German Shepherd Harness Guide – Helping You Make the Right Choice
German Shepherds are one of the most popular breeds of today, and for good reason - their intelligence, devotion and courage are unsurpassed, and whether they are guiding the blind, serving the police, or simply guarding your house, they excel at what they do.
GSD are very active dogs who won’t be content to live a life as a couch potato, and therefore you’ll have to give them plenty of exercise and training (1). And to do that, you’ll need a good harness. This guide should help you pick the perfect German Shepherd harness.
Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa | Doctor Of Veterinary Medicine
Sara is Wileypup’s Veterinarian Adviser and helped compose this article to ensure the information is up to date and accurate. For more information on Sara click here
German Shepherd Harness Vest - Overview
Chai's Choice 3M Reflective Dog Harness
OneTigris Tactical Service Vest Dog Harness
HDP Big Dog No Pull Dog Harness
Pawtitas Reflective Padded Dog Harness
Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Harness
Julius-K9 IDC Powerharness Dog Harness
EzyDog Quick Fit Dog Harness
How to Choose the Best Dog Harness for German Shepherd
The German Shepherd is a breed that is highly susceptible to joint issues (2), and therefore, using a harness is always a better choice than a collar. It distributes the pulling force across your pooch’s entire body, rather than putting pressure solely on the neck. Unless your dog never pulls, a collar can be a very harmful option. For more information on this topic, check out this article about harnesses and collars.
Picking the right harness is no easy task though. With so many options on the market, you’re probably wondering what are the key features of a harness you and your German Shepherd will love using. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing the perfect product.
The sturdiness of the harness is directly related to the quality of the material which it’s made out of. If you owned a Chihuahua maybe you could have passed by with cheap material, since small dogs can’t pull that hard and are not nearly as powerful.
On the other hand, such a harness worn by a German Shepherd would rip apart before you say “biscuit”. Therefore, you’ll need to pick thick and durable material. Nylon is always a good option as it’s durable and good for wet weather.
Some dog parents swear by leather harnesses - these are fancy and won’t cause skin irritation. However, if you live in a humid area, or your dog likes to get wet, this is not a good choice for your furry friend.
You should also consider getting your dog a padded harness, as they are more comfortable to wear. These do cost a bit more, but there’s no price too high when it comes to your pooch’s pleasure, right?
You’ll want the straps to be adjustable, so the harness can fit your dog like a glove. Even though harnesses come in a few different sizes, flexible straps allow your German Shepherd to be as comfortable as needed. The wider are the straps, the better.
The leash ring also needs to be sturdy - preferably, it should be made out of metal, so it doesn’t break on a sudden pull. It’s usually located on the back, but some harnesses have a front attachment too, that can help correct behavioral issues.
They should be either metal or hardened plastic, otherwise, they can easily break on harnesses worn by big dogs. Safety snap buckles are always a plus.
This is a convenient, albeit not a necessary feature when it comes to a harness for a large dog. Obviously, you won’t use this to pick up your dog like you would a smaller breed, but it can be quite handy to deal with your dog’s in unexpected situations.
Finding The Right Fit
If you consider all of these features, you should be able to find a harness that fits your dog well. Once you’ve chosen a harness, it’s important to determine if it fits the dog well.
“Remember that your dog has two possible escape routes from a new dog harness—wiggling out the front or backing out the rear. Make sure to test that he can’t get free of the harness.” - Kendall Curley, PetMD
Still, the harness shouldn’t be too tight, make sure there are no rolls of skin from around the straps.. The right fit allows you to put two fingers between the harness and your pooch (4).
If your dog keeps escaping the harness, even though it seems to fit right, check out this guide on escape-proof dog harnesses.
The Best Harness for German Shepherd in 2021
We’ve taken into consideration all the important features a good GSD harness needs to have, and we’ve selected 7 harnesses that we believe will suit your pooch’s needs best.
This harness by Chai’s Choice seems to solve most problems big dog owners might have. It’s sturdy, adjustable, and it doesn’t cost a fortune. Let’s look closer into all the features that make this the overall best harness for German Shepherds.
Soft chest padding is specially designed to remove the pressure from the neck while keeping your dog comfortable during long walks. The fabric is as durable as it’s soft, and with adjustable straps, this is a great harness for a German Shepherd puppy to grow along with. Once properly fitted, it’s easily slipped over the dog’s head, and buckled with one click.
