Product Review: Lupine Roman Harness

Tuesday outing

A good scratch

I’ve been holding off on a review of Silas’s new harness until I was sure that it was perfect. And it is. So, so perfect.

The problem with harnesses is that Silas is a weird shape. His chest is very narrow, but his chest circumference is somewhere in the low 20-inch range. He’s pretty squarely between harness sizes for most of the big-box type brands. (This same problem hits us almost across the board, which is why my 30 pound dog is in a 36×22 “large” crate.)

Lupine is one of the only brands that we’ve ever had any success with, because they understand this about dogs. At the “between” sizes, they offer their harnesses in two different widths. One of our harness problems has been that they look extremely out of proportion. Silas’s size is often a 1″ width, which is crazy for a dog his size. Lupine offers their 20-32″ harness in both 3/4″ AND 1.”

Our other harness problem is that they rub behind Silas’s front legs. He’s got almost no hair, you know, especially on his little belly. You can see the problem here, in his old step-in Lupine harness:

Silas on a Log

The Roman harness has a longer span between the two pieces, as you can see in the top photos. This harness is comfortable enough for him that I can leave it on for a long car trip, which makes me feel much better about getting him out at rest areas.

Two last perks: Lupine has an excellent guarantee. They promise to replace your dog’s harness, even if your dog chews it up. And, even better, they’re made in the US (webbing and all, it looks like).

Now, there are two drawbacks to this harness. Personally, neither of them negate the perfect, amazing fit. First, it is not the very easiest harness to put on. It isn’t bad, but your dog needs to put his head through the opening and then put one leg through. (You technically don’t have to put the leg through, but otherwise you have to thread the belly strap back through a belt loop. Silas would rather pick up his leg.) Silas is crushed by this process, but he’s a drama llama and has also been crushed by every harness we’ve owned. The second problem is, I think, my adjustment, but the back strap does shift to the side under the weight of his leash as we walk. I believe I could fix this by tightening the straps a little more, but I keep forgetting.

Bottom line: LOVE.

Fine print: I bought this myself, from an excellent local retailer. Find yours at . The leash in these photos is from another company and merits its own review in the future.


We’ve tried what seems like every collar/leash/harness out there, even though I know we haven’t. Silas does not take treats outside, so I’ve had to rely on good equipment and consistent use of the stop-walking-until-he-checks-in routine. It’s still very much a work in progress.

Tiny puppy Silas would panic, hit the end of his leash, and pull until he would gag. Very early on I switched to the standard back-clip harness.

In his first obedience class, the instructor looked at him, frantically jumping and pulling, and put him in a SENSE-ation Harness, which is a front-clip.


SENSE-ation Harness

The front clip harness works on the fact that when the dog pulls on the leash, the force redirects the dog back toward you. Mr. Crazy would flip himself on his head. After he learned not to pull that hard, you could see him pulling himself down the trail at a 45 degree angle, keeping as much tension on the leash as he could.

Eventually he outgrew the front-clip harness. We wanted something that was a little sturdier than the SENSE-ation model, whose only fault is that it relies exclusively on a plastic clip buckle. Working on the assumption that it wasn’t helping him much anyway, we switched back to a back-clip harness. We loveĀ this Lupine Model (ours is a nice blue, as seen in yesterday’s photo):

Lupine Harness

Lupine Step-In Harness

Except the back-clip reminded him of his past life as a sled dog.

I bought him a “fancy” collar for his first birthday, since he was fully grown. (From Karma Collars. Look them up. If you follow them on Facebook, once a month they do a “Free Leash Friday.”) To my surprise, and discovered largely by accident, he walked better on his collar alone than anything else.

BUT. I’m terrified that he’ll pull out of it at a moment of stress. He’s sort of between buckle positions, where one is a little tighter than I like and one is loose enough for escape. I also worry about him in obedience class, where he does pull against it really hard as the other dogs come in.

I think, in the end, we’re going to have to go with some combination. I don’t have a great solution for class–last week I took him on his harness, and not only did he pull more he pulled more for days afterwards. In the park I think I’m going to start clipping his leash to his harness the cheap way (with a carabiner). He’s usually wearing the harness anyway, because it clips into his car restraint. I also love this two-clip back-up leash from Karma Collars, which may go on the Christmas list. (We don’t have kids. Buying presents for the dog is where we get our Christmas fun. He astounded the family last year by knowing how to unwrap his own gifts.)