Different Types of Dog Harnesses Compared
A well-trained dog can be achieved through proper training and appropriate walking equipment. For young pups or dogs learning the correct leash walking etiquette, using different types of dog harnesses is better than the leash and collar combination. There are four types of dog harnesses. Front clip harness, back clip dog harness, dual clip dog harness, and dog head halter. Dog harnesses are recommended as a great training tool because it provides both safety and comfort for your dog.
To effectively train your dog, both a collar and a harness are needed. If you’re wondering are dog collars safe, we believe that the dog collar is a convenient way to keep identification and rabies tags on dogs, not necessarily for leash attachments.
For walking, we recommend a well-fitting harness. The harness allows the owner to attach a dog leash and gain greater control of where the dog moves without straining the neck. In addition, harnesses are hard for dogs to slip out of. If you have one of the following types of dogs, using a harness may be the best option.
- Puppies who are just learning how to walk on a leash.
- Older dogs who were not taught proper leash walking etiquette when they were puppies.
- Stubborn dogs that still have not yet learned proper walking-on-leash etiquette.
Many first time owners are confused when choosing the right harness for their dogs because there are several types out there, each with its specific purpose. Before we explain the different types of dog harnesses, we’d like to go over two main features of harnesses.
Strap Harnesses vs. Vest Harnesses
Regardless of which type of harness you choose that’s best for your dog, all harnesses give you more control when walking your dog on a leash. You may have noticed that there are two types of harnesses. The first type of harness has multiple straps that loop around the dog’s chest, back or belly. The second type of harness is more vest-like with mesh material covering the whole portions of the dog’s body.
How do you decide which is best for your dog? Choosing to go with either a strap or a vest harness depends on the situation.
Strap harnesses are weightless straps that loop around the dog’s chest and back. The minimalist strap harness is great during the summer season because it keeps your dog cool in hot weather. However, there are downsides to wearing a strap harness. If your dog is a puller, the strap could cause your dog’s skin to chafe. Also, if it is your first time putting the strap harness on, you may be confused as to how to put the strap harness on your dog.
Vest harnesses reduce skin chafing and cover the whole portion of your dog’s body, which creates a hugging sensation. This may make your dog feel calmer and more secure. There are also downsides to vest harnesses. They can be bulky and some dogs do not like the feeling of being contained in the vest.
Whether you decide on strap harness or vest harness, choose one that is most comfortable for your dog.
4 Types of Dog Harnesses
Choosing the right type of dog harness is a great investment for many owners because it can make leash training and walking more enjoyable. Not only does harness provide you more control, but it also helps reduce pulling. Unlike the dog collar that can put pressure on your dog’s trachea, the harness spreads the pressure evenly throughout your dog’s body. Below, we have listed four types of harnesses that are best for walking your dog. Thus, for now, we will exclude assistance dog harnesses, car harnesses, and harnesses for dogs with disabilities.
There are four types of dog harnesses:
- Front clip harness: The D ring for leash attachment is on the front of the dog and use to help eliminate pulling
- Back clip dog harness: Harnesses with a D ring attachment on the back of the dog
- Dual clip dog harness: This type of harness has both a rear clip and front clip, although the rear clip is the dominant one
- Dog head halter: Dog head halters have a strap that goes around the neck and another one around the snout
Although they look similar to one another, each type of harnesses has its specific purposes and crucial differences. We will go over the pros and cons of each harness.
Front Clip Harness
The front clip harness and back clip dog harness have similar designs, except the D-ring for the leash attachment is positioned on your dog’s chest. A front clip harness is best if your dog is a puller. Since the D ring and leash attachment is at the front, if your dog pulls, they are walking towards you and the leash shortens. This way, there is no reward for pulling because doing so does not get him or her anywhere, except towards you.
You may notice that some front-clip harnesses come with Martingale loops on the front for additional anti-pulling pressure. Although a front clip harness is a useful tool for dogs who pull on the leash during walks, the harness alone does not necessarily guarantee that your dog’s pulling problem will be corrected. Your dog’s pulling problem may be corrected with proper and consistent training in addition to wearing the right harness – the front clip harness in this case.
