If you have a large dog, you know that what’s sold in a lot of pet stores, just doesn’t cut it. So what equipment (aka, collars, harnesses & leashes) is best for a big dog?
It’s something I think that most new big dog owners struggle with, because not only do the grow like a weed from being a puppy to being a grown ‘dog’, but they also are so strong, or have different dimensions to a small dog that scaliny up a harness from a frenchie to an american bulldog just doesn’t work.
I know that from first hand experience. I’ve been where you are. It’s partially why I started doing these reviews when I got my own platform. Because I know how difficult it is to get appropriate information that’s actually qualified to give that information.
Why Trust Ali & Rebarkable
And what makes me qualified? Other than the fact that I’m an award winning professional dog trainer with insight into the canine body structure and motion generally? It’s the fact that I test these products myself with my dog, who I understand really well, and can get great insight into these products with all sorts of testing methods.
I have not been sponsored to write this, I have been given some of these product for free in return for a full test. The only thing that is limiting this piece, is the number of pieces I can test at any one time, and what I’ve currently had access to. So if you have a recommendation? Let me know.
I do get a small commission on some of these products but this has not affected my review or opinion on the product – and this list? Is probably the only one on the internet that can say that.
What Is A “Large Dog”
For me, I’m classing a large dog as labrador and up, so anything 30kg or 75lbs ish and upwards. So German shepherd, coonhound, labrador, golden retriever and up to great dane. This should give you some idea as to the dogs I’m looking at so you can tell if these products are right for you and your dog.
I’ve tried and test every one of these products, personally, with my own large dogs. With Shelby & Lucy, two coonhounds at 75lbs (ish) and my german shepherd cross at 90lbs, and not one has let me down yet. I’ve tried to break down the equipment into simple categories depending on what you’re looking for, and then I’ve even made a couple of alternative suggestoins, in case what I’ve suggested doesn’t suit you for some reason.
My Ideal Equipment For A Large Dog
|Collar||Landshark Sport – 1.5″||Leash||Halti training Leash*|
* This one I’m still torn on! I love this, the tactipup Extreme and the wilderdog large carabiner leash, I love them all just for different reasons.
Please note that some of these links ARE AFFILIATE links – This costs you nothing more but gives me a small amount for recommending it to you. Rest assured I would absolutely not be recommending any of these products if I hadn’t thoroughly tested them in these situations because I know that doing so is not only unethical but irresponsible!! Anything without a review linked in here? Is pending and will be linked as soon as it’s posted!
The Best Harnesses For Large Dogs
There’s a lot of things you can consider for a harness and goodness only knows but there are hundreds on the market.
When I use A Harness
We tend to use harnesses to protect the trachea of your dog – and they are fantastic for this and I will always advocate a harness as the primary point of containment for a large dog.
What do you want to look for?
These four main things.
Then there are a couple of questions based on your dog & preferences.
1 – Are they an escape artist?
2 – Do you like handles?
The escape artist needs a longer body harness, one with a tummy strap!
And if you like handles, then you want a very specific design. Personally, I don’t like handles. They are a hang-up risk, a tear risk, and to me? Just one I can mitigate by slipping my hand inside the shoulder strap of the harness.
My Favourite Harnesses For Large Dogs
Next Best harness for dogs
Ruffwear Front Range
[ Review ]
Hardwearing & robust, the ruffwear front range is a great option – though it is more limited on sizing options than the perfect fit, and may (depending on body shape) not fit as well
Alternative (Particularly for escape artists!)
Ruffwear Flagline [ Review ]
If your dog is an escape artist, the tummy strap on the flagline tucks right in behind your dogs floating rib, making it virtually impossible to slip out of. This additional security, may make this your perfect choice.
Read More: Best Dog Harnesses
Best Collars For Large Dogs
Some people prefer to walk on a collar. Whilst this is not something I would advise for a dog that pulls, this dog will always be safer on a harness, for certain purposes a collar is very useful.
When I Use A Collar
They’re a useful thing! But regardless of when or how you use it, there are a couple of things that you need to take into account when you’re looking at collars for big dogs.
