Skijoring is all about the momentum created by you from your cross country skis and poles, and your dog adding a pulling force. However, you need proper skijoring equipment to make sure both you and your skijoring buddy are doing it right and are safe. Your dog harness, along with other skijoring equipment, plays an important role in the comfort and safety of both of you. You and your pup are going to have more fun when the equipment is right, and everyone is comfortable and ready to have some winter fun.
Cross-Country Skiing with Your Dog
You need to make sure your dog qualifies to be a skijoring dog by weighing not less than 35 pounds and have a love for running. Before starting your skijoring adventure, make sure that you have taught your dog some basic voice commands for stopping, turning left, turning right, pacing up, slowing down, and ignoring other dogs to move ahead. Another important fact to keep in mind is that your dog will be seeing many other dogs and people, so he/ she should know how to ignore others and listen to you – otherwise, you will be caught in the middle of a dog fight! And do not forget to have the right skijoring gear, the most important of which is the skijoring harness.
Types of Skijoring Harnesses
Skijoring harness is very important as you cannot use a normal dog collar for skijoring. Your dog will be pulling you with all his/ her force and may get stuck in the snow or encounter similar situations where you may have to pull him/ her up. Unlike the dog collar that works good for strolls, a skijoring harness keeps the pressure off the dog’s throat during skijoring.
There are different types of harnesses:
You can easily identify an H-Back Harness by the H-shape of its back straps that remove all the pressure from your dog’s back. This harness is ideal for long and lean dogs and the ones that do not have a typical build of a sled dog. Its shape also enables the dog to breathe easily as he/ she pulls you on the snowy terrain. It offers a good balance between your dog’s freedom of movement as well as the applied force.
If you are new to skijoring, the H-Back Harness can be easy to work with as it can be adjusted, unlike some harnesses that are fixed and need your dog’s precise measurements. The H-Back Harness is also ideal for dogs that do not have any experience of skijoring as it helps them to figure out the right pulling direction.
The X-Back Harness, also known as the Cross-Back Harness, gets its name from its crossed straps that are designed to go on the dog’s back ending at the tail. At the tail end, the tether is attached. The X-Back Harness is perfect for sled dogs such as the Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies as the harness optimizes the force transmissions as well as the load distribution on your canine’s body.
The only downside of this harness is that it cannot be adjusted, so you need to make sure you have the precise measurements of your dog’s body for it in order for your dog to feel comfortable. The harness’s neck opening needs to have a nice fit but it should not be tight enough to leave a mark on your pup’s skin, or worse, cause him/ her to choke. The harness should not slip, if it does, it is not the right size and sadly cannot be adjusted. Ideally, the X-Back Harness should move with your dog even in curves. It is the perfect harness for kick sledjoring.
Wheel Dog Harness
The Wheel Dog Harness keeps the pressure off your dog’s back without sacrificing the dog’s pulling force. It is great for kick sledding as it takes the pressure off the canine’s hind end (that some other types of harnesses may exert) and evenly distributes it so the dog finds it easier and more comfortable to pull.
Half Back Harness
The Half Back Harness works great with small dogs or the ones that are deep-chested. Although it is not recommended for kick sledding, it is designed for your dog to apply his/ her pulling force and works great with lightweight dogs. The Half Back Harness seems like the one dog owners use for leashed walks but it works well to pull some weight.
How to Choose Dog Harness for XC Skiing?
When you are on your cross country skis with your dog and aiming to go for skijoring, the right choice of a harness is extremely important. You cannot use a conventional dog harness as it may not be sturdy enough to withstand your dog’s pulling force. Also, you need to pick a dog harness that works well for your dog’s body structure, so he/ she is comfortable when pulling you.
- In case you have a sled dog like the Alaskan Malamutes or Siberian Huskies, go for the cross-back harness. Since the X-back harness is relatively shorter and lighter than the H-back harness, it is more popular for racing.
- If you have a dog that is small or deep-chested, go for a half back harness. This type of harness is not recommended for kick sledding. For smaller dogs, it is a better idea to go with harnesses that have handles that enable you to pull them out of snow or other sticky situations.
- If you and your dog are into kick sledding, the wheel dog harness can work well for you.
- If you and your dog are new to skijoring, getting an H-back harness may be a good idea. It is good for beginners as it helps the dog, as well as the skier, work with the harness. The H-back harness is usually adjustable which means it can fit most of the canine breeds.
You may find the cross-back harness in most of the skijoring and sled dog events. The X-back harness is not adjustable so make sure you have the right measurements, otherwise, your dog can slip out of the harness. This could result in danger for both you as well as your dog.
