Welcome to our complete guide to Great Dane Harnesses. If you’re looking for our latest reviews on selecting a harness for your Great Dane you can also check out our review guide.
As a large breed you may be wondering why go for a harness as opposed to a simple dog collar or head collar.
In this guide we’ll examine why many Great Dane owners use harnesses for both their puppy and adult Danes, the types of harnesses available, what to look for and how to measure for a perfect fit.
A Collar or a Harness for a Great Dane?
The first question owners often ask before buying – is a collar or a harness better for a Great Dane? In our experience, both. Collars are not good enough alone for a Great Dane, especially if they are a puller. In addition to a potential throat injury, it’s just not a great way of controlling your dog.
A collar should be used for ID tags, a harness for walking. Remember not to leave them on if left alone as they may chew on the material or accidentally catch their jaws.
Pulling and jumping can be a difficult behaviour to deal with in most breeds. More-so with a giant breed like a Dane. One of our Great Danes was a real puller, and though we constantly work on it – the strength needed to control her when she sees a cat is huge. Thankfully we use a harness which makes her a little easier to control and distributes all that force across her torso instead of her neck.
For those new to non-pull harness, it is designed to reduce the potential damage of pulling on lead (when wearing just a dog collar) as well as a tool for training.
Types of Dog Harnesses for a Great Dane
Choosing a reliable dog harness can be a bit of a challenge. There are different types and styles, and these can be different from a puller puppy to an elderly Dane with mobility issues. You can read more about harness types here – but below is our quick summary.
- Vest Harnesses: These are basic dog harnesses that your Great Dane can wear daily. If your Dane is well behaved on the leash or and has grown out of tugging habits – these are inexpensive and an excellent alternative to a collar.
- Front or Back Clip Harness: The most common harness types we will cover in this article. Front clips have leash attachment points on the chest which can be used to control your excited and jumping dog. The back clip attaches the lead to the back (top) and can be used as a walking harness. In many cases, both of these clips can be used in combination with a double-ended training lead. This gives you more control and allows you to guide your dog, similar to reins on a horse
- Tightening or Control Harness: These are best left to experienced dog handlers and trainers. Mainly they are designed to tighten when the dog pulls. This can cause discomfort and in some instances, can increase the pulling behaviour as the dog attempts to escape the unpleasant sensation.
- Support Harnesses: Sadly with their large size, Great Danes can be prone to various mobility issues including hip dysplasia. As a result you can find specialist harnesses to support your dog, as well as mobility ‘wheelchairs’ to help them continue to go out and about.
What to Look for in a Great Dane Harness
We are the proud pet parents of two Great Dane dogs. One from puppy and the other originally a foster dog. Particularly with the puppy, we quickly realised that when she wants to pull, she pulls.
After a year being on a no-pull harness, we saw a dramatic improvement in her behaviour. We used the harness back clip when out in the park as it was easy to clip the lead on and off.
When out walking on the street we would attach the other end of the lead (a HALTI) to the front clip of the harness. This not only helped us control her pulling behaviour but also train her. We tend to find with the breed that having a halter handy is also useful.
We don’t use it much these days, but in her younger years, it helped avoid antisocial problems when out in public.
As Great Danes have a higher rate of hip dysplasia and arthritis, it may also be worth looking for the right harness to properly support them.
How to Measure your Great Dane for a Harness
With their deep chests and large size, it is vital to check the measurements of your Great Dane before investing in a harness.
You don’t want a harness which is too tight or which your Dane can escape from. Most manufacturers have measurement guidelines – but for a quick guide:
- Measure the chest: Using your tape measure, find the widest part of your dog’s chest. This is roughly a couple of inches, or the width of four fingers, behind the front legs of the Dane.
- Add a few inches to the total: This is the two fingers rule. Add two fingers worth of inches to the measurement. This will be enough to factor in some growth without giving too much slack.
- Measure the circumference of the neck: This may not be necessary depending on the harness type.
- Weigh your Dane: Now, I usually would recommend bathroom scales for this – but from personal experience – this is a non-starter. A better idea is next time you pay a visit to the vet – pop your Great Dane on the measuring scales. This may not be relevant – but if you are seeking further advice – the weight is a good indication of the pulling power your Dane may have.
Great Dane Harness Size
Sizes of harnesses vary considerably depending on the manufacturers. Following the section above will help you to find a good size, but as a rule of thumb we tend to go for the biggest sizes. Unless it’s a custom created harness, it’s also best to find one which is adjustable (most are).
With our first Great Dane, we weren’t ready for quite how quickly she grew. We started with a slightly smaller Ruffwear harness then after the one year mark invested in the XL. It has served her well ever since.
If you are not sure – you may consider one of the cheaper harnesses when they are younger such as the TrueLove. As long as you find a harness that can handle the pulling power of your Dane, you should be fine.
When looking for a Great Dane dog harness, you should always consider the needs. Not only will a harness help you to train and guide your dog when outside, it will also aid in reducing pulling behaviour and give you extra confidence when walking in the park.