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German Shepherd Harness – Everything You Need To Know

A German Shepherd harness is a perfect tool for a dog that tends to pull. Harness aids in controlling your dog and makes it robust. It also helps release pressure from the neck and provides comfort to dogs. Due to various types, you may find it challenging to select the best harness for your German Shepherd. However, the one you choose must not cause discomfort since the harness’s weight, and your German Shepherd’s strength must comply.

Dogs with short, flat, brachycephalic faces require harnesses since collars can lead to difficulty in breathing. Some harnesses, such as padded or soft mesh, are customized according to the breed’s needs. They come in materials like braid, tarpaulin, leather, nylon, velour, etc. When your pets get hyper, using a harness that holds them without pulling is better. Further, harnesses can be used by children to keep large dog breeds.

You cannot use ordinary walking harnesses to take restless, aggressive dogs outside. However, a harness is better for a German Shepherd than a collar. 

Table of Contents

German Shepherd Highlights

  • German Shepherds are intelligent and active dogs. They must be kept busy and involved in learning, working, and playing. Physical and mental exercise can be stimulating and helpful to keep them healthy and energetic.
  • If not appropriately socialized, German Shepherds can be suspicious of strangers and remain aloof. The best way to prevent this maladaptive behavior is by exposing the puppy to many places, people, and experiences. Obedience training can help them get along well with other dogs and people.
  • German Shepherds shed a lot, and they are nicknamed German shedders. Brushing regularly several times a week will keep them clean.
  • Crate training is the best way to housetrain a puppy. It helps them keep calm and happy when separated.
  • A German Shepherd can be an excellent watchdog and live indoors with family if they have access to a large, fenced yard, where they can play and burn off their natural energy.

German Shepherd Basic Information

  • Name: German Shepherd
  • Size: Large
  • Height: Males: 24 to 26 inches & Females: 22 to 24 inches
  • Weight: Males: 65 to 90 pounds & Females: 50 to 70 pounds
  • Coat: Medium
  • Color: Black, tan, solid black, and solid sable
  • Energy: Medium
  • Origin: Germany
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Activities: Agility, herding, conformation, obedience, rally, tracking
  • Barking Level: Frequent
  • Shedding Level: Normal
  • Litter Size: 6 to 10 puppies
  • Group: Herding group
  • Other Names: Alsatian, Deutscher Schaeferhund
  • Breed’s Original Pastime: Herding, guarding
  • Lifespan: 9 to 13 years

German Shepherd Personality

The German Shepherd is a powerfully built, relatively long-bodied dog that stands 24 to 26 inches for males and 22 to 24 inches for females and weighs 50 to 95 pounds. German shepherds are most commonly a mix of black and tan colors but rarely seen in variations like all-black, black with red, sable, and rarely as white German Shepherd. 

German Shepherds are eager to please, incredibly brave, and easy to train, which is why they serve as police dogs, agility dogs, service dogs, conformation animals, obedience dogs, and guards. These good-natured, devoted dogs make great pets for individuals and families and tend to be protective of their owners. However, some poorly bred German shepherd dogs can be highly nervous. Combined with improper socialization and inadequate training, over guarding and aggressive behavior are risks. The German Shepherd Dog is broader than tall, with the most desirable proportion as 10 to 8½.


Friendliness Overview

Affection Level                           High
Family-FriendlyHigh
Kid-FriendlyHigh
Pet-FriendlyLow
Strangers-FriendlyLow

Adaptability Overview

Good for New Pet OwnersLow
Good for Apartment LivingMedium
Sensitivity LevelHigh
Tolerates being aloneLow
Heat ToleranceMedium to high
Cold ToleranceMedium to high

Trainability Overview

Easy to TrainHigh
IntelligenceHigh
Prey DriveHigh
Tendency to Chew, Nip & Play-biteHigh
Tendency to Bark or HowlMedium to high
Wanderlust AbilityLow
Tendency to DigLow
Tendency to SnoreLow
Attention/Social NeedsMedium

Why Use A Dog Harness For A German Shepherd?

Generally, harnesses are much more comfortable than collars. They act as a support system to lift injured canines. It is constructed, so they don’t choke like collars and do not necessarily pressurize the dog’s body. The harness controls the dog while training and is always better than a collar. It is an excellent tool for active and agile dogs like German Shepherds and helps the owner control them quickly.

A harness reduces the risk of injury in the nose and throat, such as collapsing trachea. As a result, it is well suited for large dog breeds like the German Shepherds, prone to joint issues that discourage jumping.

