7 Best Dog Harnesses for Hunting Dogs in 2020

Hunting dogs have been aligned with humans since ancient times, and many of these breeds remain among the most popular pets in the world. Labrador retrievers, Irish setters, and beagles are just a few of the breeds commonly referred to as hunting breeds.

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When outdoors in the wild, a trained hunting dog is typically okay to run and explore off-leash. However, you’ll want a harness to keep them safe otherwise. A harness is a more secure and comfortable alternative to a collar.

Hunting dogs vary in size and shape, so it’s important to find the correct harness for your specific furry friend. Fortunately, measuring your hunting dog is usually simple. Plus, most hunting dogs have an easy-going temperament and excellent trainability, so they typically take to a harness without major issues.

If you’re the proud owner of a hunting dog and are in search of the perfect harness, you’re in the right place. Here’s a closer look at everything you need to know, including seven top product recommendations, plus sizing info and answers to frequently asked questions.

Different Types of Dog Harnesses for Hunting Dogs

Not all hunting dogs need the same type of harness. You have a few different options to choose from. Here’s a closer look at which harness will work best.

Generally, back-clip harnesses are the best option for most hunting dogs. The harness wraps around the dog’s chest. The leash clips into a D-ring at the dog’s back. This type of harness is the most similar to a leash and collar, and allows for comfortable control over the dog’s movements. It’s ideal for adult dogs who can obey basic commands and don’t pull on the leash.

Front clip harnesses are mainly used as a training tool to teach safe walking behavior. The D-ring, where the leash clips in, is on the front of the harness, by the dog’s chest. If the dog tries to pull against the leash, his head is guided to the side.

As long as they’re properly fitted, front-clip harnesses are generally safe, but there is an increased risk of neck injuries and accidental leg/leash entanglement. Typically, front clip harnesses are only recommended for temporary use. Harnesses with both front and back clips are useful as a training tool that can easily transition into a harness for daily use.

Finally, harnesses can be either step-in or overhead. A step-in harness attaches from underneath your dog, which means your dog has to lift his front legs to get into it. An overhead harness slips over your dog’s head. Generally, overhead harnesses are easier for older, smaller dogs to use, while step-in harnesses are more comfortable for larger dogs without mobility issues.

How Do I Ensure the Best Fit for My Hunting Dog?

Hunting dogs are divided into two general categories: scent hounds and gun dogs. Also called bird dogs, gun dogs locate prey and flush them into the open. Scent dogs use their sense of smell to pursue prey, barking while they track to let the hunter follow. Aside from tracking, some scent dogs can tree prey, too.

Popular gun dogs include many medium to large-sized dogs, including Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, and English springer spaniels. Scent hounds are typically smaller. Popular breeds include beagles and American foxhounds. Although they’re a variety of sizes, you use the same measuring process for all of them when fitting a harness..

First, measure the dog’s girth. Wrap a tape measure around the widest part of his chest, which is usually the area underneath his front legs. Additionally, you’ll want to measure the thickest part of his neck, typically located just above the shoulders. Don’t take a neck measurement from the collar area as it’ll likely be too small. Finally, you’ll need the dog’s weight.

Most manufacturers have brand-specific sizing guidelines to help you. You want the harness to fit securely but not tightly. The harness should have enough space to fit two of your fingers. When in doubt about sizing, choose a larger size, then adjust down with the straps.

Overall Best Dog Harness for Hunting Dogs

Although we found a lot of quality harnesses to recommend, one stood out from the pack. Here’s a closer look at our favorite:

Best Overall – Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Harness

The Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Harness is an excellent all-around option for most medium and large hunting dogs. First, it’s durable and comfortable with an included chest pad to help safely distribute energy if the dog pulls against the leash. Additionally, the strong strap is made from soft material to help avoid chafing.

It’s also a top-of-the-line safety system for use in the car. Unless you can step out of your front door into the woods, a hunting trip requires a car ride. Keep your hunting buddy safe with this nesting buckle safety system. It’s compatible with all vehicle seatbelt systems and is crash-tested up to 75 pounds. It includes a carabiner and a 10-inch seat belt loop.

Letting your dog rest in the back seat unbelted increases their risk of serious injuries in an accident, even a minor one. Not only does the Kurgo harness help keep your dog safe in the car, but it quickly and easily converts into a walking harness to help keep him safe around town. It’s a convenient two-in-one option.

6 More Highly Rated Dog Harnesses for Hunting Dogs

No two dogs are alike, so if the Kurgo Tru-Fit isn’t the right choice for you and your hunting dog, here are six other harnesses with high ratings that we recommend:

Pawtitas Camouflage Reflective Padded Dog Harness

If you’re looking for a harness for use both in the city and the wilderness, this option from Pawtitas is a great choice. It has a green, red, and gray camo pattern options for concealment in practically any conditions. Plus, the reflective strip increases your dog’s visibility in low-light conditions.

It’s a step-in harness that’s ideal for active, adult dogs who have no mobility issues. The thick neoprene padding is durable while remaining soft and comfortable against your dog’s skin. Plus, securing and adjusting the harness is easy with the durable clip buckle and metal ring.

Pawtitas has five sizing options ranging from XX-Small to X-Large. Their harnesses fit dogs with a chest size between 12.60 to 33.46 inches. All straps widths are 5/8 of an inch except for the strap on the extra-large harness, which is an inch.

Puppia Soft Black Trim Harness

If you’re looking for a soft, comfortable harness made for daily walks, Puppia’s Soft Black Trim Harness is one of our favorites. It’s quick and easy to put on and take off thanks to the flexible neck opening and quick-release chest belt.

