If you’re just entering the world of sled dogs or simply ready to find a better harness for your dogs, then you’re in the right place. In addition to sharing our favorites among the best sled dog harness options of 2018, we have also put together an insightful FAQ and buyer’s guide that can help you make the tough decisions.
When it comes to a sled dog harness, it’s important that you choose the right fit and function so that your dog can safely do their work. It might not be easy to pick at first, but you’ll quickly learn how to figure out which harnesses work and which do not.
Let’s get learning!
This first sled dog harness option is well-padded, reliable, and easy to understand how to use.
This is an X-back style sled dog harness that is constructed sturdily for anyone who is looking for a lightweight harness that can work well for sled dogs.
This harness is available in six different sizes. The sizing for this product is based on the neck circumference of the dog, but you may find that depending on your dog’s breed, you will want to choose a different size to get the right fit. The sizes range from small to EXlarge.
The webbing on this particular harness is robust since it’s made of a nylon-type material that can be considered a top-of-the-line choice for most sled dogs and their owners.
One of the best things about this harness is that it has extra-wide chest padding that is foam-like. This padding is great for sled dogs because a lot of the pressure of the pull is put into your dog’s chest. With this type of padding, the force of that pull will be evenly dispersed so that it doesn’t cause any pain or damage to your dog.
Another bonus of this harness is that the material that it is made of is resistant to both ice and moisture, which means that even when it gets wet, you won’t have a useless harness that stretches out. It will maintain its integrity even during the worst conditions!
One issue with this harness is that the sizing can be confusing to figure out. You may need to go through one or two sizes before you decide which one works best for your dog, and this can be frustrating. Just remember that getting the perfect fit is very important, and you can do that if you have patience.
This next dog harness is another X-back option, but it is made of a different type of breathable fabric that prevents irritation, which is better than many competitors.
This harness has a profession X-back design. What does that mean for you and your dog while sledding or pulling something like a jockey?
Simply put, the force that your dog exerts to pull forward will be nearly completely transferred to the item that they are pulling. With the multiple and overlapping straps that come to a tail end at the bottom of the harness, you can make more of their hard work!
The harness is constructed out of 25mm webbing material, and the padding is made of a breathable air mesh. All stitching is reinforced at least three times to make sure that it can stand up to even the harshest conditions. Additionally, the straps have reflective tape on them so that your dog will be visible at times when it is essential that they are seen.
The padding and material on this harness is a lightweight and breathable mesh. You can be sure that this material will dry quickly, and the lightness of the fabric will actually help to prevent uncomfortable rubbing that can happen to your dog while they are pulling if you are not careful.
Another bonus is that this model is available in six different size options that range from small to extra-extra-extra large. Depending on the manufacturer’s specifications, you can find the right fit for your dog. Finding the right fit is essential for sled dogs, so you will want to be very careful about double checking that you have the right measurement when buying this.
If this is your first time using a professional X-back dog sled harness, you may find that you are frustrated with finding the right fit. Depending on your dog’s breed and their specific measurements, you might not get the size right at first. If this happens to you, be sure to check with the manufacturer about what you should try out instead.
Next up is a unique X-back harness that is specifically designed for a particular body type, not just for a certain size.
This X-back harness from Non-stop dogwear is a very versatile product that is made from a thick material with lots of padding so that your dog will be comfortable while they pull. Additionally, the whole harness is outfitted with 3M reflective stripping so that they will be both safe and visible at night.
Many X-back and sled dog harness options are made to fit different dogs strictly based off of their measurements, but this harness takes into account the shape of a sled dog body. Most popular sled dog breeds have a particular shape, and this X-back harness will work best for them.
Among that specific size, this harness is also available in 10 different sizes to fit various breeds, lengths, and ages.
While it is a benefit that this harness is specifically for sled dog breeds, it can be a drawback, too. If you have a non-standard sled dog breed that you want to train, this might not be the right fit if their body type is different.
This harness is a little different from the others in that it is an H-back harness rather than an X-back harness.
This H-back harness is excellent for pulling even if X-back harnesses tend to be more popular for sled dog pulling activities. Still, it’s a high-quality product that is made of durable material and super thick padding that will protect your dog while they pull.
This product is available in a range of sizes, and each of those sizes has specific measurements from the manufacturer that will help you to find the right fit.
One of the biggest pros of this harness is that it has adjustable straps. While many sled dog harnesses do not have this bonus, this one is easy to adjust so that you can make the perfect fit for your dog every time you head out together.
This harness is outfitted with a quick-release pull. If your dog should get out of hand or something happens, you can release yourself from being attached to them quickly. This can save you or your dog’s life at the right moment.
The bottom strap on this H-harness causes the same problem that most H-harnesses do, and that is, it causes irritation on the stomach and chest area for some dogs. Depending on your dog’s shape, this could be a problem.
Finally, let’s talk about a pulling harness that was originally designed for weight exercises, but has been expanded to double as a sledding harness.
This harness is a super high-quality product that has the highest levels of reinforced construction to make sure that it stays together.
It comes in only one size, but this size is appropriate for many different sled dog breeds and sizes because some of the straps are adjustable, and you can get the perfect fit without any issues.
The material durability of this product is absolutely incredible. The harness is made of 50mm-wide nylon webbing material that is unlikely to tear or rip for many years to come. In fact, another huge bonus of this harness is that it has tear-resistant straps that your dog will not be able to rip or chew to pieces easily.
