Best Harnesses for German Shepherds: Ratings, Reviews & Our Picks

German Shepherds are often considered one of the most trainable dogs on the planet, but any owner knows that no two dogs are created equal. Some love to pull and tug on their leashes to no end, which is why using a harness comes in handy.

Not only do these products help with training, but they also eliminate the stress on your dog’s throat and skeletal system from the pressures of tugging.  Harnesses genreally are not a “one size fits all” solution, so the harness needs for a giant breed will be different than what a beagle needs or what a medium sized dog needs from a harness.

So, how do you find the best harnesses for German Shepherds? You look right here!  We’ve put together a list of what we feel are the best products for this breed on the market. We also include a buyer’s guide in this article to help you make the best decision for you and your pooch.

Buyer’s Guide

There are plenty of reasons to use a harness for every dog breed, but German Shepherds (like most breeds) have a list of benefits all their own. First, harnesses discourage them from pulling on their leash while protecting against damage to the trachea, neck, and spine.

Second, any GSD with a medical condition reaps those benefits tenfold. Eliminating coughing and gagging is vital for congestive heart failure, lung problems, and relative skeletal pain. For this breed, in particular, it also heavily discourages jumping. Finding the best harness for your dog isn’t easy, but this guide highlights some features to look for and aspects to consider.

Types of Harnesses

There are four types of harnesses to choose from when buying one for your dog. Each offers a different purpose and benefit, but all provide the same protection. Choosing between them is a matter of what works best for your dog and yourself while training or walking them.

Front Clip: Front clips are a trainer’s best friend. They provide the most control over your dog as you teach them how to walk by your side and ignore distractions. The leash clips to the dog’s chest, eliminating pulling and distributing pressure evenly across the body.

If your German Shepherd is prone to spontaneous dashes when it spots a rabbit or squirrel, then the front clip might not be the best option. Depending on your ability to control the dog, they could end up flipping themselves around. This could cause harm depending on their level of strength, which this breed is known for.

However, the front clip is German Shepherd approved by trainers across the nation (including law enforcement). If you start from the time they are a puppy, you can easily curb their behavior to avoid the above scenario as they grow in size.

Back Clip: Back clip varieties offer less control but increase the level of comfort for the dog. These are often reserved for the trained dog who occasionally pulls on their leash when excited. The design of these models alleviates pressure on the throat, which is vital for smaller breeds.

For the German Shepherd, however, the back clip should be saved for a well-trained dog. This breed is prone to the opposition reflex, which is an instinct that causes them to pull harder against the pressure of the chest piece. This can increase their aggression, encourage lunging behaviors, or simply stop them from listening to your commands at the moment.

Dual Clip: Dual clip models offer the best of both worlds with a clip in the front and one in the back. This allows you to quickly switch between lead positions for a variety of situations and is often a cost-effective investment that your dog can use while training and after (provided they do not outgrow the harness).

Vests: Vests are the luxury variety of harnesses thanks to their extra padding for comfort and snug fit. Anxious German Shepherd benefit from the way a vest hugs their body, creating a calming effect. Senior dogs and those with spine or other issues also benefit from the added support a vest provides.

High-end vests, like the ones you might see a police dog wear, are also beneficial for the German Shepherd. These models feature incredibly durable materials and provide a higher level of control that some trainers require, especially those in law enforcement.

Handles

Harnesses for larger breeds often feature a handle on the back that is reinforced or made from a stronger material than the padded areas of the product. This handle is vital in gaining full control over your GSD when they act out of control.

Aggressive dogs require this feature for their safety and those around them. While not all German Shepherds are aggressive, the breed’s raw strength is enough to make playtime dangerous when they’re untrained or still in training.

That handle also helps you keep them from pulling you, despite having a tougher harness, keeping them safe from traffic or an aggressive animal. The positioning of these handles allows you to pull hard without placing excess pressure on the dog’s body. Your force is equally distributed throughout the harness, making an exceptional safety feature for everyone and every animal involved in the situation.

