canicross harness

Canicross harness: essential features to consider


When going out running or jogging with your dog, it is really important to gear up with a quality canicross harness. In this article we will help you compare and choose the right one to make the best out your canicross experience.

How to choose a good dog harness for the practice of canicross?

I was going to write an article about a rather common harness which I will not name. I have seen a lot of people use this harness for canicross when it is not suitable at all! Trendy, yes, maybe, but it’s not a canicross harness. It strongly blocks the mobility of the dog, in particular at the front shoulder level and it can actually be quite damaging and painful for the dog.

Suddenly, it occured to me it would be best to explain instead the features and qualities of a good canicross harness. To put it simply, for those who want me to go straight to the point, I personally use xback harnesses for my Siberian huskies. This allows me to do all the dog sports I want with them: canicross, canivtt, canirando, dog sledding, kart and quad. I use the same harnesses for all of these activities with my dogs.


canicross sport activity

However, this model is adapted to the specific morphology of my huskies but may not fit yours. Let’s discuss what are the essential characteristics of a dog harness for canicross and you will understand why you should use this type of gear for your dog.

Robust harness

It is essential that a canicross harness be robust and durable. Harnesses that meet that objective are made of sturdy material, good stitching and have little or no clips.

In canicross, traction is essential. The blows are numerous. The harness needs to withstand shocks and changes of direction. It must also go the distance, after repeated washes and several years of running with your dog. A durable canicross harness is very often made of nylon because it is an extremely solid material.

The quality of the seams are vital. You should check that they are doubled, tripled and crossed.

Finally, when I refer to “clips” I really mean fasteners. In mushing, dog harnesses are not adjustable and do not have a tie. They are made in one go. It just prevents things from farting.

traction harness

Adjusted to the morphology of your dog

The harness should fit the dog well and be snug. This means choosing the right size for the dog harness. We will therefore check the passage at the neckline, the adjustment to the bust and the length of the harness. Generally, the harness will fit the dog’s entire length, from its bust to the tail.

The different forms of traction harnesses

There are several types of harnesses, from those whose attachment is located in the middle of the back (short harness) to those that have the attachment at the base of the dog’s tail, like the xback harness.

Moreover, they are broken down into 2 large groups that we will call xback and hback harnesses. The X and H represent the shape of the harness on the dog’s back.

Below, we will discuss this in greater details.

Dog comfort

The canicross harness must be comfortable. It should not obstruct any important part of the dog’s body. In particular, the front and back legs should be free an clear.

The padding on the friction and shock areas are very important for the comfort of the dog. This will avoid irritation or even damage to the dog’s skin after only 2 or 3 training sessions.

run with your dog

Choosing the right model for your dog: Short harness or xback harness?

Now that we know what are the important features to look for, it’s time to discuss the different models available for different sporting activities, to get a overall view of the options. As a general rule, the harness must correspond to the specific activity such as hikes, walks, canirando, canicross or canivtt.

Short vs. xback harness

What are the differences between the short harness and the xback harness? Why choose one over the other? And which one is best for my dog?


Questions such as the following are quite common:

“I would like to buy a harness for my 1 year old husky which weighs 25 kg, the harness would be useful for hiking, jogging and simple walking, which harness would be most suitable between the short harness and the x back?”

“What are the benefits of the short harness when the dog does not have dysplasia?”

“Should I use the long or the short harness? We are going to practice, canicross, canivtt, cani scooter and cani rando.”

Let’s tackle these questions by taking a look at the differences between these the two dog harness types.

Short harness

short dog harness

The short harness is a harness whose attachment point is located in the middle of the dog’s back, behind its front legs. It is a padded, adjustable, very strong harness that allows you to do all kinds of sporting activities with your dog.

Cases of dysplasia and sagging pelvis

When we speak of dysplasia in dogs, we very often speak implicitly of dysplasia of the hip. Dysplasia is a malformation or anomaly and some dogs suffer from this condition. It is therefore necessary to prevent a tensile force or pressure on this area. The short harness stops at the back and thus avoids pressuring the sensitive area.

German Shepherd and drooping pelvis

The same will apply is the case for dog breeds with particularly sagging pelvis. The short harness will be more recommended for dog breeds like the German Shepherd for example.


The short harness also has the advantage of being adjustable. If the dog is gaining or losing weight, you can adjust the harness and you avoid having to buy a new one.

Xback harness


xback dog harness

The xback harness is a long harness that covers the entire body of the dog and has a unique shape. Indeed, this dog harness forms an X on the dog’s back and is specifically designed for traction sports with a dog.

It has the particularity of having its point of attachment at the base of the dog’s tail, being very solid, robust and safe for your dog. It is padded, with a specific breathable textile that prevents friction with the dog’s hair. Last but not least, the harness distributes the pulling force of the dog without pulling on the throat while freeing the limbs as well as the legs. This allows your dog to let loose in total comfort.

Some people favor the short harness for dog sports whose attachment is at the level of the belt and beyond. This would include canirando, canicross, canivtt and cani scooter, while they will favor the xback harness for dog sports where the attachment is closer to the ground such as in a sled or in a kart for example.

In reality, this rule of the height of the attachment point is not really applied. Short and xback harnesses are used in the same sport activities. However, many people wrongfully believe or perceive the short harness is more appropriate for walking, hiking and possibly canirando, while the xback harness is suitable for any traction sport.

best dog harness

Choosing the right canicross harness

The weight of your dog is not significant in the choice of the harness. The dog breed may also not be so significant as some dogs are crossbreeds. The most important criteria to consider in choosing the right dog harness is the morphological characteristics of the dog.

Take your dog’s measurements

We will therefore focus on taking the dog’s measurements correctly. We will need the neckline, that is to say the neck circumference, but also the length of the dog’s back as well as the distance from his neck to the base of his tail.

Overall, no matter how long the dog is, the short harness only needs the neck measurement. It is well suited to the morphologies of dog breeds having a large bust compared to the length of the dog. We will therefore recommend a short harness for large breasted dogs.

A harness dedicated to canicross and one for leisure walks

An important point to keep in mind is to have a different harness for canicross and one for leisurely walks. Indeed, your dog needs to understand when it is time to pull on a leash or, on the contrary, to walk quietly. The harness is a material that makes more sense than you think. For your dog, if you ritualize it well, the harness will tell him what type of outing is up to.

People are also interested in this topic

5 Reasons to Get a Tactical Dog Harness

Leave a Reply