Best Dog Harness of 2021
The clear favorite in our dog harness testing was the Babyltrl Oxford No Pull. There are two clip-in points — one on the front and the back, and both are easy to clip. The handle is easy to grab hold of, and if your dog has any Houdini tendencies, fear not, because the buckles on this harness are locking. Our head test dog, Rishi, seemed to find this model comfortable on long runs and didn't experience any chafing. It's the most reflective harness in our lineup, providing extra peace of mind for night walks. The price is nice, too.
We had very few bones to pick with this harness, but we did have to finagle a bit at first to find the right fit. The super thick webbing doesn't slide through the buckles easily, which is great for securing the correct fit once you find it, but makes the initial adjustment more difficult. The padded material also feels thicker than perhaps necessary, which may make some dogs hot. Overall, though, this is our favorite harness and it comes at a great price. This harness is well suited to medium and large dogs, particularly those that sometimes need to be grabbed or have a penchant for pulling when leashed.
The Copatchy No-Pull Adjustable is an excellent choice if you need to rein in your spending and want an economical harness for your canine friend. Its mesh construction is light and airy, which helps your dog stay cool. The large handle is easy to quickly wrap a hand around, and with only two straps, this is one of the easiest to adjust and put on.
The biggest downside is that it lacks a front clip-in point, so it isn't "no-pull" as the name suggests. If your dog is a real tugger, this design is not the ideal solution for you. Since it doesn't have a sternum strap like many other models, it's also easier for this harness to shift to the side of the dog. Due to the lack of no-pull functionality, we think this one likely works best for small to medium dogs and ones that don't have a habit of yanking all walk long.
The Rabbitgoo No-Pull is our favorite choice for active dogs because it has plenty of useful features while also providing a comfortable and simple fit for dogs while out on the trail. This harness is nearly identical to another harness we tested, the Eagloo No-Pull design described below. Not only is it comfortable for long days, but it has both front and rear clip-in points, a handle to grab onto when needed, and a healthy amount of reflective material.
Stable, comfortable, efficient, and affordable are how we would describe this harness, though we wish that the handle was a bit bigger. It's hard to fit all our fingers through it, and if the dog pulls off to the side, it can twist uncomfortably and be challenging to hold. Like many similar models, this one takes a bit of fiddling to get the ideal fit adjustment the first time. While this option should work great for all medium and large dogs, we think it is suitable for athletically minded owners who like to go for runs instead of short walks.
Older dogs still enjoy walks in the woods or on the trails, even if outings need to be a bit shorter and slower. For taking your elderly friend hiking, it can be beneficial to have a dog harness with a big handle to give them an assist when they need it, whether that's jumping up on a log or down a steep section of trail. The Ruffwear Webmaster features a vertically oriented suitcase-style handle so you can help Fido out when he or she needs it, and Ruffwear also adds an extra strap under the belly to assist in the weight distribution when being helped.
This model is pricey and doesn't have a front "no-pull" leash attachment point, but most older dogs have given up trying to yank your arm off. If you've got an aging friend who still likes to play with you outside, we highly recommend the Webmaster.
The Expawlorer Big No Pull Harness has a few notable advantages that other models don't. It only has two straps, and they are some of the easiest to quickly adjust out of any that we've tested. That makes this a good model to conveniently swap out between different dogs, and also makes it easy to put on quickly and go. It also has a substantial plastic handle on the back that is easy to grab and hang onto if your dog needs to be kept in place.
Unfortunately, despite the name, this harness isn't what we would consider a "no-pull" design since it lacks a front clip-in point. There is only one on the back, which allows the dog to pull to its heart's content. It may need constant adjustment due to the overly simple design without a sternum strap means. This design makes it easy for this harness to slide off to the side of the dog. This is an affordable option for big dogs who don't pull too much, or for those who want simplicity and a handle.