This harness is designed with the safety of your dog’s fur in mind, so the buckles are placed over the padding. That way, they aren’t touching your pooch’s fur and no hair will get in the way.
While 9 lively color options make your dog an eye-catching attraction during the day, 3M reflective material will keep him visible while you’re taking him for a night walk.
The chest-mounted O-ring is designed to discourage your pooch from pulling, as it makes him turn to the side every time he tries to do that.
On the other hand, if you’re not dealing with a puller, you can use a standard leash ring on the back that’s also included on this harness. Both rings are made out of zinc-alloy and sturdy enough to not break from unexpected pulling. In addition to this, there is a handle on the back of the harness for emergency situations.
Your German Shepherd may not be a service dog, but that’s not a reason enough to not get him a vest that would make him look like a pup on duty. This harness comes in three different, military-style colors: ranger green, black and coyote brown. It also has three fuzzy panels that allow you to fully customize your German Shepherd vest by attaching patches of your liking.
What makes this harness great for outdoor adventures is MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment) webbing that lets your dog carry his own supplies, like a collapsible water bowl or a tennis ball. It’s everything you need for a hiking day with your furry companion.
This lightweight harness is made out of a durable nylon shell with soft interior padding. It’s also water-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about your pooch being soaked after a walk in the drizzle. Buckles are placed on top of the padding, which you can be sure your dog’s fur won’t get stuck in.
This tactical harness is designed for big breeds and comes in two sizes - medium and large. Customers mostly agree that the medium fits German Shepherds, which unfortunately means this harness probably won’t fit your dog while it’s just a pup, but nonetheless, it will be a good option for a grown-up pooch.
If your dog’s pulling makes your daily walks a nightmare, this harness option from HDP is designed to make your life easier and dog walking a pleasure.
The design of this harness is aimed to help you with your dogs annoying pulling - a wide nylon strap goes over the chest, which distributes pressure evenly while discouraging them to pull harder. And even if your dog does pull, extra padding is there to prevent chafing and create a comfortable walking experience.
Besides a great choice for hard pullers, this harness is suitable for elderly pooches that need a gentle vest that won’t put pressure on sensitive areas.
Another great thing about this harness is that it is so easy to adjust. Once set to fit your dog properly, it’s easy to put it on and off. All you need to do is snap one buckle in place. It only takes a couple of seconds, perfect for impatient dogs.
On the back, this harness features a sturdy, hardened handle that helps you step in if the dog play gets too rough, and a wide reflecting strip that makes your dog visible from afar. The color range is simple - it comes in black, blue, red and pink, a few, but bold color options that will make your furry friend stand out in dog parks.
Check out this guide for more no pull dog harness options.
This harness from Pawitas is designed in a simple but effective manner. What immediately stands out when you look at this harness is a thick chest piece made with neoprene. It’s designed to reduce strain on your dog’s throat and distributes weight evenly even if the dog pulls. The soft padding will create an enjoyable experience for your pooch, even during long walks.
This harness is also a great choice for the summer and for those living in warm climates. The straps cross on the back, so there isn’t too much material to trap in the heat.
Another thing we love about this harness is that it’s super easy to use - simply put it over your dog’s head, click the buckle and your furry friend is all set! Take your dog’s measurements carefully, since the top part that goes over his head isn’t adjustable. Therefore, it’s important that your size pick fits your pooch’s neck well. The chest straps are adjustable, so there is no need to worry about making a mistake there.
When it comes to color, there are 9 different options to choose from with this harness. Surely you can find one that matches your dog’s personality. What’s also great is that the harness can be machine washed and line dried. As a nice addition, this harness also features reflective strips that will keep your dog safe and visible in dusk and dawn.
The leash ring is located on the back, so this harness won’t help in refraining your German Shepherd from pulling. However, if your dog walks at your pace next to you, it will be a pleasant experience for both of you.
Your pup goes wild when you mention a car ride? You’re not alone. For many dogs out there sticking their head and tongue out the window is as exciting as walking to the dog park. However, we all have to wear a seatbelt for safety reasons. There is no reason why your dog should be an exception.
