This company is close to me because they started as a small, Hungarian family business in 1997, and since then, they sold more than 7 million products - many to police units and for service dogs. They are also one of the few companies that do extensive testing on their products and conduct researches to understand better what works best for the dogs.
Before jumping in the review of this harness, I have to stop here for a second and talk about the common misconception that all Norwegian style harnesses are restricting shoulder movement; therefore, they shouldn’t be used.
Many people seem to associate the restricted shoulder movement with running in a pencil skirt - they think that the dogs are not able to move their front legs freely when wearing a Norwegian harness. First of all, the proper adjustment for any harness is essential. Norwegian harnesses are designed to sit farther behind the front leg (not in the armpits!), leaving enough room for the shoulder to move back. If it is positioned like that, there is no way the harness can restrict the shoulder movement and would put pressure on the joints unless the dog pulls. If the dog’s legs are moving freely, nothing is pulling the harness back, so there is no way it can put any pressure on the front strap. The Norwegian harnesses shouldn’t be a tight fit around the front of the dog.
And what if the dog pulls and there is stress on that strap? Probably Norwegian harnesses are not your best option in this case or if you are doing canicross or bikejoring regularly. But does this mean this isn’t a good harness? No, but you have to know when and how to use it.
Everyone has different priorities when choosing a harness, but it is essential to apply critical thinking when you see people talking about adverse health effects in every second comment when this topic comes up.
If you are interested in reading more about this, here are two links to studies by Julius-K9:
The IDC® belt harness was created in 2015. The design is really similar to their well-known Powerharness just without the saddle part, so we will use some of the Powerharness graphics in this review.
Besides the lack of the saddle, the other differences between the Powerharness and the Belt harness are that the latter has rounded and thicker edges of the straps. The parts are incredibly high quality, they use inspected straps from Germany, and the fasteners are made from Swiss materials. We tested the buckles in freezing temperatures, and they did work with ease.
The harness has a handle that is similar to their HDR harness that we reviewed before. The hook and loop fastener lets you quickly “open” the handle if you want to use it and fix it when your dog runs off-leash to minimize the chance of getting stuck in the bushes. This makes it easy to use, but on the other hand, when you grab the handle, you hold the loop side of the velcro, which is not the comfiest.
The harness only has one ring on the back, which an INOX ring. It seems to be durable and robust. We like the bigger ring because it’s easier to attach the leash to it.
We usually prefer harnesses that have some material under the ring on the back, so it’s not rubbing on the back of the dog, but this ring is attached stiffly and doesn’t move much when the dog runs.
The material of the Belt Harness is much stiffer than you would think. It is a durable but lightweight harness that will not move around much on the dog.
Luckily we got the chance to test two different sizes of the Julius-K9 Color and Gray Belt Harness!
I think the one below is the best photo to show the difference between size 0 and size 1.
The sizing of the harnesses are:
Size 0: Chest circumference: 58 - 76 cm (22.8 - 29.9 in); dog’s weight: 14 - 25 kg (31 - 55 lbs)
Size 1: Chest circumference: 63 - 85 cm (24.8 - 33.5 in); dog’s weight: 23 - 30 kg (50.5 - 66 lbs)
As you see, there are many dogs who would fit in both measurement ranges. Besides the chest circumference you also have to consider the width of the straps, which can change the fit of the harness. E.g., if you have a short-haired, skinny dog, the bigger size might end up sitting too low on the shoulders and/or slide around more. The bigger buckles could also look too bulky on a skinny dog, but that’s just a design perspective. The photo also shows a significant difference in patch sizes. This is important if you want to have a longer custom text or need to communicate an important message (like if your dog needs more space).
You will find photos in this review with both sizes because we wanted to properly test which one slides around more and which one is a better fit for Mia altogether.
On the photo below, you see the size 0 harness. The fit wasn’t that different from size 1 as we expected first, but it does sit a little lower on the front than should. Due to the thinner chest strap, it also moves more up and down when the dog runs.