Things to Look for in a German Shepherd Harness

German Shepherds are active breeds that need a good amount of daily exercise. It is the time when you and your dog spend time together and bond. Using a collar and controlling your canine often during this time can hinder the fun for you and your dog. Thus, a harness is a great tool to take your dog for strolling and leash training

While purchasing a harness for your German Shepherd, pet parents must check out the following:

Durability

Harness should be durably made with high-quality materials that resist hard pulling. While testing the harness for its durability, ensure that it has thick straps, sturdy clips, buckles, reinforced stitches, and is waterproof. Nylon is durable; hence, they are used for dog harnesses. Although they are rough on your canine’s skin, it is comfortable to wear when paired with a padded strap.

Harness Style: Back-Clip Harness

It has a clip on the back to fasten or unfasten the leash. They are suitable for leash-trained canines. In addition, a back clip can be an excellent option for dogs with tracheal issues.

Front Clip Harness

It has clips on the front and is suitable for dogs learning leash training. This comes with some minor disadvantages – Firstly, it may choke while pressurizing your dog’s throat. Secondly, it may entangle the leash between your dog’s legs. They are found on a harness’s chest strap. Front Clip Harness provides proper control of your dog’s directions resulting in reduced pulling. Some best front-clip harnesses are listed here:

ICEFANG Tactical Dog Harness Front Leash Clip
Buy at Amazon


RUFFWEAR – Front Range, Everyday No Pull Dog Harness with Front Clip
Buy at Amazon


Dual Clip Harness

You can clip this harness to your dog’s chest for an activity or at the back for a relaxed walk. Many pet parents prefer this harness as it provides the best of both back clip and front clip harness.

Rabbitgoo Dog Harness
Buy at Amazon


Proper Fit

It is vital to measure your dog for a perfect fit. Measure the circumference of the chest and lower neck. Check the size guide to ensure the correct fit. You can also check the reviews to choose the suitable harness fitting. A properly fitting harness will ensure comfort. An appropriate fit plays a vital role in keeping them comfortable. A perfect German Shepherd harness must contain adjustable straps to provide the required stretchability your German Shepherd wants.

Automatic Telescopic Tape Measure
Buy at Amazon


Proper Control

Appropriate control is as vital as proper comfort or fit. The help of a sturdy D ring at the back of your German Shepherd’s harness guarantees you an accurate control. Additional handles or sometimes a front ring provides added safety.

Additional Features

Some added features in the German Shepherd harness are listed below:

Leather Harness

Leather harnesses ensure a long life. However, pure leather resists your dog’s strength.

Signature k-9 Leather Tracking Harness
Buy at Amazon


Reflective

Reflective harnesses are helpful while you take them for walks with your dog. For example, it makes your dog more visible in low-light conditions and helps to track your dog. A few harnesses have additional features, such as being waterproof.

No-Pull Reflective Dog Vest
Buy at Amazon


Adjustable Straps

An adjustable strap can help your German Shepherd to fix any type of harness irrespective of their face shape. In addition, multiple adjustable straps can give a perfect fit for your dogs by stopping them from escaping. German Shepherds bear a silky, thick coat, so a simple harness would not be sufficient. It would be best if you had a harness with adjustable straps to keep the harness secured for such breeds. Elastic straps are helpful for all life stages of your German Shepherds.

Rabbitgoo Dog Harness
Buy at Amazon


Padding

Padding aids in keeping your dog comfortable even when performing heavy tasks. Its primary purpose is to keep your dog’s skin chafe-free. It is also suitable for anxious dogs, creating a calm effect. Adult dogs with spine and other health issues would benefit from this harness. A high-end padding harness is suitable for police dogs such as German Shepherds. Some padded harnesses are suggested below:

Big Dog Harness
Buy at Amazon


Vest Military Dog
Buy at Amazon


Lifepul No Pull Dog Vest Harness
Buy at Amazon


Front Range Dog Harness
Buy at Amazon


Cushioned Extra Padding Comfortable Mesh Pet Harness
Buy at Amazon


Harness Handles

Handle-on harnesses are another valuable feature for your dog’s safety. Although German Shepherds are friendly dogs, they can be aggressive when outside. Thus, your fun time with him can be dangerous if untrained. It also provides your pet safety in traffic or with other fierce animals. Handles on the harness aid you in pulling tightly without placing excessive pressure on your canine’s body.

Heavy Duty Dog Harness for Large Dogs
Buy at Amazon


Leash Attachments

There are three types of leash attachments – front clip, back clip, and dual clip (with both front and back). According to the dog’s temperament and handling, a pet parent can opt for these types.

Juxzh Truelove Soft Front Dog Harness
Buy at Amazon


What Type of Harness is Best for German Shepherds?

You will need a harness made of a quality material if your German Shepherd pulls hard. A harness made of cotton material would not suit such cases, and they need harnesses according to their temperament and size with different requirements. There are various types of harnesses according to your German Shepherd’s needs. The pet owners can choose which is suitable for their dogs while taking them for walks or training.

No – Pull Harness

A no-pull harness is made with straps across the canine’s torso, neck, and chest. In this harness, you can find the front leash attachment, which hinders his movement from moving forward. They are best suitable for leash training large dogs like German Shepherds. Here are some of the featured no-pull harness suggestions:

PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness
Buy at Amazon


Hounds Design Freedom
Buy at Amazon


No Pull Dog Harness Large Breed
Buy at Amazon


Eagloo Dog Harness
Buy at Amazon


Car Harness

A car harness can be like a seatbelt for your canine. It is constructed to secure your dog from damage during the accident. These two car harnesses are featured: 

Kurgo Dog Harness
Buy at Amazon


Kurgo Dog Harness
Buy at Amazon


Tactical Harness

A tactical harness has various functions that help German Shepherds to carry heavy loads on their back. For example, this service dog would need to water plants, take medicines, and bring some emergency items.

Tactical Service Dog Vest
Buy at Amazon


Tracking Harness

A tracking harness is made for search and rescue dogs so that a canine’s activities are not hindered, allowing easy breathing.

Signature k-9 Leather Tracking Harness
Buy at Amazon


Lift Harness

German Shepherds are susceptible to hip dysplasia, and a lift harness can help in an excellent way for the mobility of dogs with hip dysplasia. It should be worn around the chest or belly, depending on which part is to be supported for lifting. Additionally, lifting harnesses can be utilized for the rehabilitation of recovering dogs.

Full Body Harness

A Full Body harness is used for lifting and acts as a safety harness while hiking. This harness is worn around your dog’s chest and belly. It has a connecting pad or a strap on the back. It is made to distribute its pressure equally across your German Shepherd’s body.

Heavy Duty Harness

A heavy-duty harness is an excellent choice for dogs like German Shepherds. This harness is suitable for all types of climates. Ideal for hiking and trekking, they are constructed with a sturdy material that won’t tear even when pulled toughly.

URPOWER Dog Leash Harness
Buy at Amazon


Collar Versus Harness for Your German Shepherd

CollarHarness
You can use collars to attach Identity cards or to have control while on a walk.A harness gives you more control by distributing the dog’s weight equally.
Your dog may escape out of a collar.Harnesses are harder to sway out, thus ensuring safety.
Collars can cause choking hazards.Harnesses are safe and comfortable both for the pet parent and the dog.
The force is given on the neck alone.The force gets distributed across the shoulder and the chest.
Pressure on the neck can result in damage, chronic pain, back problems, thyroid issues, glaucoma, and tracheal collapse.
The German Shepherd’s head is smaller than his neck, so the collar is unsuitable.You can adjust the harness according to your German Shepherd’s neck size.

Tips for Getting Your German Shepherd Accustomed to Using a Harness

German Shepherds are intelligent and energetic dogs that can take you for a ride if not adequately trained. At this juncture, a harness can help teach them. While it can initially be challenging to accustom themselves to the harness, you may find it easy with these tips on getting your German Shepherd accustomed to it.

1. You can let your pooch smell the harness. Place some treats in it.

2. Keep the harness in an open space, or yard, allowing them to get habitual with it.

3. Make your dog wear the harness inside the house for a few days until he gets comfortable.

4. Gradually take your furry friend outside to dog parks, so they get familiarized with a harness as a buoyant object.

Say No to Aversive Collars

Some collars, such as shock collars, prong collars, and choke collars, may cause real pain to your dogs. The so-called head harness also has some cons that may make your dog aggressive. These harnesses can distress them, causing injury and pain. It is always better to include positive training methods than harassing techniques.

Shock Collar

Prong Collar

Choke Collar

Head harness

Picking Out the Right Size

This section explains some points like where to measure, how to pick, weigh, and adjust your pet’s harness:

  • To measure the harness, you can use a fabric tape measure right below your dog’s armpits to find the diameter of their neck and where their collars fit. 
  • Measure the diameter of the vast part of your dog’s underbelly that will be a few inches behind your German Shepherd’s forequarters. Any brand gives you the measurement of the neck and chest.
  • Always better to choose a larger size between the two sizes since most are adjustable harnesses. Here is where the weight comes to the rescue. 
  • Check the weight of your dog as some sizes may be misleading.
  • The thumb rule for checking your dog’s harness size is there should be a gap of two fingers between your dog’s neck and the harness. This also helps to accommodate for fur growth or weight gain.