The majority of the vest-style harnesses are either a back clip dog harness or a dual clip dog harness, however, you may still be able to find vest harnesses with front clips only.
- The D ring for leash attachment at the front discourages your dog’s natural pulling instinct.
- Some front-clip harnesses have Martingale loops to exert additional pressure, which further discourages pulling.
- You can steer the leash to either side of your dog, giving you directional control.
- With the front clip harness, you have more control over your dog than if you use dog collars.
- Because the D ring for leash attachment is on the front, the leash could easily get tangled in your dog’s legs.
- If you’re trying to change the leash from one side of your dog to the other, it can be difficult because your dog’s nose gets in the way.
- If your dog is not wearing the harness properly or the harness is not fitted properly, it can cause skin chafing.
- Although a front clip harness offers more control than a traditional collar or back clip dog harness, you may still need a walking tool such as a dog head halter if you have strong and large dogs with serious behavior issues.
The front clip harness comes in two slightly different designs.
- Easy Walk Harness. This type of harness has two known features. First, there is a Martingale loop in the front that will tighten when your dog pulls on it. Second, the strap comes in at least two colors. This way, it helps you identify which strap goes on top and which goes on the bottom.
- SENSE-ation Harness. The SENSE-ation Harness is very similar to the Easy Walk Harness. The one difference is that there is no Martingale loop. If your dog is a big-time puller, then this harness may be preferred as it does not have the Martingale loop and won’t cause harm to your dog.
Back Clip Dog Harness
The back clip dog harness positions the D-ring for leash attachment on the back of the dog, thus the name back-clip harness. Many owners prefer the back clip dog harness because it is simple and easy to put on their dogs. Dogs also adjust to the back clip dog harness quicker than other types of dog harnesses. The back clip dog harness is useful for small dog breeds that have delicate throats or neck area and can easily be injured by collars.
Dog owners also like the back clip dog harness because they can still use a retractable dog leash with it. They simply clip the retractable dog leash onto the D ring located on the back of the dog. However, if you have strong untrained dogs that like to pull on the leash, the back-clip harness may not be the best choice.
- As compared to a flat collar, harnesses offer more control over your dog.
- Because the D ring is on the back of the dog, the leash is kept up and away from your dog’s front legs and this prevents tangling.
- The D-ring is further down your dog’s back and away from her neck, reducing the risk of a neck injury.
- Comfortable for dogs to wear
- Back-clip harnesses may make pulling problems worse because dogs naturally move in the opposite direction of where force is applied, so if you’re pulling on top then they’re pulling forward.
- If you’ve seen a sled dog harness, you’ll notice that the leash attachment is on the top. This design makes the dog want to pull even harder.
- Do not provide enough control over large dogs with serious walking issues such as jumping up or pulling on the leash.
- Do not offer any directional steering.
- Not recommended for aggressive dogs due to a lack of proper control.
- Back-clip harnesses do not offer any directional steering.
Dual Clip Dog Harness
The dual-clip harness gives you the most flexibility because it allows you to attach the leash to either the dog’s back clip or the dog’s front clip, although the back clip is the dominant one. The back-clip attachment allows guiding when on normal walks and the front-clip attachment is used when more control is needed, especially when your dog likes to pull or jump. You could also attach the leash to both clips simultaneously if you have a double-ended leash. If you use the double-ended leash and connect it to both D-rings, you will have two points of communication with your dog. You’ll also enjoy maximum control over your dog.
If you’re using a retractable dog leash, remember to only attach the leash to the D ring located on the dog’s back. We do not recommend attaching a retractable dog leash on the dog’s front clip.
If you’ve never used the double-ended leash before, it will definitely take some getting used to. If only one of the D rings is used, the harness will act either as a back-clip harness or a front-clip harness.
For strong and large dog breeds, a durable vest dual clip dog harness may be the best option. If you have active dogs who like adventure, then a lightweight, resilient, and high-performance dual-clip harness is necessary. Lightweight high-performance dual clip harnesses are also great for working dogs, service dog handlers, and amputee dogs.
- You can use it as either a front-clip harness or a back-clip harness, or even both.
- Pressure is applied evenly and on multiple points throughout the body. This prevents neck injuries caused by yanking.