Best Skijoring Dog Harnesses
Here are the best skijoring dog harnesses that we recommend for your four-legged skijoring buddy:
1. RUFFWEAR Omnijore System for Dog Joring
It is a complete and easy to use skijoring kit. The Ruffwear Omnijore System includes a dog harness, a towline, and a human hip belt. It is available for $169.95.
- Contains all components of skijoring that work together to provide you and your dog comfort and performance. Includes dog harness, human hip belt, and towline.
- Padded -point dog harness.
- Adjustable – provides a custom fit for your dog.
- The hip belt for your features a zippered pocket, tow bridle (180 degrees of tow direction), and water bottle holster.
- Removable leg loops to keep the hip belt in place.
- The dog harness is available in 3 sizes: Small, Medium, and Large/X-Large for waist sizes ranging from 27 inches to 48 inches (68 cm to 123 cm).
- Shock absorbing towline with Talon Clip ™
- Removable girth strap and color-coded ends for ease of use.
- All in one package. Its intelligent design is made with great quality material.
- Great fit for the dog as well as the skier as it is adjustable.
- Ideal for skijoring. Can also work on a bike as well as running.
- The Omnijore System is relatively expensive.
This all in one system saves you the hassle of looking for separate skijoring gear. It is expensive but definitely worth the features and quality it offers. Highly recommended for skijoring.
2. Kurgo Pulling Dog Harness
The Kurgo Pulling Dog Harness is adjustable and offers a comfortable leash. Harnessing your dog with a no-pull D-ring makes it ideal for skijoring. It is available for $50.43.
- Utilizes your dog’s maximum pull potential while keeping your furry friend as comfortable as possible.
- Light in weight, nicely padded and can be easily adjusted according to your dog’s size.
- Handle for controlling the dog. The D-ring makes it easy to work with.
- Reflective trim to keep your dog visible and safe at night.
- This dog harness comes with a lifetime warranty.
- Easy to adjust and provides a good fit for your dog.
- It is very comfortable and does not apply pressure on your dog or causes its skin any irritation, no matter how sporty the activity gets.
- The harness comes with an additional multi-purpose clip.
- It works especially well for larger dog breeds that have a habit of chewing the harness.
- The harness does not shift its position even when it gets wet.
- The plastic used for buckles is not of great quality and some skijorers have complained that the buckle often gets stuck.
- Padding could have been better.
The Kurgo Pulling Dog Harness offers value for money in terms of performance and quality. The additional seatbelt clip enables you to safely transport your dog. It is a great harness for skijoring.
3. Neewa Adjustable Sled Pro Harness
The Neewa Adjustable Sled Pro Harness has a cross back construction and comes in 3 different sizes (small, medium, and large), and four different colors: blue, pink, red, and yellow. It is a great dog harness for large dog breeds and is available for $49.95.
- Perfect for large dogs. The harness is adjustable (8 settings).
- A cross-back dog harness with proper padding.
- Made with polypropylene which makes the harness sturdy.
- The harness has reflective strips that keep your dog safe when you go skijoring at night.
- It is manufactured with non-allergenic materials.
- Works great for big and wolf-shaped dogs.
- Comfortable and well-padded especially around the neck, rib cage, and chest areas.
- The harness is durable as it features polypropylene.
- Great for skijoring, dog sledding, and bike-joring activities.
- This dog harness works better for wolf shaped dogs such as Siberian Husky, Greenland dogs, and Alaskan Malamute. If you have a breed that has a different build, you may want to try another harness.
The Neewa Dog Harness is adjustable and works well for wolf shaped dogs. The cross back harness design offers a uniform weight distribution across your pup’s body. The harness is long-lasting and contains reflective inserts that help you spot your dog at night time. Make sure you measure and weigh your dog properly before finalizing it.
4. Neewa X-Back Racing Harness
The Neewa X-Back Racing Harness is specially designed for sled dogs or the breeds that have a narrow chest with lean bodies. It is a great skijoring dog harness that uniformly distributes pressure on the entire body of your canine. The Neewa cross back harness is available in three colors: black, blue, and red. It is available in a wide range of sizes namely Small/ Medium, Medium, Medium/ Large, Large/ X-Large, and XX-Large so you can choose the one that suits your canine’s body the best. You can get your Neewa X-Back Racing Harness for only $37.95.
- Ideal for skijoring, bikejoring, dog sledding, canicross, and anything that requires pulling with force.
- It is manufactured using high tenacity nylon along with a good padding system on the chest areas as well as the neck.
- It offers a uniform pressure distribution when your canine is pulling you.
- It features reflective inserts that make skijoring at night fun and safe.
- Comfortable and well-padded. There were no rubbing signs reported on the dog’s body.
