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How Tight Should a Dog Harness Be?

A dog harness can be one of the best investments you make for you and your dog. You’ll enjoy walks more, knowing your dog is safe, secure, and comfortable. Ensuring the proper fit can meet these goals.
With the right fit, every walk can be a great experience for both of you.
The following will guide you through everything you should know about getting a harness that’s the perfect fit.

What Size Harness Does Your Dog Need?

The size of your dog’s harness is important. Choosing the right size is a critical foundation for safety, comfort, and general enjoyability. If you get a harness that’s too big, your dog can slip-free. If it’s too tight, it can be painful.

The following gives you everything you need to know about choosing the right size harness for your dog.

How to Check the Fit of a Dog Harness?

The following steps will help you get the perfect fit:
Step One: Measure your dog. Start with your dog’s neck girth, which is at the base of the neck.
Step Two: Measure your dog’s belly girth. It’s measured around an inch or so in front of your dog’s back legs.
Step Three: Get a measurement of your dog’s body length. Body length is measured from right behind the front leg to just behind the back leg.
Step Four: When you’re buying a harness, there should be a size chart listed. Take your dog’s precise measurements, and compare them to that size chart. Don’t guess — choose a harness based on the chart.
Step Five: If you aren’t sure about your dog’s length measurement or you want to double-check, you can take a thin towel or pillowcase and wrap it around your dog. Aim to fold it much like a harness will fit, and then measure that to determine your dog’s length.
Step Six: Choose the design you prefer, making sure you’ve confirmed your measurements based on the size chart.

Also note: If your dog is close to a cut-off size, go up.

Signs the Dog Harness Doesn’t Fit Right

Red flags that indicate an improper fit for your dog’s harness include:
  • Your dog is losing fur around where the harness is worn.
  • If you notice chaffing around the areas where your dog wears the harness, you might have the wrong fit.
  • Your dog might seem like he doesn’t want to walk.
  • Your dog is often wiggling free from the harness or the back is loose or riding up their neck.

How to Choose a Harness Style by Breed

When it comes to how to choose the right size of a dog harness, the chest girth is important, and this varies depending on breed. First and foremost, you should always go by the size guide provided by the harness retailer. However, some harness sizes tend to work well for certain breeds.

Breeds That Fit a Small Harness

Most small dog harnesses are recommended for a weight of anywhere from 18 to 35 pounds and a chest girth of 17 to 22 inches. Breeds that are often well-suited for a small harness include:
  • Cavalier King Charles
  • Pekingese
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Pug
  • Scottish Terrier

Breeds That Fit a Medium Harness

A medium-sized dog will usually fit well in a medium harness. A medium harness will fit a chest girth ranging from 22 to 27 inches, with a weight range of 30 to 50 pounds. Breeds that often fit into medium-sized harnesses are:
  • Beagle
  • Border Collie
  • Boston Terrier
  • French Bulldog
  • English Bulldog

Breeds That Fit a Large Harness

A large harness will typically fit a dog that’s got a chest girth of 27 to 32 inches and a weight of more than 45 pounds. When you have a well-fitting harness for a large dog, it is safer and more comfortable.
  • Breeds that might require a size large harness include:
  • Boxer
  • Dalmatian
  • Golden Retriever
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Weimaraner

Pros & Cons of Dog Harnesses

There are upsides, and also downsides of dog harness to be aware of. However, the benefits of harnesses almost always outweigh any of the disadvantages.

The Benefits of Using A Dog Harness

The upsides of using harnesses include:
  1. You’re going to get more control. There are additional pressure points and attachments all-around your dog’s body, instead of just at the neck, which would be the case with a conventional collar.
  2. When you have more control, you’ll feel more relaxed and confident on your walks.
  3. Dog harnesses are an excellent training tool, and they’re one of the most efficient and effective ways to teach your dog not to pull while walking. They’re great for puppies to teach them how to be good walkers and dogs of any age, really.
  4. Harnesses are safer than collars. They’re more difficult for your dog to escape from.
  5. They reduce the risk of injury because they’re not putting so much pressure on the neck alone.

Are There Any Downsides?

Most of the downsides of a dog harness are easy to fix.
  • Some dogs don’t initially like a harness, but with consistent use, they acclimate and enjoy the comfort they provide.
  • It can take longer to put them on, but again, when you’re using it regularly, it’s a process both you and your dog will get used to. While they are a bit bulkier, if you choose a lightweight harness, this isn’t a big issue.

What Are the Main Features of a Dog Harness?

