Choosing a quality harness for your Australian shepherd is essential for not just comfort, but also their safety.
I’ve tried a lot of harnesses over the last several years, and have had the pleasure of speaking to thousands of dog owners about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to products.
The following options are strong, durable, fit like a glove, and are simply the best harnesses you can trust when using them with your Aussie. I use currently use one of them too.
➡️ What makes a good harness for Australian shepherds
➡️ Top 3 harnesses for Aussies (Updated 2023)
➡️ Does your Aussie need a harness?
What Makes a Good Harness For Aussies? 🦮
Let’s run through the key things to consider when choosing a harness. There are some amazing harnesses out there, but also some pretty crappy ones! So it’s worth taking note.
Sizing and adjustments 📏
While we are quick to look at strength and durability, it’s important the sizing and adjustments are spot on.
Australian shepherds adults are medium sized dogs and have the average following measurements (fully grown adults):
- Neck 16-22″
- Chest 26-32″
But please keep in mind this is the average.
Some Aussies might be particularly small or large depending on their genetics and other factors. So it’s always best to measure your Aussie’s neck, lower neck, and chest. Always check the brand’s guidelines.
Puppies will have varying measurements according to their age, so be sure to measure before purchasing.
It’s crucial the harness has good adjustment features to ensure the fit is tight, yet comfortable. Without a good fit, it doesn’t matter about the harness’s strength or durability. A loose harness poses many risks, and a tight one will make your Aussie uncomfortable.
2. Material used ✂️
The most commonly used material for harnesses is Nylon.
Nylon is perfectly fine but some dogs can have allergies to Nylon. So if this is the case for your Aussie, you’ll need a leather harness.
This is not common though. And be sure not to confuse a rash caused by rubbing with an allergy! This is why sizing and fit is crucial.
Nylon is generally very strong and water resistant. But Nylon does come in different strengths. If you see that it’s classed as military grade, then that’s excellent.
You always want to see metal D-rings, and most harnesses have this now. And whenever a buckle is used it’s crucial that it’s a “heavy duty” buckle. These last much longer than regular buckles and far less prone to snapping under pressure.
Additional features include reflective material for safety purposes. Not necessary, but a nice feature to look out for.
3. Padding 🧶
Padding is crucial and really affects how comfortable your Aussie will be after 30-60 minutes of wearing it.
Harnesses without much padding can quickly rub, cause nasty sores, and even cut into the sides of your pup. I’ve seen this happen with cheap harnesses and it usually requires a vet visit.
You want to see thickish padding and straps that are wide in diameter. Thin straps are more likely to cut in, whereas thick straps will be far more forgiving should your Aussie pull.
4. Features 🔧
Lastly, extra features worth looking out for are velcro straps, adjustment buckles in multiple places, side pockets, handles, and extra D-rings.
Sometimes bells and whistles aren’t a good thing, but for harnesses they usually are, and will make them an all-round better product.
Something I like to look out for personally is extra sliding adjustment straps. By having extra sliders in multiple places, you’re able to tighten or loosen the harness specifically to fit your dog, which as explained above is crucial. Not all harnesses have this feature.
Top 3 Harnesses For Aussies: Tried & Tested
Let’s run through the top 3 harnesses most suitable for Australian shepherds. These are excellent harnesses, and you’ll be happy with either one. The last one is more suitable for Aussies that rarely pull and are well-behaved. Plus, I use that one for my puppy.
🎯 Best overall for all Australian shepherds
The overall winner for Australian shepherds goes to this awesome harness right here. The Embark Adventure is tried and tested and is one of the most durable, reliable, yet simplistic harnesses at the moment.
This is ideal for strong Aussies that are still a little pully on the leash. The material used is military-grade nylon that exceeds the national pulling strength safety standards by 130 lbs. You’re Aussie is NOT breaking this one.
It features a metal D-ring instead of a plastic one which many other brands use. This adds to its durability and unlikeliness to break under pressure.
One thing I noticed about this when I tried it was just how perfectly it fit my collie (very similar to an Aussie). It fits just right with enough room to breathe, without compromising safety. Maybe one thing I would change is the positioning of the no-pull handle, but that could just be me being finicky. This isn’t an issue for my friends.
