3060_LoadUpHarness_ObsidianBlack_Right_ZoomWhy did Ruffwear design and build the Load Up Harness?

Over the course of 14 months, Ruffwear’s Product Development team designed, built and tested the Load Up Harness. We set out to design this product in response to requests from our customers for a Ruffwear-designed vehicle restraint harness, constructed from quality materials and ergonomically designed for the dog’s comfort over long road trips.

Customers were telling us that they were using our Web Master™ and Doubleback™ Harnesses in their vehicles to restrain their dogs. Knowing that neither of these harnesses was designed specifically for vehicle use, we wanted to combine our harness design knowledge and familiarity with strength-rated hardware to build a specific vehicle restraint harness for dogs.

Currently there are no United States Federal regulations that fully define restraint for our canine companions while they are in a vehicle heading to or from our shared adventures. In some states, like New Jersey and New Mexico, there are laws that require a dog to be ‘restrained’ in the back seat, keeping the dog out of the front seat so the driver is not distracted. Our goal in offering the Load Up Harness is to enable traveling dogs to hit the open road with a comfortable, easy-to-use vehicle restraint harness.

What makes the Load Up Harness different from other vehicle restraint harnesses for dogs?

Ruffwear’s Load Up Harness combines strength-rated hardware and high-quality webbing and materials to offer a strong, secure restraint for dogs traveling in vehicles. We designed the harness with the dog’s comfort and safety in mind and the dog’s ability to move comfortably in the back seat was built into the design.

Has the Load Up Harness been crash tested? Under what parameters?

Yes. In April 2014, as part of our product development process, we tested prototypes of the Load Up Harness at MGA Research Corporation (http://mgaresearch.com/), an independent test facility.

Overall Test Summary
The canine restraint was dynamically tested under the conditions outlined in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213 Child Restraint Systems (FMVSS 213). The canine restraint was installed on the canine crash test mannequin per the manufacturer’s (Ruffwear) instructions and then secured to the test bench restraint system. FMVSS 213 employs a standard bench seat that represents the rear seating environment of an automobile. The seat bench and add on restraint was then subjected to the 30 mph generic frontal crash pulse detailed in FMVSS 213.

MGA Research performed three separate dynamic tests of Ruffwear’s Load Up Harness in the following sizes and dog-mannequin weights:

Size Small Harness: 25 pounds
Size Medium Harness: 45 pounds
Size Large Harness: 75 pounds

We conducted these tests in order to learn from the results and ensure that the harness construction and components performed as designed. Based on the test results, we reinforced stitching and altered the webbing adjuster to ensure the webbing would not slip.

Here are videos from all three dynamic sled tests:

Dynamic test of Ruffwear’s Load Up™ Harness – 25 lb dog

Dynamic test of Ruffwear’s Load Up™ Harness – 45 lb dog

Dynamic test of Ruffwear’s Load Up™ Harness – 75 lb dog

This testing was a key part of our product development process. It confirmed for us that we had designed a secure canine restraint harness that performed as intended.

What is the design-intent behind the Load Up Harness?

The Load Up Harness has been designed to be comfortable, while providing supportive restraint for a dog traveling in the back seat of a vehicle.

We’ve put the seatbelt attachment point low and at the base of the dog’s back to:

1) make the harness more comfortable for the dog over long road trips

2) keep the dog in an upright position in the event of a crash

In observing sled test videos of restraint harnesses with the seatbelt attachment points high on the dog’s back, the dog tends to flip out off the seat causing their back legs to swing forward. The photos shown below are taken from sled test videos of Ruffwear’s Load Up Harness:

Dynamic test images of Ruffwear Load Up Harnesses:


In all three of Ruffwear’s dynamic sled (crash) tests of the Load Up Harness shown above, the dog mannequin stayed in an upright position and on the seat.

Why isn’t Ruffwear’s Load Up Harness listed as ‘CPS Certified’ on the Center for Pet Safety’s website?

While Ruffwear’s Load Up Harness has been dynamically (crash) tested under the test conditions of FMVSS 213, the Load Up Harness has not been tested against The Center for Pet Safety’s Safety Harness Crash Test Protocol, which was published on July 15, 2014. The certification test did not exist when we tested prototypes of our Load Up Harness in April 2014 as part of Ruffwear’s product development process. Ruffwear’s Load Up Harness is not ‘CPS Certified.’

