Ranking third in popularity, according to the American Kennel Club, the Golden Retriever is a devoted family dog that loves his people and is friendly to all he encounters. They make excellent service dogs, search-and-rescue, and are very popular for hunting and sporting events. They retain their playfulness from puppyhood to adult but can be very focused and hard-working when given a task.
Most recognizable for their thick golden fur and feathery tail, they can have a long muscular build but only come up to about 2 feet at the shoulder. Males can weigh between 65 to 75 pounds, and females, usually a little smaller in their overall build, coming in around 55 to 65 pounds. These dogs do need a lot of exercise, daily walks, and runs, and as they were bred to be waterfowl retrievers, they love a good swim.
A durable, water-resistant, easily adjustable harness will work best on them. Their ribcages tend to be a little longer than most breeds, with the ribs extending down closer to the bends in their forelegs. Harnesses designed for breeds of a similar height and weight may not always allow for adequate adjustability around the ribs, so be sure to double-check the measurements on the length of the straps.
What are the Best Harnesses for Golden Retrievers?
- Best Overall: Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Harness
- Best Value Harness: Sporn Mesh No Pull Dog Harness
- Best No-Pull Harness: Frisco Padded Nylon No Pull Dog
- Best Front Clip Harness: PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness
- OneTigris Tactical Vest Nylon Front Clip Dog Harness
- Best Pet Supplies Voyager Black Trim Mesh Dog Harness
- Kurgo Journey Air Polyester Reflective No Pull Dog Harness
- Frisco Small Breed Soft Vest Step In Back Clip Dog Harness
- PetSafe Gentle Leader Nylon Dog Headcollar
- Mighty Paw Padded Sports Reflective No Pull Dog Harness
- Chai’s Choice 3M Polyester Reflective Front Clip Dog Harness
8 Different Types of Harnesses
- Back Clip – The most common type of harness has a leash clip on the back, usually between the shoulder blades. This is the most natural position for holding the leash in your hand directly above them as they walk by your side. These harnesses can also provide a good way to pull back on a dog that suddenly wants to jump on someone or gets distracted and wants to investigate but is not normally a puller. These are also frequently used to attach to car safety restraint systems.
- Car Safety – If you take your dog on frequent car trips, then you will want a harness that has been tested and rated for car safety. There are numerous options out there, but most focus on just keeping them in the back seat away from the driver. If you are concerned more about how the harness will handle a crash, then look for a harness that has passed a third-party safety test.
- No Pull – Pulling and jumping are two of the biggest challenges when it comes to walking your dog. All sizes and breeds want to do it when they are first learning to walk on a leash and your best option to deter the behavior is to use a no-pull harness from the beginning. There are a few types, and front-clips, headcollars, or martingale loops with a front-clip are the most popular. They all tend to work, in somewhat different ways, to guide your dog towards you when they pull instead of letting them move forward.
- Front Clip – Front-clip harnesses usually have a ring attached to the front of the harness that turns the body of the dog towards you when they try to pull. Others have a martingale loop in the front that applies a gentle tightening to the shoulders to curb pulling. Both options have their merits, and dogs may respond better to one type over the other.
- Headcollar – The headcollar, or gentle leader, applies pressure to the back of the neck and guides the dog’s head down towards you. This type of harness has a loop to go over the nose that does not restrict movement or prevent eating and drinking and straps that extend from under the chin to back behind the ears. The only adjustment point is on the side straps; the nose loops widen or tighten according to pressure, though never to the point of discomfort, there is a ring and padded strap that prevent it from tightening too far; this does make it important to find the correct size.
- Handicapped Support – Dogs that have been injured are suffering from an illness, or otherwise need support, need a harness specifically designed to give you a way to help steady them as they walk. There are numerous options for the front legs, hind legs, or wheelchair-compatible. These harnesses do not usually work with a leash but will have long adjustable loops for you to hold on to as you walk with them.
- Tactical Harness – Golden Retrievers are a sporting dog, bred to retrieve and enjoy working with their person. They are accustomed to going over rough terrain, have a great deal of stamina and endurance, and are widely used as search-and-rescue or service dogs. Tactical harnesses have places for patches for easy identification and attachment points for bags to carry supplies. These are made to be durable, usually with multiple heavy duty clips and buckles to prevent breaking.
- Escape-proof – The hallmarks of an escape-proof harness are a high degree of adjustability with multiple kinds of closure points combining together to make it difficult for your dog to get free. Golden Retrievers are not particularly prone to escaping as they mostly prefer to spend their time around their person, but young dogs learning to walk on a harness will usually try to get free until they become accustomed to the feel.
6 Key Considerations When Looking for the Right Harness for your Golden Retriever
- Adjustability – Golden Retrievers can have large rib cages, which, combined with their thick fur, can lead to needing a lot of adjusting to get a secure fit. Harnesses with multiple straps that have adjustment buckles in different places around the shoulders and neck are a good option.
- Durability – An extremely active breed, Goldens like to be out in the world exploring, hiking, and swimming whenver possible. Their harness will need to keep up with durable yet lightweight materials that are preferably water-resistant.
