Dog walks offer both us and our pooches lots of benefits like fresh air, exercise, and a change of scenery. You probably already have your dog lead and even a dog walking bag, but do you have a dog harness? And do you even need one?
We spoke to Sean McCormack, Head Vet at Tails.com to get the lowdown on everything you need to know.
How does a dog harness work?
A dog harness works by evenly distributing weight from the lead across your dog’s chest, giving you more control and discouraging pulling by redirecting your dog.
Are dog harnesses better for certain breeds? If so, which?
Harnesses are a good option for most breeds of dogs but especially for smaller dogs. Yorkshire terriers and other toy breeds can be prone to tracheal collapse and Brachycephalic (flat-faced) dogs such as Pugs and French Bulldogs are prone to getting into trouble with collars putting too much pressure on their necks.
What should I look for in a dog harness?
There are many different types of dog harnesses on the market, but you need to make sure you choose the right one for your needs and the needs of your dog. Front-clip dog harnesses offer a lot of control over your dog and help stop dogs from pulling on the leash too much.
Back-clip harnesses are easier to put on your dog and useful for smaller breeds who have delicate throats. They are, however, probably not the best option if you have a dog that pulls a lot!
Multi-clip dog harnesses are becoming increasingly popular, as they offer both of these options. In most cases, these harnesses will also have a handle in the middle for direct control.
The best dog harnesses to buy in the UK
The best dog harnesses
1. Rabbitgoo No-Pull Dog Harness
Available in many different colours, this dog harness is specially designed with two metal Leash Rings for safer dog walks. The chest attachment clip stops your dog from pulling on walks, while the black one is great for casual walks and exercise. Breathable air mesh keeps your dog cool during outdoor activities. It comes in small to X-large.
Review: "After buying several "no pull" harnesses for my 18-month-old Staffy, all of which seemed to make him pull more, some made his chest sore from rubbing, I ordered this hoping it was as good as the reviews say it is? I wasn’t disappointed I can now walk my dog without him dragging me down the street! It’s like walking a different dog."
2. ThinkPet Dog Harness
The pulling pressure of the dog lead is evenly distributed to your dog's body, protecting the spine and larynx from damage. This harness is great for strong dogs as it's made of high-density oxford and nylon webbing, heavy-duty hardware and strong buckles meaning it can withstand a lot of tugging and roughhousing. It comes in 13 colours and a range of different sizes depending on the colour harness' availability.
Review: "We got this harness for our French Bulldog x Jack Russell. It is well worth the money. Will be buying more for the rest of our pack. If you are looking for a decent harness for any dog I would buy this one."
3. Funkeen Pet House Dog Harness
An ideal year-round harness, the design includes a stainless steel D-ring leash attachment point on the back for a leash and fully adjustable straps at the chest and neck (with two adjustable points) to allow for a custom fit for your pup. It is available in black and red and in sizes from X-small to medium.
Review: "This dog harness is great! It’s lightweight so it’s fantastic in the warmer months. It’s also very easy to use and very secure. I bought a harness for my young dog at puppy school and it cost £30. This one is so much cheaper but the quality is still very good. I’d definitely buy another one."
4. RUFFWEAR Front Range Dog Harness
This lightweight and durable Ruffwear dog harness is made for all-day outdoor adventures with your best pal. It has lead attachment points and reinforced webbing at the chest to resist pulling, giving you additional control as well as foam-padded strips across the chest and belly to provide equal load distribution and comfort. The bright and visible fabric harness has a reflective trim and light loop for a dog safety light, helping your pooch to stand out against any landscape, whether it's day or night. It comes in eight colours and ranges from sizes XXS-XL.
Review: "I have a German Shepherd puppy who loves to pull on her lead. I recently bought this after it was recommended to me and I have to say it's fab! It's stopped my puppy from pulling on the lead and our walks are so much better. The harness is padded and a good fit, especially for GSDs who need something more durable and padded due to their strength. There are reflectors on it so your dog can be seen in the dark. I would definitely recommend this to everyone - you certainly get what you pay for."
5. Wainwright's County Luxe Herringbone Weave Comfort Dog Harness
A harness that is pure comfort for your dog, it's made from luxurious woven herringbone with soft plush lining for extra comfort in the chest. Your dog will certainly look dapper in this dog harness. The sizes are available from XS-M.
