3 Best Dog Car Harnesses

May 18, 2021

A dog safety harness is essential for your pet to travel in your car now. But, which dog car harness is the most reliable? We recommend three of the best.

small brown dog with harness

Dog car harnesses keep your dog safe and help to prevent serious injury in the event of a crash. 

Both cars and dogs come in many shapes and sizes so you’ll need to find a harness which is compatible with both.

Being secured in the right way is essential; an incorrect harness can be just as dangerous as wearing none at all. 

We’ve got a buyer’s guide with a run-through of what to look for, as well as a list of three of the best dog seat belts available.


Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we may make a commission if you click through and make a purchase.


Our Dog Car Harness Reviews

If you need a dependable car harness for dogs then these are the only restraints that deserve your attention.

There's our overall favourite, a great alternative, and the best value for money.

We review each in more detail down below.

Great Alternative

Slowton Harness

  • Easily adjusted
  • Breathable mesh chest vest harness
  • Multiple sizes

Best Value

Pawaboo Harness

  • Buckle clip design
  • Lightweight
  • Detachable seat belt
  • Multiple sizes



Best Crash Tested Dog Harness


Kurgo Car Dog Harness


Kurgo don’t mess around when they’re testing harnesses for dogs. This design was modelled on human rock climbers and independently tested at a facility to child seat standards.


The superior strength has passed the testing as being suitable for dogs weighing up to a whopping 34kg. To put that into perspective, a large Dalmatian would weigh around 34kg.


There are straps which go round your pooch’s tummy, back and shoulders. This provides a close and snug fit, holding your dog securely.


In the event of a collision, the design of the harness ensures the force will be distributed evenly across their body, reducing stress or pressure concentrated in one area. 


On the front, there’s a padded chest panel which provides protection for your dog’s critical area while also adding comfort.


It’s available in five different sizes from extra small (2-5kg) up to extra-large (36-50kg). Be aware that it’s only crash-tested up to 34kg so larger dogs may not get the same degree of guaranteed protection.



A carabiner attaches the harness to the seat belt, adding extra stability and security.


However, it will heavily restrict the movement of your dog and may not be very comfortable for them on long journeys. 


You can use a seat belt attachment which provides an extra 10 inches of space.


There is no way to shorten or adjust this, but it may help your dog to find the most comfortable resting position. 


The Kurgo harness is universal and will fit in all car types.


Pros

  • Independently crash-tested
  • Available in five sizes
  • Padded chest plate for comfort
  • Multifunctional use for walking

Cons

  • Seating position is very restricted
  • The XL size is not crash-tested

Bottom Line: Excellent crash testing provides peace of mind for dog owners of animals weighing up to 34kg


Furthermore, adjustable straps and a padded chest plate ensure a tight and comfortable fit.


An attachment on the back for a walking leash adds extra convenience to a strong and secure harness that will fit in any car.









Great Alternative


Slowton Harness


The Slowton Harness is suitable for small and large dogs alike with sizes that range from XXXS to L, and a chest range of 11” to 37”.


Available in 13 different colours, it’s a multifunctional harness that can be used in the car and on walks. 


The chest plate is padded and made from a breathable mesh fabric, ensuring your dog will be comfy.


The main loop goes over the dog’s head with straps that buckle up between his legs. These straps are adjustable so you can get a close fit that keeps your furry friend safe.



The design is more or less universal, fitting in all but a tiny minority of cars. The tough nylon belt gives your dog enough room to move about slightly and find a comfortable position to relax in.


It is possible to shorten the lead slightly, so if your dog is fidgety this might be an option to consider. 


Although the buckles are made from the standard plastic, the D-ring attachments are made from metal.


These should be robust enough for most dogs but may be stretched to maximum capacity by large and strong dogs.


For this reason, if you have a dog who is likely to pull heavily against the harness and is very strong, another harness may be more suitable.


Pros

  • Breathable mesh fabric
  • Adjustable straps and quick-access buckles
  • Multifunctional harness
  • Easy to slip on

Cons

  • Attachments may break with larger dogs

Bottom LineFor the vast majority of dogs the SlowTon harness will tick every box.


Comfortable to wear, multi-functional and easy to use, you can use this harness both in the car and with a leash while walking.





Budget Choice


Pawaboo Harness


The Pawaboo harness is available at a great budget price while still delivering a performance you can rely on.


Smart design and comfortable fabrics combine for a harness that both you and your pooch will love. 


The X-shape and wide chest pad provide extra support and ensures any force will be distributed more evenly, minimising the risk of injury.


The air mesh is softly padded for comfort, while the polyester is long-lasting and breathable.



Fitting into most cars, there is the option of two different styles of clipping your dog in.


One provides them with more room to range around, while the other secures them on a much shorter lead. For dogs that need to be kept more firmly secure, this is an excellent option.


With electroplated hooks and tough Oxford fabric, it’s a durable design for regular wear.


However, it won’t withstand chewing so if your dog is keen on chowing down on his leash, you’ll end up replacing this much sooner than you hoped!


