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German Shepherd Harness Guide – Helping You Make the Right Choice

German Shepherds are one of the most popular breeds of today, and for good reason - their intelligence, devotion and courage are unsurpassed, and whether they are guiding the blind, serving the police, or simply guarding your house, they excel at what they do.

GSD are very active dogs who won’t be content to live a life as a couch potato, and therefore you’ll have to give them plenty of exercise and training (1). And to do that, you’ll need a good harness. This guide should help you pick the perfect German Shepherd harness.

Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa | Doctor Of Veterinary Medicine


Sara is Wileypup’s Veterinarian Adviser and helped compose this article to ensure the information is up to date and accurate. For more information on Sara click here



German Shepherd Harness Vest - Overview

IMAGE

PRODUCT

FEATURES

Chai's Choice 3M Reflective Dog Harness

Chai's Choice 3M Reflective Dog Harness

  • Sturdy design
  • Highly adjustable
  • Reflective strips
Onetigris Tactical Service Dog Vest

OneTigris Tactical Service Vest Dog Harness

  • Made of durable military fabric
  • Customizable
  • Water-resistant
HDP Big Dog No Pull Dog Harness

HDP Big Dog No Pull Dog Harness

  • Easy to put on and off
  • Sturdy and durable
  • Reflective strips for night visibility
Pawtitas Reflective Padded Dog Harness

Pawtitas Reflective Padded Dog Harness

  • Simple but effective design
  • Easy to put on and take off
  • Affordable
Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Harness

Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Harness

  • Comes with a seat belt loop
  • Stainless steel hardware
  • 5 adjustment points
Julius-K9 IDC Powerharness Dog Harness

Julius-K9 IDC Powerharness Dog Harness

  • Breathable padding
  • Easy to put on
  • Suitable for all kinds of weather
EzyDog Quick Fit Dog Harness

EzyDog Quick Fit Dog Harness

  • Lightweight
  • Almost impossible to escape
  • Soft padding for comfort

How to Choose the Best Dog Harness for German Shepherd

german shepherd puppy harness

The German Shepherd is a breed that is highly susceptible to joint issues (2), and therefore, using a harness is always a better choice than a collar. It distributes the pulling force across your pooch’s entire body, rather than putting pressure solely on the neck. Unless your dog never pulls, a collar can be a very harmful option. For more information on this topic, check out this article about harnesses and collars.

Picking the right harness is no easy task though. With so many options on the market, you’re probably wondering what are the key features of a harness you and your German Shepherd will love using. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing the perfect product.

Material

The sturdiness of the harness is directly related to the quality of the material which it’s made out of. If you owned a Chihuahua maybe you could have passed by with cheap material, since small dogs can’t pull that hard and are not nearly as powerful.

On the other hand, such a harness worn by a German Shepherd would rip apart before you say “biscuit”. Therefore, you’ll need to pick thick and durable material. Nylon is always a good option as it’s durable and good for wet weather.

Some dog parents swear by leather harnesses - these are fancy and won’t cause skin irritation. However, if you live in a humid area, or your dog likes to get wet, this is not a good choice for your furry friend.

You should also consider getting your dog a padded harness, as they are more comfortable to wear. These do cost a bit more, but there’s no price too high when it comes to your pooch’s pleasure, right?

Straps

You’ll want the straps to be adjustable, so the harness can fit your dog like a glove. Even though harnesses come in a few different sizes, flexible straps allow your German Shepherd to be as comfortable as needed. The wider are the straps, the better.

Leash Ring

The leash ring also needs to be sturdy - preferably, it should be made out of metal, so it doesn’t break on a sudden pull. It’s usually located on the back, but some harnesses have a front attachment too, that can help correct behavioral issues.

Buckles

They should be either metal or hardened plastic, otherwise, they can easily break on harnesses worn by big dogs. Safety snap buckles are always a plus.

Back Handles

This is a convenient, albeit not a necessary feature when it comes to a harness for a large dog. Obviously, you won’t use this to pick up your dog like you would a smaller breed, but it can be quite handy to deal with your dog’s in unexpected situations.

Finding The Right Fit

If you consider all of these features, you should be able to find a harness that fits your dog well. Once you’ve chosen a harness, it’s important to determine if it fits the dog well.

“Remember that your dog has two possible escape routes from a new dog harness—wiggling out the front or backing out the rear. Make sure to test that he can’t get free of the harness.” - Kendall Curley, PetMD

Still, the harness shouldn’t be too tight, make sure there are no rolls of skin from around the straps.. The right fit allows you to put two fingers between the harness and your pooch (4).