Safety – With a collar, for safety, we want to make sure they have a way of releasing the collar that doesn’t involve tightening the collar – aka a “pinch” release instead of a traditional buckle. The traditional buckle means that if they’re snagged, that you have to tighten the collar further before you can release it – which could be a problem.
Width – The width of a collar is always important. The wider it is, not only does that mean it’s stronger but, the more even the distribution of it’s return force on your dogs neck. Afterall, newton’s third law says that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. So, if we increase the surface area, it spreads out that return force…
If I got a little too physics-nerd on you – think about the seatbelt when you’re in a car that breaks hard – now imagine if you halved the width of the seatbelt. It’ll hurt more!
So, the bigger your dog, the wider the width of the collar. I’ve tried 1 inch, 1.5 inch and 2 inch collars on Indie (90lbs) and I feel the 1.5 inch is perfect for him to give you a baseline.
My Favourite Collars For Large Dogs
Best Collar For Large Dogs
Landshark Sport Collar – 1.5″ [ Review ]
This collar can (theoretically) pick up a car. So… unless your dog has the force (*yoda noises*) within them to do that – then this collar represents just about the safest piece of kit they can wear – provided is properly fitted and watched for signs of wear.
Best Alternative Collar For Large Dogs
Tactipup Extreme Collar with handle – 1.5″ [ Review ]
I’ve been trialing this collar for a while, though in blue, and personally? I love it. The nylon webbing works really well, and the handle is well sized and strong. And the cobra clip? Is just love
Best Leashes For Large Dogs
This is the part of the system that I’ve seen go wrong the most commonly.
It’s kinda terrifying when it happens too.
At this stage we need to consider the leash, it’s strength and it’s construction.
When it comes to the construction of the leash, I’m a massive fan of “Simple is stronger” – the more moving parts you can remove from the system the fewer parts there are to fail. It’s the Keep It Simple, Stupid approach, right?
If you want to read more about the specifics of leashes, this will help Understanding Flat Leashes – Breaking Leashes Down By Their Components
Flexi-leads or retractable leashes are really not going to be recommended for large breeds, primarily because if they have the space? You don’t have the control you need in order to train your dog. In very specific highly monitored situations, with an incredibly reliable recall? Perhaps. But, overall, I truly would suggest avoiding these, and opting for a flat leash. Read more about Flexi-leads.
My Favourite Leashes For Large Dogs
Halti Training Leash
I love this leash, the double ended capabilities of this give it a lot of flex, a lot of movement, changeability and create a superbly adaptable system that’s fit for incredibly triggering environments and for more freedom-rich walks too – all in one tool. To me? That makes this the single best, most affordable option for a large dog – or any dog.
Wilderdog Big Carabiner Leash
This leash, of incredibly simple construction (aka climbing rope and a carabiner) is not only very strong because of the carabiner – but also because of the rope and the simplicity that this system offers. There’s very little to go wrong – except the spring on the carabiner. If that goes wrong? You’ve always got the screw-latch to keep it closed anyway.
When you combine these things together, it makes a fantastic option for large dog parents.
Tactipup Extreme Leash
The gold standard. This one? I genuinely thing this one would never fail you even if you’re not working with your dog. Even if they’re barking and lunging the whole time you’re walking (please train them… that’s not fair on anyone). I’d have total faith that this would hold the biggest of tibetan mastiff going full out.
It has a huge breakload of 25kn (about 5000lbs) so if your pup can break this? Seriously they deserve a lot of respect cos I’m pretty sure you could walk a rhino on this.
The Best, For The Best
When it comes to dog gear, you can and should invest in good quality gear, because that’s what stands between your dog and success.
Modern life dictates that our dogs are contained in some degree. So, using these pieces with your large dog is pretty much a must. It’s just about using the right piece for the right job!
If you need more help with your large dog, why not sign up for a Bark Day? All the help and answers you need, but way, way more effectively than regular dog training!
Author, Ali Smith
Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.
Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ best pet blog!