Our Favorite Harnesses for German Shepherds

After careful consideration and research, we feel that these are the best harnesses for German Shepherds you can find. Each listing explains the pros and cons behind every product while highlighting their benefit to the breed.

Keep in mind that this is by no means an exhaustive list.  Depending on what your plans are for your GSD, your needs may vary.  If your dog is a trained service dog, the need for a vest is going to be higher than just a basic no pull harness.

Most of these picks will be interchangeable with GSD mixes that are of a similar size, like the lab/GSD mix, or the GSD/husky mix.  Because size is one of the similarities between the Belgian Malinois and GSD, you can also think of these as interchangeable with that breed as well.


Rabbitgoo No-Pull Pet Harness

Rabbitgoo offers a fully adjustable design with straps that connect the top and bottom pieces of the harness. Padded air mesh on each side creates a breathable and comfortable fit to keep your dog cool while alleviating pressure from pulling.

The waterproof design is great for all-year use, while bright reflective strips make this an excellent nighttime walk choice. There’s no chest piece to create an opposition reflex, which is essential for this breed. Finally, the back clip and added handle offer plenty of control.

Pros:

  • Fully adjustable.
  • Highly reflective.
  • Back handle for added control.
  • Quick release buckles for safe removal in any situation.

WINSEE No-Pull Pet Harness

Two sturdy metal rings on this model provide durability and added control over your dog, all while alleviating pressure from pulling. Quick snap buckles allow for easy removal, 1680D Oxford fabric is virtually tear-proof, and a leather handle on the back gives you complete control when you need it.

The chest piece includes a metal D-ring for training and scoops at the neck to prevent choking. Separate from the back part, which has its own D-ring, you can completely adjust this harness for the perfect fit. It also comes with a collar for double-leash training. Plus, this harness is highly reflective.

Pros:

  • Fully adjustable.
  • 1680D Oxford fabric is incredibly durable.
  • Back handle for added control.
  • Locking snap buckles.
  • Full year warranty.

Big Dog No-Pull Harness

Like the WINSEE, this model features quick release snap buckles with a locking mechanism for even the toughest leash puller. Oxford nylon makes this another highly durable model, while reflective surfaces make this excellent for nighttime use.

D-rings on both the front and back allow you to switch from training to a leisurely walk with ease, and the design is fully adjustable like the other models above. With an added handle on the back, you can gain full control over your German Shepherd any time.

Pros:

  • Fully adjustable
  • Locking snap buckles.
  • Highly reflective.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.

Friends Forever No-Pull Harness

The Friends Forever harness is designed for large and extra-large dogs only, making it ideal for the adult German Shepherd. Adjustable straps and the incorporation of only a back piece make this an easy fit for any dog, while the lack of a chest piece prevents an opposition reflex.

The front strap is thick and sits low, providing a refined control over your dog’s desire to pull. Heavy duty D-rings and reinforced stitching adds to the durability of this product, while a high-resting handle provides instant control. Finally, this harness utilizes three meters of reflective material for superb visibility at night.

Pros:

  • Lack of chest piece eliminates opposition reflex.
  • Sturdy D-rings and handle offer ample control.
  • Fully adjustable.
  • Highly reflective.

Eagloo No-Pull Harness

Featuring two zinc-alloy rings on the chest and back, this durable harness allows for training as well as leisurely walks. Adding to that durability is nylon webbing that stretches when your dog does decide to pull. That mesh is also highly breathable, making it excellent for summer days.

There’s plenty of reflective surfaces on this model, along with multiple points of adjustment for a comfortable fit. Added padding protects your dog even more as it tugs and pulls at the leash. Finally, there’s a 100% Quality Warranty that replaces or fully refund your purchase.

Pros:

  • Double zinc-alloy rings on the back clip.
  • Multiple points of adjustment.
  • Highly durable nylon mesh that stretches for added comfort.

Bolux No-Pull Harness

Made from high-quality, waterproof Oxford nylon fitted with an enormous reflective strip, this durable product from Bolux is also an excellent nighttime companion. Pressure is evenly distributed across the chest strap instead of a chest piece, eliminating opposition reflex. The nylon construction is also breathable.