If your dog keeps escaping the harness, even though it seems to fit right, check out this guide on escape-proof dog harnesses.


The Best Harness for German Shepherd in 2020

We’ve taken into consideration all the important features a good GSD harness needs to have, and we’ve selected 7 harnesses that we believe will suit your pooch’s needs best.

  • Sturdy design
  • Highly adjustable
  • Reflective strips
  • Front and back lead attachment
  • Many colors and sizes

This harness by Chai’s Choice seems to solve most problems big dog owners might have. It’s sturdy, adjustable, and it doesn’t cost a fortune. Let’s look closer into all the features that make this the overall best harness for German Shepherds.

Soft chest padding is specially designed to remove the pressure from the neck while keeping your dog comfortable during long walks. The fabric is as durable as it’s soft, and with adjustable straps, this is a great harness for a German Shepherd puppy to grow along with. Once properly fitted, it’s easily slipped over the dog’s head, and buckled with one click.

This harness is designed with the safety of your dog’s fur in mind, so the buckles are placed over the padding. That way, they aren’t touching your pooch’s fur and no hair will get in the way.

While 9 lively color options make your dog an eye-catching attraction during the day, 3M reflective material will keep him visible while you’re taking him for a night walk.

The chest-mounted O-ring is designed to discourage your pooch from pulling, as it makes him turn to the side every time he tries to do that.

On the other hand, if you’re not dealing with a puller, you can use a standard leash ring on the back that’s also included on this harness. Both rings are made out of zinc-alloy and sturdy enough to not break from unexpected pulling. In addition to this, there is a handle on the back of the harness for emergency situations.

Pros
Cons
  • Sturdy design
  • The handle on the back could be thicker
  • Highly adjustable
Cell
  • Reflective strips for night visibility
Cell
  • Front and back lead attachment
Cell
  • Many colors and sizes to choose from
Cell

#2: Best for Outdoor Adventures: OneTigris Tactical Service Vest Dog Harness

  • Made of durable military fabric
  • Customizable
  • Water-resistant
  • Sturdy back handle
  • Utility webbing

Your German Shepherd may not be a service dog, but that’s not a reason enough to not get him a vest that would make him look like a pup on duty. This harness comes in three different, military-style colors: ranger green, black and coyote brown. It also has three fuzzy panels that allow you to fully customize your German Shepherd vest by attaching patches of your liking.

What makes this harness great for outdoor adventures is MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment) webbing that lets your dog carry his own supplies, like a collapsible water bowl or a tennis ball. It’s everything you need for a hiking day with your furry companion.

This lightweight harness is made out of a durable nylon shell with soft interior padding.  It’s also water-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about your pooch being soaked after a walk in the drizzle. Buckles are placed on top of the padding, which you can be sure your dog’s fur won’t get stuck in.

This tactical harness is designed for big breeds and comes in two sizes - medium and large. Customers mostly agree that the medium fits German Shepherds, which unfortunately means this harness probably won’t fit your dog while it’s just a pup, but nonetheless, it will be a good option for a grown-up pooch.

Pros
Cons
  • Made of durable military fabric
  • Only comes in 2 sizes
  • Customizable
Cell
  • Water-resistant
Cell
  • Sturdy back handle
Cell
  • Utility webbing
Cell

#3: Best No Pull Harness for German Shepherd: HDP Big Dog No Pull Dog Harness

  • Easy to put on and off
  • Sturdy and durable
  • Reflective strips for night visibility
  • Handle on the back for additional control
  • Good value for money

If your dog’s pulling makes your daily walks a nightmare, this harness option from HDP is designed to make your life easier and dog walking a pleasure.

The design of this harness is aimed to help you with your dogs annoying pulling -  a wide nylon strap goes over the chest, which distributes pressure evenly while discouraging them to pull harder. And even if your dog does pull, extra padding is there to prevent chafing and create a comfortable walking experience.

Besides a great choice for hard pullers, this harness is suitable for elderly pooches that need a gentle vest that won’t put pressure on sensitive areas.

Another great thing about this harness is that it is so easy to adjust. Once set to fit your dog properly, it’s easy to put it on and off. All you need to do is snap one buckle in place. It only takes a couple of seconds, perfect for impatient dogs.

On the back, this harness features a sturdy, hardened handle that helps you step in if the dog play gets too rough, and a wide reflecting strip that makes your dog visible from afar. The color range is simple - it comes in black, blue, red and pink, a few, but bold color options that will make your furry friend stand out in dog parks.

