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The best dog harnesses, leads and leashes in 2023

Discover the best harnesses and leashes for your dog

Clipping a lead to your dog’s collar is the easiest thing to do when it’s walk time, but experts all agree that this old-fashioned method for leashing your dog is not the best option for comfort, control, or safety. Using a dog harness provides a far better solution.

If you’ve got a dog that can’t help but pull on the lead when you take them out, a well-fitting harness will make walking a far easier experience for you both. And if your pet pulls, there’s no danger of a harness choking them, as there can be with a collar, because the force is spread more evenly across the dog’s body rather than being concentrated on the neck. As a result, you can control your pet more easily, as well as helping them to feel more comfortable and secure. There’s also far less chance of them wriggling out of a harness, so it helps allay your fears too.

How to buy the best dog harness for your pooch

Why is a harness better than a collar?

Generally, harnesses are better for dogs than collars because they don’t put strain on the most fragile and important part of the body: the neck. If your dog tends to pull on the lead, a harness is always the better option, as they risk suffering muscle injury, or even choking, from a collar.

Harnesses usually have a ring on top near the dog’s shoulder blades, where you attach the lead, and they have straps across the chest – either in a Y formation or horizontally across the shoulders. This means there is less chance of causing damage when the dog pulls on the lead and that you’ll also have better control over the dog’s torso, rather than just their head.

Harnesses are also much safer to use in public, especially in busy traffic or anywhere a dog may become spooked, as slipping a harness is much harder than slipping a collar, even if your pooch is a regular Houndini.

Many harnesses are also fitted with a soft handle at the top, so you can easily grab your dog should you need to.

Do I still need a collar?

Yes. Although we extol the virtues of walking your dog with a harness, a collar is still essential attire for any dog (even when wearing a harness). The Control of Dogs Order 1992 states that all dogs (bar some exemptions for working dogs) must wear a collar with their owner’s details directly inscribed on it, or on a plate or ID tag attached to it. However, so long as you can attach an ID tag to your dog’s harness, either through the D-ring or another loop, you can keep your dog’s neck collar-free and still be within the law.

Aside from being a legal requirement in the UK, a collar also tells others that the dog has an owner and isn’t a stray.

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What is the best style of harness?

There are plenty of different styles of harness on the market, but the most comfortable usually have a type of saddle on the back that helps the harness remain in position without twisting. You’ll notice most harnesses either have a Y-front or a cross-shoulder strap on the dog’s chest. The former allows the dog’s shoulders and front legs to move freely and without restriction, while the latter is intended to stop dogs from pulling on the lead. However the cross-shoulder design has been associated with some musculoskeletal injuries due to the restrictions it places on the shoulder joints.

What is the best type of harness for a tricky dog?

If you have a dog that pulls on the lead every time you go for a walk, or if you have a dog that can be reactive to people, other animals, or cars, consider a harness with a leash ring on the chest strap as well as on the top. This will allow you to attach a lead to both the front and back of the harness.

In most instances you’ll use the back D-ring, but if your dog pulls on the leash, then you might consider attaching the leash to the front loop as this will help prevent excessive pulling by angling the dog’s body towards you. If your dog continues to pull like a train, you might consider attaching a second lead, or a specialised double-ended lead to both D-rings which will give you “steering control” over your pet.

Double leads are more complicated to use but have been proven to provide better balance for an unruly dog and reduce pulling. That said, chest padding alone certainly has an effect on how the dog responds when walking, and just the tiniest tug of the leash will often have it walking to heel.

How do I measure my dog for a new harness?

Dog harnesses are usually adjustable to a generous degree and come in various sizes. All harness manufacturers’ websites feature dog-sizing charts, and some manufacturers even provide a breed list. In most instances, you will simply need to measure a dog’s chest at the deepest part in order to find one that fits.

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How to buy the best dog leash for your companion

Once you have a harness (and collar!) in the bag, the next important item is the leash. Dog leashes come in a variety of styles and lengths and are essential accoutrements for the welfare and protection of your dog, especially if walking near traffic and areas that require a tether. Some leads are made from cheap nylon webbing and cost only a few pounds while others are hand-made out of premium leather for maximum parkland prestige.