A heavy-duty handle on the back offers instant and full control, while the D-ring on the back provides plenty of control otherwise. With a performance-engineered plastic buckle, your German Shepherd isn’t going anywhere you don’t want it to. Plus, there’s a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.

Pros:

  • Insanely durable construction from the Oxford nylon to the D-ring.
  • Back handle is made for dogs with ample strength, like the German Shepherd.
  • Reflective and fully adjustable.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.

Lifepul Dog Vest Harness

A D-ring in the back provides plenty of durability and control on the Lifepul, while high-quality nylon construction bolsters that durability. Nickel plated hardware keeps straps from snapping under pressure, soft padding makes this comfortable for your pet, and adjustable locks make this a simple fit.

There’s no chest piece, eliminating opposition reflex, which is replaced by a larger front strap with padding. A handle on the back of this vest gives you total control when you need it, as well.

Pros:

  • Hugging vest design is excellent for anxious dogs.
  • Durable nylon protects your investment.
  • Nickel plating handles even the toughest leash puller.

Frequently Asked Questions

Check out some commonly asked questions about harnesses for German Shepherds.

Q: Does my German Shepherd need a harness?

A: No dog requires a harness when walking them, but these products do provide several benefits. Not only do they protect your dog’s spine and throat, but they also offer you more control as the owner. This is a handy benefit when training your dog not to chase after animals or jump up on people.

Dogs with harnesses are also less likely to get tangled up in their leashes. Senior dogs almost always require a harness, as do those with medical conditions. So, no, your dog does not necessarily need a harness. However, using one is highly recommended.

Q: How Can I tell which clip style to buy?

A: The right clip style depends on the dog, the activities you do together, and what health considerations they might need. For German Shepherds, a front clip is ideal for training. This is especially true when combined with a vest.

If your dog has health issues to consider, then a back clip may be the best option depending on what those conditions are. However, the vest and front clip works best when training this breed on any level.

Q: How do I Size my German Shepherd for the right fit?

A: Sizing a dog for a harness is a challenge, but there’s a surefire way to get as close to the mark as possible. Start by measuring your dog’s neck and chest with a cloth measuring tape. The chest measurement is taken just above the shoulders around the neck and again just behind the legs and around the back.

Keep the measurement loose to allow room for growth and sizing differences between brands. It’s always better to choose something larger than something too tight. Keep in mind that different brands run on different measurements for their sizes. A large in Brand A could be a medium in Brand B.

Q: How can I tell if the harness is too tight or too loose?

A: You want the harness to fit snug for support and control, but anything too loose eliminates the benefits of the product. Finding that happy medium is often more challenging than finding your dog’s exact measurements, but there’s a simple rule of thumb to follow.

After adjusting the straps, place two fingers between your dog and the harness. If you can’t fit them underneath the harness or you begin to lose circulation, then it is too tight. If you can fit three or more fingers underneath, then the harness is too loose, and you need to readjust it.

With German Shepherds, you want the harness to fit as tight as possible without it causing any discomfort to your dog. This provides you with the control you need to reign them in and curb any unwanted behavior before it becomes an issue.

Q: Do I need a handle on my harness?

A: You might not need one if your dog is docile, but it is highly recommended that the harness you choose has a handle with this breed. A German Shepherd’s strength is enough to overwhelm most owners at times. So, the ability to fully control their actions in any given moment is vital during training and beyond.

Final Thoughts

German Shepherds are some of the most loyal, trainable dogs on the planet. They also possess raw strength that’s essential for any owner to control. That’s why a harness is an excellent option for anyone who owns this breed.

When it comes to the best harnesses for German Shepherds, we recommend the Big Dog. It is fully adjustable, features locking snap buckles, and highly reflective. Even better, the handle on the back is incredibly strong. Finally, the front clip design is perfect for training this breed.

If that’s not up your alley, then we suggest the Friends Forever harness. It may not be as durable, but it offers all the same benefits. There’s no chest piece to create an opposition reflex, and the D-rings offer plenty of control. Remember, the best harness is one that meets you and your dog’s needs at the same time.