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The Complete Guide to Large Dog Harness Materials: Comfort and Durability

By Canada Pooch on Sep 25, 2023

What materials are used to make large dog harnesses? How do you choose the correct material for your dog's needs? And how do harness materials differ from each other in providing comfort and durability? 

If you're looking for a harness for your large dog, it's important to understand the difference in materials, features, and more. Let's explore what you need to know about dog harness materials so you can make the best decision. 

Introduction to Dog Harness Materials 

When you're a big dog parent, choosing the right dog harness for your giant breed dogs is essential. This guide aims to unravel the mysteries related to dog harness materials for big dogs, ensuring a good balance between comfort and durability. 

The market teems with a full range of harnesses- from a basic dog harness to a no pull dog harness with more special features for reactive dogs. Your choice should hinge upon your dog's temperament and the intended use of the harness. 

Overview of Dog Harness Materials 

Today’s market offers a wide array of dog harness materials, each tailored to meet the needs of different dog parents. However, big dog parents should consider materials that offer added control and comfort for their giant breed dogs.

As a general rule, you might see materials like polyester, nylon, or leather. Each material has specific traits that influence its suitability for leash attachment, dog sports, and everyday walking. 

Significance of Choosing the Right Material 

Nature has not blessed every big dog with a patient temperament. With large reactive dogs, navigating the streets on a loose leash can seem like a nightmare. A quality harness can greatly aid in dog training, ensuring safer walks. 

Materials of superior quality construction offer robustness without compensating for comfort. Reflective trims, for example, provide added visibility for safety purposes. Moreover, the right materials minimize skin chafing and ensure a proper fit for maximum comfort. 

Factors to Consider When Picking a Harness Material 

Let's explore key considerations to make when picking a dog harness material:

  • Durability - For active dogs, you'll want a hardy material that can withstand daily use and pulling without fraying or breaking. Nylon and thick padded polyester are good durable options. 
  • Comfort - Make sure the material is smooth and won't chafe the dog's skin. Padded harnesses can provide more comfort. Breathable mesh materials help prevent overheating. 
  • Weather resistance - If you'll be outdoors a lot, choose a waterproof and quick-drying material that won't get musty when wet. Reflective threads also help visibility at night. 
  • Strength - The material needs to be strong enough to keep even large, powerful dogs secure. Wide straps are better than thin straps. Metal hardware should be rust resistant. 
  • Ease of cleaning - Harnesses get dirty! Look for machine-washable materials or those that can be easily clean and air-dried. 
  • Chemical resistance - Make sure the material won't be degraded by exposure to the sun, salt water, cleaning products, or pesticides. Nylon and polyester are chemically resistant. 
  • Visibility - Bright colors and reflective accents will help you keep sight of your dog more easily. This is especially helpful at night or in dense brush. 
  • Cost - While durability is key, also balance cost with your budget constraints. Set a range for what you can reasonably spend on a quality, long-lasting harness. 

Remember, a dog harness isn’t just a seasonal trend for pet parents. It is a vital tool to ensure adequate control, safety, and happiness for your pooch. Therefore, never compromise on the quality of the harness considering your dog's comfort and safety. 

Exploration of Common Harness Materials 

Faux Leather Harnesses: If Quality Beats Price 

For big dog parents in search of a harness, a leather dog harness is a perfect pick. They are renowned for their durability, quality construction, and the class they bring along. Leather harnesses, though pricier than nylon, are worth every penny as they ensure maximum comfort while guaranteeing durability. 

Despite their excellent quality, leather harnesses do require a good deal of care and maintenance to ensure they last. Exposure to wet conditions or extreme temperatures can damage the leather, necessitating routine care with leather conditioners. If well cared for, a leather harness can last a lifetime. 

Mesh Harnesses: Balancing Comfort and Durability 

When shopping for a moderate coverage dog harness for large dogs, a mesh dog harness can be a comfortable option. They are lightweight, breathable, and flexible. A mesh harness can offer your dog a full range of motion without sacrificing control. They're suitable for everyday activities and dog sports.

Waterproof Harnesses

If you and your dog is a big fan of aquatic activities, a neoprene dog harness is a perfect fit. Neoprene is a waterproof material that also offers comfort. Due to its soft and padded nature, it can prevent skin chafing which can be a problem with nylon harnesses. Furthermore, they are suitable for large dogs with a poor temperament as they give dog parents added control while ensuring a proper fit. 

Special Harness Materials for Specific Dog Needs 

Reflective Harnesses for Nighttime Safety 

For big dogs who enjoy their walks during the darker hours, a reflective harness is no less than a necessity. When hit by headlights, the reflective trim on these harnesses glows, alerting motorists of your pooch’s presence. This feature enhances safety and allows for peace of mind during those post-sundown dog walks. 

Fleece-lined Harnesses for Sensitive Skin 

Large dogs, especially giant breed dogs, can often suffer from skin chafing due to poorly fitted harnesses or rough materials rubbing against their skin. Brands recognizing this issue offer fleece-lined harnesses known for their soft texture and warm characteristics. They provide a layer of cushion between the harness and the skin, aiding in preventing uncomfortable chafing and skin irritation. 

Padded Harnesses for Optimum Comfort 

Big dogs need more than just moderate coverage from a dog harness. For active dogs participating in dog sports or just the average dog enjoying their daily walk, comfort is key. Padded harnesses offer the gentle caress large dogs need while walking or running. Along with quality construction, the padding gives your pet maximum comfort.