- Great quality and value for money.
- If you have a dog with a wide chest and a strong structure, like a Husky, it is better to go with Neewa Sled Pro Harness.
With a wide range of sizes to choose from, the Neewa X-Back Racing Harness provides you with good value for money and your dog with the best comfort possible at a good price. If you have a sled dog or one with a lean body and narrow chest, this harness can be the perfect match for your skijoring adventures.
5. PET ARTIST Weight Pulling Harness for Large Dogs
The Pet Artist Weight Pulling Harness for Large Dogs is by far the best pulling harness for your canine. It is multipurpose, so whether you are planning to do skijoring, training your dog to pull a cart, working on your canine’s muscles, or want to release his extra energy – the Pet Artist Weight Pulling Harness can be your pup’s perfect match. It is available in black in large sizes for $59.99.
- For large dogs with a neck circumference of 31.5 inches (80 cm).
- Cross back style harness.
- Extremely durable and can support the resistance of 1,200 pounds of pulling force.
- Manufactured with thick 50 mm nylon.
- Wider padding strips that are breathable, soft, yet sturdy. The chest straps are extra padded.
- The neck and chest region has tear-resistant material for comfort as well as safety.
- Ideal for large dogs including Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamute, American Bully, Rottweiler, Pit Bull, etc.
- The perfect tool for developing and strengthening your canine’s muscles and improving his/ her behavior.
- Perfect for using as a sledding dog harness for all kinds of pulling sports including skijoring and canicross.
- Durable and super strong – constructed with 50 mm nylon that supports as much as 1,200 pounds of pulling force.
- Provides training support and improves your canine’s fitness.
- There is not much variety in terms of size adjustments.
If you are looking for a strong and long-lasting harness for your large-sized dog such as a Husky, Malamute, American Bully, Boxer, or a Pit Bull Terrier, this can be the perfect one. The harness is extremely easy to put on and with its cross-back style, provides maximum comfort and uniform pressure distribution to your canine friend. It is ideal for dog races, training, and skijoring.
6. Weight Pulling Sledding Dog Harness X-Back Style
The Weight Pulling Sledding Dog Harness is a cross-back style harness that works great for your skijoring adventures. It is light in weight and is available in six different sizes: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large, and XX-Large. The medium size is designed for dogs with a neck circumference of 19.5 inches. You can get your X-Back Style Weight Pulling Sledding Dog Harness for $49.90.
- The harness is made of lightweight material resistant to moisture and icing.
- Cross-back style harness is ideal for dog training and skijoring.
- Wide chest padding.
- Dog-friendly design, easy to put on, and convenient to use outdoors.
- Extremely easy to put on your canine.
- Distributes the pressure well across the dog’s chest to provide maximum comfort to your dog and prevent any type of injury.
- Breathable padding.
- Instead of the actual rope, having a solid place to attach the hook would have been better.
The Weight Pulling Sledding Dog Harness X-Back Style is available in medium size for your canine friend. It is easy to put on which saves you a lot of time and energy. Although they could have improved its quality by providing some solid hooks instead of rope, this cross-back harness does its job well and can be a great gear for your skijoring activity.
7. Northern Howl Weight Pulling Dog Harness
This cross-back style harness is great for skijoring, dog sledding, scooter joring, bike joring, and canicross. The Northern Howl Weight Pulling Dog Harness comes with a complimentary hands leash and is available in an attractive design of blue, yellow, and neon. It is available in different sizes including XS, Small, Medium, XXL, and XXL, and hence caters to different sizes of dogs. You can get your Northern Howl Weight Pulling Dog Harness for $75.95.
- Cross-back style harness. Works perfectly well with all sizes and breeds of dogs including huskies and sled dogs – available in a vast range of sizes from Small to XXX-Large.
- Intelligently designed for optimal power transmission.
- The harness is comfortable for your canine.
- It is specially designed for weight pulling.
- Comes with a complimentary leash/ canicross line/ joring line.
- Fitted with fabric reflectors for night-time visibility and safety of your dog.
- For all dog breeds no matter what the size is.
- Attractive color and design. Easy to sport the dog from a distance as well as at night due to fabric reflectors.
- Ideal for skijoring, bike joring, scooter, dog sledding, trekking, canicross, and different kinds of dog sports.
- An addition of adjustment buckles would have been great.
The Northern Howl Weight Pulling Dog Harness has a cross-back design to ensure a better force distribution across your dog’s body when he/ she is pulling. The neck and chest areas are well-padded and the overall harness is quite comfortable. The harness is breathable and durable. This harness comes with fabric reflectors to make sure your canine is visible at night.