✅ Top features of this harness:
- The design and fit are perfect
- Military-grade nylon to prevent ripping
- Metal D-rings and heavy-duty buckles
- Super strong no-pull handle
- Front AND back leash attachment option
- Easy to put on and take off
- High reviewed with little negatives
Overall, this harness is the perfect all-rounder for any Aussie that’s active and needs to be secured.
I’ve tested this one, and use it when I take my collie on new hikes and trails. I currently use a different one for my younger puppy listed below.
In addition to that, I have multiple friends currently using the Embark and they all love it. I pressed them for negatives but so far it’s only a thumbs-up.
🎯 Best overall & cheapest for Australian shepherds
The Rabbitgo is another time-tested harness that’s been around for several years.
The Rabbitgo is a simple harness with impressive strength and durability, just as good as Embark (in my opinion). Yet it’s quite a bit cheaper, so that’s something to consider for sure.
The harness is very easy to take on and off with two fast-release buckles. I know putting on harnesses is a pain in general, but these buckles make it pretty easy.
It comes with the necessary strength you would hope to see, including durable Oxford Nylon which gives this product a super premium feel. It comes with two metal D-rings and a strong no pull handle.
This harness is also very comfortable for dogs with a soft padded chest plate. This is important as it won’t cause any irritation or rubbing after an hour of walking/running.
✅ Top features of this harness:
- Very comfortable for dogs to wear
- Uses Oxford Nylon for a strong and premium feel
- Has two fast-release buckles to make it easy to put on (and take off)
- Has two metal D-rings and heavy-duty buckles for maximum strength
- Comes with reflective strips for safety in low-visibility areas
- Strong no-pull handle for extra control
- For its quality and build, it’s cheaper than many other harnesses
I haven’t used this one personally but again many friends and readers of The Puppy Mag do. This is a classic and has been highly rated for a long time. This is without a doubt a harness you can rely on.
🎯 Best for Australian shepherds that don’t pull (suitable for puppies too)
The Voyager is an awesome harness that I use with my puppy. While this harness IS very strong, I would personally only use it with pups and dogs that are well-behaved and don’t pull (as there is no handle).
This harness is super comfortable and made with breathable mesh. It’s certainly superior in terms of comfort more so than the two listed above.
Despite the focus on comfort, this is still very strong with heavy-duty buckles and two metal D-rings. They claim this is a heavy-duty harness.
The new model which this one is, comes with 3M reflective piping so your pup remains visible in low light or darkness.
✅ Top features of this harness:
- Maximum comfort using breathable meshing
- Lightweight and irritation-free for your dog
- Two heavy-duty buckles and metal D-rings for strength and durability
- 3M reflective piping for low-light situations
- Avoids choking and evenly dispurses the pressure when pulling
- Step-in design to make it super easy to put on
Overall this is my favorite harness for puppies and dogs that aren’t big pullers. While they do claim this harness can handle extreme pulling, I would feel more comfortable with one of the other two harnesses listed above.
This harness has multiple sizing options so it’ll work well with an Australian shepherd puppy AND adult.
Do You Need a Harness?
It’s normal to see dogs without harnesses, right? So do you even need one?
Whether or not your doggo will need one every day depends on their age, and their behavior. But it’s certainly necessary to have one as a back up in my opinion.
I use one every day for my pup to have a bit more control and to ensure they remain comfortable. I don’t want them choking at any moment.
With my adult, I use it when I go hiking or take her to new environments. This just gives me extra reassurance and control should I need it.
While a harness might not be something you eventually use all the time, I do think it’s a standard piece of dog equipment that every owner should have, just in case.
Be sure to measure your Aussie first before just guessing their size. While most adult Aussies will fit a medium-sized harness, it’s crucial to check each brands sizing details, and they’re all slightly different.
P.S. When out on walks for the first few times using the harness, bring a spare collar. Just in case the worst happens and the harness either breaks or your Aussie doesn’t get on with it. You can switch over during the walk to a collar without stress.