Picture of a Pitbull Wearing a Dog Weight Vest

The Complete Guide to Choosing a Dog Weight Vest

The dog weight vest is an up-and-coming type of fitness equipment for your pooch. Just as humans wear weighted clothing like vests, gloves, shirts, and more, there’s now weighted clothing for your doggie. When running around your yard doesn’t cut it anymore, dog weight vests help you take your canine’s fitness to the next level. Keep reading to see our complete dog weight vest guide below!

What’s a Dog Weight Vest?

Dog weight vests are vests that are weighted that help your dog to gain muscle and improve functional strength. Dog weight vests come in different sizes for different dogs and the weight differs as well depending on how much your pet can handle. At the end of the day, these vests aren’t so different from the ones worn by humans.

Like with humans, dogs need to ‘vent.’ Even though they have been domesticated over the last decades, dogs are originally hunters and herders and so they need to work that energy off or they will be agitated as any dog owner will tell you.

What is the Best Dog Weight Vest?

With so many brands on the market, we came up with five of the best vests based on usability and make.

#1: Ruffwear Approach Full-Day Hiking Pack for Dogs

Picture of the Ruffwear Approach Dog Weight Vest

The Ruffwear dog weight vest is made for dogs of all sizes and has numerous pockets to stash weights depending on your dog’s stamina. The makers also thoughtfully included a harness to keep your dog in check in public places.

The padded pack is quite comfortable as it distributes weight around the dog’s belly, breastbone, and the armpits.  The saddlebags will carry quite the load as the pack is considered one of Ruff’s largest. The tough material will handle just about anything you throw at it, which makes it popular with hikers.

Each of the zippered compartments is safe to carry stash that the dog owner may need during a walk, with the front parts being deeper to carry more. This works well as dogs are stronger on their shoulders where most of the weight will be.

Each of the belly straps has a double adjuster to make the vest slip-proof. This makes it comfortable for the dog in that the weight won’t shift to one side and also easier for the owner as you don’t have to stop every few steps to adjust the weight.

The fabric is both durable and lightweight and stitched for longevity. The pack weighs a mere 12.6 ounces, which is ideal before any weight is added.

Pros

  • Lightweight and made for longevity.
  • The straps are anti-slip.
  • The saddles are huge to fit lots of stuff.

Cons

  • If you’re not keen, the weight would be uneven on one side.
  • You can’t remove the pack from the harness.
#2: Leerburg Weighted Dog Vest

Picture of the Leerburg Dog Weight Harness

The Leerburg vest comes in three sizes; Girth 22″ – 24″ for small, Girth 27″ – 31″ for medium, and large at Girth 34″ – 36″. It also comes in interesting colors including navy blue and gray. Seeing as it comes in different sizes, you have more than one options for any size of dog.

This vest is made of durable yet light material – a special type of nylon called cordura denier – that will not weigh the dog down and so its average weight is also relatively low – 12 ounces. The maker advertises it as the ideal vest for either training a dog’s muscles and overall fitness or for calming him when he is hyperactive. Even without adding significant weight, this vest will restrict the dog and calm him down. It is lined with faux sheepskin that is soft to the touch and will not harm or agitate the dog’s skin during exercise.

The vest has all of 10 pockets for even distribution of weight. Each pocket can handle up to 10lbs of weight, meaning that you can place up to 10lbs in total. If your dog can handle more than that, you can always expand it to handle more as the vest makes allowances for that. At the neck area, the harness is lined with even thicker sheepskin to protect the neck from strain.

The harnesses are fitted well to be snug without hurting the dog. They will not slip out of place either and so you can trust this piece to stray in place no matter how strenuous the workout. It also retails below $100, a steal given its quality.

Pros

  • The vest is expandable to hold more weight.
  • The material is durable, lightweight and breathable.
  • The straps are well fitted and won’t slip.

Cons

  • 10lbs may too light for the larger breeds.
  • The color-range is limited.
#3: Xdog Weight Vest for Dogs

Picture of the Xdog Dog Weight Vest

While the Xdog vest looks as though it is made for large dogs, it caters to even the smallest breeds. It comes in three sizes; smallest, Small, XL, and the largest for the biggest breeds. It is made to fit snugly so that your dog will not have any uncomfortable movements that could lead to his getting hurt. It comes with sand bags but they are without sand. The maker discourages against the use of metal weights as they could harm the dog.

The pockets are at the top to hold weight that is held by the shoulders, there are two by the side to hand near the belly and there is the last one at the bottom to balance things off. It does not feature any weight on the spine as that would cause pain and injury.

The harnesses are quite snug but they will not harm your pet as they are lined with soft material. They are made to stay in place and not slip to ensure that the dog is comfortable throughout his workout or walk. Even without weights, this vest provides restraint to calm your pet and sooth him when he is agitated. As is with any harness, this one will take some getting used to depending on how often you train your pet.

