A picture of a dog with a harness on in a car

Best Dog Car Harnesses for Car Travel (Chosen By a Vet) (December 2022 Reviews)

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I love my dog with all my heart, but he’s 90 pounds and behaves terribly in the car.

Having a dog who won’t sit still and wants to move from seat to seat (at any size) can be a danger to the driver, everyone in the car, and the dog themselves.

A dog harness can be a great solution to this problem, but choosing the right one can be difficult. Obviously the stakes are higher for a dog car harness than some other purchases as you want the harness to be appropriately tested, durable, and to be comfortable for your dog.

For that reason, we asked our veterinary advisor Dr. Jamie Whittenburg (who created our free course on raising a healthy puppy, some of the insights from which you can also find in our free new puppy checklist) to review the top dog car harnesses on the market and make her recommendation for the best models for a variety of purposes, including:

  • Best overall
  • Best budget
  • Best for small dogs
  • Best for large dogs
  • Best for “escape artists”

You’ll leave this post confident you can purchase the right car harness for your pup.

What’s The Best Dog Car Harness?

The short answer is that Dr. Whittenburg chose the VavoPaw Dog Vehicle Safety Vest Harness as the best overall choice due to the durability of the materials, the security of the clasps and attachments, and the versatility of the fit with different types of vehicles.

Our Vet’s Top Pick

Our Top 5 Dog Car Harnesses

Below Dr. Whittenburg’s top picks. Compare the ratings and key features of each of the harnesses to decide which one is the best car harness for your dog.

Vet’s Picks Model Rating Material Closure Type Crash Tested?
Best Overall VavoPaw Dog Vehicle Safety Vest Harness 4.5 Polyester Buckle Not Disclosed
Best Budget Lukovee Dog Safety Vest Harness 4.5 Nylon, Mesh Buckle Not Disclosed
Best for Small Dogs PetSafe Happy Ride Dog Safety Harness 4.1 Nylon Buckle Yes
Best for Large Dogs Kurgo Tru-Fit Enhanced Strength Dog Harness 4.4 Steel Buckle Yes
Best for Escape Artists Mighty Paw Car Dog Harness 4.6 Nylon, Mesh Buckle Not Disclosed

*Ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5 and based on reviews, feedback, and opinions of actual customers

Who Should Buy a Dog Car Harness

  • Owners of Well Behaved Dogs – Car harnesses are good for keeping well behaved dogs fastened into their seats
  • Owners of Small Dogs – As you’ll see in this post there are harnesses that will be a good fit for smaller dogs.
  • Owners of Large Dogs – Similarly harnesses can also fit large dogs, provided they’re well behaved and unlikely to have issues with being strapped into a harness.

Who Should Not Buy a Dog Car Harness

  • Owners of Anxious Fidgety Dogs – Dogs that will be anxious and not want to be tied down in the car (particularly larger, stronger dogs) may have issues with a car harness.
  • Owners Who Prefer Other Options – Alternatives to a car harness include bringing your dog in a crate or carrier, car barriers, and car guards. If any of these would be a better fit for your pup, you obviously shouldn’t buy a car harness.

While a bit dated, this video is is a very good overview of some of the hazards you’ll want to consider regarding dog car harnesses:

And, if you are looking for a car harness, below are some additional tips for making the right call from our vet advisor Dr. Whittenburg.

“Car dog harnesses should be made out of high-quality, durable materials. The fabric should be soft and breathable for your dog’s comfort. Depending on your car, you will want to ensure that the harness has the attachment sites that will work. A harness with multiple adjustment points may be the best choice for oddly shaped dogs to ensure a good fit.”

How Much Does a Dog Car Harness Cost?

Between $15 and $35

Dog car harnesses cost roughly $15 to $35, but most tend to run closer to the $20-30 range, depending on the style of harness, the size harness you’re buying, and what material they’re made from.

Budget-friendly harnesses are a less-frills option that are typically still effective. A more expensive dog harness option often features tougher materials, additional points of adjustment for a more customized fit, or may have extra attachment options.

