Dog harnesses may be used for identification, walking, or training assistance. Various types of harnesses are available for different purposes and different dogs. However, regardless of the type of harness used, it must always fit properly to ensure the dog is securely but comfortably held. Read on to learn more about harnesses and how to measure your dog to ensure an ideal fit.
In This Article
How Do You Measure a Dog for a Harness?
To measure your dog for a harness, get them up on their feet and pull a tape measure around the dog’s chest.
Beyond that, here are 6 tips for thinking through harness sizing for your dog:
- Many harnesses have at least one strap that goes around the dog’s chest (just behind the front legs) and one strap that goes around the front of the chest (just below the base of the neck).
- Use a measuring tape to take these measurements when fitting a dog for a harness.
- Measurements should also accommodate the width of the 1-2 fingers that should fit under the harness for comfort.
- Know your dog’s weight for harness sizing.
- Harnesses will often have size charts to help determine which is size is most appropriate; sizes often vary by product, so it is important to consult the sizing chart for the specific harness being considered.
- If possible, owners should try fitting multiple different types of harnesses to see which style best works for their dog.
What Is a Dog Harness?
A dog harness is a device that wraps around a dog’s chest and can be attached to a leash to hold the dog during walks or training activities. The harness usually secures around the front of the chest and around the dog’s back, behind the front legs.
What Types of Harnesses Are Available?
Harnesses are made of fabric with plastic or metal buckles and/or clips. Various materials may be used for different purposes. Lightweight harnesses, which utilize materials like mesh, are generally intended for use with light activity or in warm weather.
These also may be best for smaller dogs that are easily weighed down. Heavier-duty harnesses may utilize materials like nylon or polyester, and are intended for larger, stronger breeds or for use during more vigorous activity.
Multiple harness designs also exist for different uses. Harnesses may have different strap configurations to suit diverse dog body shapes or to provide more security.
Some harnesses are fastened with buckles, while some (usually for smaller dogs or those unlikely to pull at the leash) are slipped on and off over the dog’s head.
Some training harnesses tighten around the chest when a dog pulls at the leash in order to prevent this behavior, and some have leash clips at the front of the chest to thwart pulling.
Harnesses may have handles along the dog’s back to help lift dogs or inhibit lunging behavior. Some harnesses may also feature storage pouches or pockets for the owner’s use.
How Should a Harness Fit?
A harness should fit snugly but comfortably around a dog’s chest. As a general rule, owners should be able to slide 1-2 fingers under the harness to ensure proper fit.
The harness should allow the dog to breathe and move normally, and should not sit too high up on the neck. Harnesses placed too tightly can impair breathing and cause discomfort, skin irritation, and hair loss.
However, a harness should not be so loose that it will slip off during activity and allow the dog to escape. Owners should try slipping the harness over their dog’s head once it has been secured in place; if the harness is loose enough to come off this way, it must be tightened or another type of harness should be used.
Due to different dog body shapes, even if a harness is placed correctly, some dogs may still be able to slip out. Owners should never trust a harness that their dog was able to escape despite a correct fit, and should instead try a different type of harness to more effectively contain their pup.
Frequently Asked Questions
To measure your dog for a vest harness, use a flexible tape measure to determine the girth of your dog’s chest. The chest girth is the measurement around your dog’s body at the widest part of the chest, typically just behind the front legs. Once you have the chest girth measurement, consult our size chart to find the best size vest harness for your dog.
To measure your dog for a harness or collar, use a flexible tape measure to determine the circumference of your dog’s neck. The neck circumference is the measurement around your dog’s neck at the base, where the collar would sit. Once you have the neck circumference measurement, consult our size chart to find the best size harness or collar for your dog.
To measure your dog for a neck and chest harness, use a flexible tape measure to determine the girth of your dog’s chest and the circumference of your dog’s neck. The chest girth is the measurement around your dog’s body at the widest part of the chest, typically just behind the front legs. The neck circumference is the measurement around your dog’s neck at the base, where the harness would sit. Once you have both measurements, consult our size chart to find the best size harness for your dog.
Additional Sources & Resources
- The best service dog harnesses
- The best dog car harness
- The best dog lift harness
- The best no pull dog harness
- The best harnesses for huskies
- The Best Puppy Harnesses
- The Best Front Clip Harness
- The best Step in Dog Harnesses
And our individual harness reviews:
- The Ruffwear Webmaster Dog Harness review
- The Icefang Tactical Dog Harness review
- The Gooby Dog Harness (escape free sport) review
- The Ruffwear front range dog harness review
- The Rabbitgoo Escape Proof Dog Harness review
And our breed-specific harness guides: