The criteria we considered when reviewing these harnesses included:
- Safety: How easy is it to adjust? Is it secure?
- Comfort: Pitbulls have short hair, so we need to be sure we reduce any chance of chafing.
- Control: For a dog with so much strength, it is essential that you–the owner–stay in control at all times.
- Durability: Will it hold up when a dog lives a rough-and-tumble lifestyle?
- Budget: What offers the best bang for your buck?
- Style: Well, you’ve got to look good right?
Challenges of Pitbulls
When selecting the right harness for your pitbull, there are a few factors we need to keep in mind.
First, pitbulls have notably wide chests and stocky necks. Use a soft tape measure to get your dog’s exact measurements to avoid headaches down the road.
Additionally, our pitbulls have short hair, which is means that they’re prone to rashes and chafing with harnesses. So, we want to ensure that there’s plenty of padding for comfort and as little plastic on their skin as possible.
At this point, it would be remiss to not address the negative stereotypes associated with pitbulls. No matter how gentle your giant or unfair the stigma, it is important to keep your pitbull completely under your control at all times, for your dog’s protection as well as others’.
For this reason, we have little to no tolerance for cheap materials that break or harnesses that are unreliable. Lastly, since they are so strong, a pitbull who pulls can be quite the challenge. You’ve got to be smart on picking a harness, or you could end up being the one who’s walked.
(add a graphic of an owner being pulled into the air like a kite by a pitbull)
If you ever find yourself in this situation, we recommend reaching out to a trainer – because no harness is a proper substitute for training. That being said, there are specific types of harnesses that can help mitigate the problem (which we will get into shortly).
Harness Over Collar
Despite it not yet being common knowledge among dog owners, there is very little debate within the veterinary and training community about the superiority of harnesses to collars.
While collars are useful for identification purposes, the constant pressure on the throat and neck can cause lifelong, devastating damage to the trachea. Sadly, this problem is only magnified when owners resort to using choke or prong collars on their pitbulls. Except in extraordinarily rare cases, no professional should ever recommend a choke or prong collar. To keep safe control over your dog, harnesses and proper training win every time. If you choose your harness carefully, you will be able to have just as much control over your dog without causing them pain or discomfort.
Types of Leash Attachment
When it comes to harnesses, one of the biggest choices you’ll need to make is what kind of leash attachment you choose. Generally speaking, the vast majority of harnesses you encounter will offer one of two options: a back-clip or front-clip.
True to their name, back-clip harnesses have leash attachments that rest on the dog’s back. Attaching your leash in the back prevents legs from getting tangled in the leashes and helps to evenly distribute any pressure across the dog’s chest. Overall, back-clips are the most common harnesses–and the one most dog walkers are familiar with. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only option.
Front-clip harnesses have a leash attachment right in the center of your dog’s chest and are designed to redirect your dog by using their own force against them. Anytime they pull, their momentum makes them turn to the side, thus giving you a lot more control.
Quick Wins – Our Picks
When shopping for a harness for your pitbull, it is important to consider exactly what you want the harness to do. Is it for training or day-to-day walking? Is your dog exceptionally good at wriggling out of harnesses, or are you on a tight budget?
We’ve assembled our top contenders for each specific situation.