The 7 Best Harnesses For German Shepherds: Tested 2023
What makes German Shepherds great working dogs is their athletic build, amazing endurance, and trainability. But to handle that much brute force, you need a good, sturdy harness.
But how do you find the right one for your fur friend? Well, we've got you covered there! We joined forces with veterinarians, canine behaviourists and dog parents to form a team of independent experts and test out the best harness options for German Shepherds available in Australia. After months of testing and several dozen harnesses later, we were finally able to agree on the contents of this guide.
Today, we’re going to review the best harness for German Shepherds and its close follow-ups, so that you can easily find the right one for you.
Let’s dive straight in.
Quick Picks - The Top 3
Our Number 1 Pick -
Excellent Elite Spanker Tactical Dog Harness
- Durable fabric
- Magic sticker ID panel for patches
- Available in 4 colours
- 90-day quality warranty
Runner Up -
Rabbitgoo Tactical Dog Harness Large Service Dog Vest with Handle
- Soft padding on pressure load points for comfort
- MOLLE system equipped on both sides for storage
- Hook and loop panels for morale patches and badges
- Two D-ring attachment points
Third Choice -
PetSafe Happy Ride Dog Safety Harness for Cars
- Features a seat belt tether
- Fully padded vest with breathable liner
- Can be used as a regular harness as well
- Heavy-duty carabiner that can withstand great force
Australia's Best Harnesses For German Shepherds Reviewed
After considering all these features, here are the top seven models for a German Shepherd. These are the harnesses that impressed every member of our team of independent experts while supporting our beloved German Shepherds.
What sets this product apart from the rest?
This harness by Excellent Elite Spanker holds the well-deserved first spot on this list because it solves most issues large dog owners are facing. It’s durable, comfortable and easily adjustable - all that without a high price tag.
Made of 1050D nylon, just like our second-place choice ahead, this harness is built to last. This material is resistant to fading, abrasion and mildew. Our panel of experts appreciated how it’s also water-resistant and quick-drying, so it’s suitable for wearing in any weather conditions. This is a feature it shares with our number six harness below.
The Excellent Elite Spanker Tactical Dog Harness being tested by our independent expert team.
I especially loved how the soft-padded lining prevents chafing and makes the harness comfortable on my dog’s skin and fur. Of course, I had to adjust it to fit my dog properly with the first wear. Luckily, that’s easily achieved with tri-glide adjustment clips and buckles. As you can see, the buckles are placed over the padding and not onto the strap. That way, your German Shepherd’s fur can’t get in the way.
Related: The Best Tactical Dog Harness.
This harness features a V-shaped aluminium alloy lead ring, which is a much sturdier material than what the brand used before. The new version is strong enough to withstand even the toughest of pullers. Of course, there’s also a back handle in case you need to step in when things get too rough.
Just because your pooch might not be an official service dog, that’s not reason enough to not get a service dog harness, like this one by Rabbitgoo. Your German Shepherd will feel like a dog on duty wearing this.
This tactical dog harness is made of 1050D nylon, which is a military-grade material. The fabric is further enforced with cross stitching, making this harness extremely durable. But underneath the rugged material, everyone on our independent team of experts loved that the harness is well padded on pressure points so that it’s comfortable to wear.
The Rabbitgoo Tactical Dog Harness Large Service Dog Vest with Handle being tested by our independent expert team.
Like a proper service harness, this model offers a bit of customisation. There are large hook and loop panels on both sides and a small one at the front where you can add personal patches, like with our number five choice ahead. What’s more, there’s a MOLLE webbing system on each side for attaching gear.
Depending on how well-behaved your pooch is on walks, you can attach the lead either to the front or the back D-ring. Unlike our number one choice, the lead rings are made of plastic. My favourite feature is that the harness also features a top-mounted handle that let you control your dog in dangerous situations.
All dogs like sticking their heads out through the window during a car ride. But every dog parent needs to make sure that their pooch is safe while doing that. By that, we mean having their canine companion secured in their seat during the ride.
This harness by PetSafe is specially designed to ensure your pooch’s safety in the car. It includes a seat belt tether with a heavy-duty carabiner that attaches to the safety harness at one of the multiple connection points. This kept my dog secured in the seat while still offering a bit of mobility.
The PetSafe Happy Ride Dog Safety Harness for Cars being tested by our independent expert team.
While it’s important that your canine companion doesn’t get hurt from falling, it’s just as important to not get hurt by the harness itself. To prevent that from happening, this safety harness features a fully padded vest area with a breathable liner. This ensures your dog is comfortable during the entire car ride.
Related: The Best Dog Car Harness.
What our team of independent experts also thought was great is that you can use this harness outside of the vehicle as well. If your dog enjoys wearing it, the separate leash attachment on the back allows you to use this product when walking your best friend.