There are a few key features you should look for in a dog harness. These features are detailed a bit below to help guide you as you’re shopping.
Safe Design: When you’re comparing dog harnesses, a high-quality retailer is going to specifically point out their safety design features. You want a harness to have a non-pulling, no-choke design, and it should also have padding to protect your dog’s skin.
Easy To Use: You want a simple design. More complex is not always better, and that’s certainly the case with dog harnesses. You want something that is easy to put on and take off.
Adjustable Belts: Even when you follow a size chart, you still want to get that perfectly customized fit, which comes from adjustable belts.
Weight: Choose a lightweight dog harness so you can pack it up quickly and take it with you on-the-go.
Clip Location: Harnesses have a D-ring clip. The best options will often have dual clips, meaning one at the front and one on the top. If you use the front clip, it helps your dog learn not to pull. Once your dog no longer pulls, you want to transition to the top clip, so a dual-ring design is optimal. A dual-ring clip can also give you more options depending on the environment and type of activity you’re doing. For example, if you’re on a casual walk, you might want a different clip than if you’re running or hiking.
Reflective straps: Protect yourself and your dog with a harness that has a reflective feature, especially if you love early morning or evening walks.
Material: Choose a harness with a soft material that won’t hurt your dog and will ensure they love their walks. As far as the D-ring clip, go with a durable metal option.

Can I Use a Retractable Leash with a Harness?

One of the big questions people have is whether or not they can use a retractable leash with a harness. The answer is you absolutely can, and in fact, it’s typically the best option.
With that in mind, it’s best to use a retractable leash with the top clip of a harness. If you’re using a retractable leash, you might want to avoid the front clip of a harness because it can become uncomfortable. A retractable leash line never goes slack, so when you use a harness' front clip, you may be putting constant pressure on your dog, making them think they’re pulling even if they aren’t.
If you do use a retractable leash and a front-clip harness, make sure that you’re giving some slack in the leash.

The Importance of a Properly-Sized Dog Harness

When you get a dog harness that’s the right size, your dog will be both safe and comfortable. Thanks to the many types of harness designs and features now available, it’s simple to choose the one that’s going to work best for both you and your dog.
Besides, our designers at Pet&Cuddle have created a unique harness collection for your dogs, which is safe for the dog and can be used for training, leading, or adapting your pet for walking with a leash.
Discover the new collection of properly-sized dog harnesses here.

Questions About Dog Harnesses

If you still have questions about dog harnesses, we encourage you to read below, where we’ll answer some of the most frequent ones.

1. What is the Most Comfortable Harness?

When it comes to the most comfortable harness, there are two big priorities—fit and materials. If the fit is right and you adjust it accordingly, and the material is soft and padded, your dog is going to feel great in its harness.
That’s why choosing the right size initially is so important, and also checking to see if any adjustments are needed once it’s on.

2. What Is the Safest Dog Harness?

Again, the safest harness comes down to one that’s the right fit. You never want a harness that’s too loose because your dog can slip out and potentially run away. If a harness is too tight, it can injure your dog. Measuring the three key points at the neck, length, and belly will guide you to the safest harness.

3. Can Dogs Wear Harnesses All Day?

While a harness can be an incredibly comfortable option for your dog, it is not meant to be worn all day. Your dog should wear it only when you’re on walks or out and about. Wearing a harness all day can injure your dog or even cause serious health issues, such as problems with blood circulation.

4. What Are the Types of Harnesses?

This was briefly touched on above, but one differentiating factor between harnesses is whether they have a clip at the back, front, or both.

  • A back-clip harness is the best harness for a dog that pulls. A back-clip dog harness gives you more control than you would have with a collar. The leash ring is on the top, so your dog isn’t going to get tangled in it. The ring is also away from the neck, which is reducing injury risks.
  • A front-clip harness has a D-ring at a dog’s chest. This is considered safe, and it also helps train your dog not to pull on your walk. Plus, a chest clip gives you directional control, which you can’t achieve with a collar.
  • The best option of all for most people is a dual-clip harness. This gives you the opportunity to clip your dog in at their back or chest, and you can use it for training, helping your dog get used to a harness, or casually walking.

5. What’s Better: Harnesses or Collars?

In almost all cases, harnesses are a better option than a collar. They offer more in the way of safety, functionality, and versatility as well as comfort.
If you’re training a puppy to talk on a leash without getting hurt, a harness is an optimal option. It helps avoid tangling, which can be dangerous not just for your dog but also for you.
A dog harness gives you more control, which can help you feel comfortable walking even in crowded public spaces. You’re going to feel more comfortable physically as well because you’re not going to have to worry as much about arm and back pain if you have a big dog.
Dog harnesses discourage pulling and can help redirect what your dog is doing without hurting them. It distributes pulling efforts to a dog’s shoulders and chest, and that helps them learn the concept that pulling won’t get them anywhere.
Finally, harnesses are great for safety. They reduce the risk of pain and injuries when compared to collars.

Get Your Next Harness From Pet & Cuddle

There are a few key points that should guide which harness you get your dog, with size and fit being top priorities.
We, at Pet&Cuddle, have processed all the knowledge and practical experiences to create the perfect harness with a unique design. Comfortable and safe, it now can be easily used for many purposes like training, walking, or adapting to a leash.
Discover the latest products for dogs available on our website!