- Dual-clip harness is a great tool when teaching dogs with behavioral problems not to pull on the leash.
- Comfortable to wear.
- Most dual-clip harnesses are bulkier or more expensive than other types of dog harnesses.
- You’ll need a double-ended leash in order to attach to both D-rings simultaneously.
- Dual-clip harnesses are meant to be used as a training tool and not recommended for long-term use.
- They are not regular walking equipment and dogs must learn to walk on a leash safely without relying on the harness.
Dog Head Halter
Many owners will choose the head halter option when they have dogs that are extreme pullers, aggressive, or highly reactive. The head halter allows you to exert the most control over your dog with the least amount of force. If you have a strong or large dog that gets physically aggressive or tries to jump when she sees another dog, it may be tough to hold her back with any of the above types of harnesses. However, using a gentle head halter will help to correct her walking behavior.
Head halters may remind you of a muzzle, but they aren’t. The great thing about head halter is that your canine companion can still eat treats, drink water, bark, or bite when wearing it. However, if your dog has serious aggression problems and is a danger to people and other dogs, it is a good idea to combine one of the above-listed harnesses with an appropriate muzzle.
- With a head halter, you have the most control over your dog as she can’t throw her entire bodyweight behind a lunge.
- Great for physically frail owners or smaller people who have bigger dogs.
- The head halter targets a pressure point under your dog’s jaw for maximum effectiveness. This pressure point does not cause pain and may only cause minimal chafing.
- Some dogs don’t respond well to wearing head halters and it may take them several days or weeks to get used to it.
- Out-of-control dogs may be at risk of hurting their necks.
- If your dog is a super puller, the head halter could leave marks on her face.
- Because the head halter looks like a muzzle, it may look off-putting to some people. They may think your dog is crazy, but this is not a big deal.
The two most popular head halters are Gentle Leader and Halti.
- Gentle Leader. The Gentle Leader is a head halter that fits over your dog’s nose and behind their head and redirects your dog’s tendency to pull by placing gentle pressure on pain-free points and eliminating pressure on his throat. Whether you have a small or large dog, the leash attachment point that is located a few inches below the jaw gives you maximum control over your dog’s movements. The nose loop is neoprene padded and puts pressure on the back of the neck instead of your dog’s throat, which prevents choking and gagging.
- Halti. What makes Halti head halter different from the Gentle Leader is that it has more padding and a better below-the-jaw design to prevent the nose loop from slipping down the nose or over your dog’s lips. One of the features of this head halter is the dual loop under the dog’s jaw. This allows the entire halter to be connected to a clasp lead and to a dog’s collar if she is wearing one. In the event that your dog slips free, the Halti head halter offers better security.
How Should A Dog Harness Fit?
Once you’ve decided on using a harness, it is crucial to find a one that fits your dog properly. If it doesn’t fit your dog properly, it can slip out, which can be dangerous and ineffective.
Measure First Then Buy
Before deciding on the type of harness you want to buy for your dog, measure your canine companion first. Find the weight of your dog. Weight is one of the important factors harness companies use to determine sizing. Measure the chest and neck of your dog. While choosing a harness, research their sizing guides online. We understand that you may not have one of those vinyl tape measures. Don’t worry. Use a piece of string instead and measure your dog with it. Then hold the string against a tape measure to find the measurement.
Use the Two-Finger Method to Check the Fit
It is best to choose a harness that snug perfectly with your dog. This ensures that your dog stays in their harness and a perfectly snug harness prevents chafing. A good way to make sure the fit is perfect is by fitting two fingers (stacked, not side by side) between your dog’s body and the harness’s straps. If you’re deciding on a dog harness with a Martingale loop, measure when the loop is pulled tight.
If the dog harness gets wet and your dog is pulling on it, it can cause discomfort and skin chafing to your dog. We advise taking the harness off your dog and letting it dry before putting it back on.
Eagloo Dog Vest Harness with 2 Metal Rings (Dual-Clip Harness)
The Eagloo Dog Vest Harness with 2 Metal Rings on the dog’s chest and back is a dual-clip harness. With four adjustment buckles, this harness is comfortable for short walks. Made of soft breathable material with reflective nylon webbing, this harness is great for early morning or night walks.