What is the best type of leash for an unruly dog?

If your dog always pulls like a train, consider a double-ended training leash like those supplied by HALTI (see below) and Mekuti. Training leads consist of one extra-long strap with a clasp on either end. They are suitable for use only with front-range harnesses equipped with an attachment on the chest as well as on top.

Training leads take a while to master because the user is essentially holding two leashes at the same time – one fixed to the top hoop for holding the dog back and the other on the chest hoop to gently coax him or her to your side. According to many dog trainers, they work by ‘helping the dog to become aware of the way it is walking by bringing attention to its balance’.

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The best dog harnesses to buy in 2023

1. Julius-K9 IDC Powerharness: The best all-round dog harness for convenience and fit

Price when reviewed: from £32 | Check price at Amazon

Julius-K9 is a huge player in the world of canine wear. The company started out supplying harnesses for police and emergency rescue dogs and has now applied some of its original design concepts to a wide range of consumer pooch models.

The IDC Powerharnesses are, by far and away, the easiest of all models to fit and remove: you simply slip the large opening over your dog’s head, clip in the chest strap, and attach the lead to the top-mounted D-ring and you’re good to go. Bear in mind that this type of harness won’t necessarily prevent your dog from pulling – it’s simply a kinder, more convenient, safer, and comfier alternative to a collar and leash.

The thick padded saddle section moulds to the shape of your dog’s back, and it certainly looks super-comfortable. It also features a tough woven handle above the shoulder blades, which you’ll come to appreciate if your dog shows any signs of aggression while off the lead as you have something other than a collar to grab hold of. On the larger models, this handle can be clipped down so it doesn’t get caught on bushes and branches while the dog’s doing its thing. Unfortunately, IDC Powerharnesses don’t come with a front ring, so if your dog is a puller, perhaps opt for one of the models in this roundup that does.

The IDC Powerharness is available in nine sizes – from Baby 1 (teacup dog) to Size 4 (Newfoundland) – and a choice of 25 colours. You can even replace the Velcroed side patch with a customized label of your choice. An excellent everyday option for top wags.

Key features – Number of sizes: 8; Smallest chest size: 29cm; Largest chest size: 138cm

2. Poppy & Ted Click Tough Harness: Best dog harness for fashion and function

Price when reviewed: From £33 | Check price at Poppy & Ted

While many harnesses embrace function over fashion, the Poppy & Ted Tough Click Harness combines both. It’s styled in very on-trend colours, such as dusky pink or regal blue, and its straps have patterned detailing, from houndstooth to leopard skin or polkadot with matching leads for all designs. But alongside its jazzy looks, it’s a practical, durable harness that’s comfortable for your dog to wear thanks to its Y-front design, which allows the shoulders to move freely.

The harness is made from Oxford fabric, with a PVC coating to make it wipe-clean in moderate conditions, and the breathable mesh lining ensures your dog won’t get too hot inside its new harness.

One of the best things about this harness is that it doesn’t need to be fitted over the dog’s head as you can open up the buckles along one side. This could make it simpler for fussy or nervous dogs who are particularly conscious of activity around their heads.

Another excellent feature is the double D ring: one on the top of the harness provides the key tether point and, if you have a double-ended leash you can attach the other end to the front ring, offering total control of your dog.

Key features – Number of sizes: 4; Smallest chest size: 22cm; Largest chest size: 66cm

3. Ruffwear Front Range Harness: A seriously versatile dog harness

Price when reviewed: From £50 | Check price at Pets at Home

Ruffwear produces some of the best dogwear on the market, from simple leads and collars to dog boots for rough terrain and snazzy coats for winter. The Ruffwear Front Range harness is superbly designed, made with soft nylon padding covering the chest area and a small area of the back, and it also features a pouch for the dog’s ID tag. This harness is so comfy, it’s already become Juno the Labrador’s favourite beachwear outfit.