Pros

  • Comfortable, X-shape harness design to distribute force evenly
  • Available in three different sizes
  • Breathable, padded fabric
  • Great value for money

Cons

  • Not suitable for dogs that chew

Bottom LineAt a fantastic budget price, this harness proves you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy good quality.


The tough design is comfortable while the different leash positions show this is a harness and belt system which has been carefully thought out.



Recommended: If you’ve had enough of your dog pulling on the leash, check out our guide to no-pull dog harnesses.

dog with sticking out tongue sitting in a car seat

Buyers’ Guide

With so many different dog restraints for cars on the market, it can feel impossible to pick out the best dog car harness for your pet.

In this buyer’s guide we take a look at the most important features and factors to consider.

Crash-tested?

You will be quite literally putting your dog’s life in the hands of the harness manufacturers so it’s important that you trust that it’s safe.

A crash test is one of the best indicators you can look out for to verify the safety of the dog harness. 

A crash test is a very vigorous assessment which is carried out to check how a product performs.

Specifically for dog harnesses, it checks whether the belt can withstand an impact  - either from a collision or emergency braking - when a dog’s weight is strapped in. 

However, not all crash tests are completed to the same criteria, so it’s advisable to drill down into more detail.

Look for a harness which has been crash tested with different size and weight dogs, and make sure they remain on the seat during the test run.

Independent crash testing is always preferable as the results will be more credible and comprehensive.

dog inside the looking outside

Fitting and measurements

There are different styles of harnesses and seat belts available.

A full harness is the best option as it straps your dog in securely, and adjustable straps ensure the best fit. However, there are also clip-in leash attachments or loop straps. 

A harness minimises the risk of choking or causing injury, providing it is properly fitted. Make sure you weigh and measure your dog before buying a harness so you know you’re buying the right size. 

Also check for any breed restrictions as the shape of the chest on some breeds may make a harness unsuitable. There are harnesses available for every breed, it’s just a case of finding the right one.

Durability

When we buy items for our dogs, it’s natural to be concerned about how long they’ll last. No one wants to be constantly shelling out for the same items that don’t live up to routine use. 

However, durability is especially important for a car harness because if it’s falling apart, your pooch won’t be as safe as you think.

If a canine seat belt starts to fray, weaken or hangs loose, your dog won’t be protected in the event of a collision.

Durability is absolutely vital, not just to save money but also to potentially save your dog’s life. 

When an accident occurs, or even an episode of sharp braking, a large amount of force will be placed on the harness.

You need to be certain that it won’t suddenly unbuckle or snap. If the buckle tends to come undone with just the lightest touch or pressure, there’s a very good chance it won’t keep your dog safe in a collision.

Nylon straps are often recommended as they tend to retain their tautness, even after prolonged use.

They can also withstand substantial force and can even cope with occasionally being mouthed by their canine companion!

It is possible to buy anti-chew harnesses if you know your dog has a habit of chomping leads, leashes and other fabrics.

When you’re checking the durability, don’t forget to take a look at the swivels and hooks too. Plastic can easily snap so dense stainless steel is preferable.

Static carabiners are OK, but can yield so wherever possible look for a rotating swivel snap.

dog with harness at car back seat

Weight restrictions

A dog car restraint will keep your four-legged friend safe while you’re on the move, preventing them from being thrown through the windscreen and sustaining a severe injury in the event of a smash.

If you ignore the weight restrictions you are putting them in jeopardy as there is no guarantee the equipment will perform as expected. 

Every harness will be certified up to a certain weight, and it may have stipulations about certain breed shapes. If you ignore this advice, the harness may fail when you need it the most, causing your dog harm. 

Don’t ever ignore weight or breed restrictions. Your dog’s life depends on it.

Ease of use

While safety is a priority, a harness should be practical too. If it’s fiddly or difficult to strap in, there’s the risk of rushing and not fitting it properly. 

Ideally, look for a harness which is multi-use. This means you won’t need to take them off when you get out of the car, saving time and hassle. 

Another thing to look for is the buckle, and how easy it is to undo. You don’t want the buckle to come flying open at just the lightest touch, but you don’t want it to be too stiff or complex either.

In the event of a collision, a fire or other type of emergency, you’ll need to be able to unbuckle your pooch and get out the car fast.

dog standing inside the car

Why Your Dog Needs to Be Restrained in the Car

Whether you’ve got a diminutive dachshund or a giant-sized Doberman, car trips are often an essential part of everyday life.

And having a canine companion on your journey can be fun - but you’ll need to ensure that they stay safe. 

If you plan on taking your dog out in the car, you’ll need to ensure they are properly restrained. Here’s a look at why it’s so important to have the correct measures in place.

Laws

When you think about driving along with your dog, you probably imagine them with their head out of the window, enjoying the sights.

While dogs may love the feel of the wind through their fur, dogs should be more firmly restrained in the car for their own safety, and yours. 

Giving your dog the freedom to roam around in the car could see you slapped with a penalty fine of up to £2500.

