Dog Harness Types

by Sleddoggin Staff on April 2, 2012

With there being so many different uses for dog harnesses it is important to make sure you find the type that is appropriate for the activity you have chosen. This article will give you a small glimpse at the choices available. When you find one that interests you, be sure to follow-up with further research to ensure the harness is the safest for your friend.

There are two basic duties that a sled dog is usually used for; hauling freight or racing. Each one requires a harness, but to different specifications. There are three main types of harnesses which are the freight harness, the H-back harness, and the X-back harness. There are however more harnesses that are being developed. One of these is the Y-back harness which is moving up the ranks with the skijorers.

The freight harness is usually an H-back harness with a wide chest band and sometimes includes more padding. The straps form the appearance of an “H” or that of a ladder across the back of the dog. These are designed to help distribute the weight of the subject matter more evenly and across a broader area of the body.

The X-back harness forms an “X” shape along the dogs back. This is considered a racing harness and is lighter and shorter than a freight harness. There are shorter versions of these that ride farther towards the front of the body of the dog.

The Y-back harness is a hybrid and is similar looking to the H-back. The tug line anchors to the harness at the top of the dogs back and stretches parallel to the ground when pulling a sled or upward to the skier. This stretching allows the dogs back to arch up and down naturally as he gallops. This will help to prevent your dogs back from getting sore.

Dogs who engage in weight pulling wear very heavily, padded harnesses. These dog harnesses will have broad chest bands that distribute the weight in order to prevent harm to the dog.

Assistance dogs, depending on their job duties, will sometimes have to wear a harness. There is usually a handle built into the dog harness for the person to grip, and generally more support in the chest area. The assistance provided by the dog will determine the sturdiness of the harness. For example, if the dog will be pulling a person in a wheelchair, the harness will be similar to that of a sled dog.

Always check the dog harness for wear or damage and keep an eye on your dogs behavior. By doing these simple steps you can recognize if there are any potential problems that could cause any safety risks.

Pat Saint is an avid animal lover and has consistently shared her life with dogs. You should check out her harnesses or maybe her pet collars at

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