Based on the results of our dynamic tests, the size Medium and Large/X-Large Load Up Harnesses would not meet CPS’s current certification based on the excursion measurement limits defined in the testing protocol. In order for the Medium and Large/X-Large Load Up Harness to test within CPS’s excursion limits, the seatbelt attachment point would likely need to be affixed higher on the dog’s back. We believe that Ruffwear’s seat belt attachment location produces the optimal approach when considering the safety and comfort of the dog.

What’s the correct way to put the Load Up Harness on my dog?

Refer to our Quick Start Video at or follow these step-by-step instructions:


How do I secure the Load Up Harness to the seat belt?


Questions about the Load Up Harness? Please contact Ruffwear Customer Service at support@ruffwear.com or call us at 888-783-3932 Monday – Friday, 8am – 4:30pm Pacific Time.

35 thoughts

  1. Hi. We love and trust Ruffwear products, so I am interested in purchasing the Load Up Harness for our 8 year old lab, who currently rides in the car unrestrained. But I noticed that you are coming out with a new version in August of this year. Can you tell me how it will be different from the currently available model? I’m trying to decide if I should wait to purchase. Thank you.

    1. I just saw that too and was thinking the same thing. Hopefully, they’ll respond with some idea of the changes.

  2. Hello, I have a greyhound who is not interested in lying down in the car. That makes bringing the seatbelt through the loop challenging due to her height. Can the loop be attached to separately purchased seatbelt attachment that buckles into the car’s seatbelt system?

  3. Hello, I have two deep chested dogs similar to greyhound (large lurcher and smaller Cretan hunting hound x) and have seen that many car harnesses are not suitable for these deep chested breeds. Can you explain why and recommend a solution for their car travel safety please. I don’t think crates are as safe as harnesses in general but obviously wouldn’t want to put harnesses on them only to find this is the intervention that certainly kills them. We want to do our best for them.

    1. I have had deep chested dogs too. I ended up using the webmaster harness and using a “click in” seatbelt attachment. Basically it clicks into the seatbelt and clips onto the harness. The webmaster is the only harness they can safely wear and my dogs are all under 15lbs and I have been worried they don’t weigh enough to set off the safety locking mechanisms of the seatbelts. (Italian greyhound mixes)

  4. I have the same questions as Wendynewell and would love to hear you address all those concerns we both share.

  5. Can my dog still lay down with this or do they always have to be in the sitting position? Also, I have a 100 lb german shepherd, is the xl suitable?

    1. Hi Danielle,

      You dog can lie, stand or sit, with this harness. The sizing is based on the girth measurement so as long as your German Shepherd’s girth falls within the size range of our XL, it should work great.

  6. why stop at 75 pounds…. many breeds go into the 100’s. mine range from 120-165 pounds. i want them safe too

  7. Hi!
    We LOVE ruff wear products! My dog has worn a seatbelt since he was a little baby puppy. As a firefighter/paramedic I am well aware of the importance. Each time we needed a new one I would do thorough research of all the latest products. Many I immeidately ruled out due to being made of plastic or other obviously flimsy materials. We would always pick the very best option that was available at the time. The last time we needed one, we chose your double back harness along with 2 rated carabiners. While we know it isn’t a seatbelt, you had clear testing showing that it passed the fall test for climbing and it encompasses both ends of the dog. Just like I would never secure via the collar and thus snap the neck in an impact, I do not want to secure only the front of the dog and have the back snapped halfway down.
    I agree that the lower attachment will help with this, I am worried that it may not be enough.
    In our current setup we fasten the seatbelt and after securing the dog into the doubleback we use a carabiner on each loop to secure onto the cross-chest section of the seatbelt. We also have a limiter on the seatbelt itself so that it can only extend so far. He can sit, stand, or lay down, and can reach his water bowl. He cannot be on the other side with the seatbelt stretched all the way out and since I have a jeep he cannot jump out when the top is off.
    With the 2 attachment points and both his front and back end secured, he is safely restrained during a crash no matter which of the positions he is in when it occurs; and no matter whether it is front, side, rear, or rollover.
    I notice that tall took great pains to design a system which is both secure and comfortable, a very important balance for many reasons! I appreciate that greatly. In the 3 test videos you have posted, all the dogs are in a sitting position at the time of impact. Did yall conduct any tests with the doggy mannequins on other positions at the time of impact? And did yall conduct any tests with an other than frontal impact?
    I don’t really care about a certification itself, I am much happier to see the videos and make my own decisions. Thank you for being so open with your testing and your development. I have long been looking for a seatbelt from ruff wear and each time we have needed a new one I have come to your site first with high hopes.
    On the description of the doubleback you mention the foot pounds it is rated for. While you say the metal on the seatbelt is strength rated, you don’t quantify it ……? Also, I think it would be helpful if the reference to the child safety ordinances were an active link where we could just click over and read those to see what you were aiming for instead of having to look them up separately.
    Thank you so so so so much! I am confident that not only is this one of the best seatbelts on the market today, that each iteration will continue to improve and lead the market just as with your other products!