Eagloo Dog Vest Harness with 2 Metal Rings Key Features:
- Comes in 4 sizes: small, medium, large, and x-large
- Comes in 6 colors: black, blue, green, orange, pink, and rose red
- Recommended for large and medium dogs: labrador, husky, boxer, german shepherd, golden retriever, border collie, and more
- No pull design and better control dual-clip harness
- Made with breathable mesh lining with soft sponge padding plate
- Easy to put on and take off with the quick snap buckles
- Fully adjustable straps at the chest and neck
- Perfect for daily training, walking, running, jogging, and hiking
What customers are saying:
✅ Many owners love that this harness is a lifesaver. Their dogs also enjoy wearing it. Had they known that this harness would work so well, they would have gotten this ages ago.
✅ Almost everyone said that the harness fits their dog properly with no chafing, no limping, and it doesn’t restrict their dog’s joints.
✅ All of the owners said that the harness is good quality, sturdy and well-fitting. Best of all, it stops pulling immediately.
❌ The color they received was brighter than they had expected, other than that, the harness itself was perfect for their dogs.
The heavy-duty PetSafe Easy Walk Harness, Teal/Gray Straps was created by a veterinary behaviorist to teach proper walking etiquette. The harness includes a patented Martingale loop and front chest attachment to minimize your dog’s pulling by gently steering him in the direction you are headed. Some dogs learn best with a leash attachment on the front of the harness, which helps redirect your dog’s attention, instead of pulling him back. Great for light to moderate dog pullers, the pressure from this harness is distributed across your dog’s chest instead of on his throat. The durable strap harness is constructed to be light and breathable and keeps your dog cool during training or walking. Best of all, if you accidentally purchase the wrong size or your dog mistook the harness for a chew toy, PetSafe’s customer service will be happy to assist with replacements or resizing.
PetSafe Easy Walk Harness, Teal/Gray Straps Key Features:
- Comes in 8 colors: Teal/Gray, Black/Silver, Apple Green/Gray, Deep Purple/Black, Fawn/Brown, Raspberry/Gray, Red/Black, Royal Blue/Navy Blue
- Each strap harness comes with 2 colors to help you identify which strap goes on top and which goes on the bottom of the dog
- Comes in 8 different sizes
- Made of heavy-duty breathable nylon
- Easy to put on and take off with the quick-snap shoulder and belly straps
What customers are saying:
✅ A lot of owners loved the harness because they noticed it helps stop their dog from pulling immediately and now they have more pleasant walks.
✅ Many owners loved that walking their dogs has become more relaxing and enjoyable now that they have this harness.
❌ A few owners noted that if you have a very active dog, this harness may not be the best solution.
❌ Several owners said that adjusting the harness could be a bit difficult as the recommended t-shape can be impossible if your dog doesn’t have near-perfect proportions.
The durable nylon SENSE-ation No-Pull Dog Harness is great for dogs that are big-time puller because it doesn’t have a Martingale loop and won’t cause harm to your dog. It makes your walk more enjoyable and gently teaches your dog to walk at your side.
SENSE-ation No-Pull Dog Harness Key Features:
- Comes in several colors
- Comes in several sizes
- Durable and breathable nylon strap harness
- Great training tool
What customers are saying:
✅ Many owners said that this harness solved the pulling problem in a gentle and humane way. They advised using the front leash attachment as that is the most effective way to correct the pulling problem.
✅ A lot of owners loved that their dogs can’t back out or slip out of the harness.
✅ Many reviews said this harness is great for strong pullers and it helped them (the owners) from being pulled over with their dogs.
❌ A few customers said they have larger dogs and there aren’t enough bright color harness options for their dogs.
Voyager Step-in Vest Harness for Small and Medium Dogs by Best Pet Supplies (Back-Clip Harness)
The soft, lightweight Voyager Step-in Vest Harness for Small and Medium Dogs by Best Pet Supplies is a step-in back-clip dog harness that is made with breathable mesh material and extra padding. It is great for all types of weather so it is perfect for walks all year round. This harness has three safety features: the hook and loop fastener, buckle, and double D-rings. In addition, it also has two reflective bands on the sides of the harness to enhance visibility during early morning or late evening walks.