Plus, it’s a good choice if your dog has sensitive skin or doesn’t like to wear heavy clothing. The polyester padding is soft and lightweight, with an air-mesh design that allows for ventilation and quick drying. It’s available in gray, green, blue, and red. Your dog can stand out in the city or blend in when outdoors.

Best Pet Supplies Voyager Army Base Mesh Harness

Many hunting dogs show fearlessness in the field only to freak out if an article of clothing is pulled over their head. If that sounds like your dog, you’ll love the Voyager Army Base Mesh Harness from Best Pet Supplies. It’s a soft, step-in harness with a high-quality construction that’s easy to use.

The harness is made from lightweight, breathable fabric to help your dog stay cool when running. Plus, it dries quickly, so moisture stays away from your dog’s skin. The harness has a snap-in buckle and tow D-rings for precise adjustability and a secure fit.

Overall, this is an excellent option for dogs who hunt in warm to mild weather, especially in wet locations. It’s also one of the best step-in harnesses on our list.

Noxgear LightHound LED Illuminated and Reflective Harness

Hunting dogs, including scent hounds, often disappear into the reeds and grasses. Tracking them on a sunny day is often difficult enough, but finding them in low-light conditions can feel impossible. Noxgear’s LightHound harness provides 360-degree LED illumination and light reflection.

Tough but soft, the harness is made from military-grade Cordura fabric. It’s secured by a zinc-alloy leash attachment and nylon webbing. Plus, the rechargeable LED lights have 14 color options and last for 12 hours. You can select a color to keep your dog visible regardless of the weather or light conditions.

OneTigris Tactical Service Vest

If you’re looking for a harness tougher than average, check out this Tactical Service Vest from OneTigris. It has a heavy-duty nylon shell that can withstand the elements along with soft, interior padding. Also, it features MOLLE webbing that can hold waste bags, food, and other supplies.

They fit hunting dogs of practically any size with fully-adjustable neck and chest straps. Additionally, three sides feature fastener panels that hold patches and badges for fun customization options.

You’ll have excellent control over even the largest, wildest hunting dogs thanks to the extra-strong V-ring leash attachment. Additionally, a control loop in the front allows for no-pull leash attachment when necessary.

Best Harness for a Hunting Dog Puppy

Young dogs often grow comfortable with a harness far quicker than adults. If you’re looking for a harness for a hunting dog puppy, here’s what we recommend:

Blueberry Pet 3M Reflective Dog Harness

A harness must be both comfortable and secure, because young hunting dogs don’t have a lot of restraint, but they pack a lot of power. With dual vests and metal D-rings, you can count on Blueberry’s harness to keep your pup in control.

A lightweight inner mesh is soft against your puppy’s sensitive skin, while also conforming snugly to his body. Additionally, the reflective strips and triangle help keep even the smallest pups visible.

Also, it’s adjustable, so it can expand as your dog grows. However, no single harness will likely fit a hunting dog from puppyhood into adulthood, so always make sure the harness isn’t too small on your dog as he matures.

Tips for Getting Your Hunting Dog Accustomed to Using a Harness

While your hunting dog might have no problem running leash-free when hunting, he’ll need a harness when walking around in your neighborhood or in other locations around town. Aside from keeping him close-by and safe, a harness also secures your dog without straining his neck.

Here are five simple tips to help your dog feel comfortable wearing a harness:

1. Start as early as possible. Puppies typically have an easier time adapting to harnesses than older dogs who have grown used to wearing a collar.

2. Put the harness on the floor and let your dog check it out. Pet him and speak in a soothing tone. You can offer him treats, too.

3. Put the harness on your dog. Move in a gentle manner and give him lots of praise. Don’t worry about tightening the harness. For now, your main goal is to introduce your dog to the concept of wearing a harness.

4. When your dog seems comfortable, tighten the harness. Let your dog wear it around the house for progressively longer time periods. If he starts to fuss or panic about the harness, pet and soothe him, but don’t take off harness right away, as doing so can reinforce his fears.

5. Depending on your dog, it might take a few hours or a few days before he’s comfortable with the harness. Generally, he’s ready for a walk outdoors when he seems to ignore the harness and move normally when it’s on.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Know if the Harness Fits My Hunting Dog?

Unfortunately, dogs can’t tell us when a harness doesn’t fit properly. Instead, watch for chafing, marks on the skin, and bunched-up skin. When the harness is on, you should be able to fit two fingers between it and the dog.

What Harness is Best for the Needs of a Hunting Dog?

Harness that clip in the back, on top of the dog, are usually best. A properly-trained hunting dog shouldn’t need the training aid for a front-clip harness. Also, make sure the harness is durable, quick-drying, and weather resistant.

How Do I Fit My Harness for a Puppy?

As covered above for adult dogs, you’ll need accurate measurements of both his chest and neck. Adjustability is also important, so the harness can expand as the dog grows. However, most adult hunting dogs are fairly large, so expect your first puppy harness to only last six months to a year or so, depending on the breed.

Is a Harness Safe?

A properly-sized harness is the safest way to control your dog on a leash. Collars pose an increased risk of choking and trachea damage, but a harness allows pressure to distribute evenly and harmlessly across the dog’s torso.

Conclusion

Hunting dogs have many shapes and sizes, but they’re all athletic and eager to run. But no matter how well-trained your hunting dog is, you’ll need a harness to help keep him safe. All of the products above are highly rated and well-suited for the hunting dog in your family.

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