Check out this guide for more no pull dog harness options.

Pros
Cons
  • Easy to put on and off
  • Not great for hot weather
  • Sturdy and durable
Cell
  • Reflective strips for night visibility
Cell
  • Handle on the back for additional control
Cell
  • Good value for money
Cell
  • Simple but effective design
  • Easy to put on and take off
  • Affordable
  • Lots of colors to choose from

This harness from Pawitas is designed in a simple but effective manner. What immediately stands out when you look at this harness is a thick chest piece made with neoprene. It’s designed to reduce strain on your dog’s throat and distributes weight evenly even if the dog pulls. The soft padding will create an enjoyable experience for your pooch, even during long walks.

This harness is also a great choice for the summer and for those living in warm climates. The straps cross on the back, so there isn’t too much material to trap in the heat.

Another thing we love about this harness is that it’s super easy to use - simply put it over your dog’s head, click the buckle and your furry friend is all set! Take your dog’s measurements carefully, since the top part that goes over his head isn’t adjustable. Therefore, it’s important that your size pick fits your pooch’s neck well. The chest straps are adjustable, so there is no need to worry about making a mistake there.

When it comes to color, there are 9 different options to choose from with this harness. Surely you can find one that matches your dog’s personality. What’s also great is that the harness can be machine washed and line dried. As a nice addition, this harness also features reflective strips that will keep your dog safe and visible in dusk and dawn.

The leash ring is located on the back, so this harness won’t help in refraining your German Shepherd from pulling. However, if your dog walks at your pace next to you, it will be a pleasant experience for both of you.

Pros
Cons
  • Simple but effective design
  • The neck strap is not adjustable
  • Easy to put on and take off
  • No leash attachment on the chest
  • Affordable
Cell
  • Lots of colors to choose from
Cell

#5: The Best Travel Harness: Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Harness

  • Comes with a seat belt loop
  • Stainless steel hardware
  • 5 adjustment points
  • Front and back lead attachment
  • Lifetime warranty

Your pup goes wild when you mention a car ride? You’re not alone. For many dogs out there sticking their head and tongue out the window is as exciting as walking to the dog park. However, we all have to wear a seatbelt for safety reasons. There is no reason why your dog should be an exception.

Kurgo thought of your dog’s riding safety when designing this crash-tested harness. It includes a 10-inch dog seat belt loop and a carabiner that allows your dog to sit forward as well as sideways, which is really important for large breeds like GSD, as they can be too big for back seats of smaller vehicles.

This harness works great for regular walks and hikes too, as it’s designed to provide ultimate comfort by reducing stress on the breastbone while distributing the pressure across the whole chest of your pooch.

Furthermore, the quality of this harness is great, as it’s made out of durable material and has stainless steel nesting buckles. There are 5 adjustment points to help the harness fit your dog perfectly. The buckles might seem difficult to use the first time you try, but once you get the hang of it you can rest assured your dog will be safe and comfortable at the same time.

Lastly, this harness has a front ring that prevents your strong German Shepherd from pulling. However, you can also use a standard back leash ring.

Pros
Cons
  • Comes with a seat belt loop
  • No handle on the back
  • Stainless steel hardware
  • Only comes in one color
  • 5 adjustment points allow for a tight fit
Cell
  • Front and back lead attachment
Cell
  • Lifetime warranty
Cell
  • Breathable padding
  • Easy to put on
  • Suitable for all kinds of weather
  • Reflective strips for night safety

If you had to describe this harness by only one of its characteristics, it would be the ease of putting it on. This is a great choice for all those doggies out there too excited about going for a walk to wait calmly to get a harness put on them. Only one buckle click and your dog is ready to step out the door.

This harness is designed with working dogs in mind - on both sides of the back handle, it has two plastic loop attachers that are intended for optional side bags that allow your dog to carry its own things. The Julius-K9 patches are removable, which leaves you with two fuzzy panels to personalize your dog’s harness.

On the back, there’s a sturdy handle, that helps you gain control over your dog in tense situations, as well as a leash hoop. However, if you want to unleash your dog to let him wander freely, there’s a clasp that helps you hold the handle and the loop together, which minimizes the change of your pooch getting stuck while roaming through bushes.

Furthermore, this harness is skin-friendly, with a breathable eco-tex inner liner that is reinforced with a cushion on the inside, that lies directly against the dog’s body. The outer part is water-resistant, which makes this harness a great choice for both dry and humid weather conditions.