- Purpose – Sporting dogs and working dogs both like to be busy doing activities with their owners. Golden Retrievers are very common as service or guide dogs due to their loyalty and friendliness, and a multi-purpose harness can help make them feel useful.
- Lifestyle – Golden Retrievers are enormously popular as a family pet and can do well in any type of home, from apartments to houses. They do need a lot of exercise with playtime and plenty of walks and runs. If you live in a city, for example, you may prefer an escape-proof harness for busy streets.
- Escape Proof – Pretty much every dog tries to escape from their harness when they first encounter one. Starting when they are puppies is your best bet to get them used to it but depending on where you live or their level of comfort with wearing one, an escape-proof harness is always a good option.
- Pulling – Built into the name, this breed likes to retrieve or fetch. They are also bred to be hunting dogs and can react quickly to scents that they want to investigate. Their friendliness and happiness to be around people can also lead them to jump out of excitement, so a harness that curbs pulling or has a back loop to hold onto can help prevent that.
The Overall Best Harnesses for Golden Retrievers
|Our 2021 Picks: Overall Best Harnesses for Golden Retrievers|
|Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Harness
|Sporn Mesh No Pull Dog Harness
|Frisco Padded Nylon No Pull Dog Harness
|PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness
|OneTigris Tactical Vest Nylon Front Clip Dog Harness
|Best Pet Supplies Voyager Black Trim Mesh
|Kurgo Journey Air Polyester Reflective No Pull
|Frisco Small Breed Soft Vest Step In Back Clip
|PetSafe Gentle Leader Nylon Dog Headcollar
|Mighty Paw Padded Sports Reflective No Pull
|Chai’s Choice 3M Polyester Reflective Front Clip
- Adjustable in five spots
- High rating for car safety
- Has a 10″ belt loop and an included carabiner to attach to a car seatbelt
- Heavy-duty steel buckles
Best Overall – The Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Harness is a great option for frequent car rides. It comes with the necessary pieces to attach safely to your car and then switches to be a comfortable walking harness eliminating the need for multiple harnesses. The overall design is based on rock-climbing harnesses and is very durable with heavy steel buckles for security.
This harness is not a great fit for small dogs or puppies learning to wear a harness due to the weight of the buckles, but it is very durable and easily adjusted to fit any size or breed.
- A great option for a car harness
- Durable material and flexible design
- Can be used as a walking or car harness
- Everything needed for the car attachment is included
- Multiple sizes available
- Will not deter pulling; however, the back loop can be used for extra control
- Some have found it difficult to find the correct size based on the sizing chart
- Designed to move naturally with the dog
- Specifically designed to deter pulling
- No buckles or clips
- The chest piece is made of an elastic mesh in a flexible design
Best Value – The Sporn Mesh was developed by veterinarians to create a gentle correction method that causes a “tickle” effect. The side straps can be adjusted for a good fit and have options for dogs from a 2-pound toy dog to a 200-pound giant breed. The easy slip-on design makes it easy to use on larger dogs that may not want to step into a harness. Golden Retrievers have very thick fur, so the lack of clips and buckles to snag the fur can make putting it on easier for both you and your dog.
The various sizes are based on neck size, as that is where most adjustments will be needed. The sizing chart also offers recommendations on the optimal weight of the dog for each harness.
- Deters jumping and pulling
- Corrects behavior with a “tickle” instead of pressure
- Easy to put on, especially for dogs with thick fur
- Sizes available for most any breed of any size
- Needs the tension of a leash to keep it in place
- Can only be adjusted in a few places
- Easy to adjust the fit
- Deters jumping and pulling
- Also has a back clip for attaching to the car or to use as a leash attachment
- Slip-on over the head design
Best No Pull – The Frisco Padded Nylon harness is good for pullers and jumpers but can also switch to a back clip leash attachment when wanted. It has an easy, slip-on design to make it easy for dogs that don’t like their feet touched or people who may have trouble bending over to put it over their dog’s feet. The harness clips closed on each side with a padded chest piece in front for comfort.
An extra-long chest piece is a good option for Golden Retrievers as it pushes the straps that go behind the front legs a little farther down. With their wide, long torsos, that extra room can help make a more comfortable fit.
- Deters pulling by spreading the pressure over the padded chest piece
- Multiple adjustment points allow for a secure fit
- Multiple uses, it deters pulling, has a back clip, and can be attached to a car restraint
- Designed specifically for strong pullers, jumpers, or sudden lunges
- Not a good option for chewers
- Should not be left on while your dog is unattended as it can twist or be chewed easily
- Some dog types have found it easy to pull out of it backward
- Easy to put on with alternate color for the belly strap
- Curbs pulling with a martingale loop in the front
- Secure fit with four ways to adjust the straps
- Eliminates strain on the neck by applying light pressure to correct pulling
Best Front Clip – The PetSafe Easy Walk harness has a martingale loop in the front that helps prevent pulling by applying a gentle squeeze to their shoulders that relaxes when the tension in the leash is gone. This also keeps the harness from twisting around the torso, which front clip harnesses can be prone to if not close-fitting enough.
