Effect of harness design on the biomechanics of domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris)

Ellen Williams*, Violet Hunton, Jacqueline Boyd, Anne Carter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Harnesses have become increasingly popular and whilst there are benefits to harnesses, the impact of harness design on canine biomechanics, and thus physical health and welfare is largely unknown. The purpose of this study was to assess the effect of three popular commercially available harnesses on canine locomotion in 66 domestic dogs. Dogs were filmed moving on a loose lead over a Tekscan Strideway gait analysis system. Stride length as a proportion of limb length (calculated as distance from the elbow to the floor), body weight distribution in the front versus the hind limbs (%), and minimum and maximum apparent angles of the lateral epicondyle of humerus (LEH) and greater tubercle of humerus (GTH) during the motion cycle were measured. Except for GTH angles, there were significant differences in all the investigated metrics. Differences varied across breeds/breed types. It is recommended that, when purchasing and fitting harnesses for dogs, owners and harness fitters treat dogs on an individual basis. The impact of pulling in harness on dog gait requires investigation as dogs may experience greater restrictions when pulling than during locomotion on a loose lead.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Early online date20 Sept 2023
DOIs
Publication statusFirst published - 20 Sept 2023

Keywords

  • canine health and welfare
  • canine locomotion
  • Gait analysis
  • harness
  • restraint device

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