Ruffwear Web Master Dog Harness
In this post I am going to review the Ruffwear Web Master Harness, recently purchased and used for my Border Collie.
But first here’s how I decided to buy.
[To skip to the review please scroll down to "Lets Get Down to Business".]
I do a lot of walking with my dog Guinness, an average sized Border Collie. During a long hike in the Easter break we came across a number of styles that were very difficult for Guinness to climb or jump over, due to uneven ground on the other side or the height and design of the style. Some of them Guinness jumped but I was flinching as he almost landed awkwardly on the other side and a number of times I had to man-handle him over the styles. Not easy when he doesn’t particularly like being picked up as he panics when he feels restricted and hugged.
We therefore decided a harness with a handle would be much better as we would be able to lift him using one hand, or two, and he wont feel closed in while being lifted and can be put back down on his feet easier rather than him trying to riggle out of our arms. Also as an amateur dog trainer I was sure that with the appropriate introduction and training Guinness would be trained to be lifted without upset or panic.
And so started the endless google searching and review reading (of which I found very little).
After a day I found the best, and only, harness suited for the job.
Originally designed for search-and-rescue dogs, “the Web Master lets you assist your dog up and down in a variety of situations”…”Ergonomic cut allows for a full range of motion, while still providing security that even the best “Houdini dog” can’t escape”.
A number of sites describe the harness as great for “assisting your dog up and down stairs and around the house”!
This really amused me as to find this harness I had searched for “active dog harness”. However it is true! This harness is used equally for active outdoor dogs as it is used for older dogs that are unsteady of their feet.
So I purchased my harness from Muddy Paws and the service was excellent.
I bought a size Small for my Border Collie after measuring his girth as described on the websites and purchased the black colour option.
The harness fits like a standard harness, head in, right leg in, strap under armpit and click. Done. However there is the an added strap!! That comes under the dogs belly, towards the bottom of their rib cage that clips in.
This allows the harness to be balanced and therefore the handle is exactly over a dogs balance point, which is towards the middle of their back.
I was worried about this belly strap at first as I wasn’t sure how close it would sit to my dogs manhood (his penis). However it sits right in place, a little in front of his penis without touching or getting in the way, and when he pee’s the strap is not sprayed at all. Therefore staying pee free.
The area on top of the harness is solid, with a hole where the handle is to allow accessibility to the handle. There are reflective strips across the handle and over the sections where the straps clip into place on each side of the harness. People have said these are not reflective enough, however as you can see in the picture, the cameras flash is showing half how bright they are and they certainly shine bright in sunshine or when a light passes on them. They’re much brighter than expected and quite adequate to the job.
The harness is made of a strong, outdoor material and a number of people have said their dog has rubbed against rock and branches without rips or snags. Guinness is great at squeezing through holes and hasn’t damaged his at all so they’re very scratch proof. Also the harness is quite water-resistant and after being out in the rain for a while, we walked 5 minutes home in the sunshine and the harness was bone dry by the time we reached home. The only parts that do take a long time to dry are the padded straps.
The harness is quite bulky to feel at first, however once its on your dog and adjusted it fits really nice and the top part does bend to curve around your dogs back. Once its been worn in it adjusts a little to your dogs fit and therefore becomes aligned with their movement. The straps also tuck into the padded section and have elasticated bands, sort of like belt loops, which are perfect for keeping overhanging straps in place. For instance if the harness is required to be fully tightened there wouldn’t be excess straps flapping everywhere.
Once I’d put it on Guinness he seemed to have no problems moving or running and behaved completely normally. For the first time he did turn round and bite at one of the straps once or twice but then ignored it. While walking he occasionally uses his back leg to scratch at the belly strap, making me wonder if it rubs him, but I always check him over during and after wear and these’s nothing wrong. So I think this is due to him still getting used to the feel of the belly strap. I have often left the harness on Guinness all day and he has happily lied down and “flopped” on his side and slept so it is clearly perfectly comfortable.