  8. Would there be any way to attach this to the cargo area of a suv? My dog lays on the floor on my car rather than the back seat since I only keep on bucket seat in. I just don’t see how I would attach a large dog in with this on a small bucket seat and he be comfortable when I can fit a large dog bed on the floor for them to lay on. The floor seems like a safer place for them to be in the car.

    1. Hi Katrina. Good question. That really depends on if there is anything in the back to attach this to. Are there any strength rated tie down points?

      1. There are the rear bars that are used to stabilize baby seats and also the bars where my seats snap in as the seat is remove from the back on my car. So there are points in the car that would hold up in a crash where my dogs lay in the back.

        1. Ruffwear – I see you never answered Katrina’s question and I have the same question. Is there a safe way to anchor the dog in your harness to the anchor points on the floor of an SUV? If so, can you recommend particular tethers for this purpose?

          1. Hi there – thanks for circling back with us on this question. The Load Up Harness is strictly designed to be used with seat belts in the back seat of passenger vehicles. Any other use would be outside of our design intent (and the testing that we performed) and we are not comfortable making any recommendations for this purpose.

  9. Congratulations on the introduction of your new harness. Like Wendy, we’re using the ClickIt Sport harnesses for Buster and Ty, and I’d love for there to be another product available on the market that offers the same level of safety. Wendy has posed some of the same questions I had, so I’m looking forward to reading your responses.

  10. I’ve done extensive research on dog safety harnesses and my pup currently owns and wears a Clickit Sport. I have a couple questions:
    * How is the attachment loop affixed to the vest? I know during tests there is an enormous amount of strain put on these type of loops and that this is one of the places many other restraints fail testing. I’ve seen the metal of clasps from testing that look like pulled taffy. This is one concern I have of your product.
    * I’m assuming by putting that “loop” down lower you are not seeing as many dogs butts come out of the seat in testing. Still with one harness point touching the belt it seems like it would still be a concern. Why or how is this safer than the three-point touch that Clickit has achieved in their products but most importantly the sport which doesn’t use the LATCH additional straps?
    * What are the “excursion measurement limits” exactly and why do you believe your solution is safer even though you acknowledge it won’t past CPS Certified testing?

    Like Michael Johnson I too like your products and would love to have a better understanding of yours based on the other options I have. As someone who has worked in market research I would much rather see a product third party tested.


    1. Hi Wendy,

      Thank you for your excellent questions. We appreciate your concern for the safety of dogs and we appreciate your confidence in our products. Here are our answers to your questions:

      * How is the attachment loop affixed to the vest? I know during tests there is an enormous amount of strain put on these type of loops and that this is one of the places many other restraints fail testing. I’ve seen the metal of clasps from testing that look like pulled taffy. This is one concern I have of your product.

      The Attachment Loop on the Load Up Harness is a continuous webbing loop with overlapping webbing and stitching closure that encapsulates each of the girth, chest and neck martingale webbing assemblies. Ruffwear’s Load Up Harness is built on the same premise as our proven Doubleback™ strength rated harness. Both the Load Up and Doubleback harnesses employ webbing construction and assembly that is standard construction and assembly implemented in climbing, OSHA, as well as offshore sail racing harnesses. The webbing is the structure. The fabric “vest” is simply a skin that contains the continuous webbing assemblies. If the fabric “vest” stitching did fail, the attach loop continues to contain the girth, chest and neck martingale webbing.