Every German Shepherd owner knows well how expensive pet gear for large dogs can be. But this model by Rabbitgoo shows that not all quality products cost an arm and a leg.
Made of nylon Oxford fabric and padded with soft cushions, similar to the Rabbitgoo harness in our number two spot, this harness doesn’t sacrifice comfort for durability. It’s built to last. And thanks to fully adjustable straps, our panel of experts notes that this is the type of product that can grow along with your dog from puppyhood.
The Rabbitgoo Dog Harness No-Pull Pet Harness being tested by our independent expert team.
With 12 available colour options, you can make your dog a fashionista during daily walks. And thanks to super-bright reflective strips around the edges of the harness, your pooch will attract attention at night as well, which is especially important when walking in the dark.
This harness is rather easy to put on, which is great if you own an impatient and playful pup like me. I simply slid it over my dog’s head, buckled it up and adjusted it as needed. For even faster removal, it features two fast-release buckles.
The harness features two D-rings, one at the front and the other at the back. If your German Shepherd is a puller, then you can use the front ring to correct the behaviour. For well-behaved pooches, a back ring is also a good option.
Like any working dog, German Shepherds love spending time doing physically-engaging outdoor activities, such as hiking. When you’re out in the wilderness, your dog must always on the lead. But remaining comfortable is just as important, and that’s what this harness can provide.
Our panel of experts especially loved how this harness features a chest strap that distributes the load across the dog's chest and around the sides. That way, your pooch can walk alongside you without impaired or restrained movement. There’s a D-ring on both chest and back, so you can switch between them depending on the type of walk you’re on with your canine companion.
Made of polyester and padded with soft cotton lining, this harness is rather gentle on your dog’s skin and fur. Of course, that would mean nothing if the harness isn’t the right fit. Luckily, both chest and girth straps are fully adjustable to ensure the harness fits like a glove.
What makes this harness especially great for outdoor activities are side mount attachment rings. You can experiment with different lead settings and even attach your dog’s poop bag or treat pouch to one of the rings.
The original Ezydog patches are attached with Velcro tape, so you can also change them for a personalised one if you want, like with our number two harness choice above.
Carhartt is known for making high-quality and heavy-duty work apparel, so it’s no surprise that its line of dog gear is just as well-made and durable. And that’s exactly what a working pooch like a German Shepherd needs.
From first sight, I could see there’s not a lot of material involved. In fact, I think it’s just the right amount for a thick-coated breed like a German Shepherd that lives in the Australian climate. It's padded on the chest and at the back, where it would cut into the skin otherwise. But without thick straps, my furry friend wasn't too hot wearing this harness in the summer.
The Carhartt Pet Harnesses being tested by our independent expert team.
Chest and back pads are filled with neoprene cushions and made of 500D nylon, which is a rugged material commonly used for military purposes. But aside from being durable, this material is also very gentle on the skin and fur. What’s more, it’s water-repellent, so it’s suitable for wearing in rainy weather as well, just like our number one harness at the top of this list.
The straps are also made of nylon and feature duck canvas weave for improved strength. Each strap can be individually adjusted for optimal fit. They also feature triple needle stitch throughout for visibility at night.
A dog harness is one of those things worth investing more in, especially when it comes to large breeds like German Shepherds. You need something that is both durable and comfortable for your big dog to wear, and that’s worth paying more for.
This harness by OneTigris might have a slightly larger price tag compared to other products on this list, but you know exactly what you’re paying for. Every member of our team of independent experts agreed that its premium materials and features ensure this harness will last a long time.
The OneTigris Tactical Dog Harness for Large Dogbeing tested by our independent expert team.
The harness is made of 1000D nylon, which is a heavy-duty material used for military gear. With that in mind, it’s clear that it’s designed to withstand quite a bit of wear and tear. Aside from being rugged, this harness is also quite comfortable. The soft mesh padding covers the interior and makes it gentle on your dog’s fur and skin.
Given it’s a tactical harness, this model features hook and loop strips on each side for patches and badges. You have plenty of space to personally customise your pooch’s harness, like our second and fifth choice harnesses. I also loved how I could choose between four colour options: black, brown, green and grey.
How I Choose A Harness for German Shepherds
No matter how athletic your German Shepherd might be, keep in mind that this breed is generally prone to joint and bone health issues (1). For this reason, it’s extremely important to get these dogs a quality harness.
Our team of independent experts know what goes into a proper harness for your German Shepherd. Namely, a good harness will distribute the pressure evenly across the body even with the dog pulling (rather than putting all the force on one spot), thus greatly minimising the risk of injury.