As you see below, the size 1 harness has much wider straps, which makes the harness more “stable” and stiff. We feel that this bigger size is a better fit for Mia although it does look a little overkill on her :)
Proper adjustment is always crucial with any dog gear, but it seems harder to find the optimal length of the straps in case of the Norwegian harnesses. When we first got these harnesses, I made small adjustments on the straps during every walk to figure out how to hold the harness in place without restricting the shoulder movement. If you don’t leave enough room behind the front legs, the dog will not be able to comfortably walk in the harness even off-leash since the front part is pulling the shoulders back when the dog steps. Fortunately, the straps give you a wide range to customize the harness and find the best fit for your dog. Below you see two pages of the fitting instructions Julius-K9. They were made for the IDC Powerharness, but position-wise the belt harness is the same just without a saddle.
In general, the best way to position these harnesses is to have the front strap just below the neckline (shouldn’t put pressure on the dog’s neck when sniffing the ground) and the chest strap a few inches behind the front leg. When the dog runs or trots, the chest strap shouldn’t rub against the back of the front legs.
Julius-K9 offers different accessories that you can easily attach to this belt harness as well. We tested a few of these and wrote a comprehensive description of them in the review of their Power Harness.
• The Pressure Distribution Pad can be attached to the two straps of the harness with strong velcro. The goal of this attachment is to distribute the pressure, stabilize the harness, and also to help to adjust the position of the neck strap if needed. On some dogs, the front strap can slide higher up and put pressure on the lower neck, but by using this pressure pad, you can bring the neck strap down.
• The Front Control Y-Belt with a D-ring can be similarly used as the above described Distribution Pad with the leash attached to the back of the harness, but it also has a no-pull front ring. The main difference (besides the ring) between the two is that while the Distribution Pad is soft and padded, the Front Control Pad was made from a simple strap material.
• The IDC Universal Side Bags can be attached to the velcro on both sides of the harness. The Julius-K9 labels on the side bags can be replaced with a custom label just as on the harness.
This harness behaves very similarly to the Powerharness, but it is lighter and has a more modern look. The material is stiff and durable. We wouldn’t say it’s waterproof but looks water-resistant: it does get wet when the dog swims but does not soak after a walk in light rain.
We like that there is an option to fix the handle on the back, but it’s still easy to access if you have to grab the dog quickly. It is obviously not a lifting harness, but the handle and the wide straps are good enough to give a hand to a dog on a steep and rocky trail when needed.
• No-pull correction: I wouldn’t suggest using it without the Front Control Y-Belt if your dog pulls. Without a front attachment point, it will not help to teach better leash manners, and it can also hurt the dog’s shoulders.
• Running/Biking (as an occasional hobby, buy specific equipment if you want to get into it seriously) Only use it if your dog is perfectly trained and only runs next to you without putting ANY pressure on the leash and be sure the harness leaves enough room for the front legs. No bike-jorning, sledding, etc. with this harness!
• Hiking: The handle is a big help to hold your dog in the mountains or lift him/her if needed. Keep in mind that the harness has to be correctly adjusted to be sure the dog is not sliding out when lifting - if needed, you can purchase a chest pad for additional safety. As always, be sure the dog can run, jump comfortably in it without any restriction before going for a hike!
• City walk: If your dog gets scared easily, buy a chest pad to make it safer. The custom velcro text can be a big plus in a busy neighborhood to let other people know if your dog is reactive/shy etc. or to put your contact information on it in case your dog would run away. You can buy these from Julius-K9 in different colors and even with phosphorescent or reflective text.
• Easy to put on/adjust: you simply have to put it over the head and use one buckle. It is excellent for big-headed dogs or for those who are afraid of putting a tight harness over their heads. I found it useful for walking up to agility training (where you remove it for the training and putting it back after) or for a quick walk when you want to put something on the dog quickly and be able to remove it with one click.
• Visibility: It comes in bright colors (besides the black one) but no reflective parts besides the custom patch.
You can buy all their products on their website and can probably also find retailers and stores in your country.
The collar on some of the photos are also from the same product line, check out the review of the our review on Color & Gray Collar and leash set on the link!