After you have chosen the right dog harness for your activities and needs, the next step is finding the right size for your dog and adjusting the harness for optimum fit.
How the dog harness should fit depends on what the harness is designed for. In general, a good and well-fitted harness is comfortable for your dog to wear, and allows them to move freely.
This guide will explain how the different dog harnesses should fit and how to adjust them.
A dog harness that is too big or too small can cause injuries, so choosing the right size and adjusting the harness correctly is important. Having the right size and adjustment will also utilize the harness's properties in the best possible way.
How to measure your dog for the right size harness
The most important measurement when looking for the right size harness for your dog is the neck circumference. For some dog harnesses, measuring the chest circumference and back length is also needed. The measurements you need will be specified on the dog harness size chart.
You can see how to measure your dog in this video:
The size finder on each product's page will help you find the correct size for your dog, based on the measurements. Simply fill in your dog’s numbers and a size will be suggested for you. With this tool, you will also see if your dog is close to going one size up or down.
If the harness does not fit, you can exchange the harness for the right size.
How to adjust the dog harness
After you have found the right size, it is time to adjust the dog harness for optimum fit.
How to adjust the Freemotion harness or the Combined harness
These harnesses should not slide easily over your dog's head. If you think it is hard to get the harness on or off, you can twist it horizontally before pulling it over your dog's head. This can also be done when taking the harness off. Loosening the side straps will also help.
Follow this guide to fit your Freemotion harness or Combined harness:
Click here to download the fitting guide.
You can also watch this video for a visual demonstration of how to fit the Freemotion harness:
A pulling-harness should be snug around the neck to prevent it from sliding down towards your dog’s shoulders, as that will limit movement.
When checking if the harness fits, your dog must be standing in the same position as when pulling; the back should be straight with the head and neck low as an extension of the back.
You should be able to fit two fingers vertically between the harness and the base of your dog's neck.
The lowest point of the neck opening should be at your dog’s breastbone.
With the side straps, you adjust the depth to fit your dog’s chest. This will prevent the harness from sliding up and restricting respiration. If your dog is rasping, the side straps might need to be adjusted.
Adjust the back piece so that the attachment point for the line sits right above your dog's sacrum.
How to adjust hiking- and everyday dog harnesses
Dog harnesses that are not used for pulling activities do not have to fit as tight around the neck as the pulling- harnesses.
For a medium sized harness, you should be able to fit two fingers vertically between your dog’s neck and the harness. For small sizes (XS and S), you should be able to fit a bit less than two fingers and for larger sizes (L and XL), a bit more than two fingers.
You should be able to fit two fingers vertically between your dog’s chest and the harness.
How do I know the pulling-harness fits my dog?
Even though some pulling-harnesses are adjustable, such as those described above, that is not the case for all. Dog harnesses developed for mushing are usually made with a static neck opening and length.
You should be able to fit two fingers between the harness and the base of your dog's neck. The harness should not slide easily over your dog's head. If you think it is hard to get the harness on or off, you can twist it horizontally before pulling it over your dog's head.
For the Nansen stick harness, the stick should lie 5 - 10 centimeters/1,9 - 3,9 inches behind the dog.
To fit dogs of various shapes and sizes, these dog harnesses are available in half sizes with the same length, but a wider neck circumference.