When I first lifted Guinness he struggled a little then held limp, a natural reaction for them. With treats given during and after lifting and the added command of “lift” he’s quickly got used to the feel of it, although he makes a little grunt noise sometimes.
I haven’t lifted him over anything yet simple because I haven’t had the chance, however with regular wear and training I can now lift him to chest height with comfort for Guinness and myself.
Something to consider – I have found that, as a average woman (that’s not me in the picture that’s my boyfriend), of average strength it is quite a lot of effort to lift my 20kg, 3 stone dog with one arm. However it is easy to place a second hand on the back of the harness, either hooking a hand underneath or using the second handle to lift and I can easily lift Guinness to chest height using two hands.
However if you have a dog heavier that 20kg the lifting advantage of the harness may become unusable. However the handle is still good for assisting dogs up steep slopes or difficult terrain as I’ve also done with Guinness during our use of the harness so far.
A key design of the harness I love in the chest padding. As seen in the image below there is a triangle pad that sits on the dogs chest, instead of just bare straps as on other harnesses, which means that when they pull or are being lifted there is nothing digging into their chest.
The two straps are also very padded where they sit on the dogs ribs and belly, but not padded all the way round leaving room for adjustment. These make it comfy for the dog to be lifted and the straps do not rub.
For those of you that are looking for a non-pull harness, this isn’t it. Guinness does not often pull but when he does he pulls as much on his collar, old harness and this one. If anything dogs are more likely to pull in harness as the strain is not of their neck but on their chest. If you are looking for a tool to stop pulling then I recommend training instead of tools. If there is no real solution then a halti is best and can be enjoyed by the dog if introduced correctly. However I strongly suggest training solutions.
The harness is well designed for its use and the sizes are perfect if you measure your dogs girth. Although Guinness looks a little back heavy in the picture when lifted, if you use two hands, one at the back on the harness, to lift him it balances this out and I’ve had no problems lifting him yet. Also if the harness had been any longer the belly strap would have been too close to his penis. Therefore these harness possibly fit female dogs a little better, but I doubt the difference is much.
The harness fits securely and I’ve had no problem with straps coming loose or moving around. The harness does shift slightly from side to side but this is only a matter or a couple of inches when my dogs been pulling sideways. Off the lead I haven’t noticed the harness move at all and Guinness often runs at full pace (very fast) a number of times while wearing it and while playing with his fetch toy he’s had no restriction of movement. If anything I think he runs faster when wearing it. The metal clip for attaching your lead to is great and very strong so there’s no way your dog will break free.
One thing I’m unsure about it if he gets hotter than normal when wearing the harness. As a black, thick coated dog he is often warm and the harness with add slightly more heat absorption. However I haven’t noticed him being more tired or panting more when wearing it to when he’s not so I don’t think it adds too much extra heat. It will be something to watch out for in summer though.
Overall a perfect product worth the price!
Added note: If you are considering getting a rucksack for your dog it would be worth looking at the Ruffwear Palisades Pack which used the Web Master as a frame with detachable packs. Therefore the dog is still wearing the Web Master, however it is a Web Master with added clips attached for the rucksack sections, and you are paying double the price for two items. You Cannot buy the Web Master alone with these clips, nor the rucksack section alone.
I didn’t buy this product as my dog is not big enough or strong enough for carrying a backpack, due to his breed which are designed for speed, and therefore are sleek and slender. However the rucksacks are perfect for large, muscled breeds such as Labradors, Huskeys, Malamutes, Weimaraners, Bloodhounds.. The list is a long one!
Any questions about dog harnesses, this harness, backpacks or general dog queries at all please feel free to comment or email me.
This review was originally published on hhtp://ruthturner.wordpress.com, which is owned by Ruth Turner, the author of Doggy Dayz
- 5 Most Intelligent Dog Breeds (5facts.org)
- Where can you get a Border Collie (wiki.answers.com)
- Ruff Wear Performance Dog Gear Expands Eco-Sensitive Product Line & Introduces Affordable Gifts Just In Time for the Holiday Season (prweb.com)