The real drawback of this harness is that it doesn’t come in different sizes. Despite being somewhat adjustable, it simply won’t work for all dogs due to size limitations. Hence, be sure that your dog is the right size for this harness before using it.
Now that you have seen our top options for the top sled dog harness, you’re probably a little confused. Many of the features of these sled dog harnesses are similar, but it's the ones that are different than you should be looking at.
Let’s talk about the features that you should pay the most attention to when making your final selection for which sled dog harness will work for you and your dog.
Since you will be using your harness to pull a sled as opposed to a cart or another object, you will likely want to choose a sled dog harness that has a clip at the rear of your dog's back or what is usually called the sling. This will ensure that all of your dog's force is channeled into this single point and then to the lead which will pull the sled.
In some cases when you only have a single dog pull, you may have a type of harness which has two side clips instead of a single back clip. Depending on how you hook up your sled, this can be okay, too, but you’ll want to check the specifics of your sled instructions or with a local professional before you do this to make sure you won’t injure your dog.
The fit is going to be very important for your sled dog harness, so you will want to be sure that you choose one that comes in the appropriate size for your dog.
After measuring the girth, length, and shoulder of your dog, compare these measurements to the manufacturers’ sizing charts for each sled dog harness. Find the one that your dog fits into. If they are within one inch of the top end of a size, it is usually best if you go up a size.
If the harness that you were looking at does not come in the size that you wanted for your dog, you should probably go with a different harness instead of trying to make them fit. You want to be sure that your dog measures into the size appropriately.
Any sled dog harness that you choose for your dog should have extra padding in the following areas:
Why do you think that is?
Simply put, your dog is exerting most of their force into these areas as they are pulling. The force goes into the harness at this point, and that could cause unpadded straps to dig into your dog’s skin. This would be very painful for a dog, so it’s essential to have proper padding to reduce friction and rash points.
Even with good padding, a harness can cause irritation, so it is important that you find a sled dog harness that at least has base padding to help protect your dog from what could be a very painful issue.
Each part of the harness that you choose for your dog should be made of high-quality and durable material. You want to be sure that the harness will not deteriorate too rapidly due to the work it goes through or the weather, so checking up on material quality is very important.
The exterior of most good sled dog harnesses and the loops on them are made of at least one of the following materials:
The poly and nylon materials are weather-resistant and do not easily morph. The padding harnesses are often made of non-absorbent polar fleece for easy cleanup. The key to all materials used is that they are non-absorbent, as this ensures that they will dry quickly so that they can last for many years.
While this is certainly not the most critical factor when choosing the best dog sled harness, you may want to consider how well the harness matches with the leashes or leads that you will be using. If you like excellent matching color coordination, keep this in mind when you make your final selection.
Keep in mind that your dog is going to grow, and their body is going to change! Even if they are already adults, you never know how their body might morph as they begin to work out more. Additionally, harnesses can get looser or change shape over time.
Be willing (and prepared) to do a reassessment of your dog’s harness situation every few months. Your dog likely will not need a new harness this frequently, but you should always check that the harness is holding up well and is still the correct fit for your dog.
The first question to ask is actually should you even try to make a dog sled harness? Simply put, you shouldn’t try to make your own dog sled harness unless you have a lot of knowledge and experience about harnesses. Putting a lot of weight on your dog can be dangerous if not done properly, so it is best to buy a pre-made harness for your dog to be more confident about their safety.
That being said, making a homemade X-back harness can be a good way to get your dog used to wear a simple harness before they move up to a sled dog harness. Here’s how to do it:
Fitting a dog sled harness can be a bit complicated at first, but it is essential that you learn how to do this properly so that you do not injure your dog or make them afraid of the harness forever because of the pain it causes! A well-fit sled dog harness will not cause your dog any pain.
Here’s a great video that explains how to a harness should fit your dog so that you can get the perfect fit:
As you can see, every breed of dog will require a slightly different harness, and that’s okay! You simply need to find the right one for your dog and pay close attention to how it fits.
Harnessing a sled dog is fairly simple once you practice a bit, and here is what you need to do:
To make things clearer for you, here is a video that demonstrates the process:
There is not one specific kind of dog that can pull a sled. In fact, many breeds can learn how to do this, but some do it more successfully than others.
The most common breeds of dogs that pull sleds are:
While X-back harnesses are the most commonly used type of harness, there are few different types of harnesses that are used by dog sleds:
Each of these harnesses has their particular uses and benefits. The half-harness, for example, is thought by some mushers to not cause as much athletic injury or restriction to the dogs while they are working.
Spreader bar harnesses, on the other hand, are thought to be able to transmit the power of the dog more efficiently to the sled. Despite those recommendations, most mushers still prefer the X-back or H-back harness for their straightforward yet effective designs.
All of these sled dog harnesses have something great to offer, but the best sled dog harness of 2018 has to be the Dogs My Love Weight Pulling Sledding Dog Harness. This harness has the proper X-shape and is able to work even in the harshest conditions. Thanks to the extra padding around the chest area, your dog will be comfortable while they work.
No matter how you decide to choose the right sled dog harness for your job, all five of these options are great ones that might be able to work perfectly for you and your dog.
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