It’s essential when selecting a harness that dog parents look for quality construction, a proper fit, and comfortable materials. A well-fitted harness offers better control, is safer for your pet, and, in the case of large and extra-large dogs, easier on your hands and upper body when they pull. Reflective materials and padding are additionally significant features to consider, not just for large dogs but for all pets. 

Tips on Maintaining Your Large Dog's Harness 

The lifespan and performance of dog harnesses extend beyond the initial purchase. The maintenance and care are a big factor. So, let's dive into some tips to help you make the most out of your large breed dog's harness. When you start looking at perfect size harness options for large dogs, consider investing in a pull dog harness with quality construction and certain features that will enhance its longevity.

Cleaning and Care Depending on the Material 

Offering maximum comfort and moderate coverage, dog harnesses made of durable materials such as nylon are popular among big dog parents. However, being subjected to excessive wear and tear, these require regular cleaning and maintenance routines to maintain their integrity. 

To clean your dog's harness, first remove any loose debris. Use mild soap and water to gently scrub the harness. Remember, aggressive scrubbing might harm the harness's fabric. One common mistake many dog parents make when maintaining a dog harness is ignoring the leash attachment point. Always check this area for signs of wear and tear, as it is often the most stressed part of the harness during walks and active dog sports. 

Beyond basic cleaning, consider protective measures such as the use of fabric protectors. These solutions help prevent future stains, ensuring the harness remains in top-notch shape for a better duration. It's also important to check if the dog harness has reflective trim for nighttime walks and when drying, air-drying is the best method to preserve the harness's durability. 

When to Consider Replacing Your Dog's Harness 

Despite the best care and maintenance, all dog harnesses have a finite lifespan. Understanding when to replace your big dog's harness ensures their safety and comfort. A sign that it is time to replace your dog's harness includes noticeable fraying or damage, a loose fit, or if the harness is causing skin chafing. 

Moreover, if you observe that your large reactive dog is still able to pull whilst wearing a no-pull dog harness, it could indicate that the harness is now ineffective and needs replacement. Similarly, if your dog expresses discomfort, it could be due to the harness losing its shape, demanding an immediate change. 

A good rule of thumb is to replace a basic dog harness every one to two years, depending on your dog's level of activity and the quality of the harness. Some large breeds that are super active might need a replacement sooner. 

Lastly, remember that using a harness should not replace proper training. Both should go hand-in-hand to promote improved behavior. 

Choosing a Harness That Serves Your Large Dog’s Unique Needs 

Large-breed dogs often require more control than your average dog. From basic dog harnesses to a Complete Control dog harness types, optimal control is essential for large dogs, especially those with reactive behavior. Finding an ideal harness isn't only about managing the canine behavior. It's also about ensuring maximum comfort to avoid skin chafing, thereby boosting the dog’s performance and obedience during dog training sessions. 

The needs of every large dog parent may vary depending on the size and temperament of their dog. Giant breed dogs may require more than a moderate coverage dog harness which might offer substantial control for a large reactive dog, but not a giant breed get used to a loose leash. Thus, from the basic dog harness to a Complete Control Harness, optimal control is essential—and fulfilling this control requirement lies in having a harness built from quality construction fabric which also has an intuitive leash attachment design. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

How do you size a dog for a harness? 

Here are some tips for sizing your dog for a harness: 

  • Measure around the widest part of their chest/ribcage. Use a soft measuring tape and make sure it's snug but not tight. This is the most important dimension for fitting the harness. 
  • Measure around the neck right behind the shoulders. You want the neck strap to be loose enough to fit a few fingers under. 
  • Refer to the sizing chart for the specific brand of harness. Sizes are usually based on chest measurements. 
  • If between sizes, size up to ensure a good range of motion. Harnesses should not restrict movement. 
  • Take weight into account. Even if two dogs have the same chest size, harnesses come in different weights to accommodate lightweight vs. heavy set builds, this is important in keeping your dog safe. 
  • Consider adjustable straps and multiple points of adjustment so you can customize the fit. 
  • Make sure you can get two fingers underneath all straps when properly fitted. 
  • Have the dog stand squarely when taking measurements rather than sitting or lying down. 
  • Try the harness on the dog before use. Make sure it does not rub or constrict movement. 
  • Retest fit on a growing puppy every few weeks. The perfect fit today may be too small very soon. 
  • Mark measurements down. Comparing new measurements to previous ones makes it easier to determine when it's time to size up. 

Is a harness better than a leash? 

There are pros and cons to both harnesses and leashes when walking and training dogs. Here is a comparison: 

Harnesses advantages: 

  • Distribute force across the body instead of just the neck when the dog pulls, which reduces strain 
  • Give the parent more control to easily steer the dog's direction for walking and training 
  • Make it harder for dogs to slip out of or escape 
  • Can lift dogs safely without putting pressure on the neck 
  • Many versions have attachments for tags and handy storage pockets 

Leash advantages: 

  • Allow for quicker and more precise corrections since attached to the neck 
  • Take up less space and bulk on smaller dogs 
  • Easier to carry around folded up when not in use 
  • Often more affordable option 
  • Let dogs move and turn more freely 


  • Harnesses may not deter pulling as well as choke or prong collar leashes 
  • Some dogs can learn to pull out of improperly fitted harnesses 
  • Collars can damage necks and spines if dogs pull hard frequently 
  • Harnesses require proper fitting to walk and train dogs effectively 

Overall, harnesses provide more safety and control for the average dog parent. However, leashes may work better for certain training situations or individual needs. Experts recommend introducing dogs slowly to any walking equipment. The right match depends on the particular dog, training approach, and activities. 

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