Some of the harnesses for small breeds have had issues with breaking clips, but the larger sizes have not had the same trouble. The harness is great for swimmers and hikers, as it is durable and waterproof.
- Options for most breeds and sizes
- Waterproof and durable
- Quick-release clips
- Deters pulling and prevents twisting with a martingale loop
- Small breeds may easily work their way out of it
- Should not be left unattended with a dog that chews
- Neck and chest straps are adjustable
- Extra-strong heavy-duty V-ring leash attachment
- Webbing to allow for extra bags and pouches to be attached
- Lightweight nylon shell and water-resistant
Best Tactical Harness – The OneTigris Tactical Vest is a great option for the active Golden Retriever who likes to hike and go on adventures. The MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) webbing has multiple spots to attach bags for carrying supplies like water and food for themselves or for people if they are a service dog. It is designed to be comfortable enough to wear for hours at a time.
Badges and patches for identification or visibility can be easily attached to three areas, one in the front and on both sides. This is a very durable yet lightweight option perfect for a dog that is outdoors or working a lot.
- Backstrap for extra control
- V-ring leash attachment point can also attach to a car restraint system
- High-visibility strips and patches are easy to apply
- Comfortable for long hours of wear
- The sizes on the harnesses can run a little big
- Not appropriate for puppies, the sizes do not run that small
6 Other Top Rated Golden Retriever Harnesses
The Best Pet Supplies Voyager harness is made from a lightweight material, good for dogs with thick fur in high-heat areas. It is machine washable and is an easy step-in style instead of over-the-head, which works well for puppies getting used to a harness. It has a hook and loop fastener plus a clip with two D-rings for the leash, making it very secure and difficult to escape from.
While the available sizes will not fit a full-grown Golden Retriever, this is a great option for training a growing puppy. It is very reasonably priced, so needing larger sizes over time won’t break the bank.
The Kurgo Journey Air Reflective harness is a good option for an active dog like a Golden Retriever who is likely to go hiking or swimming. It comes with four rustproof buckles and reflective trim for visibility. The buckles allow for adjustability in four areas, and the long padded chest piece can make sure of a comfortable fit. The front clip helps curb pulling and jumping with an added back strap for additional control. It also has a back clip for the leash if your dog doesn’t have any pulling concerns and can also be used to clip onto a car safety restraint system.
This harness is measured in chest girth, with adjustability options for the side straps, making it an excellent choice for a Golden Retriever whose ribcages can be larger than other breeds of the same height and weight.
The Frisco Small Breed Soft Vest harness has a padded chest piece, multiple closure points and will work great as a training harness for your Golden Retriever puppy. Puppies like to wiggle and need some time to learn how to wear a harness; the Frisco Soft Vest creates a snug, comfortable fit, with a step in style good for puppies with no clips or buckles near the fur to tug or pull.
The size is measured in chest girth, and there are options that should fit up to a nearly adult Golden Retriever. These harnesses are very reasonably priced, which helps greatly if you find you need to transition to larger sizes as your puppy grows.
The PetSafe Gentle Leader makes a great choice for Golden Retrievers as it applies a gentle correction to pullers but also doubles as a regular walking harness and doesn’t need any of the adjustments that a harness that goes around the rib cage would need. Male Goldens can have larger rib cages than other breeds plus have very thick fur that can make adjustability a challenge.
The Mighty Paw Padded Sports harness is waterproof and made from a durable, rugged material good for both hiking and regular walks around the neighborhood. The reflective strips make it easy to spot during night walk or in areas where your dog is off their leash. It has both a front clip to curb pulling, and a back clip that can attach to car safety belts, and a loop along the back for extra control when needed.
The Chai’s Choice harness is great for walks at night or out in the woods with its bright colors and reflective strips. It slips on over the head and has multiple adjustment points, but a dog with the same size or bigger neck than their head may find it easy to slip off. The clips are on the side strap near where the front legs meet the torso, which has been known to cause some chafing.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What size do I need to get for a Golden Retriever? Golden Retrievers can run about 2 feet tall at the shoulder and have thick necks with thick fur on top of that. Many harnesses use neck size, weight, and chest girth to find the right size. Goldens can also have larger ribcages than other breeds of the same height and weight, so that should definitely be taken into consideration where possible.
- What is the best way to use a harness in the car? If you have a harness that stays attached to the car, then putting a headcollar on while they are still restrained can make the transition easier if there is some concern they may pull away while you try to put a regular harness on them in a strange area. Most back clip harnesses will attach easily and double as a regular harness, but few have been rated for car safety or tested in crash simulations. Try to find a harness that has passed a third-party crash test system.
- How active is a Golden Retriever? They are a sporting breed and need daily exercise to get rid of built-up energy. A good run or walk a couple of times a day with a few rounds of fetch will usually take care of it. They do prefer to get their exercise with their person, and just letting them out to run in an open area may wear them out but doesn’t always satisfy their need for attention.
Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular breeds to own. Their playful happy demeanor draws people in, and their intelligence and loyalty make them especially suited to being service and therapy dogs. Finding the right harness may take a couple of attempts. High adjustability and durability are two main points to look for, and water-resistant harnesses are especially useful if your Golden likes to go for a swim every once in a while.