Harness Selection 101

Here at Howling Dog Alaska, we pride ourselves on customer satisfaction. This means not only bringing you the best equipment, but also the best information. An educated consumer is a happy consumer. Here we are providing you with the information you need to make an informed decision as to which harness is best suited for your personal situation.

Experience makes the difference. Through many years of working with top racing sled dogs, professionals at Howling Dog Alaska have designed innovated harnesses that overcome the deficiencies seen in many other harnesses on the market. The following images are examples of poorly fitting / poorly designed harnesses followed by images of properly fitting harnesses. This article should guide you to a correct and comfortable harness selection.

1. This is an example of a harness with a strap positioned horizontally across the chest. This type of a harness will quite often press on the upper front leg / upper shoulder and it will ride up the dog’s neck obstructing the trachea. The verdict: BAD HARNESS CHOICE for pulling dogs. Use any of these harnesses instead.

BadFitJulius

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. This front clip harness (also called a “no pull” harness) is often used for hiking and simply walking the dog. Such harness puts pressure on the dog’s upper legs often causing rubbing and severely restricting the dog’s leg movement. The verdict: BAD HARNESS CHOICE for any dog. Use this harness instead.

BadFitFrontClip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. The design of the harness below causes for the harness to ride up very high up the dog’s throat restricting breathing. You can also see the webbing rubbing in the armpits. The verdict: BAD HARNESS CHOICE for any dog, most importantly for pulling dogs. Use any of these harnesses instead.

BadFitShortHarness

 

 

 

 

4. The below is an example of a poorly fitted harness for bikejoring. The harness used in this photo is an x-back harness. This type of a harness tends to lift up and it will not support the dog’s body shape properly. An x-back harness also might twist to the side resulting in the breastplate sliding into the dog’s armpit causing discomfort and often rubbing. The verdict: BAD HARNESS CHOICE for bikejoring and scootering and for any other activity with a higher point of attachment. Use any of our shorter harnesses instead.

BadFitBikejoring

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Many people make the mistake of fitting the necks on their x-back harnesses too large. This will result in the breastplate sliding into the armpit causing discomfort and rubbing. This is also the case with x-back harnesses with a single wide breastplate. The verdict: An x-back harness with a single wide breast plate or an x-back with a neck opening that is too large is a BAD HARNESS CHOICE for any sled dog. Use our professionally designed x-back harnesses instead.

BadFitBreastPlate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Do not use regular x-back harnesses in any activity with a low point of attachment. The x-back harness is going to push on the dog’s rear end, restricting the dog’s lower back movement. The verdict: An x-back harness is a BAD HARNESS CHOICE for wheel dogs, for kick sledding, for tire training or for any other activity with a low point of attachment. Use this harness instead.

BadFitHipPressure

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. The below image is an example of a properly fitted harness with an even pull force distribution. Notice the pull force being evenly distributed from the top and from the bottom of the harness. The verdict: This is a VERY COMFORTABLE harness for any puling dog with the point of attachment higher or even with the dog’s back. See our Second Skin and our Tough Skin harnesses.

GoodFitSecondSkin

 

 

 

 

8. This type of x-back harness features a unique neck opening construction that actually pulls the lower part of the neck opening away from the dog’s throat while the dog is pulling. The verdict: This is a VERY COMFORTABLE x-back harness for any hard-working sled dog with  (in this case any broad chested sled dog). See this harness.

GoodFitHound

 

 

 

 

 

9. This is a close-up shot of the x-back harnesses mentioned above. The unique neck opening construction pulls the lower part of the neck opening away from the dog’s throat while the dog is pulling. The wide breast plate will keep the harness centered on the dog’s chest. The verdict: This is a VERY COMFORTABLE x-back harness with superior pull force distribution (this harness is suited for broad-chested dogs). See this harness.

GoodFitHound1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. Looking for a harness for activities with a lower point of attachment? The x-back style harness shown relieves the pressure off the dog’s lower back. Also, the back end of the harness is flexible and moves up an down as the dog runs without restricting the dog’s rear end. The verdict: This is an IDEAL HARNESS for wheel dogs, for kick sledding, for tire training or for dogs with lower back problems. See this harness.

GoodFitWheelDog

 

6 Replies to “Harness Selection 101”

  1. Great info! Do you have any second skin selections for tiny canicross dogs? Issues with other harnesses is often choaking.

  2. Which harness would you suggest for skijoring with a galgo(Spanish greyhound)? His neck size and weight don’t match your standard sizes — .neck size is smaller than the matching weight.

    Thanks!

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