Saturday, October 3, 2015

Product Review: Ruffwear Load Up Car Harness

The Ruffwear Load Up Harness is a crash-tested vehicle restraint harness designed to provide crash-protection. It has been independently crash-tested by MGA Research Corp, but is not certified by the Center for Pet Safety. It is available in five sizes to fit dogs with chests 13-42" around.
crash-tested dog harness
Photo by Erin Koski

At the beginning of the summer, Ruffwear released some new products centered on road travel. The Load Up crash-protection harness was the most exciting thing announced, and one of the biggest questions was whether it would be tested or certified by the Center for Pet Safety. Our current crash-protection harnesses, SleepyPod Clickit Sports, have been the only certified harnesses for a while and I was excited about the prospect of a new one by a company I love.

When the Load Up harness was released, several people asked about certification via social media. Ruffwear's response was that they had the harness independently tested, but were not seeking certification due to the design of the harness. Their test dogs really preferred the harness with the tether attached way down at the back, and they found that this attachment point also kept their test dummies from flying off the car seat. However, this design means that the dog's head will move pretty far in an actual accident. Part of the certification for the Center for Pet Safety involved harness test results passing certain criteria for head excursion. The Load Up harness wouldn't pass these tests.
crash-tested car harness
Photo by Erin Koski

Some of my houseguest dogs preferred this harness to the SleepyPod Clickit Sport, I think they found it less constricting. Brisbane hates it, but that might be because the medium isn't a great fit. The lower panel sits right in front of his bits, and when he tries to sit the harness pokes him. A small might work better.

Pros: Minimal restriction of movement, dog can sit and lay down comfortably. More comfortable for dogs that freak out in more restrictive restraints. Easy to put on and relatively simple to adjust. Crash-tested and strength-tested.

Cons: Not certified by the Center for Pet Safety. Low tether position means the part of the dog that will travel the furthest in a collision is the head. No leash ring makes it difficult to use as a walking harness. Long lower panel can stab boy dogs in the junk.

Bottom Line: Brisbane needs a size small to better evaluate this harness, but I don't think it will replace our Clickit harnesses.


  1. I just bought a sleepypod clickit sport! I hope my dog likes it because dang, it was expensive. =)

  2. They said that the size small would pass the tests, but that the medium and large would not. I have a clickit sport, size small for my Cavakier King Charles. I can't keep the neck adjusted anugly, it just undoes itself. He can't lie on his side and doesn't like it. When he was not yet full grown, he got tangled and stuck, so I got a latch strap for a child seat, and used that instead. Now, that is a bit short, so we are considering the Ruff Wear harness, with its lower loop attachment. We are going on a long trip, and I need him to be happy and comfortable in the car, as well as safe. We can still use the child latch to keep him close to the seat back, let him curl up (curling up is impossible for him with the clickit) yet prevent the tangling that can happen with the seat belt.

    1. Thanks for sharing! What do you attach the Latch strap to? I've since gotten a small Load Up and Brisbane prefers that to the Clickit Sport because he can get more comfortable. Sisci still does best in the Clickit Sport because she rides smashed against the back of the seat whether she's restrained or loose.