      Our metal hardware has been tested under FMVSS 213 and was not distorted or “pretzeled” after the sled tests.

      * I’m assuming by putting that “loop” down lower you are not seeing as many dogs butts come out of the seat in testing. Still with one harness point touching the belt it seems like it would still be a concern. Why or how is this safer than the three-point touch that Clickit has achieved in their products but most importantly the sport which doesn’t use the LATCH additional straps?

      Thanks for pointing our claim that our solution is ‘safer’. After giving this some thought, we have modified our statement to be more clear. Our reference to ‘safer’ was speaking to the location of the seatbelt attachment point, not safer as compared to other manufacturer’s harnesses.

      We designed the Load Up Harness with the dog’s safety and comfort in mind. Having the attachment point low not only helps prevent the dog’s hind end from rotating out, it also allows the dog to sit, lay down, or just get a breath of fresh air. Creating a solution that was easy and comfortable for the dog to use was one of the design constraints we established during the development process. It might not work for everyone and there are alternative solutions in the marketplace.

      * What are the “excursion measurement limits” exactly and why do you believe your solution is safer even though you acknowledge it won’t past CPS Certified testing?

      This is the excursion limit info from the CPS website:

      “The crash test dog (CTD) excursion measurement shall be calculated from start of test (pre-test) at point z on the standard seat assembly to furthest projection point during dynamic testing. Point of reference on the test dog is “stop” of the muzzle – the point where the muzzle meets the cranium. Excursion thresholds are <32¡È for XXS, XS, S, and Medium test dogs, and <36¡È for Large and XL test dogs."

      Again, we have modified our statement to be more clear. Our reference to ‘safer’ was speaking to the location of the seatbelt attachment point, not a comparison to other manufacturer’s harnesses. We’ve learned through the sled testing that the low seatbelt attachment point on the Load Up Harness keeps the dog in an upright position during sudden vehicle movements.

      We hope that this answers your questions. If you have any more questions, please do not hesitate to call us at 888-783-3932 Monday – Friday, 8am – 4:30pm Pacific Time.

  11. Ruffwear is hands down the best quality dog gear I own, and I am excited by this new product. But, I am curious about Ruffwear’s statement in regards to the harness anchor point: “We disagree with this solution and believe that Ruffwear’s solution is a safer and more comfortable alternative.” Is there any scientific testing to argue about the safety aspect, or is it just a theory based upon the stress the dogs body would take in a crash.

    I know that only Sleepypod’s Clickit made the grade in test crash tests (2013). Do you know how the Load Up would compare to Clickit?

    Keep up the great work, love your gear!

    1. Hi Michael. Thanks for the note! We appreciate your support and trust in the quality of Ruffwear products. As far as the question regarding our comments, no scientific testing, just experience in use. We believe that if a restraint harness is too restricting on the dog and holds them uncomfortably pinned in the back seat, the installation would be difficult and the dog may resist wearing it, reducing the chances of people actually using the harness. We have been able to achieve a level of security that we are happy with, while also allowing the dog to sit or lie down while restrained.

      1. Again … I want to like this product but I’m concerned with this answer. I have put the Clickit Sport on a number of dogs and never had a problem with one seeming “uncomfortable.” In fact my dog spends most of his time in it, in the car, buckled in, laying down.

        In fact I don’t know any harness that “hold them uncomfortably pinned in the back seat …”

        As for as difficult installation I assume you mean the 3 point LATCH system that the Clickit Utility and the Solvit Deluxe Car Seat (when using the LATCH additional straps). I agree with you … BUT the Clickit Sport (which is CPS certified) does not use that system and is as easy an “installation” as your harness.

        I REALLy want there to be another player besides the Clickit Sport that checks all the safety boxes but I’m not fully convinced your version does that. Help me understand.

  12. OUTSTANDING!!!!! We have been waiting at Sit ‘n Stay Global for this product from you folks. Your float coat is the only life jacket we trust on our flights and recommend on our website… it’s that good. Cannot wait to try this. The research is compelling and you have achieved the “ease of use” criteria which is critical or it becomes useless. BRAVO Ruffwear!!!!!!

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