The Ruffwear isn’t as quick to fit as the Julius-K9, but it’s hardly complicated: simply slip the opening over the dog’s head, bring the chest pad up beneath the torso, and use the two clips to fasten. Rather handily, the rear strap section is elasticated for extra comfort and, thanks to the supple nylon straps, this is definitely one of the easiest harnesses to adjust while on the dog.

Unlike the Julius-K9, it has two lead attachments: one on the back like most models, and another on the chest. The Front Range is available in six colours and sizes and is the harness of choice for well-to-do pooches or any owner who just wants their tyke to stand out from the pack.

Key features – Number of sizes: 5; Smallest chest size: 33cm; Largest chest size: 107cm

Check price at Pets at Home

4. Julius-K9 IDC Powair Lightweight Harness: Best lightweight harness for summer

Price when reviewed: From £22 | Check price at Julius-K9

This model is in much the same style as the popular, standard IDC Powerharness, except that it’s made from much lighter materials. As with all IDC Powerharnesses, it fits like a saddle, with a soft, adjustable, nylon lower-neck strap and another that attaches around the chest, just behind the forelegs to ensure there is no rubbing or chafing. But where the stiffer, standard model is better suited to the winter months and larger dogs, this lightweight version is more supple and made out of breathable mesh fabric that ventilates extremely well. It also features a sponge lining that absorbs water during a summer swim to help cool down the dog; however, thankfully, it also dries fairly quickly, so chances are your dog won’t still be soaking by the time you get home.

As with its tougher stablemate, there’s a woven nylon handle on the back that you can grab when the dog is off the lead – invaluable if you need to haul a dog out of a river because it can’t get out on its own.

Although you’d be better off also investing in the standard model for the winter, you could feasibly use this harness all year round. But certainly for the summer months, there really isn’t a better-fitting and more convenient harness than this one.

Key features – Number of sizes: 6; Smallest chest size: 29cm; Largest chest size: 115cm

Check price at Julius-K9

5. Ruffwear Hi & Light: The best lightweight dog harness for very hot weather

Price when reviewed: £45 | Check price at Amazon

Where the Ruffwear Front Range is quite heavily padded and a little hot when the temperature rises, this skimpier, bikini-like model is thinner and lighter and much better-suited for use on sunny summer days.

Ostensibly designed for active dogs accompanying their owners on long outdoor runs in the countryside, the Hi & Light is constructed from light Ripstop nylon material and features slim straps, a single top-mounted aluminium leash clasp, and a sealed Velcro pouch with integral cord for attaching a name tag. The pouch is also big enough to store a few emergency poo bags.

This harness fits well, without restricting the dog’s movement in any way, and is also a doddle to put on and adjust. Granted, it’s not the cheapest model here, but it’s very well designed and a great option for both energetic dogs and sultry summers.

Key features – Number of sizes: 6; Smallest chest size: 23cm; Largest chest size: 107cm

6. Halti No Pull Dog Harness: the best dog harness to stop pulling

Price when reviewed: From £19 | Check price at Amazon

If your dog is absolutely insistent on pulling, you’ll know how much of a hassle something that should be as simple as an ordinary walk can become.

Already a big player in the dog harness world, this Halti lives up to its name and helps control even the most eager of dogs. It uses a no-slip chest panel that stays securely in place and helps your dog feel secure at all times, with a sliding security cord lock that prevents over-tightening, so it should always feel as comfortable as possible. The straps are designed to adjust to tension and therefore correct pulling.

The harness itself is lightweight, with soft but durable webbing that sits beneath your dog’s forelegs and helps to keep them cool during walks. The softness of the harness allows for a full range of movements, too, so your dog shouldn’t feel unnaturally restricted either.

It’s suitable for a number of different dog breeds, coming in three different sizes – though you should note that this harness is measured at the neck, instead of the chest – and additional features include a reflective strip on the harness for walking your dog at night. For the best experience, it’s recommended that you combine the Halti with the compatible Halti Training Lead, which you can use for even more “steering” control.

