The best service dog vests for man’s best friend

Adventure gear for canines.

Best Overall

Icefang Tactical Dog Operation Harness

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Best Budget

OneTigris X Destroyer Dog Harness

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Best Tactical

LBT 1608K-9 Military Working Dog Harness

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Service animals are indispensable for many people, especially those with health conditions, ranging from seeing eye dogs to canines trained to respond to epileptic seizures, and they often wear specialized high-visibility service dog vests. Emblazoned with “service dog” patches, these vests not only allow the dog to be easily identified as a specially trained animal, but are also more animal-friendly for any dog, since, unlike collars, they don’t concentrate pressure on the animal’s throat if they strain against the leash. Due to this fact, many people prefer these dog harnesses as more humane training tools over collars, especially for particularly rambunctious dogs

However, it must be stated that identifying your dog as a service dog without proper certification or training is illegal in many places in the United States, and moreover, unethical. Simply having a MOLLE dog harness for your dog does not make them a service animal, and the question of a real service dog vest versus a fake one ultimately boils down to avoiding any sort of marking or tag on the vest that says “service animal,” or anything that could be construed as that through wordplay. Knowingly misrepresenting your pet as a service dog carries penalties of fines or worse.

best service dog vests SPRINKLES
Sprinkles the dog. (Matt Sampson)

With that being said, we partnered with service dog-in-training Sprinkles to test the options on this list and make sure that they work for their intended purposes. The vests today were chosen not only based on which helped Sprinkles in her training but also based on which one she liked the best, ensuring that our picks for the best service dog vests are puppy-approved. 

Best Overall

Icefang Tactical Dog Operation Harness

See It

Best Budget

OneTigris X Destroyer Dog Harness

See It

Best Tactical

LBT 1608K-9 Military Working Dog Harness

See It

Best for Hiking

Chai’s Choice Retriever Harness

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Things to consider before buying a service dog vest

When buying a service dog vest, the key consideration is to make sure the vest fits the animal on which you intend to put it, and then consider intended use, your dog’s temperament, and any relevant safety considerations.

Sizing

Most of the harnesses on this list come in multiple sizes, fitting the most popular breeds of dogs. Most vests are sized for the dog’s chest, which is measured at the deepest point of the ribcage and over the back of the dog. However, others are measured with considerations for neck diameter and back length, which is important for particularly lanky or stout dogs that fall outside the popular dog breeds.

Animal strength

Some dogs are big boys and girls, and we love them all, but to make sure that they don’t go anywhere, especially when acclimating them to being around people or other dogs, it’s important to ensure that your harness is ready for your dog. For extremely strong dogs, it’s a good idea to choose load-rated harnesses that have features like front leash points to ensure that if the dog does strain against their leash, they’ll turn, rather than jerk against the leash.

Safety considerations

If you want to take your dog with you during extreme activities like climbing, rappelling, or anything else, you’ll need to make sure your dog’s harness is load-rated and specifically designed for these features. Similarly, if you enjoy taking your dog for a walk when it’s dark, it’s a good idea to purchase a harness that either has reflective material sewn in, or has Velcro space for retroreflector patches.

FAQs about service dog vests

Q: Does the color of a service dog vest matter?

A: Not in the U.S. There is no prescribed color, however, it’s a good idea to make sure that the vest is high-visibility in all conditions. Red and blue are the most common colors.

Q: Does a service dog have to wear a vest?

A: Not in the U.S. However, when taking a service animal into a business that only allows service animals, it’s a good idea to have any relevant paperwork handy.

Q: Do service dogs fly for free?

A: Many airlines will allow passengers to fly with an accredited service animal at no extra cost, but may require documentation up to 48 hours in advance. As always, make sure that the animal in question has all relevant paperwork, and you know the relevant laws at your destination. For more information, check ADAta.org.

Q: What does a purple dog harness mean?

A: Some dog owners use color-coded harnesses to indicate how their pets should be approached. Purple usually denotes a dog that you shouldn’t feed anything to — or the dog is just a big Prince fan.

Q: Why do Marines name their dogs after guns?

A: Same reason you’ll inevitably meet some Major or Lieutenant Colonel with five kids named Ruger, Colt, Barrett, Gunner, and John (Moses Browning).

best service dog vests
Sprinkles trying out the OneTigris service dog vest. (Matt Sampson)

Final thoughts

Dog harnesses aren’t just tactical accessories for people who buy their entire personality out of tactical catalogs — they’re also a superior option in terms of security, safety, and humaneness for your dog. Collars may be easier and cheaper, but dogs can choke themselves if they buck against the collar. In any case, Sprinkles the dog seemed very happy with the chosen options on this list, and she’ll likely be in the Icefang harness for a good while. She’ll have to hit the puppy protein if she wants to fit into the LBT harness, though.

Methodology 

The harnesses on this list were selected from a pool of six or so options, some of which did not make the cut, either because Sprinkles hated them, or because they lacked necessary features. Options from Goat Trail Tactical and Laopaw were not selected for this list despite our testing them, because of either a lack of distinguishing features above other brands or durability issues that came up in testing, respectively.

Task & Purpose and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. We independently evaluate gear by putting products in the hands of subject matter experts. The products we test may be purchased by Task & Purpose, our staff, or provided for review by a manufacturer. No matter the source, our testing procedures and our assessments remain free from third-party influence. Learn more about our product review process.

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Matt Sampson

Commerce Reporter

Matt Sampson is a commerce reporter for Task and Purpose and The Gear Locker, and a contributing writer for The Drive, and Car Bibles, covering everything gear and tech-related. He lives in Fredericksburg, VA or Richmond, VA, depending on the day.