I’ve purchased several different dog harnesses over the past year, and have found the Ruffwear Front Range Harness to be the best dog harness so far. Over the past month, we have been using this Ruffwear harness during hikes and neighborhood walks. My girl, Abbey, is a 60 pound Rhodesian Ridgeback who is very active. We go on daily hikes in and around the dog friendly San Antonio area. Each harness has taken its share of abuse, but several qualities make the Ruffwear harness stand out above the crowd.
Front Range Harness Pros
- ID pouch
- Color variety
- Reflective trim
- Front loop which reduces pulling
- Eliminates the need for a collar
Front Range Harness Cons
- Twice the price of a basic harness
- Not machine washable
The Step in Harness
One of the very first dog harnesses that I purchased was a basic step in harness. I purchased the basic harness from Target before I had even adopted Abbey. What type of harness should I get? I had no idea. I was simply excited to have something prepared. The step in harness goes around each front paw and connects at the top via one buckle.
When Abbey goes to day camp it often takes time for the staff to figure out how it works. This seems confusing, but I suppose they do deal with a wide variety of harnesses. The step in harness is the easiest type of harness to attach (if your dog steps in the right spot) and it’s very cheap.
The Wrap Around Harness
Eventually we purchased a matching leash and harness combo we happened upon at IKEA. This wrap around harness was a bit more complicated than the step in harness. However, it is a common style sold by many retailers. It has two buckles, one which swings around the front of the chest, and the other goes underneath the ribs. This harness is much different than the step in harness, and is easiest to attach after being placed on Abbey’s back. It contains some padding, but has extra padding sticking out in case a larger dog is wearing it.
The wrap around harness seems to allow more movement of the front legs and shoulders, but it has a major drawback. A dog can easily escape by getting behind you and simply pulling backwards. If you have an escape artist in your family, this type of harness will not do. We used this harness much more than the step in because it appears more comfortable.
The Ruffwear Harness
The Front Range Harness from Ruffwear is the first Ruffwear harness I have tried. I do plan on purchasing the Ruffwear backpack once summer ends so that Abbey can carry her own water and snacks during hikes. I wasn’t sure I would like a vest type harness, but it does seem to be comfortable while improving my ability to control the situation. The head must go through the Ruffwear Harness, and it connects in the back with two buckles. It may be the best dog harness when it comes to comfort and usability.
The Ruffwear Harness has two different points of attachment. You can attach a leash to the back, or you can use the front to gain more control over a pulling pup. There are several color options available, each of which contains reflective trim. There is a small ID pouch in front, which I love, because it eliminates the need for a collar. Simply hide the tags in the velcro pouch, or attach them to the loop and let them dangle.
I was a bit concerned about the aluminum ring where the leash attaches. However, it has not become bent or broken yet. This harness covers the most space, which I do not like, but it does provide better control for me, and support for her. Furthermore, there will be a much safer distribution of force around the chest area, rather than the neck and throat.
Good, Bad, and to the Point
- The step in harness is cheap and very easy to connect. Furthermore, getting her to step into the right spot almost becomes a fun game. It may be uncomfortable on the shoulders, and does not allow total control.
- The wrap around harness may be more comfortable and allow better shoulder movement. However, it appears restrictive to the neck and throat area. It may also be easy to escape by moving backwards.
- The Ruffwear vest type harness may be the most comfortable, and most difficult to escape while walking. It has greater options in terms of color and usability, but it comes at a much higher cost.
If you are looking for a cheap dog harness, Ruffwear will not be on your list. If you are more concerned with features than price, Ruffwear will top the list in that regard. In all honesty, I cannot speak for Abbey, and say which dog harness she prefers. I also will not pretend to have tried every type of dog harness on the market. However, out of the types that I have tried, Ruffwear has the best dog harness.
Are you currently looking for the best dog harness, or do you believe you have already found it?
I’m a certified personal trainer in San Antonio. After adopting Abbey, I created Places for Pups to help you get outside, exercise with your dog and have fun doing it.
We have mastered hiking in Texas Hill Country. Though we emerge from the woods unharmed, we are not responsible for you or your pets. You are solely responsible for trying exercises, or places discussed on this site.
Grab the best hiking gear and go dog friendly. I wish you good fortune on the trails to come.