This is because the Highway Code stipulates that dogs should be firmly restrained while a car is in motion.

Rule 57 in the Highway Code states that dogs and other kinds of animals have to be ‘suitably restrained’ in order that they do not cause a distraction to you, or injure themselves if you have to break suddenly.

It gives options such as pet carriers, cages, guards and seatbelt harnessing in order to comply with this. 

Around a third of drivers don’t know about this section of the Highway Code, and have no idea that allowing their dog to roam loose they face a huge fine.

The police won’t issue a fine citing that specific Highway Code Law but instead, will charge you for driving without due care and attention. 

Along with the maximum fine of £2500, you could also be issued with nine penalty points.

It’s not worth the risk of being hit with such a big punishment - not when there are so many easy ways to restrain your dog in the car.

Recommended Reading: If you want to take your dog with you on a bike ride but they can’t keep pace, check out these awesome dog baskets.

white dog ready for a ride

Insurance

If the rules in the Highway Code don’t change your mind, the subject of your insurance being invalidated might give you pause for thought. 

If your dog is not properly strapped in and restrained as the Highway Code suggests, your insurance policy could be cancelled. This may happen even if you need to make a claim.

In the worst possible scenario you could end up with the insurer refusing to pay out a claim because of the presence of your dog loose in the car.

Your policy can be cancelled and you’ll need to find insurance elsewhere.

If you’ve had a policy cancelled due to breaking the law, you’ll need to disclose this to other insurers.

You may be refused or charged higher premiums because of allowing a dog loose in your car, causing your policy to be cancelled.

Safety

The Highway Code rule about keeping a dog restrained is based on concerns for safety. Having a dog loose in a vehicle can be very dangerous, for both you and them. 

Dogs are naturally curious creatures and your car may be full of interesting smells to investigate.

Couple this with the different views whizzing past outside the window and there’s plenty for your pooch to get excited about. 

Unfortunately, a dog bounding about the car isn’t ideal for you as the driver. It can be distracting and may cause you to take your eyes off the road.

Being distracted for a split second is all that’s needed for an accident to occur which is why it’s important that your dog sits calmly while you’re driving.

But it's not just about dogs being a distraction. 

If you were to have a collision or even brake sharply, your dog could sustain a serious injury by being thrown forward. If you are in their path, the dog could even cause serious injury to you, by colliding at force.

There is no safe way for your furry friend to be loose in the car, so dog car restraints are vital.

black dog waiting inside the car

5 Tips for Safe Car Journeys with Your Dog

Whether you're heading out for a walk, popping round to see friends or setting off on your holidays, you might frequently have your beloved dog at your side.

Car trips are more enjoyable with company, and a canine makes the perfect companion. 

However, if you don’t take the proper precautions, car journeys can be hazardous when you have a dog on board.

With so much going on, dogs can easily become excitable and distract their human owners from the road. 

These top tips will ensure that you can take your dog out for a ride while still staying safe.

#1: Don’t use the front seat

It can be tempting to put your canine pal in the front seat where you can keep an eye on them, but this is the worst thing you can do.

A study from AA/Kurgo found that almost a third of people admitted to being distracted by their dog while driving, a situation made worse when pets are in the front. 

Place your dog on the back seat or the cargo area, using appropriate restraints. There are also barriers you can purchase that prevent your dog from trying to get between the front seats.

#2: Use a dog seat belt harness

Wherever your dog sits, make sure you’re using a seat belt. This restrains your pooch and prevent them from moving around. 

This not only prevents them from distracting you, it also helps keep them safe in the event of a collision.

You should use a restraint even if your dog is in the cargo area as it prevents them from becoming injured if the car stops suddenly or is involved in an accident.

dog in passenger seat

#3: Always leash your dog first

In a strange environment, your dog could easily be distracted by tantalising scents and sights. And even the most well-trained dog can get frightened by unusual sounds and run off. 

For this reason, don’t let your dog out of the car or open the door wide until they are properly leashed. Hundreds of pets get injured or lost every year due to jumping out of a car and running off. 

It is possible to find styles of dog car harness that are multifunctional and can be converted for use while walking. This makes it much quicker and easier to just attach a leash and set off.

#4: Don’t leave your dog alone

If you are going to need to pop into the shops, leave your dog at home. The temperature in a car can climb very rapidly, even if you have the window cracked open. 

Even on days which aren’t particularly warm, the interior of a static car can get dangerously hot for a dog.

#5: Keep all body parts inside the car at all times

We’ve all laughed at those iconic images of dogs hanging their heads out of car windows, with the wind ruffling their fur and ears.

However, although they may look cute, you could make your pet quite poorly if you let them poke their head through the window. 

There is a greater risk of being struck by passing cars or objects on the roadside. At speed, this could cause catastrophic injury to your pet. 

Dog welfare experts also caution that dogs can get debris in their eyes, or develop lung complaints due to inhaling heavily polluted air. 

To make sure your dog stays safe, keep the windows turn up and let him enjoy the air conditioning instead!

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