Voyager Step-in Vest Harness for Small and Medium Dogs by Best Pet Supplies Key Features:
- Comes in 27 available colors
- Comes in 7 sizes
- Lightweight back-clip harness that is made of soft breathable air mesh
- Perfect for training and walking in all types of weather
- Has velcro closure
What customers are saying:
✅ Many owners have small dog breeds and said this harness fits perfectly and comfortably on their small canine companions. It fits snuggly and secures on their dogs.
✅ A lot of the owners were happy that this harness was what they expected. The style of the harness fits their dog perfectly and it was easy to put the harness on. It only took around 10 seconds to get their dogs dressed.
❌ One customer complained that when she first received the harness, there was a strong smell on it and she had to put it near the window to get rid of the smell for several nights.
The Freedom Harness by 2 Hounds Design is a step-through training harness that is comfortable to wear and has four adjustment points with Swiss Velvet lining to prevent chafing. A double-ended leash is included to give you more control and better training results with your dog. The double connection gives you two points of communication with your dog. The harness also features a patented Martingale loop on the back of the harness, which tightens gently around your dog’s chest to discourage pulling behavior. In no time, you’ll have an enjoyable walk with your dog.
2 Hounds Design No Pull Dog Harness with Double-Ended Leash Key Features:
- Comes in 19 colors
- Comes in 7 sizes
- Recommended by veterinarians, trainers, and dog behaviorists worldwide
- Double connection leash is included
- Swiss velvet lining at the strap behind the leg prevents chafing
- Made in the USA with stainless steel hardware and strong nylong webbing
- Includes Chewing Replacement Warranty by the manufacturer
What customers are saying:
✅ Owners of this product said they were happy with this product because it helped improve their dog’s walking, stopped the pulling, and did not cause any chafing to their dogs.
✅ Many owners noted that this no-pull harness is great for dogs that pull and they’ve had a positive experience using it to train their dogs.
✅ Some pointed out that when their dogs chewed the harness, they were able to get a replacement due to the Chewing Replacement Warranty included by the manufacturer.
❌ A few customers loved the harness itself, but it wasn’t quite as adjustable as they had expected.
The BABYLTRL Reflective Vest Harness No Pull and Adjustable for Large Dogs is a rugged, durable vest with a front-clip design intended for large strong breeds. Not only is the vest harness easy to wear with quick snap buckles to easily take off and put on, but it also has a no-pull design so when your dog pulls, the pulling pressure is evenly distributed to the body. This prevents choking and further pulling. The lightweight harness is made of premium nylon oxford material and is easy to clean. The reflective straps keep your dog safe and visible during late night or early morning walks. Best of all, the BABYLTRL vest harness comes with a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.
BABYLTRL Reflective Vest Harness No Pull and Adjustable for Large Dogs Key Features:
- Great for large dogs as well as medium dogs like golden retriever, labrador, german shepherd, and american bully pitbull
- Reflective adjustable straps for safety and visibility
- Perfect for walking, training, and outdoor activities
- Sturdy handy handle – the harness comes with a sturdy D-ring leash attachment and easy handle to help you control your dog
- Lightweight harness made of durable nylon material
- Easy to clean
- Comes with 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
What customers are saying:
✅ Many owners said their dogs loved this harness and it is the longest-running harness in their home.
✅ In addition, the owners love the dual d-rings because these are great for training. They commented that the harness is very durable and it has extra detailed stitching with reflective straps.
✅ A lot of the owners with big dogs said they are very happy with this harness as it is easy to put on and take off and it was worth every penny.
❌ The chest strap may be a bit wide for some dogs.
The RUFFWEAR WebMaster Harness Multi-Use Support is not only great for training but also anatomically designed for dogs who like outdoor adventures. The harness is also great for working dogs, service dog handlers, and amputee dogs. This dual-clip harness is great for strong pullers and has two leash attachment points and five convenient points of adjustment for a full range of motion. It is made of comfortable material with foam-padded straps and a padded chest and belly. The harness also features reflective trim for safety and visibility, a safety light loop, and a tuck-ID tag holder.