Review: "Beautiful well-made harness that looks the part with the matching lead. Great value for money as it looks far more expensive than it is!"
6. Wag-a-Tude Quilted Dog Harness
How fetching is this pink dog harness? Yep, that's right; it's a harness! With 2 D rings for secure lead attachment and a velcro and buckle closure, not only will your dog be secure, but they'll be oh-so-stylish and warm too with all over quilting. We'd recommend this harness only for colder walks. The sizes are available from XS-M.
Review: "We found this to be a really good buy for our little dog. It's soft, comfortable and fits well with no rubbing around the front legs and belly. I would recommend it to anyone."
7. Hounds of Eden 'Blushing Leopard'
A dog harness doesn't need to be boring, and we love this one from House of Eden. There's no all style and no substance here, though, as it's fully adjustable in the neck and chest straps, meaning you can get the perfect fit for your dog. It's made from quick-drying neoprene (great if your pooch enjoys a swim) with a breathable mesh lining. You can even get a collar, lead, poop bag holder and bow tie to match if you wish! It is available in sizes X-small to large.
Review: "I love this brand! The quality is amazing and I love how easy they are to adjust. This design is bright and stands out beautifully."
Is it better to use a dog harness instead of just a collar?
A collar can restrict breathing and damage the tissues in your dog’s neck, especially if they pull too hard.
What are the laws around dog harnesses?
While a harness might be your preference over a collar, it's important to make sure your furry friend is wearing a tag. It can be attached to the harness with the owner's contact details, just as you would with a collar.
If you don't comply with this rule, you could risk a £5,000 fine or even a six-month jail sentence!
We've rounded up some of the best dog tag options to attach to your dog's harness or collar below.
1. Personalised Engraved Round Glitter Paw Print
Coming in a range of 10 colours and three different sizes, this tag can be personalised to suit your pooch and their size.
Review: "I couldn't believe the quality of this cheap engraved dog tag. I have done what someone advised and changed the ring from an old key ring as this didn't look as strong as I wanted for my dog. Frankie is wearing it with pride and it's a bit of peace of mind with being able to have our contact details on there. I am really happy with this and would say you wouldn't be disappointed in this dog tag and you even get a good choice of colours to suit."
2. Personalised Engraved Dog Tag
There's plenty of room on this smart tag for all your important details. You can choose from four colours and either a round shape or a bone shape.
Review: "Perfect! This arrived in good time and was exactly what we wanted. It arrived in a little organza bag with a key ring attachment to link to our dog's collar. Great quality text and engraving. Would definitely recommend it!"
3. ID Tag
Suitable for both dogs and cats, these tags can be printed double-sided, with your pet's name on one side and your contact details on the other.
Review: "Really lovely engraving and colour of metal. It has held its shine after nearly 2 months of use. The thumb ring it's on is also a good size and seems really strong. We have had some compliments while she has been wearing it. If it needs replacing, I will definitely get this again."
4. Personalised Engraved Bone Shaped Dog Tag
Add a little glitz and glam to your pet's collar with one of these extra special tags in a choice of four colours.
Review: "I bought this not expecting much seeing it was so cheap but it's brilliant. Super cute and easy to read and fast delivery! I would definitely recommend. The fastenings are good quality and sturdy so I don't think it will need to be replaced anytime soon but at that price it won't be expensive."
5. PERSONALISED Engraved Dog Tag
With seven colours to choose from in a variety of different designs, these tags will suit a range of different pet personalities and collars.
Review: "Bought my dogs these for the first time a few years ago, lasted really well. They do end up worn after a while, which is expected. Just purchased new ones and definitely not disappointed. Contact information very clear, lovely finish. Light on the collar."
How do I make sure my dog harness fits correctly?
You need the harness to fit snugly to your dog’s body, but this is an easy thing to get right. If you can just about place two fingers underneath the harness on all sides then you’re onto a winner.
Are dog harnesses safe?
Dog harnesses are entirely safe to use, providing that a non-restrictive, well-fitting harness is used when exercising your dog. Non-restrictive just means a harness that leaves the entire front legs free to move, so your dog can bound around happily!