The front-shoulder weight placement that is quite unique with this piece is meant to build muscle on the front foot for effective take-off and stronger legs. Not many brands have this feature.

The price of this vest varies with size, but hardly does it go beyond $130. It lasts long as it is made of durable material and effective stitching.

Pros

  • It comes in various sizes for all dog sizes.
  • Made of durable material.
  • The front-shoulder weight placement is strategic.

Cons

  • Quite pricey.
#4: OneTigris Tactical Dog Molle Vest

Picture of the OneTigris Molle Dog Weight Vest

The OneTigris vest comes in medium, large, and X-large but none is in small, which is not so positive to owners of smaller breeds. It comes in one color; tan, which is also not the best for those who want more color options.

Where it lacks in color options it makes up for in the breathability of the material, ease of cleaning, and storage space. It has three detachable pouches and together they can carry up to 12lbs for the larger pieces.  The interior of the vest is mesh for ventilation and breathability as well as comfort when wearing it. The outer material is 1000D nylon which is durable and tear-free, hence a good companion when hiking.

The pouches are deep to carry valuables such as cameras and phones. There are of the same size to ensure equal distribution of weight when working out. The neck area is well secured to prevent any harm to your dog and the metal leash gives you control when walking him in public.

The size chart is elaborate to make sure you get the right one for your dog. Medium size is; Chest Girth: 16.5~27.5, Neck: 11.5~15, Back Length: 16, Width: 13; the Large size; Chest Girth: 18.5~36.5, Neck: 14~18, Back Length: 19, Width: 14.9 while extra-large is; Chest Girth: 20.5~40.3, Neck: 10.5~21.5, Back Length: 21, Width: 16.5.

Pros

  • Made of durable material.
  • The mesh inside prevents injury.
  • It harnesses are made of POM which does not slip.

Cons

  • It does not come in the smallest sizes.
  • Limited color options.
#5: K9 Fitvest Dog Weight Vest

Picture of the K9 Fitvest Dog Weight Harness

Even though it feels as though most of the vests are made for the larger breeds, a few are made with the lighter dogs in mind. The K9 FitVest is the ideal breed for the lightweight pets and it looks great too. It comes in bright colors and can handle more weight that it looks – up to 10lbs that fits perfectly in the pockets provided. The vest is reflective for better vision at night.

While this vest is great when training muscle and weight watching, it is also great for calming the dog when in distress. Because it is quite small, it fits well with small breeds. The harness has a great grip to prevent it from slipping when working out.

Apart from it fitting like perfectly, it has cooling packs to bring temperatures down when your dog is overheated. The cooler packs are sold separately and they come in handy in summer. Maybe the best feature yet is the price – this vest with sensory ability costs $50.

Pros

  • Has sensory abilities.
  • Great for smaller breeds due to its snug fit.
  • Has reflective strips.

Cons

  • Only available for small breeds.

The Benefits of Dog Weight Vests

Picture of a Happy Dog Wearing a Weight Vest

Those who love working out with a weighted vest will tell you that it’s more than just a muscle building strategy, but rather, a way to improve endurance. Sometimes the daily run in not enough for a breed that was meant to be on its feet for the better part of the day. Adding a dog weight vest to those runs and walks intensifies a workout and you will notice a calmer, fitter dog as a result.

Stress Relief

Dogs act out as a way of venting. Your pet did not chew the cushions or destroy the couch just for kicks, but as a cry for help. Dogs love a good dose of endorphins that are produced after a workout and if this is lacking they are likely to act out in frustrations.

Exercise does more than make your dog look great. It improves its brain function, the way he interacts with you and other dogs, and normalizes his mood. Large dogs need a little more than regular workouts. They are built to handle the challenge that comes with a dog weight vest and so this accessory will be beneficial.

Muscle Building

Labrador and Golden retrievers, Siberian husky, Dalmatian, and Australian Shepherds are among the breeds that could use intense exercise. They are naturally inclined to work and so they get easily agitated if they don’t get a full dose of exercise. You can remedy this by intensifying their workouts with a vest.

How often should you use the vest? Well, you can strap it on your pet every day during workouts, as long as they are over 2 years old. Also, the weight should not be over 20% of the dog’s body weight.

Cardiovascular Health

Dog experts recommend 20-30 minutes of exercise for a dog per day depending on its breed. While there is no substitute for this, you may not have the time for this on the daily and so intensifying those few minutes you get goes a long way in ensuring the health of your dog.

A 30-minute workout is double effective when you add a vest to it and so the results are twice more effective. It also increases the dog’s endurance and strengthens muscles for a healthier and happier pet. It is especially effective for obese dogs.

Competitive Edge

A well-toned dog has the upper hand in competitions and tournaments. Actually, skinny and overweight dogs stand no chance in making it to the top during competitions, and so a dog weight vest comes in handy when training them for such.

