Selecting the proper dog harness can be a challenging task. There are many styles available from a plethora of manufacturers, and with no real sizing standards available to assist you, the choice can be overwhelming. So it comes down to trial and error to find just the right style and fit for your dog. We’re here to help make that process go smooth and easy and to help you understand the differences in what we have to offer in harness selections.
First, let’s talk about the different types of harnesses and why to use a harness. We’ve found that the majority of small dog owners prefer a harness for walking their dog over a attaching a leash to a collar around their smaller necks.
STEP-IN: By far the most popular style for tiny and small dogs is the step-in harness. A step-in design allows easy on and off by simply sliding the harness up the front legs and securing around the shoulders via a back clip. This style is especially preferred for dogs who dislike anything being pulled over their head. Since many small dogs are more susceptible to collapsing trachea, it’s recommended to find a harness that does not irritate or pull on their throat while on a leash. Most step-in harnesses are cut low enough to avoid this problem.
CHOKE FREE: I’m sure you’ve seen it at least once or twice in your life, a dog is pulling hard on a leash while the owner is pulling back and the dog is choking and gasping for air, but the desire to get that squirrel is too much for them to stop. A choke-free harness is designed specifically to avoid the throat area and is highly recommended for dogs who like to pull while on leash. Most are a step-in style, and typically have less material to encroach on the throat area.
VEST: As the name implies, a vest harness resembles a vest humans would wear. There is more material used in the chest area or on the back, and this allows for many different patterns and fashion statements to be offered. The Susan Lanci line of vest harnesses offers many styles including big bows, Swarovski crystals, or three-dimensional flowers.
HARNESS CLOTHING: This is an emerging category for small dogs. Throwing on a sweater or jacket for a walk and not having to add a harness is a big convenience. However, since the garment needs a D-ring to attach a leash there needs to be some additional strength in the material, especially for aggressive pullers while on a leash. Because of this, you don’t see much harness clothing for bigger dogs. Some, like the 1Z coat, have a built-in harness incorporated into the lining of the jacket making this a very popular model in the winter.
Next, let’s talk about fabric choices for harnesses. Selections range from nylon air-mesh to vegan leather, genuine leather, faux leather, polyester, cotton, and genuine Ultrasuede. The most popular would be the nylon air-mesh material due to its affordability, and it allows better air circulation in warmer weather. Typically, they will not last as long or wear as well as other more expensive materials. On the high end, genuine Ultrasuede can’t be beaten for strength, durability, longevity and overall value. Ultrasuede Harnesses will outlive your dog and remain looking good with proper care.