Julius-K9 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.
The Hard Dog Race (HDR) harness is the second Y-harness that Julius-K9 launched this year. With this harness, they target activities like canicross, bikejoring or just hiking with your dog.
The harness is well-made and designed. The neck straps can be adjusted with a strong and durable velcro which holds well.
On the back, the neck straps are connected to the top part of the harness with strong metal rings.
The HDR harness has only one leash attachment point on the back which is a strong, metal D-ring.
The strap where you see the brand name on the photo above is actually a handle that's only being held done by a velcro piece. The hook and loop fastener lets you quickly “open it 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 is a great solution to make 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 best on your hand.
One of my favorite feature of this harness is that you can change the length of the part between the front legs to position the chest strap closer or farther from the legs. This part also has a strong velcro so there are no buckles that could rub the chest of the dog. Making this piece adjustable makes it much easier to fit the harness for dogs with different body types and to accommodate each dog's needs.
Every part of the HDR harness is covered with a neoprene material which is comfortable for the dog, does not rub the skin or hair but it also proved to be durable while hiking in mud and rain.
Due to using the above-mentioned neoprene material, the harness is light and the padded parts are thin so the harness does not soak too much water in and it dries reasonably fast.
The harness stayed in place well even when it was wet and did not slide to the side or up to the neck due to the weight of the wet material when Mia run around off-leash.
The recommendation of Julius-K9 is to leave a palm wide space (2-3 fingers for smaller dogs) between the chest strap and the shoulders of the dog to leave enough room for movement. I like how the five adjustment points let you perfectly position the harness so it's not rubbing the armpits. I kept experimenting with it to see what works best for Mia and usually left it a little longer for hikes (to be sure it's comfortable) and shorter for city walks to have better control over Mia if I have to pull her forward by the harness.
The HDR harness - like all other Julius-K9 harnesses - have room for a velcro patch. On this harness, it's on the top where you currently see the black & red “Hard Dog Race” patch. This makes the label less visible - especially from farther away - compared to the IDC Powerharness where they are on the sides.
I only discovered one quality issue with the harness which is related to the chest straps. The buckles were not holding the straps strong enough and they slowly loosened up as you see it on the photo below. It's not a serious problem, just makes you have to adjust it again once or twice a week. I contacted Julius-K9 regarding this problem and they are currently working on fixing it.
And last but not least, our “pulling test” that we introduced to show you how the harness is positioned when the dog pulls. As you see, the leash attachment is far enough on the back to distribute the pulling force between the neck and front straps and put pressure on the chest as it should be. If the harness is properly adjusted, it's not supposed to turn and cut into the armpits.
FYI, on this photo I might set the length of the part between the legs a little too long but that shouldn't change what I wanted to show with the photo. With multiple adjustment points, it's important to try out different combination and check which works best for your dog.
• No-pull: It does not have a no-pull front ring.
• Running/biking (as an irregular hobby, buy specific equipment if you want to get into it seriously): If properly adjusted, it's great for running and biking with your dog but keep in mind that it is still not a professional pulling harness.
• Hiking: It was great for hiking: it has a handle to help the dog, does not restrict movement, it does well even if it's muddy or wet and dries fast.
• City walk: works pretty well for city walks for the same reason I describe above.
• Easy to put on/adjust: All straps are adjustable but I wouldn't say it's easy. It takes a while to properly adjust them but once it's done, it's easy to put on. The neck straps do not have a buckle so that has to go over the head then you can use the two buckles on the chest strap to fix the harness.
• Visibility: The neck straps and the top part have reflective threads and edging but I wouldn't say the harness is highly visible. It also comes in orange which is probably much more visible because that has orange color around the straps as well.
The Hard Dog race harness is great for hiking or other outdoor activities. It has padded parts only where needed which makes it lightweight and more resistant to dirt. During our two months of testing, we went for hikes, Mia tested it in rivers, muds, rain and the harness did well. I expected to see some wear on the neoprene material but there is nothing visible so far.
As always, be sure the harness is a good fit for YOUR dog. If you need help deciding, read our article on harness fitting.
You can buy all Julius-K9 products on their website and can probably also find retailers and stores in your country. When publishing this review, the harness is not available in the US but should be soon!
Mia needed the medium size from this harness but be sure to check out their sizing guide and measure your dog before ordering one.
Many of you asked Mia's measurements to better understand the different products’ fit. Your best chance of finding a good fitting gear is always to measure (and remeasure) your dog. Even we grab the measuring tape before getting a new product - even though we tested a lot of them, and have a good feeling of her size by now.
I share her measurements below, but don't go ahead and order the same size just because your dog is similar to Mia ;)
• Shoulder height: 19.5 inches (50 cm)
• Weight: 37-44 pounds (17-20 kg)
• Widest chest circumference (where the most harness would have the chest strap): 25-26 inches (63-65 cm)
• Neck circumference for collars: 15-16 inches (38-40 cm)
• Back lengths: 22 inches (56 cm)