesses that are specifically made to handle these jobs.

  • Easy to Apply/Remove: This is extremely important if your dog has mobility issues. Look for a harness that can be applied without needing to lift your dog's leg and insert it in the harness.

  • Adjustability: Make sure the harness has adjustable straps to fit your dog safely. For larger dogs, a harness that provides a short and long strap option will give you better control and flexibility.

  • Durability/Easy to Clean: Harnesses can get pretty dirty since dogs might lay down in them or kick up mud. The chest and belly areas of a harness can act as a hammock, picking up dirt and debris along the way. Check to see that your harness is easy to clean. Do I dare say "machine washable"?

  • Style/Color: Like collars, harnesses come in various styles and colors. Once you find the right harness, choose the color and bling that matches your dog's coat and personality. This is your dog’s social look so have fun with it!

As mentioned above ("Job Specific"), harnesses are made with specific needs in mind. That's why there are so many different types. Remember to choose a harness that's designed for the job.

Since we focus mainly on helping special-needs pets and their caregivers, we'll start with these job-specific harnesses - those designed for dogs that need help getting around.

Ruffwear Flagline Multi-Purpose Harness

Ruffwear is a leader in dog harnesses. We really like this harness for dogs that need more help or assistance with walking. It incorporates many of the features of Ruffwear's Everyday Harness (featured later in this article) but it covers more of the trunk and belly, and has a handle and 3 points of attachment for the leash. If you have a dog that's injured or having a bit of trouble managing stairs or moving around, this is our pick.

Help 'Em Up Harness

If you have a medium-to-large size dog with significant mobility issues, it's hard to find a better harness than the Help 'Em Up. It's the ultimate, full body harness that helps you lift, move, and walk a dog with significant mobility issues. It's great for dogs that need help standing or walking either because of an injury, illness, degenerative disorder, or even after surgery. Features of this harness include:

  • Sturdy looped handles to help your dog stand and walk

  • Has both front end and hind end harness components to support the whole body

  • Used in many veterinary clinics by rehabilitation professionals

Personal note: We know Lindsey and Cary Zimmerman, the owners and inventors of Help 'Em Up Harness. We've seen firsthand the ingenuity, design, and quality that goes into their products. If you need this type of harness, it's definitely worth the money. Chances are, this is the harness your dog will be using for the rest of their lives.

Coodeo Dog Lift Harness

If you have a small-to-medium sized dog with severe mobility issues, we really like this Coodeo Dog Lift Harness. It's very affordable and does a super job of supporting the entire body. Features of this harness include: