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Athletic and Active: Harnesses Designed for Large Sporty Dogs

By Canada Pooch on Sep 25, 2023

If you have an active pup, it's important to choose a harness that can keep up with their energy while helping you maintain control. If you're looking for a quality harness for your active, large breed dog, let's explore what you need to know. 

Why Choose an Adventure-Ready Harness for Your Active Dog 

When it comes to the world of large, active dogs, providing them with a suitable harness is pivotal. Not only does a proper-fit dog harness ensure maximum comfort, but it also promotes proper posture and reduces the chances of skin chafing, a common issue with basic dog harnesses. An adjustable, padded dog harness designed for full support can bring out your dog's full range of dynamic movements while improving their behavior. 

Understanding Your Sporty Canine's Harness Needs 

Ensuring you get a dog harness that offers moderate coverage and full support is critical for those with high-energy dogs. These active dogs require more than your average dog harness - they require a harness tailored specifically to their sizable physiques and energetic temperaments. 

The standout feature you should look for is a well-padded chest area. Padded dog harnesses add an extra layer of comfort and protection, safeguarding your dog from injuries while they pull, run, and explore. Additional leash attachment points prove helpful for added control, especially for large reactive dogs. 

Advantages of Using a Harness 

Unlike a head collar that goes around the dog's neck, a dog harness goes around the pup's chest and back. There are many advantages of using a harness instead of a traditional collar, including: 

  • With a collar, the leash attachment is at the dog's neck, so when the dog pulls, the force is entirely on the neck and trachea. With a harness, the leash attaches at the back or chest, distributing force over the shoulders and body, making it more comfortable for your dog. 
  • A harness gives the parent more control over the dog. Gentle sideways or backward pressure on the leash can guide the dog's direction, rather than just a head-on pull against the neck. 
  • For training, harnesses provide clear physical cues to the dog through pressure on different parts of the body, signaling them to slow down, change direction, etc. The harness acts as a communication tool between the dog and the parent. 
  • The control from harnesses also aids in keeping a dog focused during training sessions. If the dog is getting distracted or fixated, light pressure on the harness can re-direct their attention back to the parent and the commands being taught. 
  • Harnesses are especially useful for training loose leash walking. If the dog begins to pull ahead, pressure on the harness immediately signals the dog to slow down, keeping them in sync with the parent. This helps establish good leash habits. 
  • Compared to potentially harmful tugging or choking from a collar, the harness allows controlling and signaling the dog in a much more comfortable and humane way during training. So it provides better communication while reducing any pain or frustration. 

Tailoring Harness Choice to Your Dog's Breed and Size 

Big dog parents often struggle to find the right harness for their giant breed dogs. Not all big dogs have the same build or temperament, so a one-size-fits-all approach does not apply when purchasing a dog harness. Some large dogs, such as greyhounds or whippets, are slim and lean and therefore need a harness that can fit snugly. 

For bulky, muscular large breed dogs like mastiffs or rottweilers, opt for a padded harness with full support and maximum coverage without compromising movement. For larger strong dogs a good choice of harness is the Complete Control Harness, which allows you to easily maintain control of strong pullers. Features to consider include an optimal fit, enough room for adjustment, a sturdy build, and, of course, comfort. 

Regardless of the type of dog harness you choose, remember to regularly inspect the harness for any signs of wear and tear. Ensuring your dog's safety should always be a top priority for every responsible big dog parent. 

Step-by-Step Guide to Finding the Right Harness for Your Large Dog 

With these benefits and considerations in mind, here's how to find the perfect harness for your large pup

  • Measure your dog's chest and neck circumference. Use a soft measuring tape to get the circumference of their chest right behind their front legs. Also, measure the circumference of their neck. 
  • Consult sizing charts. Each harness brand will have specific sizing charts. Compare your dog's measurements to the brand's sizing and choose the size that will fit best. Make sure to follow any instructions on measuring for that brand. Weight also plays a large part in selecting the proper size for your pooch. Make sure you look at the weight range for the specific product and size when selecting the harness.
  • Consider adjustable straps. For large breeds that are still growing, look for harnesses with adjustable straps so you can tighten or loosen the fit as needed. This allows the harness to last longer as your dog grows. 
  • Choose the right material. Look for durable, scratch-resistant materials like nylon or polyester, which will withstand regular use by a large active dog. Avoid thin materials that they may chew through. 
  • Select a front or back clip. Harnesses come in versions where the leash clips on the back between the shoulders or on the front of the chest. Back-clip is better for well-trained dogs, while front-clip gives you more control over pulling. 
  • Try it on the dog. Once you’ve selected a harness, have the dog wear it to check the fit. Make sure all straps are adjusted so the harness is snug but not constricting movement or rubbing anywhere. 
  • Supervise use at first. When first using the harness, supervise your dog closely. Make sure they are not able to twist out of it or get it caught on anything. Monitor for any signs of chafing. 
  • Retest the fit regularly. As your large breed dog grows, recheck the harness fit and adjust or size up as needed. An ill-fitting harness can allow escape. 
  • Find the right match. It may take some trial and error to find the best harness match for your dog's build, temperament, and needs. Be patient in finding the right solution. 

Preparing Your Large Sporty Dog for Harness Adventure 

Handling heavy-duty athletics with your big dog requires a suitable harness. It's not just a basic dog harness but a performance gear specifically designed for bigger breed dogs. These dogs require meticulous attention and care in harness choice, and getting the right fit is extremely important. 

Tips for Training Your Dog to Wear a Harness 

The first step to getting your dog ready for athletic activities using a harness is to get him comfortable with the harness itself. While a majority of dogs get used to harnesses quickly, a few may require some additional coaxing. Remember that pull dog harnesses provide more added control than a loose leash or head collar and are extensively used for dogs with poor temperaments or those who are excessively reactive. 

Try gradually introducing your dog to the new gear. Let your big dog sniff and understand the harness at first. Reward them with a treat when they exhibit calm, playful behavior around the harness. Once they become comfortable around it, gently put the harness on them and reward them again with a treat. 

Maintaining Your Athletic and Active: Harnesses Designed for Large Sporty Dogs 

Active dogs, especially large dogs, long for a full-play day. Therefore, taking care of your dog's harness is essential. Ensure the harness is clean and free from any harmful bacteria. If the harness has a link to attach a leash, ensure it is solid and robust. Removing the harness when it's not in use also helps maintain its longevity. 


Another vital tip is to frequently check the fit of the harness. Large breed dogs tend to grow at rapid rates, and checking the proper fit of your harness ensures continuous comfort for your dog. While a snug fit is recommended, ensuring it is not too tight around your dog's chest area will prevent skin chafing and discomfort. 

A well-structured cleaning regimen, proper care, and regular fit checks are important. With good care and attention, your large breed dog can enjoy a lively lifestyle with performance gear designed to cater to the needs of big dogs. 

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