RUFFWEAR WebMaster Harness Multi-Use Support Key Features:
- Comes in 5 sizes and 3 color options
- Great for outdoor adventurous dogs, working dogs, service dog handlers and amputee dogs
- Dual-clip harness for strong pullers
- 5 convenient points of adjustment for full range of motion
- Durable, lightweight, resilient, rugged and made for year-round use
- Reflective trim and safety light loop
- Comfortable: foam-padded straps
What customers are saying:
✅ Many owners said this harness is great for bolting dogs as their dogs were not able to easily escape from it. The owners said they no longer fear their dogs running away. No matter how much their dogs fight to get out of it, the harness stays on.
✅ The harness also stood up to strong dogs who are aggressive chewers.
❌ A few customers didn’t like that the harness looks like a service vest. They would bring their dogs to the park to socialize with other dogs and people but noticed that people tend to avoid them when their dogs were wearing this harness.
The PetSafe Gentle Leader Headcollar No-Pull Dog Collar is recommended by veterinarians and designed by trainers. Great as a training tool, the headcollar helps redirect your dog’s tendency to pull, lung, or jump by placing gentle pressure on pain-free points and eliminating pressure on the throat. The headcollar has a padded neoprene nose loop and if your dog pulls, it puts pressure on the back of your dog’s neck instead of the throat, which prevents choking and gagging. The headcollar has an adjustable nose loop and quick-snap neck strap to properly and quickly fit on your dog. Best of all, if you accidentally purchase the wrong size or your dog mistakes his headcollar for a chew toy, PetSafe customer service is happy to assist with replacements or resizing.
PetSafe Gentle Leader Headcollar No-Pull Dog Collar Key Features:
- Comes in 8 colors and 5 sizes
- A padded neoprene nose loop puts pressure on the back of the neck instead of your dog’s throat
- Adjustable nose loop and quick-snap neck strap
- Allows for full range of motion during walks or outdoor activities and your dog can still eat, drink, bark and play fetch
What customers are saying:
✅ Many owners commented that the money they spent on the headcollar was the best money they’ve spent all year.
✅ Owners also noticed that after their dogs wore this headcollar, the lunging was reduced by 85% almost immediately.
✅ A lot of the owners said this gentle lead is great for dogs that pull and using this helped make walking more pleasurable.
❌ The headcollar is great, except owners noticed that other people would mistake it for a muzzle and think their dog is bad so the owners end up having to inform and educate others around them that this is a headcollar.
❌ After leaving the headcollar on for a while, it does leave a mark on the dog’s face, much like when you leave a rubber band in your hair for too long.
If you’re looking for a headcollar that helps train your dog to walk without pulling on the leash, the responsive design of the Halti Head Collar for Small Dogs is the solution as it gently steers and guides your dog’s direction. A favorite amongst dog owners and trainers, the lightweight waterproof headcollar has a fully padded noseband with reflective webbing and a safety link that attaches to your dog’s collar for additional security. Best of all, wearing the head collar does not interfere with your dog’s eating, drinking, or panting to help cool them down.
Halti Head Collar for Small Dogs Key Features:
- Comes in sizes from 0 – 5
- Available in two colors: Black and Red
- Halti Headcollar is the world’s first no pull dog headcollar
- Lightweight, waterproof, and fully padded nose band
- Has reflective webbing for safety and visibility during late night or early morning walks
- Responsive headcollar design prevents pulling on the leash by gently steering and guiding your dog’s direction
What customers are saying:
✅ Many owners were amazed at how well the headcollar worked for their puller dogs. Prior to using the Halti headcollar, they injured their shoulders, but immediately using this, they noticed a remarkable difference. By the second walk, their dogs were no longer pulling.
✅ A lot of the dog owners recommended this headcollar for anyone that is trying to train their dogs to heal in a more gentle manner. They noted that the headcollar helped their dog stay in position with only a small gentle pull versus a correction with a choker or bribe with a treat.
✅ Some reviews said their dogs became so well-behaved when wearing the headcollar.
❌ A few customers said the headcollar itself is fantastic, but that there was a minor size discrepancy.
I’m a pet lover who has years of pet sitting and grooming experience. I thought it would be a great idea to share my experience with all pet owners so they can also keep their canine companions healthy, happy, and clean!