How to choose a harness for your dog.

Two people on the beach with their dog


If you've always wanted to get your Pooch into a harness but have no idea where to start, you have come to the right place! 

Harness choice comes down to what doggy adventures you're doing, how big your dog is, and if you are teaching good leash etiquette. 

Dog wearing Ruffwear Harness on the Port Hills Christchurch

 Ruffwear has so many great options for different types of adventures, but we're only going over some of the most popular options - 

  1. Front Range Harness
  2. Hi and Light Harness
  3. Web Master Harness
  4. Flagline Harness
  5. Switchback Harness

So let's get into it! 

The Front Range Harness is one of the most popular harnesses from Ruffwear. It has been designed to be worn all day, is padded and has four adjustable clips - so you can get a tuned in fit. It has two leash attachment points - one on the back and one on the front (which helps with furry friends that pull the leash). A great all-rounder harness!

They come in sizes XXS, XS, S, M, and L/XL. There are seven colours to choose from (and you can get matching collars and leashes!). 

Lots of different dogs in Ruffwear Harnesses
Three Dogs wearing Ruffweat Front Range Harnesses
The Front Range Harness.

The main point to mention about the Hi and Light Harness is that it goes down to a size XXXS (That's Extra Extra EXTRA Small), so it can accommodate even the smallest of doggies. I'm also sure (although I am 100% not recommending this) some cats would easily fit this too... I'm just thinking out loud here! Anyway, it has a very minimalist design but still has the two leash attachment points like the Front Range and the four points of adjustment as well. It also has a debris-resistant liner, which means dirt and puppy fluff won't stick to it. It's a great option for when you want to be light and fast when running trails or wandering around your local (canine-friendly) parks. As mentioned, it comes in sizes XXXS, XXS, XS, S, M, and L/XL. It comes in six awesome colours and like the Front Range you can get matching leashes and collars too! 

Puppy in a Hi and Light Harness

The Hi and Light Harness.

The Web Master Harness is a step up from the last two. It has an extra adjustment strap across the belly for extra support, with five adjustment points, making it more secure with a more precise fit. It's perfect for hiking and scrambling (or even if your pup just needs some assistance) because it has a handle on the back for lifting and assisting your pupper when needed. It has two leash attachment points on the top and it also has added padding in the chest and belly strap so when lifted it's as comfortable as can be, which means it's great for all-day wear! (You can also purchase additional padding and chest protection for this harness with the Brush Guard). The Web Master comes in sizes XXS, XS, S, M, and L/XL and four colours. Unlike the other two harnesses mentioned above, it doesn't have matching leads or collars, but there are so many beautiful complimentary options to choose from. 

Dog in a web master harness and booties

The Web Master Harness. 

The Flagline Harness is the older brother of the Hi and Light Harness. It's still light and fast, an uber comfortable harness but it has an extra 2 adjustment points, for 6 in total. This means there is an extra belly strap (like the Web Master) to have a more precise fit and have a more secure harness. It also has the back handle teamed with a load-dispersing chest/belly panel making it super easy and comfortable to lift when necessary. This is a perfect harness for hiking and backcountry scrambling to everyday adventures. This Harness comes in sizes XXS, XS, S, M, and L/XL. And matches the colours of the Hi and Light Collar and Leash - how cool! And they also have their own matching leash. 

Badger in the snow in his Flagline Harness
Dogs in the Ruffwear Flagline Harness
Lady and her dog on a ski chairlift
Julz and Badger Flagline
The Flagline Harness.

The Switchback Harness has an added feature the rest don't have - pocketed sides for carrying the everyday essentials like collapsible water bowls, treats, or poo bags! It has the comfort and padding for wearing every day, as-well-as a padded belly strap - so when using the top handle for lifting assistance, your floof is as comfortable as possible. It has two leash attachment points, one on the top and one on the front for whelps that pull on the leash, and 5 points of adjustment, including the belly strap. This harness is an all-rounder, great for trail adventures or general exploring on any level - nothing better than your BFF carrying their own poo bags! It comes in sizes XS, S, M, and L/XL and three colours. No matching collars and leashes this time, but lots of other options to accessorise! 

Dogs in Ruffwear Swicthback Harness

Rocky and Badger Switchback Harness

The Switchback Harness.

Just a side note: for those wanting more "on-dog-storage" Ruffwear has some great options with the Front Range Day Pack (which uses the harness style of the Front Range harness but with side bag storage), The Approach Dog Backpack (which is a day hiking and overnight pack built on a harness system) and the Palisades Dog Backpack (which is the biggest pack and the bags can be removed from the harness setup!) Your dog mustn't carry more than 25% of its body weight (including the weight of the pack) and you should always start with a light load if they are new to carrying things in a doggy backpack. 

Dogs wearing Ruffwear Dog Packs

Badger in his Approach Dog Pack
All the packs!

So that's a round-up of a few of the options Ruffwear has to offer - I'd like to thank our Facebook Community (if you sign up to join our Mountain Dog Challenge you'll get a link to be part of the special crew) who sent through so many photos of the harnesses in the wild with their amazing fluffy friends! I've also used a different word for puppy dog most times because why not! Which word did I double up on and how many different words did I use??


Dog on the port hills christchurch
If you liked this blog, be sure to check out this one too: Camping and Hiking With Your Dog in NZ


The top five everyday harnesses for your dog: 

  1. The Ruffwear Front Range Harness - is a super popular all-rounder harness that has comfortable padding so can be worn for all-day adventures. It has two leash points and some great colour options.
  2. The Ruffwear Hi and Light Harness - goes down to a size Extra Extra Extra Small (XXXS!!!!) so can accommodate canine adventurers of any size and it's lighter than the Front Range harness, so those fast and light adventures on the trails. 
  3. The Ruffwear Web Master Harness - has an extra belly strap, for added support around the waist when using the handle on the back. Great for scrambling adventures or pooches who just need a bit more help. 
  4. The Flagline Harness - is light like the Hi and Light Harness, but has an added Belly Strap and a handle like the Web Master. It also has a load-dispersing chest panel, so your pup stays comfortable when lifted. Great for those adventures when you want to be a little lighter.
  5. The Switchback Harness - has two slimline pockets on either side of the harness that can be used to carry a collapsible water bowl, treats, or poo bags - so your dog can help carry the load. It's also super padded and comfortable for all-day wear and has a handy back handle for helping your dog through the tricky bits.  

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