But with countless models on the market, picking the best one for your German Shepherd seems like a difficult task. When searching for the best product, here are the things we believe you should pay attention to.
Regular VS No-Pull Harness
Is your German Shepherd a puller? Given how big and strong this breed is, this walking behaviour is something you might need to discourage your dog from doing.
And not just frustrating. Being pulled by such a large dog can also get you injured, so it’s best to cut this behaviour at the roots. To do that, you might need to get a no-pull harness.
Most no-pull harnesses feature a clip for attaching the lead on the front of the harness (i.e. in the middle of the dog's chest). The idea behind it is that, if your pooch starts pulling, the lead goes off to the side, directing your dog back towards you, thus making pulling pointless.
However, if your German Shepherd is a well-behaved boy or girl, you can use a regular harness as well. This type of harness features a standard back lead ring, which is suitable for calm walks.
A good harness must fit like a glove. You don’t want it to be too tight, as it can cause skin chafing. On the other hand, you don’t want it to loose either, as it won’t give you much control over your pooch.
Even though there’s such a thing as a breed standard, it’s clear that no German Shepherd is the same. Whether it’s diet, physical activity level or genetics, some dogs can be larger than others. So, don’t rely just on the breed specs when choosing the size of your harness.
According to our panel of experts, you’ll need precise measurements to make the harness fit perfectly, or, preferably, just get an adjustable harness. This way, you'll easily get the perfect fit and the harness can adapt to your dog’s body as it changes. Ideally you want all straps on a harness to be adjustable, so that there’s no room for wiggling.
Make sure no rolls of skin form around the straps, as that’s a clear sight of a harness that’s too tight. When adjusted properly, you should be able to put two fingers between the harness and your pooch.
Every dog should wear a comfortable harness. But having proper padding is especially important for big, strong breeds. With a single pull, these dogs can apply enough pressure for a harness to cut into their skin, causing injury.
For that reason, you want a harness that’s padded on each pressure point, especially behind the dog's front legs. The padding should be soft but also breathable so that your pooch doesn’t get hot from wearing it.
Although not a necessity, a back handle harness is a nice feature to have on a harness. This is a feature I always ensure my dogs' harnesses have. The handle allows me to gain control over my dogs in unexpected situations, such as encountering other animals on the path.
Related: The Best Dog Harness With Handle.
A good back handle should be ergonomic and padded. Many low-cost dog harnesses are made with a piece of nylon strap, which is not comfortable to grab when pulling a big dog like a German Shepherd.
Is your German Shepherd like mine and also your companion for outdoor trips? Being a working breed, these dogs want to feel useful. One way to accomplish that is to allow them to carry their own gear. Now, that doesn’t mean overburdening your pooch with tents and sleeping bags. But your German Shepherd can carry a water bottle and treats attached to the harness.
Many dog harnesses for large dogs feature accessories like the MOLLE webbing system, which is a row of heavy-duty ladder-woven fabric for attaching stuff. Some may also feature tiny pockets and velcro tapes for attaching badges and patches.
My Final Verdict
A good German Shepherd harness needs to be sturdy and comfortable. According to our team of independent experts through our research, the Tactical Dog Harness by Excellent Elite Spanker is all that, and more. It can take quite a beating and it’s suitable for use in all weather conditions.
At the same time, it’s gentle on your dog’s skin and fur, so it’s suitable for all-day wearing. As icing on the cake, it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, even though it’s a Large size!
To find the right size for your dog, you’ll need a measuring tape. First, you’ll need to measure the girth. To do that, wrap the tape around the widest part of the torso. Generally, that’s behind the front leg’s armpits. Then measure the neck, which you should do right at its base.
Now that you have the numbers, check the sizing chart. If your dog is in between two sizes, take a size up.
A no-pull harness can help, but you’ll need to train your dog as well. To do that, your GSD needs to learn two things: a loose lead means walking forward, while pulling means not moving at all (3). Ultimately, your dog will understand that it’s either your way or no way.
You can introduce your German Shepherd puppy to a harness as early as 8 weeks old when you first start going for walks together. As long as you’re using a well-fitting harness, there’s no reason why your pup shouldn’t be comfortable wearing it.
- Morrison, J. June 28, 2022. “German Shepherd Dog”. PetMD. Retrieved February 8, 2023. https://www.petmd.com/dog/breeds/c_dg_german_shepherd
- PetMD Editorial. October 11, 2018. “How Do No-Pull Dog Harnesses Work?’. PetMRetrieved February 8, 2023. https://www.petmd.com/dog/care/how-do-no-pull-dog-harnesses-work
- Feyrecilde, M; Horwitz, D; Landsberg, G. “Controlling Pulling on Walks”. VCA Animal Hospitals. Retrieved February 8, 2023. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/controlling-pulling-on-walks