How to Measure Your Dog for Coats & Harnesses?

Pro Tips

Here are some tips that you would require to adjust the harness according to your dog’s neck:

  • It is better to modify the harness every time before you make your dog wear it.
  • With the help of a sharpie, you can mark the strap at the right spot.
  • A new owner can mark the straps of the dog vests as “backstrap” and “chest strap.”

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Which is better for a German Shepherd: Harness or Collar?

Some German Shepherds can be hard pullers. For such a dog, a harness could be a suitable option as this would not damage his trachea. Most of the time, dogs can jerk out of their collar. Hence, harnesses are much more comfortable, safe, and secure. 

2. What is the best harness for a German Shepherd puppy?

Harnesses such as Rabbitgoo Dog Harness are suitable for puppy and adult German Shepherds. While collars may cause injury to your puppies, harnesses will guard their immature necks. Care must be taken when buying a harness for German Shepherd puppies as they quickly outgrow their harness, so it is unworthy to buy an expensive one. However, harnesses like Puppia Ritefit Harness are good in quality and price, though they are suitable only for puppies.

Rabbitgoo Dog Harness
Buy at Amazon


Puppia Ritefit Harness
Buy at Amazon


3. What could be the average size of a German Shepherd’s neck?

The average neck size of a German Shepherd is around 18 to 24 inches.

4. Are harnesses suitable for German Shepherds?

Harnesses are a good option for German Shepherds dogs. They are the safest for your dog’s health.

5. Does your German Shepherd need a harness?

Generally, German Shepherds require a harness only while taking them for walks. This can offer control over them and provide comfort for them. Harnesses restrict your dog’s leash from getting entangled. They guard your dog’s throat and spine. Harnesses come to your rescue when you train your puppy to stop some undesirable traits like chasing and jumping over people or animals.

6. How do you stop your German Shepherd from pulling?

Consistency and positive reinforcement in training can help you stop your German Shepherd from pulling.

7. What kind of harness is best for German Shepherds’ nature and activity level?

A harness made of durable material is well suited for German Shepherds since they are high-energy working dogs with great intelligence. 

8. How to fit my German Shepherd Puppy with a harness?

Before choosing your puppy’s harness, measure his neck and chest.

9. How to identify the correct clip style to buy?

German Shepherds would require a front clip for training. A vest and a front clip work great while training German Shepherds to different levels. Generally, it depends on your canine’s activities and health conditions. You can opt for a back clip if your dog has health issues. 

10. How do I size my German Shepherd for the right fit?

To size your dog, start measuring your dog’s neck and chest with a tape. Measure the chest above the shoulders, around the neck, behind their legs, and at the back. The size may differ from brand to brand; thus, measuring loosely to give space for size difference and growth is vital. Always choose a larger size for better comfort.

11. How to identify if the harness is too loose or tight for my German Shepherd?

To know whether your German Shepherd’s harness is tight or loose, you can follow these thumb rules:

  • Remember, when it comes to German Shepherds, it is better to keep it tight without causing disturbance to your dog. This will help you to hold control over them and their unwanted behavior.
  • Adjust the straps, and keep two fingers between your dog and the harness.
  • Your dog’s harness might be tight if you cannot fit your dog below the harness or if you lose circulation.
  • Anything beyond two fingers of fitness can lose the harness, and you want to adjust it to the correct fitness.

12. Would I need a handle on my dog’s harness?

You would require a handle for breeds such as German Shepherds, as they are more substantial. To have complete control over their activities during training, it is essential and highly recommended to have a handle harness.

13. Are There Any Downsides to Harnesses for German Shepherds?

Pet owners assume that harnesses encourage pulling, but it doesn’t. Sometimes harnesses may cause pain and discomfort to your dogs. Thus, it is recommended to use positive training methods. A good option is to buy a no-pull harness with a front leash attachment that neither encourages pulling, causes pain, nor compromises your canine’s safety. 

Final Thoughts

You would have understood the pros and cons of using various harnesses and their features. Unfortunately, only some brands qualify the requirements that make it suitable for your German Shepherd friends. 

Harnesses are great options for your German Shepherds when compared to collars. Some designer harnesses may catch your eyes. However, you must ensure the purpose of the harness is solved. There are some water and tear-resistant harnesses that are cost-effective; The pure leather harnesses are for luxury lovers. The proper harness ensures comfort for your dog and provides the control needed for the handler. Choose one that suits your German Shepherd’s requirements and is comfortable for you as a handler. 

All the brands mentioned in this blog are top-rated and can make excellent choices for your German Shepherds. So, looking into the comforts of you and your German Shepherd, choose the best harness that tailors your needs! 

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