Our Methodology: Why Trust Pet News Daily

“Safety and security are the most important features we looked for in a car dog harness. It is also important to ensure comfort and a good fit so in reviewing and testing these harnesses that’s the focus. This is an important decision, so I’d also encourage you to speak to your veterinarian, other dog owners, and read the product reviews here for guidance.” – Dr. Jamie Whittenburg, DVM.

The Best Dog Car Harnesses: Full Reviews

Our Vet’s Top Pick

Pros
  • Wide chest strap provides comfort and increased safety
  • Secure harness will ensure dog stays in their seat and cannot slip out
  • Easy to put on and take off
  • Suitable for use with car seat buckle type attachments but equipped with a carabiner for a universal fit
  • Durable material that is still soft and breathable
Cons
  • The clasp on the harness is plastic and some users complained about it breaking.
  • Larger dog owners complained about fit and the harness being easy to escape / destroy for dogs that size (see our recommendation for larger dogs below)

The VavoPaw Dog Vehicle Safety Vest Harness is our top pick overall if you’re looking for a dog car harness.

The harness looks and feels very sturdy, has a thick strap, and a number of adjustments with easy implementation to make sure your dog is safe and comfortable.

Overall the harness gets relatively strong reviews (though not as good as the Might Paw harness mentioned shortly):

A screenshot of Vavo Paws car harness reviews.

The negative reviewers mention specific issues with the harness, including:

  • Fit – Multiple owners of large dogs complained that the vest runs small and the typical sizing for their dog didn’t fit.
  • Plastic Clasp – The harness does not offer any crash test certifications, and multiple users complained the clasp broke.
  • Large Dogs – Generally feedback was negative from owners of larger dogs, so our recommendation of the Kurgo for larger dogs (below) may be a better fit if you have a big dog.

All in all if you’re looking for a car harness for your dog this will be a great fit for most dogs.

Best Budget

Pros
  • Made of breathable mesh for your dog’s comfort
  • Elastic safety seat belt – durable and strong for safety
  • Harness fits around the dog’s body to protect their neck in the event of a crash
  • Quick release buckle for easy in and out
Cons
  • Some customers complained of dogs (particularly smaller dogs) slipping out of the harness
  • Some customers complained that the harness broke (particularly with the attachment breaking)

The Lukovee Dog Safety Vest Harness is our best budget pick.

It feels relatively light-weight but does have some padding and breathable mesh. The buckles are very easy to unfasten and its adjustable and relatively easy to fasten to the seat and adjust.

Overall the harness gets strong reviews (only the Might Paw reviews are better) despite the lower price:

A screenshot of reviews of the Lukovee car harness.

The negative reviews tend to center around a few core issues:

  • Dogs (particularly smaller dogs) slipping out of the harness
  • The harness breaking (particularly with the attachment breaking)

All in all this is a great option for budget-conscious customers looking for a car harness.

Pros
  • Crash test certified to protect your dog in the event of a car crash
  • Padded to add comfort for small dogs
  • Breathable mesh lining to keep your pup cool
  • Tailored fit to ensure the harness stays on your dog during use
Cons
  • Issues with the fit of the harness (both being difficult to fit, and the harness chafing or injuring the dog when in an accident)
  • Issues with with durability (the harness breaking down after use)
  • While this model was crash tested a previous version of the same harness from the same harness did fail an independent crash test

The best car harness for small dogs is the PetSafe Happy Ride Dog Safety Harness for Cars.

This harness is crash tested and looks and feels a lot sturdier and more substantial than some of the other harnesses listed, with a strong-feeling clasp and thick padding for the harness itself.

Ratings for the PetSafe harness are the lowest of those listed here with poor scores for stretch and easy to use particularly:

Screenshot of reviews for the PetSafe car harness.

