In this article we are bringing you a helpful piece of information regarding the use of a short harness versus a full-length x-back harness for canicross.
Howling Dog Alaska, the industry leader, started recommending short harnesses for canicross in early 2000. A short harness is a great harness for this sport due to the angle of the line attachment. Canicrossers prefer a shorter pulling line than skijorers, therefore the pull angle between the dog and the person can be quite steep. This is where a short harness comes into play, as it will stay in place nicely. A long harness in an x-back style (or any other full-length harness) will often lift off the end of the dog’s body. The end of an x-back harness will also lift upwards if the dog decides to run next to the person (rather than up front).
The one exception for the use of an x-back harness for canicross is if you have an experienced, hard pulling dog. A dog that will constantly stay up front. A dog that is a strong puller. You might also be using a slightly longer line. In such a case, an x-back harness design is superior and more comfortable for the dog. A short harness (for example the Distance Harness) – especially if not fitted correctly – will ride up the dog’s throat, making them rasp while running. The Second Skin/Tough Skin Harnesses is preferred to the Distance Harness for hard pulling dogs when choosing a short harness style.
Keep in mind that during canicross quite often you do not go fast enough to your dog’s full potential. In other words, unlike skijoring or bikejoring, canicross is a “slow” sport. And the slower you go, the harder a motivated dog will pull. You can use a short harness for pretty much any other canine “mono sport” due to a higher speed and lower resistance. This is not the case with canicross. Even though 90% of dogs will be comfortable in a good quality short harness, a small percentage will require an x-back harness.
This article explains the use and the pull-force distribution for Howling Dog Alaska harnesses. It will help you choose the correct harness style.
This article discusses canicross in a bigger detail. It is a great article for beginners.
We hope you found this information helpful. Feel free to CONTACT US should you need help with harness sizing, or advising you further about what harness style will be best for your needs.