What are the best types of dog harnesses?

What are the best types of dog harnesses?

Navigating the world of dog accessories can be a furry challenge, especially when it comes to finding the perfect dog harness that ensures comfort, style, and safety for your beloved pet. With an overwhelming array of options, it's crucial to understand the benefits and features of different types to make an informed decision. Let's delve into the best types of dog harnesses that have become favourites among pet parents.

From the versatility of adjustable dog harnesses (also known as back clip harnesses),  the durability of H-shape nylon strap harnesses, to the fashionable flair of Y-shape reversible dog harnesses, we've got all the insights to help you choose the ideal fit for your four-legged companion. Join us as we explore these top picks, ensuring your pup is secured in style and ready for every adventure that comes your way!

Why types of dog harnesses matter

Understanding the various types of harness available is crucial as it directly impacts your furry friend's comfort, safety, and overall walking experience. A well-chosen harness ensures that pressure is evenly distributed across the dog's body, preventing any potential discomfort or injury, especially around the neck. Plus, dog harnesses made from durable materials guarantee longevity and continuous support, even for the most energetic pups. 

Beyond physical well-being, the right harness can also positively influence your dog’s behaviour, providing better control during walks and reducing tendencies to pull, ultimately leading to a more enjoyable and stress-free outdoor adventure for both pet and owner.

What are the main types of dog harnesses? 

three brown dogs in a grassy field wearing topdog harnesses

Dog harnesses for walks and lead training come in four types: back clip, front clip, dual clip, and step-in. Each type and shape offers unique pros and cons. Selecting the right one depends on your dog's breed, size, and temperament.

Y-shaped dog harnesses

A Y-shaped harness for dogs resembles a Y from the front. It is designed to fit comfortably on your dog without restricting their movements. The Y-shaped configuration at the front, extends down between your dog's front legs and up along the sides, ensuring a snug fit. The Y-shaped dog harness is a good all-rounder, as it doesn’t restrict your dog’s leg and shoulder movement.

H-shaped dog harnesses

The H-shaped dog harness is a classic and popular type of dog harness designed for easy application. It slips over the dog's head and secures around the chest, so you don’t need to lift the dog's legs. This feature makes it a convenient choice for both puppies and adult dogs. The H-shaped structure of the harness ensures comfort and a secure fit, making it ideal for more narrow-bodied breeds like the Poodle or the Yorkshire Terrier.

Back clip dog harnesses 

Back clip harnesses are similar to front clip dog harnesses but with a difference. Back clip dog harnesses have D-rings located at the centre of a dog's back to attach the lead, making them straightforward to use. Their simplicity and compatibility with various dog leads, including retractable ones, make them a popular choice. These harnesses are recommended for dogs with a calm walking temperament as their design is less effective at discouraging pulling. 

Front clip dog harnesses

The front clip dog harness has the advantage of being one of the best anti-pull dog harnesses. Like the back clip dog harness, the front clip is a D-ring leash attachment, but this time it’s attached to the dog’s chest rather than their back. This means the leverage point of the lead is at the front, giving dog owners more control over-enthusiastic dogs that love to pull on their leashes.  When a dog pulls, the leash's position shifts to the side and shortens, naturally redirecting the dog towards its owner. 

Double-clip dog harnesses

Double-clip harnesses (also known as dual clip harnesses) offer the choice of attaching leads to either a back clip or a front clip D-ring. This dual functionality means the owner can choose the most appropriate fastening choice for regular everyday dog walks or scenarios where enhanced control is necessary, like crowded and busy streets with lots of sights and smells. Due to having two clip points, some double-clip harnesses can be a little bulky which some dogs might find uncomfortable, which will require some adjustment time. 

Step-in dog harnesses

A step-in dog harness is designed for maximum ease of use. Simply place the dog harness on the floor and your dog just steps into it with their front paws and the harness is secured at the back. This type of harness is great for dogs who dislike having harnesses placed over their heads. A step-in harness minimises stress and discomfort for the nervous or skittish canines. With a snug and secure fit, the step-in dog harness is also suitable for smaller or slender dogs without being restrictive. 

What should I look for in a dog harness?

When you’re choosing a dog harness for your pup, it’s important to consider some key factors to make sure you make the best choice in terms of both fit and function. Safety and durability are paramount and a good harness needs to withstand extensive and heavy use. 

Think about adjustability around the neck and chest, too. No dog is built the same and adjustable fittings can easily accommodate unique builds and growing pups. Of course, your dog must stay comfortable on their walks, so make sure the dog harness you choose doesn’t exert unnecessary pressure on the dog’s throat or neck. Remember, choosing the right type of harness is investing in your dog’s well-being - so don’t compromise on quality for price. 

If you’re still deliberating over the right pick for your pup, here’s a little more information on the types of harnesses we offer here at Topdog, to help you decide. 

