Saturday, November 29, 2014

Product Review: Ruffwear Front Range Harness

The Ruffwear Front Range Harness is a Roman-style harness that allows freedom of movement while remaining comfortable for extended wear. It is currently available in four colors and five sizes to fit dogs with chests 13-42" around.
Photo by Erin Koski

Since Brisbane has developed some hip arthritis, he hasn't been quite as enthusiastic about his Norway-style harnesses. I think it is because the front strap on those sits across his upper arm and causes him to put more weight on his sore back end. At any rate, he was visible unhappy wearing his Comfortflex and rolled leather harnesses, so I needed to find a really good alternative. Something that would fit him really well, leave his upper arms and shoulders free to move properly, and that wouldn't require me to touch his feet while putting it on.

Ruffwear delivered all that and more when they released the Front Range harness this summer. This might be the most comfortable harness in Brisbane's wardrobe, I also think it looks pretty snazzy. The Front Range girth strap has a clip on either side, so I don't have to pick up Brisbane's foot or thread a strap through a small loop to get it on. The straps also have a little bit of stretch down where they attach at the bottom, so the section has some give and moves with him.

Photo by Erin Koski
The neck section can be adjusted so that it is properly tight. I recently learned some things about harness fitting and changed the way I adjust my dogs' harnesses. To keep the shoulder straps from altering their gaits, I adjust the neck of Roman-style harnesses down so tight they just barely slip over their heads. This means the chest piece that goes between Brisbane's front legs must be long enough to reach all the way from the base of his neck down past his elbows. Not every harness can adjust small enough in the neck without pulling the girth strap into Brisbane's armpits, but the medium Ruffwear Front Range fits perfectly.

Other cool features of this harness include the front loop for leash attachment, and the hidden pocket for ID tags on the back. I don't need a front-attachment harness for Brisbane, but Ulysses could easily wear this as well.

Pros: Padded all over without being bulky or picking up dead grass and crud. Ergonomically-designed to allow free shoulder movement. Front leash attachment option is much easier on the shoulders than the Premier Easy Walk harness. Tag pocket silences the jingling so other dogs in the neighborhood don't know we're passing through. Slightly stretchy section of girth allows for greater freedom of movement and absorbs some shock. Plus it comes in pink.

Cons: Smallest size is still an inch too big for little Ru. Relatively small range of adjustment for each strap means this harness may not fit well on dogs with small necks and big chests. The front leash attachment point may not hold up to continuous pulling indefinitely. I am slightly concerned that the stretchy section will eventually wear out and make the harness fit differently.

Bottom Line: This harness seems to have been made for Brisbane. If the straps were black it would also match my phone case, car keys, seat covers, folding chair, travel mug, chihuahua purse, and hair.

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