The Best Dog Harnesses of 2020
After loads of testing on walks and runs, the obvious winner of our Editors' Choice award for the best dog harness is the BABYLTRL Oxford No Pull Large. We like this harness because of its dual large, easy to clip rings on both the front and back, making it easy to prevent pulling. We also like the large, easy to grab handle, and while we didn't need them, the locking buckles make it harder to escape if your dog knows how to pick locks. Head tester Rishi found it comfortable on long runs without chafing, and it's the most reflective of all tested. To top things off, this harness comes at one of the lowest price points you can find.
We have few complaints about this harness, but one of them is that it takes a bit of work to get the fit fine-tuned in the beginning. Adjusting the four separate straps so they fit just right is made a bit harder by the extra thick webbing that doesn't slide through buckles easily. The rest of the material also feels a bit thicker than it needs to be. This harness is well suited to medium and large dogs, especially those that sometimes need to be grabbed or that like to pull when on leash, and is also a top choice for those on a budget.
For those on the tightest of budgets who simply want the most economical harness for their dog, we recommend the Copatchy No-Pull Adjustable harness. Its low price makes it hard to justify not giving it a try, and we also love how light and airy its mesh construction is, ensuring it doesn't heat up the dog any more than it needs to. 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 without fuss.
The biggest downside is that it lacks a front clip-in point, so isn't "No Pull" like the name would suggest. If your dog is a real tugger, this harness is not the solution for you. It's also easier for this harness to fall off to the side of the dog since it doesn't have a sternum strap like many others. 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 all the features you need, while also providing a simple and comfortable fit for dogs while out on the trail, or for wearing all day long. If it looks like there are a lot of dog harnesses available for sale under different names which look the same, it's because they probably are the same! This harness is exactly identical to the Eagloo No-Pull., described below, minus the color we tested and the price tag. This one is a hair cheaper, so makes the logical choice. Not only is it comfortable for long days, but has both front and rear clip-in points, a handle to grab onto when needed, and a healthy amount of reflective material, all things we expect from a dog harness.
Solid, comfortable, efficient, and low cost are how we would sum up this harness, but we do 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 hard to hold onto. Like many similar harnesses, this one takes a bit of fiddling to get the ideal fit adjustment the first time. While this harness should work great for all medium and large dogs, we think it is ideal for athletically minded owners who like to go for runs instead of short walks.
All dogs go to heaven, but before they do they still enjoy walks in the woods or on the trails, even if it needs to be a bit shorter and slower. For taking your elderly friend hiking, it can be really helpful to have a 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 that allows you to help Fido out when s/he needs it, and adds an extra strap under the belly to assist in the weight distribution when being helped. For these reasons, it is our Top Pick for Older Dogs.
It's also a pricey choice, and doesn't have a front "no pull" leash attachment point, but most old 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 harnesses don't. It only has two straps, and they are hands down the easiest to quickly adjust of any that we've tested. That makes this a good harness to conveniently swap out between different dogs, and also makes it really easy to put on quickly and go. It also has a very large 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 doesn't have a front clip-in point, only one on the rear that still allows the dog to pull to its heart's content. The simple design without a sternum strap means that it's easy for this harness to slide off to the side of the dog, so it may need constant adjustment. That said, 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 dogs and is based in Bend, Oregon, which supposedly has the highest dog per person ratio in the US. There's no doubt that the Front Range is a trendy choice among the outdoor recreation crowd, and there is perhaps no more popular dog harness seen on the trails surrounding Boulder, Bend, or Flagstaff. The effort to make a high quality product shows, as this harness shows the best craftsmanship of those we tested, is exceedingly light weight, and pays attention to the little details like 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, but as it is the leash will have to suffice. It's also among the more expensive choices that we've tested, and like similar designs, can take a bit of work to fine-tune the fit for the first time. If your dog is an outdoor trail crusher, s/he 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 to the dog. It lacks reflectors for nighttime visibility and is far and away 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 are padded 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 rip off. There is also no handle. This harness will work best for medium to small dogs in the car or 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 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 doesn't want it on. 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 exactly the same as the Rabbitgoo, which we adorned with our Top Pick award for active dogs. Both are just as worthy depending on the price that you find them. The best thing about this harness 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 design, 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 harness 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 1.5 year old male Goldendor (half Golden Retriever, half golden Labrador Retriever) who lives in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. He weighs around 65 lbs. and is extremely active, as most young dogs are, running and hiking on trails each day, swimming in the reservoir or whatever body of water he stumbles across, or playing fetch. When on leash, Rishi is a pretty fierce puller, and so a 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. He hates wearing harnesses, however, so is an extremely 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 Outdoorgearlab since 2013, and often includes Rishi on his trail running, backpacking, and rock climbing gear testing 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 leash.
Analysis and Test Results
We tested each harness 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 a no-pull attachment point. The no-pull leash attachment point is on the front of the harness, in the region of the chest or sternum of the dog. Clipping in here makes it so when the dog pulls, it is naturally turned sideways, which both redirects the dog's momentum, and usually annoys them enough to stop pulling. The harness may not look very 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 short — it works! In contrast, clip into the back of a harness and your pooch is free to pull like a Huskie at the start of the Iditerod.
Ease of Adjustment
Upon initially purchasing your harness you will need to adjust all the straps so that it fits your dog perfectly. Many harnesses 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, with only two straps needing adjustment, and using a very easy 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 difficult to force the webbing through the buckles.
While all harnesses 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 harness that doesn't fit perfectly will be uncomfortable and may not work as designed.
Ease of Putting Harness On
Adjustment usually only needs to happen once, but the harness will likely need to be put on your dog every day. If your dog isn't a fan of wearing their clothes, then having one that goes on easily can save some effort. The two-strap harnesses — the CoPatchy and Expawlorer — were the easiest to get on in a hurry, but since they lack a sternum strap often slide off to the side of the dog. Most of the harnesses 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 harness 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, especially if the dog is trying to get free, than a large metal loop. The "No-Pull" attachment point is on the front of the harness in the center of the chest. Only about half of the harnesses tested have this no-pull attachment point, despite their names. Those with both points 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 a number of other handy features. The most common is a handle for grabbing and restraining your dog up close, although not all harnesses have one. The Ruffwear Webmaster has a vertically oriented suitcase-style handle that is the easiest to grab and hold. Harnesses with small, horizontally oriented handles are OK as long as your dog doesn't leap or pull to the side, which twists the handle and pinches the fingers painfully, making them hard to continue holding onto.
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, a large reason why we call it the best overall dog harness.
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 was a major red flag, but being aware of how often he tried to shake or bite his way out of a harness, or extra scratching and itching, were other ways his discomfort was discerned. By and large, the excitement of the adventure usually outweighed the annoyance of the harness. The Rabbitgoo and Eagloo harnesses seemed to be the most comfortable (they are the same), while it was obvious 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, while 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 pair of "clothes" for your best friend.
— Andy Wellman