  1. Adjustable back clip harnesses

two small black pugs wearing topdog harnesses outdoors. the pug on the right only has one eye

Adjustable back clip dog harnesses are designed with versatile straps that can be altered to fit your canine companion's unique shape and size, ensuring a snug and comfortable fit. This feature stands out for various reasons:

  1. As mentioned, back clip dog harnesses have a D-ring (where the lead is attached) on the dog’s back. This design is compatible with all lead types and is suited to dogs who don’t pull too much on walks
  2. Adjustable harnesses are ideal for dogs which are ‘between’ standardised sizes. This makes our adjustable back clip harnesses good choices for small and large dogs alike (or dogs undergoing weight changes), eliminating the discomfort from harnesses which are too tight or too loose
  3. Of all the different types of dog harnesses, adjustable ones are most suitable for puppies which are still growing and dog breeds with unique body structures doer a secure fit  

Indulge your canine companion in style and comfort with Topdog adjustable back clip dog harnesses, uniquely crafted to combine aesthetic appeal with functionality. Adorned with exclusive hand-drawn designs, our adjustable harnesses are not just a fashion statement, but a commitment to quality and care. 

The soft neoprene fabric ensures a gentle touch on your dog's coat, while the adjustable chest and neck straps guarantee a perfect fit for any breed. Ease of maintenance is also considered, as this harness is hand washable and quick-drying, ready for all of your adventures together.

2. Adjustable H-shape nylon strap harnesses

brown dog in pink nylon topdog harness

Nylon is designed to withstand even the most playful and adventurous pups, ensuring consistent support through all your canine escapades. Also, nylon harnesses are easy to clean, typically requiring just a simple wipe down or a quick spin in the washing machine to look as good as new.

Adjustable dog harnesses with an H-shape are very popular as they are easy to put on. Slip the harness over the dog’s head and fasten it around the chest, so you don’t have to lift your dog’s legs up. This makes this type of harness convenient for puppies or older, less mobile dogs. The H-shape also means a more secure fit for more narrow dog body types, but an adjustable design can equally accommodate a range of dog body types and sizes. 

Topdog H-shape nylon strap dog harnesses have adjustable straps at the chest and neck, allowing for a tailored fit and accommodating dogs of diverse sizes. Crafted from premium nylon webbing fabric, this harness is long-wearing and comfortable, making it ideal for everyday adventures. Safety is paramount, which is why we've integrated a sturdy black metal D-ring for secure lead attachment, giving you peace of mind during your walks. Conveniently hand washable and quick to dry, this harness is as practical as it is stylish.

3. Reversible Y-shaped dog harnesses

two french bulldogs in pink reversible topdog harnesses

Reversible harnesses offer the simple benefit of owning two designs in one harness. By simply flipping the harness inside out, pet owners can switch between designs, providing variety and a fresh look without the need for multiple purchases.

A reversible dog harness in a Y-shape design is engineered for both comfort and freedom of movement. The Y-shape wraps around your dog's body, extending from the front down between the front legs and up along the sides, providing a comfortable fit. This design ensures that your dog's legs and shoulders remain unrestricted, making it an excellent all-purpose harness. Reducing pressure on the neck, this harness is a safer option for dogs prone to pulling. 

Step up your pet's style game with Topdog's dual Y-shape reversible dog harnesses, versatile accessories which combine two unique, hand-drawn designs in one. For added convenience, our harness is hand washable and quick-drying NS the sturdy black metal D-ring provides a reliable attachment point for leads and ID tags.

Is it better to use a dog collar or harness?

While all dogs should wear collars for ID purposes, dog harnesses generally offer greater security and control- particularly in training dogs and improving their leash behaviour. Designed to discourage pulling, harnesses provide a safer and more effective means of managing active dogs during walks, so we’d always advise your lead is attached to a suitable harness, not to your dog’s collar.

Harnesses can also reduce the risk of accidents, enabling owners to prevent behaviours like jumping up excitedly, without causing neck strain or injury.

When you’re walking your dog with a harness, their weight is distributed evenly across their chest as they pull you forwards. Attaching the lead to a dog collar has the disadvantage of placing too much tension on the dog’s neck, especially for dogs who like to pull a lot on walks. For small breeds or dogs with throat-related medical concerns, pressure on the neck can worsen health issues. Another advantage of dog harnesses is that their tight fit prevents dogs from slipping out easily. 

Which harness is best for my dog?

  • For dogs that pull: Y-shaped and back clip harnesses 
  • For growing puppies: adjustable harnesses
  • For dogs who love to get muddy, or who have tricky proportions: H-shaped nylon strap harnesses

Getting your dog to love their new harness might take a bit of patience, but it’s all about making it a fun and positive experience. Let them check out and sniff the harness first, and don’t forget to break out the treats and happy vibes! Start with short sessions and gradually increase the time as your furry friend gets used to it. Just make sure the fit is just right—not too tight, not too loose. It’s always a good idea to measure your dog and refer to our dog harness size guide and chart to help you on the way.

If your dog seems a bit unsure or tries to back out of the harness, stay chill and keep the good times rolling with some extra treats or their favourite game. If you notice any rubbing or irritation, double-check that fit, and give your pup a little break from the harness if needed.

Ready to get hooked on harnesses? Browse our full collection of dog harnesses today

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