Complaints from customers who had issues with the harness included:

  • Issues with the fit of the harness (both being difficult to fit, and the harness chafing or injuring the dog when in an accident)
  • Issues with with durability (the harness breaking down after use)
  • While this model was crash tested a previous version of the same harness from the same harness did fail an independent crash test

PetSafe offers an overview video on how to install the harness which also lets you see it in action:

If you’re looking for a car harness for a smaller dog this is the best option.

Best for Large Dogs

Kurgo Car Harness for Dogs

The Kurgo car harness has been crash tested for safety, tested for dogs up to 75 pounds, and has a dog tether as well as 5 adjustment points for a comfortable fit.
Pros
  • Crash tested for safety in the event of a car crash
  • Tested for dogs up to 75lbs
  • Five adjustment points for customizable fit
  • Dog tether for seatbelt included
  • Sized for medium to large dogs
Cons
  • Durability – The harness wore relatively quickly with use
  • Fit – Multiple customers complained that they had issues with unusually shaped dogs having a difficult time finding a fit

The best car harness for large dogs is the Kurgo Car Harness for Dogs.

This is a substantial feeling harness that seems sturdy as you pick it up with multiple metal attachments and thick padding that feels a bit heavier than some of the other models as you pick it up.

The Kurgo harness is similar to the other harnesses in ratings (lower than the Mighty Paw but higher than the PetSafe harness):

A screenshot of Kurgo car harness reviews

Customers who had issues with the harness had a two common complaints:

  • Durability – The harness wore relatively quickly with use
  • Fit – Multiple customers complained that they had issues with unusually shaped dogs having a difficult time finding a fit

Kurgo has an overview video which lets you see the harness on a dog and in action:

All in all for larger dogs this is a great option for a car harness.

Best for Escape Artists

Mighty Paw Car Dog Harness, Vehicle Safety Harness with Adjustable Straps and Soft Padding, Doubles as a Standard Harness with a No Pull Front Leash Attachment

The best rated of our top harnesses, the Might Paw harness is lightweight and has an easy over the head application.
Pros
  • Easy over-the-head application
  • Multiple adjustment points to ensure a snug fit for escape artists
  • Lightweight to be comfortable for easily agitated dogs
  • Durable water-resistant material
Cons
  • Customers complained that the harness was difficult to fit onto their dogs
  • Some customers complained the harness frayed quickly with use

The Mighty Paw Car Dog Harness is our top pick for “escape artists.”

It is much smaller and lighter-feeling than some of the other options as you pick it up. It has metal hardware and some additional straps with a design unique to this list to keep wigglers fastened in as you drive.

The Mighty Paw harness has the best reviews of all of our top harnesses:

Screenshot of the Mighty Paw car harness reviews

Customers who had bad experiences with the harness mainly pointed to the harness being difficult to fit to their dog, or that the harness frayed easily.

Might Paw has a series of helpful videos you can check out both to see the harness in action as well as to find out how to measure your dog for the right sized harness.

A video overview is here:

A video overview of how to latch the harness and seat belt:

As well as this overview on how to measure your dog to get the right fit:

All in all if you are looking for a highly rated car harness for your escape-prone pup this is your best bet.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the safest dog car seat belt?

To make the safest purchasing decision for your dog it’s best to consult with your veterinarian based on your car, your dog’s breed and their size.

How do you secure a dog in a car with a harness?

Conclusion: The Best Dog Car Harnesses

If you’re looking for a harness for your puppy, here are our top picks (chosen by a vet):

For more on dog harnesses ,including everything from how to measure your dog for a harness and how a dog harness should fit to the best escape proof dog harnesses (read our review of escape proof as well)
,check out or series of posts:

And our individual harness reviews:

And our breed-specific harness guides:

Thomas Demers
Tom is a managing partner with Pet News Daily. He has been writing and researching on the web for over 10 years. He owns 3 dogs, 3 cats, and is a huge animal lover. His current obsession is working on training his (currently very good but very poorly behaved) 87 pound, 1 year old Bernedoodle named Pinecone.