Key features – Number of sizes: 3; Smallest neck size: 26cm; Largest neck size: 66cm

7. Barkridges Triple Buckle Premium Dog Harness: Best dog harness for small dogs

Price when reviewed: £25 | Check price at Barkridges

If you’ve got a small dog, you’ll want something that’s simple and lightweight, yet robust, which is exactly what the Barkridges harness provides, and it comes in sizes as small as 26cm, which is perfect for even the tiniest Pomeranian.

There’s a metal ring on both the top and the front of the harness for extra control, and a triple buckle system meaning it doesn’t need to be fitted over the dog’s head. A grab handle on the back of the harness offers a handy way to pick your dog up in an emergency, or if you need to help them jump into the car.

Made from mountaineering-grade materials, this harness will last your dog for many years of long walks and, thanks to its reflective piping, they’ll stay safe in the dark too.

Key features – Number of sizes: 4; Smallest chest size: 40cm; Largest chest size: 91cm

8. Julius-K9 IDC Belt Harness: The best harness for large dogs

Price when reviewed: From £21 | Check price at Julius-K9

This belt harness is a good option for larger, wider breeds of dog and it’s extremely easy to fit: just slide the large loop over the dog’s head and clip it on.

It comes with a metal back hoop for attaching a lead and an ultra-tough nylon handle for easy control when the dog is off the lead. Again, this handle is a godsend for helping a dog out of water if it’s struggling to get up a steep riverbank. Rather cleverly, the handle can be compressed against a piece of Velcro, so that it doesn’t snag on any undergrowth.

It provides a reassuringly snug fit that doesn’t get in the way of the dog’s movements – the lower chest strap sits just behind the forelegs and won’t rub against the elbows – however, it does seem a bit over-engineered as the chest webbing on the model we tested is about five centimetres wide but still strong enough to tow a car. It’s also difficult to adjust.

The heavy-duty plastic clips are seriously large, and we wondered if this combination of wide webbing and large clips is the reason the whole harness tended to shift over to one side after a few minutes’ wear. That said, at no time did our test dog – an elderly Labrador – appear to be in discomfort and we suspect the smaller sizes use narrower, thinner, more supple webbing, which should ensure the harness remains in position better.

If you have a wide-girth breed, such as a rottweiler, bulldog, Staffy, or mastiff, then this harness will do the trick, but we’d suggest Julius-K9’s slightly more figure-hugging IDC Powerharness for slender breeds.

Key features – Number of sizes: 6; Smallest chest size: 40cm; Largest chest size: 115cm

9. Ruffwear Webmaster: The best escape-proof, no-slip harness

Price when reviewed: From £82 | Check price at Ruffwear

If you worry about your dog slipping its harness – perhaps it’s particularly nervous, or you’ve got a slinky sighthound with a small head and neck who can easily back out of a normal harness – the Ruffwear Webmaster provides practicality and peace of mind.

While most harnesses have one chest strap, this one has an extra part that goes around the dog’s waist, securing it on their body and ensuring the harness won’t be able to slip beyond their ribs. This is especially effective on deep-chested breeds, which can often back out of any harness if they choose.

The Ruffwear Webmaster harness is a well-structured product, offering saddle-like comfort on your dog’s back and a soft handle on the top for easy manoeuvring. It comes in four colours, ranging from subtle grey to bright orange, it has reflective piping on the front and around the strap slots, and it comes in five sizes to accommodate even the largest of dogs.

Key features – Number of sizes: 5; Smallest chest size: 33cm; Largest chest size: 107cm

Check price at Ruffwear

10. Ruffwear Trail Runner Vest: The best dog harness for sports

Price when reviewed: £125 | Check price at Ruffwear

There’s no denying this harness is quite a bit of an investment at £125, but you get what you pay for here and, if you’re serious about trail running with your dog, this is an essential purchase. Not only is it highly durable, offering a long-lasting harness for dogs hitting the trails with their owners, but it’s also got several clever features not found on your average dog harness.