Ruffwear is a company that makes all sorts of outdoor equipment for adventurous dogs. The Front Range is a trendy choice among the outdoor recreation crowd, and there's a good chance you'll see it out on the trails in popular mountain towns. This model is exceedingly lightweight, shows some of the best craftsmanship of any that we tested, and pays attention to the little details, including a place to affix doggie ID tags, as well as the vertically oriented front clip-in point.
This harness would be nearly perfect if it only included a handle or something to grab onto on the back. It's also among the more expensive choices that we've tested, and like similar designs, it can take a bit of work to fine-tune the fit for the first time. If your dog is an outdoor trail crusher, he or she will look right at home wearing the Front Range.
The Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Harness is a solid choice for large dogs that need to be restrained while in the car. It comes with a sewn loop of webbing and carabiner expressly for that purpose, which you can girth hitch to a rear seatbelt, and also has a no-pull clip-in point on the front for added options.
It doesn't have a handle, though, and also isn't shaped very ergonomically with regards to the dog. It lacks reflectors for nighttime visibility and is one of the heaviest of the harnesses we tested, with bulky metal buckles and an oversized sternum strap. It will certainly work better for large, energetic dogs in the car, but it isn't our top choice for going on walks.
The Petsafe 3-in-1 Harness is made with thinner webbing straps that have padding on the inside. It also comes with an included seatbelt restraint strap, and due to its design, it is likely a better choice for medium or small dogs for this purpose than for large ones.
Unfortunately, this harness is confusing to orient correctly and has a habit of getting tangled up. Small, helpful tags telling you where each strap goes on the dog easily ripped off. There is also no handle. This option will work best for small to medium dogs in the car or for short walks.
The 2 Hounds Designs Freedom No Pull Harness has one feature that we really like: the included double attachment point leash that clips to both the front and back of the harness at the same time. This design has the effect of preventing the dog from pulling too hard, while also keeping them close on one side or the other of you, but not yanking all over.
Despite this, the harness uses thin, unpadded webbing that isn't very comfortable, according to our dog tester Rishi. It doesn't have a handle and is challenging to get on correctly, especially when the dog is resistant. We think it would work better for small, willful dogs but don't think it's an ideal choice for bigger dogs.
Despite the difference in name, the Eagloo No-Pull Harness is very similar to the Rabbitgoo. Both have similar capabilities, and the better buy might be whichever one is most affordable at the time. The best thing about this design is how comfortable it is, and our dog Rishi was happy wearing it all day out in the mountains without annoyance or chaffing. It is easy to set up for no-pull, has lots of reflective tape incorporated in the material, and is quite affordable.
Our main complaint is that the handle is a bit too small and can be hard to hold onto without twisting if the dog chooses to leap off to the side. This option is excellent for large dogs and is a good choice if you need an inexpensive option for running or long days out with your best friend.
Why You Should Trust Us
Our expert head tester for this review is the dog Rishi. Rishi is a one-and-a-half-year-old male Goldendor (half Golden Retriever, half golden Labrador Retriever) who lives in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, USA. He weighs around 65 pounds and is extremely active, as most young dogs are, running and hiking on trails each day, swimming in whatever body of water he stumbles across, or playing fetch. When on a leash, Rishi is a pretty fierce puller, so a dog harness works best for preventing him from choking himself with impatience, and a "no-pull" front leash attachment point makes walking him far more manageable for his human advocates. However, he usually hates wearing harnesses, so he is a very discerning tester willing to share his opinions for the benefit of all dogs. Some of Rishi's friends also helped with testing for this review.
The human advocates who compiled the results of Rishi's testing are Andy Wellman and Elizabeth Riley. Andy has been a senior reviewer at GearLab since 2013 and often includes Rishi on his trail running, backpacking, and rock climbing adventures. Elizabeth usually joins them with the professional role of photographer. Testing took place while hiking and running on mountain trails and while running errands in town by foot, where Rishi must always be on a leash.
Analysis and Test Results
We tested each product based upon five metrics deemed critical to optimal performance: Ease of Adjustment, Ease of Putting Harness On, Clip In Points, Added Features, and Doggie Comfort.