Additional Skijoring Equipment
Here are some additional skijoring equipment for you and your four-legged skijoring buddy:
RUFFWEAR Omnijore Hipbelt for Dog Joring
The Ruffwear Omnijore Hipbelt is ideal for skijoring as well as other dog-powered sports including snowboarding, skating, biking, and canicross. It offers 180 degrees of tow direction which helps in different kids of dog activities. When used with the complete Omnijore System, this hip belt maximizes comfort and performance on your skijoring adventures.
The leg loops keep your hip belt in place, and you can also remove them if not required. It has a water bottle holster and 2 pockets (zippered) so you can carry your important stuff with you while on the go. The hip belt also has a quick-release feature. The great quality Ruffwear Omnijore Hipbelt is available in Orange Poppy Color and you can get it for $74.95.
Shock Absorbing Skijoring Bungee Dog Line
The Shock Absorbing Skijoring Bungee Dog Line is a strong dog line with great quality swivel snaps on both ends. It is great for going on adventures with your dog including skijoring, canicross, dog trekking, and bike joring. The built-in elastic core is extendable giving your dog a good amount of leash space. With dimensions of 3.9 x 1.8 x 5 inches, this blue shock-absorbing dog line is available for $32.90.
RUFFWEAR Omnijore Towline Leash for Dog Joring
The Ruffwear Omnijore Towline Leash is a great quality towline leash for skijoring, hiking, or running with your four-legged friend. It has an item dimension of 72.5 x 0.7 x 1 inch and has an attractive Granite Gray color. You can use it with the Omnijore system so the entire skijoring system works together to provide you and your dog the best possible comfort while maximizing performance.
The talon clip offers a quick and safe harness attachment point that keeps your dog safe. It has color-coded ends that make it convenient to pin-point the attachment locations on both the hip belt as well as the harness. This sturdy Ruffwear Omnijore Towline Leash is available for $39.95.
Neewa Tug-Line with Bungee
The Neewa Tug-Line with Bungee is great if you want to run with your dog and go on adventures like skijoring and bike joring. It has a length of 2 meters (6.5 feet) and is also available with an option of 1.5 meters (5 feet). It is made of high-quality water-resistant Polypropylene that does not weigh down when exposed to moisture and ice. This attractive black tug line has a dimension of 10.24 x 2.76 x 1.97 inches. You can get your durable Neewa Tug line for $31.95.
Neewa Canicross & Skijoring Belt
The Neewa Canicross & Skijoring Belt offers you a great way to include your pup in your outdoor adventures. It has 4 adjustment points as well as a convenient pocket at the back for putting in your keys. The Neewa Skijoring belt is light in weight and is manufactured using non-allergenic and breathable materials. It also boasts reflective bands to help you when you do skijor at night time. The belt is developed keeping in mind the feedback of professional athletes and is available for $45.95.
Ruffwear Quinzee Insulated Jacket for Dogs
Winter can be a cold time for your pup but this does not mean you cannot have outdoor adventures such as skijoring with your four-legged buddy. The Ruffwear Quinzee Insulated Jacket is made of high-quality polyester and can be easily washed in your washing machine. It has side release buckles for ease of use and fits your dog nicely providing him/ her warmth in extremely cold conditions. The Ruffwear Quinzee Insulated Jacket for your dog has low-light visibility thanks to its reflective trim and you can attach a safety light at its light loop. It is available in XX-small size in Red Rock color.
Musher’s Secret Dog Paw Wax
Cold weather can cause your dog’s paws to become dry and even cracked leading to your dog being uncomfortable on outdoor adventures. The Musher’s Secret Dog Paw Wax has been helping dogs for three generations. It is made with 100% natural ingredients along with beeswax and Vitamin E to provide a soothing effect on those tired paws.
The wax acts like an invisible coating around your pup’s paws protecting him/ her against extreme environments including snow, ice, salt, sand, rocky terrain, and even hot pavements. This fast-drying, non-allergenic, and non-staining paw wax can help your dog enjoy the skijoring activities without you having to worry about the paws.
Choosing the right dog harness along with other skijoring gear is crucial for your dog’s performance and comfort. It is better to go for harnesses made with non-absorbent materials such as nylon and polypropylene. Otherwise, the harness will get heavy after soaking water and it could get uncomfortable and tiring for your canine buddy. Make sure the dog harness is properly padded especially around the neck and chest region of your dog. It is also a good idea to have a harness with reflective strips especially if you intend to go skijoring at night. The reflective strips will keep your dog visible and hence safe. Once you choose the right kind of dog harness that works well with your pup’s body, nothing is stopping you and your four-legged friend from having tons of fun!