Kurgo thought of your dog’s riding safety when designing this crash-tested harness. It includes a 10-inch dog seat belt loop and a carabiner that allows your dog to sit forward as well as sideways, which is really important for large breeds like GSD, as they can be too big for back seats of smaller vehicles.
This harness works great for regular walks and hikes too, as it’s designed to provide ultimate comfort by reducing stress on the breastbone while distributing the pressure across the whole chest of your pooch.
Furthermore, the quality of this harness is great, as it’s made out of durable material and has stainless steel nesting buckles. There are 5 adjustment points to help the harness fit your dog perfectly. The buckles might seem difficult to use the first time you try, but once you get the hang of it you can rest assured your dog will be safe and comfortable at the same time.
Lastly, this harness has a front ring that prevents your strong German Shepherd from pulling. However, you can also use a standard back leash ring.
If you had to describe this harness by only one of its characteristics, it would be the ease of putting it on. This is a great choice for all those doggies out there too excited about going for a walk to wait calmly to get a harness put on them. Only one buckle click and your dog is ready to step out the door.
This harness is designed with working dogs in mind - on both sides of the back handle, it has two plastic loop attachers that are intended for optional side bags that allow your dog to carry its own things. The Julius-K9 patches are removable, which leaves you with two fuzzy panels to personalize your dog’s harness.
On the back, there’s a sturdy handle, that helps you gain control over your dog in tense situations, as well as a leash hoop. However, if you want to unleash your dog to let him wander freely, there’s a clasp that helps you hold the handle and the loop together, which minimizes the change of your pooch getting stuck while roaming through bushes.
Furthermore, this harness is skin-friendly, with a breathable eco-tex inner liner that is reinforced with a cushion on the inside, that lies directly against the dog’s body. The outer part is water-resistant, which makes this harness a great choice for both dry and humid weather conditions.
While your dog surely enjoys the time spent outside, it doesn’t mean that putting the harness on before a walk has to be an equally pleasant experience for your pooch. In fact, some dogs look for every possible occasion to slip out of it and run free around the block while you chase them.
This harness is easy to put on, but it’s also designed to outsmart your furry escape artist and stay on the whole time you’re outside. Adjustable straps allow you to get the perfect fit on your German Shepherd, after which you only need to buckle it up with one click, and you’re good to go! For more harnesses similar to this one, check out this guide on escape-proof dog harnesses.
The padded chest strap on the EzyDog Quick Fit Dog Harness is made with neoprene and designed to provide your pooch with more comfort while minimizing pinching and chafing. This harness is simple-looking, but quite sturdy, and a good choice for a strong breed like German Shepherd. Furthermore, it’s also fashionable, with 10 color options and reflective stitching that provides vision during night time.
This is also a great harness for German Shepherds that love to get wet. It’s made with neoprene and nylon, both of which dry really quickly. The leash ring is made out of stainless steel, which is resistant to rust even in contact with water.
Finally, this harness also comes with an ID tag holder, so your German Shepherd doesn’t have to wear a collar too just for the identification purpose.
No matter how proudly your German Shepherd obeys your commands, a moment of carelessness with big breeds can cause inconvenient situations. Therefore, it’s crucial to have proper walking equipment that gives you ultimate control, while at the same time gives your pooch comfortability. In our opinion, both Chai’s Choice 3M Reflective Dog Harness and OneTigris Tactical Service Vest Dog Harness seem like they have everything a modern doggy like your German Shepherd would need for an enjoyable walk.
1) “German Shepherd Dog.” Vetstreet. Retrieved April 27, 2021.
2) “Arthritis (Septic) in Dogs”. September 13, 2010. PetMD Editorial. Retrieved April 28, 2021
3) Curley, K. “Get the Best Dog Harness for Your Dog’s Body Type”. PetMD. Retrieved March 13, 2021.
4) Sullivan, M. “Surprising Dog Harness Dangers To Avoid”. November 29, 2017. PetMD. Retrieved April 28, 2021.
Vedrana Nikolić (B.A. in Cultural Anthropology) - Professional Writer.
Vedrana is a writer, anthropologist & dog lover. Currently pursuing a Masters degree in Semiotics studying, among other things, the communication between animals and humans.
For more info on Vedrana click here