An image of four greyhound type dogs wearing noble harnesses made of silk and adorned with family crests representing dog harnesses from the middle ages. Feature image for Charlie + Co blog post "A Tail-Wagging History of the Dog Harness"

A Tail-Wagging History of the Dog Harness

Ever wondered about the journey of the dog harness from ancient times to the trendy, comfortable designs we see today? Well, buckle up (or should we say, clip in?) because you're in for a delightful trot down memory lane!

The Early Days: Hounds and Harnesses

Imagine, if you will, the ancient world, where dogs were not just pets but crucial partners in survival. The earliest dog harnesses weren't about making a fashion statement or ensuring your pooch was Instagram-ready.


What do you mean?

A GIF of a Poodle cross breed wearing sunglasses and jacket looking in the mirror.


Forget Tiktok fame, these ancient day pooches had work to do.

Imagine a burly mastiff decked out in a leather harness, helping to haul supplies for a Roman legion, or a pack of robust hounds assisting their human companions in tracking down dinner; because back then harnesses were about boring things like, practicality and necessity. The Ancient civilizations used simple, rudimentary harnesses made from whatever materials were on hand—leather, ropes, and even woven grasses—to help dogs pull loads or assist in hunting.


An old fashioned painted image of dogs from Ancient times (Roman Era) wearing Dog Harnesses that were reflective of this era. Made from Leather or Rope.


Middle Ages: The Nobility of the Canine World

Fast forward to the Middle Ages, and the dog harness gets a bit of a noble upgrade. Dogs of nobility sported harnesses that were not only functional but also ornate.


An image of four greyhound type dogs wearing noble harnesses made of silk as representation of dog harnesses from the Middle Ages.


These harnesses were made from finer materials like silk and velvet, often adorned with the family's crest or colors. It wasn't just about utility anymore; it was about showcasing status and wealth. Picture a regal hunting party, with dogs in sumptuously embroidered harnesses, dashing through the forest in pursuit of game.

The Industrial Revolution: Harnesses Get a Workover

The Industrial Revolution brought about significant changes in the design and function of dog harnesses. With the advent of new materials like nylon and metal fastenings, harnesses became more durable and adjustable. This era saw the rise of working dogs in various fields, from police and military dogs to service animals.

An image of a Dog wearing a dog harness reflective of the Industrial Revolution.

The harnesses of this time were designed with specific tasks in mind, whether it was pulling sleds in snowy terrains or assisting the visually impaired. The focus was on functionality and the well-being of the dog, ensuring that they could perform their duties comfortably and safely.

The Modern Age: Comfort Meets Style

Today, the dog harness is in it's golden era. The modern dog harness marries function with fashion, comfort with durability. Manufacturers use materials and technology to create harnesses that ensure the well-being of our furry friends while keeping them stylish. From neoprene, to mesh, oxford cloth to recycled materials,  over the head, to step in and even harnesses equipped with LED lights or reflective materials for nighttime walks. The modern day harness options are endless! There are even harnesses designed for specific breeds, taking into account their unique body shapes and needs.


An image of a Charlie + Co 'Mustard Been Love' step in dog harness. Representing modern day dog harnesses.

Wrapping It Up: A Future of Happy Tails

As we look back on the history of the dog harness, it's clear that our relationship with our canine companions has evolved significantly. From ancient tools of necessity to modern symbols of care and style, the dog harness has come a long way. But at the heart of this evolution is our enduring love and respect for dogs, our loyal friends who have been by our side through thick and thin.

So the next time you clip on your pup's harness for a walk in the park, remember, you're part of a long and wonderful history of human-canine partnership. Here's to many more years of happy walks, wagging tails, and, of course, stylish harnesses!

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.