While it may be a little tough for your dog at the beginning, they adjust quite quickly as they build endurance over time. Muscle mass increases and they are able to do things they couldn’t do before such as jumping hoops.

Countering Long-Term Effects of Obesity

Just like humans who develop mobility issues for being overweight, dogs are made weaker on the joints by too much pressure coming from weight. Obesity creeps up quite fast when a dog eats those fancy dog meals but lives a sedentary life. Introducing a demanding workout plan will bring down the weight and build strengthen muscle for better mobility.

3 Reasons to Buy a Dog Weight Vest

Vests do more than intensify a workout. Here are three reasons you might buy a dog weight vest:

1. Dog Overactivity

Some breeds of dogs such as the Siberian husky are herders by nature, and so they are at times overactive. They can overwhelm you when you take them out for a workout because their energy levels are too high. Unless you have the time and energy to exhaust the dog’s reserves, a vest would be a useful addition to your workouts.

A vest weighs down on the pet and utilizes its energy levels to the maximum. A 30-minute workout could will usually not have that much effect on a husky but adding a vest changes the game to make to feel like an hour’s work.

2. Weight Control

Think of regular running that you probably do every day. It does loads for your heart rate and leads to rapid weight loss. Now, add a 10lb load to that workout. As much as the first few days will be too much and you may even have to cut the time you run by half, it will do better for you as it will strengthen the underlying muscle. Kill two birds with one stone by leaning up and toning at the same time. The same logic applies to dogs.

3. Making A Dog Weight Vest is Hard

Some dog owners make their own vests depending on the needs of their dogs, but we advocate for buying. For starters, the vest will need to be of a particular material which would be hard to find or cost the same as buying a readymade vest.

The vest comes with the right number of pockets to balance your weights when working out. These pockets make it possible to increase weight as your dog’s endurance increases over time.

Choosing A Weighted Vest For Your Dog: 4 Key Factors

Picture of Cesar With Dog Wearing Weight Backpack

There are usually two types of dog weight vests – those with zippered pockets and backpacks. Vests with pockets place most of the weight closer to the dog’s belly while backpacks concentrate on the dog’s shoulders.

For both types of vests, the weights are added or removed as per the owner’s will and also depending on the dog’s endurance.

1. Your Dog’s Age

Weighted vests improve muscle formation of a dog, which is why they should not be used for pups younger than two years old. At that age, the dog’s muscles are still developing and rushing them could do more harm than good.

After they’ve turned two, you want to go easy on the weights as well as introduce them slowly to give the dog the time to adjust.

2. Your Dog’s Weight and Size

You are looking to challenge your dog and not overwhelm it with weight. The recommended starting weight is between 10 and 20% of the dog’s body weight that you can increase over time. You also want to distribute the weight evenly to prevent any injuries due to too much pressure.

The size of the dog could be a challenge and especially if you buy the vest when your pet is still little. Measure him to get a good feel of the dog’s chest area that is certainly going to increase as he grows so that he remains comfortable while wearing it. The vest should not out any pressure on the dog’s spine or mid-section.

3. Positioning of Pockets

Go for a vest with multiple pockets to evenly distribute weight all over your dog’s body. A pocketed vest is majorly criticized for the fact that most of the weight is distributed around the belly, which may strain the spine. Look for a vest that distributes the weight evenly on the shoulders at the top, the bottom, and also the dog’s sides. If the weight is evenly distributed, the dog will not strain during a workout.

4. Ample Padding

A vest, whether weighted or not is not a natural item on the dog’s body, and so your pet will most likely be uncomfortable in it at first. You want to minimize these chances by making the padding as comfortable as possible. Padding not only makes the dog comfortable but it also prevents injury to his torso. A comfortable dog will adjust to the weighted vest faster and resist less.

Tips For Using Your Dog Weight Vest

  • Start Slowly. Start your dog off slowly. At first, your dog will feel restricted by the vest and may not even want to work out as much in it as he is used to running freely. Cut him some slack – he is trying – and be patient with him as he adjusts. For the first three or so trials, don’t push him too hard – a 20-minute walk will do just fine as he adjusts to the new routine.
  • Ensure the Dog Weight Pack is Balanced. Look out for any signs of discomfort and adjust the pack accordingly. Check that the weight is distributed evenly to avoid hurting overwhelming some parts and eventually causing injury. Additionally do not work him too hard. Remember the vest is weighted and so he will tire faster than he would if it wasn’t.
  • When Increasing Weight, Do So Slowly. Don’t expect too much too soon from your dog. As you introduce the weights, start slowly with up to 10% of his body weight. As time goes by, increase the weight gradually but ensure that it is evenly distributed to benefit him more.

Conclusion

The right dog weight vest is out there- and most probably on this list. Remember that everything should be introduced in moderation and it helps to be patient with your dog. Most dogs have a hard time adjusting to the harness being in their body but they always get better with time. Also, remember to wait until they are over two years old to introduce them to weights.

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