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.
Before jumping in the review of this harness, we have to stop for a second and talk about the common misconception that all harnesses going across the shoulders restrict the dog’s shoulder movement; therefore, they shouldn’t be used. To adequately address this topic, we wrote an article to discuss when this is true and when it is safe to use. We also discuss the proper adjustment and position of these harnesses on the link above, so check it out if you are interested.
To summarize the article, if these harnesses are correctly fitted and not used for a dog who pulls, they are safe to use and do not restrict movement.
This harness has the same basic design as their IDC Powerharness that we reviewed before. We suggest checking out that review since the same accessories (chest pad, no-pull front ring, etc.) could be used for this harness as well that we reviewed there.
There are two design differences between the IDC Powair Summer harness and the IDC Powerharness. One is the lack of the rubber strap on the back of the Summer harness that would allow you to secure the handle and/or the D-ring. That rubber piece also serves on the Power Harness as a protection from the D-ring. After the first few weeks of using the Powair Summer harness, the back of the harness started to discolor under the ring, and the mesh also has a slight indentation where the ring is pressing against it. While these strains are easy to scrub off from the Powerharness, it is much harder in case of this mesh material. The good news is that machine washing can take care of it.
The other design difference is on the front strap. The Powerharness has a wide reflective piece on it while the Powair Summer harness only has a reflective lining in the middle of the strap. The photo below is a little misleading; the straps are the same width on both harnesses.
We found that the lack of the reflective piece on the Summer harness also makes a slight difference in the “rigidness” of the strap: the front of the Summer harness tends to slide down a little more than the neck strap of the Power Harness - especially if it gets wet.
Based on the product description, the Powair harness’s primary invention compared to the Power harness is the light, mesh-like fabric material that ventilates exceptionally well, dries fast, and keeps the dog cool if you make the harness wet.
We did some testing to see how the drying time and the amount of water retained in the Powair Summer harness compared to the Power Harness attributes.
The longer version is below, but the short answer is that the Summer harness dries much faster in the first few minutes, but the difference between the two is almost insignificant after that. It also retains much more water in the first few seconds, but the water runs out fast over the first minute, and it retains almost the same amount of water after that. This also means that the mesh material absorbs the water much easier than the Power harness’s outer material, so making it wet to use it as a cooling harness would probably be much more efficient.
Flaws of our measurements:
• We have to keep in mind that the water probably evaporates faster from the mesh material if used outside on the sun, in the wind when the dog is running around while our experiments were done inside without putting it on the dog.
• If you want to use this as a cooling harness and apply water on the harness while hiking on a dry and hot trail, the water that runs out from the harness would still make the dog wet, which also helps to cool. Losing all that water over the first minute is not necessary, “going to waste” cooling-wise.
• This is by no means a representative, validated test, but should be enough to give you an idea of the new harness’s attributes.
We used a size 0 Power harness and a Medium Powair harness, which are the same sizes. We took five measurements:
• 1. Dry weight: the Powair harness is lighter (225 grams vs. 185 grams)
• 2. Weight when wet: soaked them in water and weighted them using a bowl immediately after picking them out from the water to be sure they are not losing weight while the scale is calculating. Repeated three times. The Powair Summer harness retained significantly more water than the Power Harness. This made the Powair Summer harness slightly heavier than the Power harness despite the difference in dry weight.
• 3. Weight after hanging it to dry for 1 minute, repeated three times During this one minute, the water was steadily flowing out from the Powair Summer harness while it was only dripping over the last 30 seconds from the Power harness. Over this time, the Powair Summer harness lost 125 grams of water while the Power harness only lost 64 grams on average.
• 4. Weight after hanging it to dry for 5 minutes, repeated three times The difference in water retainment is flattening out after 1 minute. The Power harness still contained more water, but in practice, that doesn’t make a big difference anymore (126 grams vs. 108 grams)
• 5. Weight after hanging it to dry inside for 1 hour: there is barely any difference in the amount of water in the harnesses: 90 grams in the Power harness vs. 83 grams in the Powair Summer harness. This is +40% vs. +45% of the original weight of the harnesses.
To give you a perspective, one tablespoon of water is approximately 15 grams.
You can find the exact numbers in the attached table and on the charts. Let us know if you have any questions!
We don’t have proper measurements on the following, but we feel that Mia’s back is less hot under the Powair Summer harness after a summer walk in the city (no water involved) than it is under the Powerharness.
Dogs mostly cool down through panting and sweating on their paws, but their comfort level can change significantly if we put a harness or vest on them that covers their backs, especially if it is dark-colored. It’s never a bad idea to consider not putting a thick harness on a dog for the hottest summer days, but if you do, keep in mind that breathable, mesh-like materials - like this one - can help dogs to cool down under the harness.
Based on the measurements described above, we don’t feel that the Powair Summer harness has significant drying or water-retaining advantage over the Powerharness or better say: we don’t feel this would have a considerable effect on the dog’s comfort. At the same time, we do feel they make a difference on those hot summer days by providing better airflow and keeping the back of the dog cooler.
We were concerned about the durability of the soft, mesh material, but it did hold up well so far - besides the issues under the ring. We thought it would start having tears all over after Mia running around in the forest but no problems so far. Mud and dirt can build up in the mesh, but you can machine-wash the harness on medium heat, and that should take care of it.
• No-pull correction: Without a front attachment pad, it will not help teach better leash manners, and it can also hurt the dog’s shoulders if used for a puller with the back ring.
• 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. Be sure the harness leaves enough room for the front legs. No bikejoring, sledding, etc. with this harness!
• Hiking: The handle is a big help to hold your dog in the mountains or lift them if needed. Keep in mind that the harness has to be correctly adjusted to ensure the dog is not sliding out when lifting - if required, 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/friendly etc. or to put your contact information on it if your dog runs away. You can buy these from Julius-K9 in different colors and even with phosphorescent or reflective text.
• Easy to put on/adjust: Easy: you have to put it over the head and use one buckle. It is excellent for big-headed dogs or those who are afraid of putting a tight harness over their heads. We 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 remove it with one click.
• Visibility: excellent! It has bright colors and reflective parts.
You can buy all their products on their website and can probably also find retailers and stores in your country.
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)