The harness is made from extremely lightweight polyester air mesh fabric that won’t restrict your dog’s movement in any way, and it has an extra strong loop to attach your lead to the back. This loop is also placed further down the dog’s back, rather than at the shoulders, giving you a little more space if you’re running with the matching belt.

The really great feature of this harness is the matching pockets and water pouches that allow your dog to carry their own hydration. Placed on either side of the dog’s body, they won’t affect your dog’s gait or weight distribution provided they’re topped up to the same level, and they fit snugly in their pockets so there’s no bouncing about. There’s also a middle pocket to store your keys, or a few poo bags, or the cleverly foldable dog bowl – and a loop for attaching a light, should you be running in the dark, or a dog tracker.

Unfortunately, this harness should be hand-wash only, in a mild detergent, and you can’t pop it in the tumble dryer as that might damage the fabric.

Key features – Number of sizes: 4; Smallest chest size: 43cm; Largest chest size: 107cm

Check price at Ruffwear

The best dog leads to buy in 2023

1. EzyDog Zero Shock Lead: The best lead for dogs that like to pull

Price when reviewed: From £24 | Check price at Amazon

This stretchy lead is a great option for dog owners who have given up trying to train their dogs not to pull on the leash. It’s also a boon for those moments when your dog spies a squirrel or another dog and suddenly dashes off, pulling your shoulder out of its socket in the process.

The keenly-priced EzyDog Zero Shock is essentially a stiff bungee cord that stretches a few inches when pulled, easing the tension for both owner and dog. It’s also very comfortable in the hand.

The Zero Shock is available in two lengths – 25in and 48in – and ten colours. Its small collar/harness clip is easy to operate even under tension and we like the plastic accessory D-ring, which is handy for attaching a poo bag container.

Given the choice, we would recommend the shorter 25in model, which keeps the dog closer to heel and prevents any unforeseen issues, especially when walking next to a busy road.

2. Creature Clothes Fabric Dog Lead: The best dog lead for comfort and summer style

Price when reviewed: £32 | Check price at Creature Clothes

Add a touch of summer class and show off your lovely pooch with one of Creature Clothes’ marvellous fabric leads. Available in seven colour schemes – including stripes, Gingham, Denim and two deckchair patterns – these hand-made, home-grown leads are really light and comfortable in the hand and come equipped with high-quality clasps with a smooth action.

Creature Clothes’ fabric leashes are a metre long and made from four layers of rip-resistant upholstery fabric that’s been riveted for extra strength. Hence, you can be sure they’ll hold their own, even with the most feisty of hounds pulling on the other end. They are also machine washable. To make the most of your dog’s stylish looks, we would advise adding a matching collar while you’re at it.

Check price at Creature Clothes

3. Flexi Neon S Tape: The best lead for giving your pooch more range

Price when reviewed: From £14 | Check price at Amazon

If you have a puppy or a small dog up to 15kgs in weight that you’d rather not let off the lead, consider one of these extendable auto-rewind models from Flexi. Available in two lengths (3m and 5m) and three sizes, the Flexi’s tape is neon coloured so others are less likely to get tangled up in it when your dog’s doing its mad dog stuff. We would suggest the 5m version simply because it’s a good thing to have an extra two metres to hand.

The Flexi is very easy to use – simply hold in the button and click it into position with your thumb to release the tape and its spring-loaded mechanism will ensure it is automatically recoiled and not left lying on the ground where it’s more likely to be a trip hazard. The feed can be stopped at any time by simply pressing the button again to re-lock the mechanism.

This type of leash has been known to cause occasional havoc in the local park, especially with unruly dogs that run circles around other park users. But on the plus side, tape is far less likely to cause skin burns than the thin corded type.

4. Halti Training Lead: The best training lead

Price when reviewed: From £9.75 | Check price at Amazon

Designed by animal psychologist Dr Roger Mugford, the versatile Halti Training Lead can be used in a number of ways: as a dual-leash system for front-range harness use (the most effective method for training a dog to heel); hands-free with the leash wrapped around your waist; and taking two dogs for a walk on the same leash.