Pros
Cons
  • Breathable padding
  • More expensive than some other options
  • Easy to put on
  • The chest strap is not padded
  • Suitable for all kinds of weather conditions
Cell
  • Reflective strips for night safety
Cell

#7: Best Escape-Proof Dog Harness For GSD: EzyDog Quick Fit Dog Harness

  • Lightweight
  • Almost impossible to escape
  • Soft padding for comfort
  • Many colors to choose from

While your dog surely enjoys the time spent outside, it doesn’t mean that putting the harness on before a walk has to be an equally pleasant experience for your pooch. In fact, some dogs look for every possible occasion to slip out of it and run free around the block while you chase them.

This harness is easy to put on,  but it’s also designed to outsmart your furry escape artist and stay on the whole time you’re outside. Adjustable straps allow you to get the perfect fit on your German Shepherd, after which you only need to buckle it up with one click, and you’re good to go! For more harnesses similar to this one, check out this guide on escape-proof dog harnesses.

The padded chest strap on the EzyDog Quick Fit Dog Harness is made with neoprene and designed to provide your pooch with more comfort while minimizing pinching and chafing. This harness is simple-looking, but quite sturdy, and a good choice for a strong breed like German Shepherd. Furthermore, it’s also fashionable, with 10 color options and reflective stitching that provides vision during night time.

This is also a great harness for German Shepherds that love to get wet. It’s made with neoprene and nylon, both of which dry really quickly. The leash ring is made out of stainless steel, which is resistant to rust even in contact with water.

Finally, this harness also comes with an ID tag holder, so your German Shepherd doesn’t have to wear a collar too just for the identification purpose.

Pros
Cons
  • Lightweight
  • A bit pricey
  • Almost impossible to escape
  • Not ideal for pullers
  • Soft padding for comfort
Cell
  • Many colors to choose from
Cell

The Verdict

No matter how proudly your German Shepherd obeys your commands, a moment of carelessness with big breeds can cause inconvenient situations. Therefore, it’s crucial to have proper walking equipment that gives you ultimate control, while at the same time gives your pooch comfortability. In our opinion, both Chai’s Choice 3M Reflective Dog Harness and OneTigris Tactical Service Vest Dog Harness seem like they have everything a modern doggy like your German Shepherd would need for an enjoyable walk.

FAQ

How do I measure my dog for a harness?

In order to get the right size harness for your dog, you should always determine your dog’s size with a measuring tape. To measure a dog’s chest girth, wrap the tape around the widest part of the dog's torso, which would usually be behind the front legs’ armpits. For neck width, measure the widest part of the neck. Now, take a look at the sizing chart. If your pooch falls in between two sizes, take a size up. For more details, check out this guide.

Should I use a harness on a puppy?

A harness could prove great for a puppy that’s learning to walk - it’s a great tool in teaching how to behave when on a leash. It also prevents possible neck injury.


However, knowing how curious and bite-prone puppies can be, putting on a harness may be an issue at an early age. Therefore, it all comes down to your personal choice.

How do I stop my German Shepherd from pulling?

Even the no-pull harness won't magically stop your dog from pulling without proper training. However, there are certain training methods that can teach your German Shepherd to behave well on a leash.


It’s important to not move when the dog is pulling - if you do, he will understand that as his victory, and will continue to do that. You can also try to move in a different direction, to show it’s you who leads the walk. Furthermore, reward him when he’s not pulling.

References

1) “German Shepherd Dog.” Vetstreet. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
http://www.vetstreet.com/dogs/german-shepherd-dog

2) “Arthritis (Septic) in Dogs”. September 13, 2010. PetMD Editorial. Retrieved April 28, 2020

https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/musculoskeletal/c_dg_arthritis_septic

3) Curley, K. “Get the Best Dog Harness for Your Dog’s Body Type”. PetMD. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
https://www.petmd.com/dog/care/get-best-dog-harness-your-dogs-body-type

4) Sullivan, M. “Surprising Dog Harness Dangers To Avoid”. November 29, 2017. PetMD. Retrieved April 28, 2020.

https://www.petmd.com/dog/care/get-best-dog-harness-your-dogs-body-type

Vedrana Nikolić (B.A. in Cultural Anthropology) - Professional Writer.

Vedrana is a writer, anthropologist & dog lover. Currently pursuing a Masters degree in Semiotics studying, among other things, the communication between animals and humans.

For more info on Vedrana click here

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