Pretty much every dog harness has the words "No-Pull" in their name, but beware that this is a misnomer, as not all include what we would consider a no-pull attachment point. The no-pull leash attachment point is on the front of the harness, in the region of the dog's chest or sternum. Clipping in here makes it so when the dog pulls, he or she is naturally turned sideways, which both redirects the dog's momentum and usually annoys them enough to stop pulling. The harness may not look as comfortable when clipped this way, and likely isn't, but we've found the no-pull attachment point to be very effective at slowing a dog down. In contrast, clip into the back of a harness, and your pooch is free to pull like a sled dog.
Ease of Adjustment
Upon initially purchasing your harness, you will need to adjust all the straps to fit your dog perfectly. Many designs have upwards of six straps that need adjusting, and this is often not very easy on an impatient pup. We graded for how quickly and easily we were able to fine-tune the fit on Rishi. The Expawlorer Big No Pull Harness was the clear winner in this metric, with only two straps needing adjustment and using a straightforward method of sliding buckles to do so. Another two-strap option, the CoPatchy No Pull Adjustable, was also a top scorer. On the other end of the spectrum, we found the Petsafe 3-in-1 to be confusing and faced some difficulty forcing the webbing through the buckles.
While all harnesses that we tested are adjustable, be sure that you order the correct size for your dog. Each company has a different sizing scale, so compare to their charts once you have settled on a purchase. To do so, you will need to measure your dog around the chest and neck. A dog harness that doesn't fit perfectly will be uncomfortable and may not work as designed.
Ease of Putting Harness On
If your dog isn't a fan of wearing a harness, then having one that goes on smoothly can save some effort. The two-strap models — the CoPatchy and Expawlorer — were the easiest to get on in a hurry, but since they lack a sternum strap, they often slide off to the side of the dog. Most designs attach the same way: by sliding one loop over the dog's head, then buckling up on each side. Some, like the 2-Hounds Designs Freedom and the PetSafe 3-in-1, are easily tangled and a challenge to orient correctly, making them harder to put on.
Clip In Points
Every design in this review has a rear clip-in point for attaching the leash to the dog's back, but some of these are tiny little D-rings that are much harder to clip than a large metal loop, especially if the dog is trying to get free. The "No-Pull" attachment point is on the front of the harness in the center of the chest. Only about half of the models tested have this no-pull attachment point, despite most of them being labeled as "no-pull." Those with both types of rings that were large and easy to clip, such as the Babyltrl Oxford, received the highest scores.
Besides offering a choke-free or no-pull way to attach a leash to your dog, most harnesses have several other handy features. The most common is a handle for grabbing and restraining your dog up close, although not all models have one. The Ruffwear Webmaster has a vertically oriented suitcase-style handle that is the easiest to grab and hold. Designs with small, horizontally oriented handles are okay as long as your dog doesn't leap or pull to the side, which can twist the handle and pinch the fingers painfully, making it hard to keep your grasp.
Other common features include reflective strips for greater visibility at night and locking buckles that make it harder for extra crafty dogs to unclip themselves from the harness. The Babyltrl Oxford has the best combination of features, which is the main reason why it's our favorite overall model.
Finally, we graded based on comfort for the dog. Since Rishi isn't adept at human language, his advocates closely monitored him for signs of discomfort, agitation, or annoyance while wearing each harness. Points of chaffing were a major red flag. Another way we discerned his discomfort was by taking note of any extra scratching and itching and how often he tried to shake or bite his way out of a harness. The excitement of the adventure usually outweighed the annoyance of the harness. The Rabbitgoo and Eagloo models seemed to be the most comfortable (they are nearly the same). At the same time, it was evident that he liked the Kurgo and 2 Hounds Freedom the least, which had the perverse side effect of working to keep him more effectively in line than most when walking on a leash.
A harness for your dog provides a safer and more secure way of attaching a leash to your dog than a simple collar, and a no-pull attachment point has the added benefit of adding extra humane control to overzealous dogs. We hope the information above has been helpful in your search for a new outfit for your best friend.
— Andy Wellman