When used in training mode, attach one end of the leash to the top hoop of the harness and the other to the chest hoop. Now hold both lengths of lead with both hands, using one to hold the dog in check and the other to pull it from the chest area towards you. It takes time to get the hang of it but, when done correctly, a training leash should help with your dog’s balance and help prevent him or her from pulling too much.

5. Ruffwear Roamer Leash: Best for running with your dog

Price when reviewed: From £50 | Check price at Amazon

UK-based Ruffwear produces a wide range dog gear including harnesses, life jackets, dog boots for rough terrain and winter apparel.

This elasticated, shock-absorbing leash is available in two lengths (2.1m and 3.4m) and is an ideal choice for those who enjoy running with their four-legged companions. Simply attach it to your dog’s harness – do not run a dog using a collar – wrap the leash around your waist and head out into the fells.

The great thing about this leash is that there’s at least two feet of stretch in the webbing and that’s extremely useful when running because there’s less chance of the animal pulling you over if it suddenly veers off to chase a rabbit.

Another handy feature is the traffic handle – a split section of non-stretchy webbing positioned very close to the dog’s harness. It’s imperative that you use this handle when approaching a road or walking on the pavement.

This is a top choice for anyone with a well trained dog that enjoys a good run. Needless to say, it’s a perfect match for Ruffwear’s Hi & Light activity harness, reviewed above.

6. Creature Clothes Classic Leather Dog Lead: Best leash for dogs with a swagger

Price when reviewed: From £40 | Check price at Creature Clothes

For the smart mutt about town, how about this stylishly elegant luxury number from the house of Creature Clothes? Handmade in the UK, the Classic Leather is 107cm in length (42in) and 2cm in width, and fitted with a top-quality clasp and an O ring that joins the handle to the leash. Aside from hooking poo bags to it, the O ring is also brilliant for locking the lead around your waist or neck so you don’t lose it. It happens!

This high-quality cowhide leash is available in plain brown, black, tan and red but if you really want to stand out from the crowd, we’d suggest opting for the slightly more expensive studded version which comes with a choice of silver or brass stars, hearts and bones. Perhaps even complement it with a matching collar. Whichever model you choose, you can be sure this lead will outlast most others. In fact, the older it gets the better it looks.

Check price at Creature Clothes

7. Julius-K9 Color & Gray Super-Grip Leash: Best all-round leash

Price when reviewed: From £8 | Check price at AmazonIf you’ve invested in one of the excellent Julius-K9 harnesses in our roundup above, you may want to pair it with a Julius-K9 leash. The Color & Gray colours and design match the harness ranges perfectly. More importantly, they’re constructed using the same robust materials.

The Julius-K9 leash is designed to be easy to hold, even in wet weather conditions. With its rubberised construction, you won’t lose your grip, it will withstand no end of all-weather walking, and it simply wipes clean. The secure metal carabiner attaches easily to your dog’s harness ring. This reviewer has been using one for over two years in all terrains with no sign of wear and tear.

There’s a huge range of possibilities to choose from with these leads. With six colours and two different widths (14mm or 20mm), you can even choose a double dog lead if you’re walking two dogs, or want two attachments to prevent pulling. There are eight different lengths available in the range, but all are further adjustable to suit you and your dog.

8. JBYAMUK Strong Dog Lead: Best leash for walking your dog at night

Price when reviewed: From £9 | Check price at AmazonStrong and durable, yet lightweight and flexible, the JBYAMUK dog lead is tested to withstand a 400 pound force, so it’s capable of keeping even the strongest pulling dog under control. This sturdy nylon rope lead comes with an EVA padded handle to keep your hand safe and prevent friction burns while controlling your dog. A 360 degree swivel design means there’s no more getting caught up in the lead when your dog suddenly changes direction.

What makes this lead stand out from the crowd is its visibility at night. While many leads have some reflective threading, the JBYAMUK has wide double reflector threads to give you extra visibility on those late-evening walks. With its 5ft length, your dog will be free to roam a little while safely under your control. It comes in a range of seven colours.

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