There’s something about outdoor gear, whether for yourself or your dog, that we’ve all grown accustomed to – there’s a staggering range in quality and it’s pretty difficult to figure our what the ‘tells’ are until you have something in your hand (or on your dog).
I’ve been pretty disappointed by dog gear over the years which is why when I find something I like, that works, and isn’t eye wateringly expensive, I do tend to be pretty vocal about it!
So strap in. This is a Hunter Hounds love fest! (if you want to jump straight to the review, scroll down a bit to bypass the back story).
For full disclosure – I’ve known the guys behind Hunter Hounds for years – long before they were even thinking about making dog gear which is why when they ventured into this ‘far more complicated than you imagine’ world, I was confident they were going to do a good job. The boss-man comes from a world where you live or die by your attention to detail, and I knew that would filter through to his designs.
However, the first images that came out on social media of the harnesses and collars were all pictured on bull breeds and enormous dogs that made my two Collie X Mutts look like Borrowers.
I got twitchy. Maybe Hunter Hounds had decided that they only wanted to cater for this market – heavier set breeds with necks the diameter of an elephant leg? I made a mistake in that moment. I didn’t look deeper into their fitting guides or place and order to see what they were like.
I just decided that maybe that gear wasn’t for us.
And then…. YELLOW.
For anyone who follows my social media, you’ll know I’m a HUGE fan of the Yellow Dog movement. This is a campaign to increase awareness of dogs that need space and wear yellow items when in public. From vests a bandanas to lead sleeves and human hoodies, there’s a lot of stuff on the market if you’re looking for yellow gear for you and you dog (I wrote about Fleurs vests here if you’re interested to see how that changed the game for us).
The trouble is, none of it is very sexy (it’s not supposed to be) and worse still, little of it is designed for really strong animals (our vet says our dogs belie their size and weight and should come with a power warning!).
Of course, there are yellow items that you can buy that aren’t specifically marketed as gear for reactive dogs but it’s not easy to find and as with everything else, finding the good stuff is not easy, with most things only being available online.
So my eyes popped out of my head when one morning, idly scrolling through social media, I saw the picture below. I don’t think my fingers could move fast enough. Desperate to see if a) this was actually a complete range of yellow gear that Hinter Hounds were selling and b) whether there was a chance any of it would fit my 20kg nervous dinky shepherd.
A few days later, the postman knocked, all hell broke out in the house – “STRANGER DANGER – WEIRDO AT THE DOOR”. A huge, beautifully wrapped box arrived and my Hunter Hounds journey had begun.
I know this all sounds super gushy but life with a reactive dog can be tough and when things appear in your life that make it easier, it’s a big deal. It’s like the day we discovered ‘secure dog fields’. Completely changed our lives.
Hunter Hounds Yellow Gear Review
I’m going to try to keep this short and sweet so you can decide for yourself whether this gear is for you.
- Utility Harness
- Tactical Collar
- Utility, Tactical and Slip lead
- Dog Walking Bag
I’m going to start by saying that other than for cani-cross, we ditched the use of harnesses years ago.
They didn’t help with training nice lead walking; they definitely encouraged pulling with our two dogs; and they caused rubbing in certain areas. When I decided to try the Utility Harness, it was with a degree of skepticism – did we even need these anymore? It’s yellow – I needed to give it a shot.
Does it fit? Yes – super adjustable and fits both our dogs beautifully allowing for full biomechanical movement without any obstruction (reference: Collie X GDS X Berger Pyrenean and Collie X Catalan Shepherd). They also open flat which means no wrestling with getting legs through loops.
An unintended perk – all this gear is super heavy-weight and accepting science that I don’t really fully understand, the harness appears to have quite a calming affect on our ‘high alert’ bitch – much like a thunder coat.
Why do I now use a harness? Because we found one that does what we need it to.
We exercise our bitch on a longline on account of her being a ‘work in progress’ when it comes to off lead reliability. We fixed her longline to the adaptor (makes it possible to use any lead) and that means I have the ability to hold on to her by the grab handle on the back of the harness if necessary.
We also use the harness to tether the dogs safely when necessary when we’re working outside – keeping them out of the way when we’re working with power tools for example. I hate seeing dogs tethered by collars for a number of reasons but with the swivel adaptor attached to the harness, they’ve got the freedom to mooch about on a line without getting tangled up or risking hurting their necks.
Our dogs have always had thicker collars but these are the biggest they’ve worn. They are deep on the neck and for some that look might take a bit of getting used to – I like it. This is not a collar that ours wear if they’re off exploring because of the grab handle but for everyday walkies, it’s awesome.
Here’s the really important bit…. If your dog is wearing yellow gear because it’s reactive and you want people to notice, there’s chuff-all point in having a bright yellow collar that hides under oodles of fur and fluff. These collars are stand out.
I use all sorts of lead set ups for all sorts of scenarios and without doubt the Hunter Hounds range of leads is the most flexible set up I’ve seen from one brand. Add to that the stitch and binding quality and I can see why this brand has become the go-to brand for sport dogs and heavyweight canines.
The marketing to that audience might put you off. Don’t let it.
Every item I’ve tested has done the job it was designed for. The buckles are very high quality – we’ve used collars with pinch buckles since our dogs were tiny. They’re robust, durable, easy to use and they look nice. Hunter Hounds have used these across the entire range which is partly what enables to the flexibility of the products – which all work together beautifully.
The neoprene padding on every piece of webbing that makes contact with you or the dog makes it super comfortable to use and protects the dog from chaffing – something we’ve experienced with other brands of harness.
The Dog Walking Bag
Finally I can ditch my climbing chalk bag!
The problem is that all the dog walking bags I’ve used in the past have been too big, or too small, too awkward to use or they’re great but a ‘one-job-bob’ which is completely useless to me. I have one pair of hands and a reactive dog who really requires three hands sometimes.
The reason this is mint:
- You can attach it by the waste, over a shoulder or across your chest
- It’s got the right number of pockets – including a proper phone pocket
- It’s a tardis
- It’s really yellow
Criticisms of the Hunter Hounds Range
Nothing’s perfect right? Here are my thoughts on the Hunter Hounds gear that you need to consider if you’re looking for some new stuff.
- If you have a small dainty breed, this gear is probably just too big and bulky – it’s designed with powerful dogs in mind but we’ve been hugely impressed by how well it fits our 20kg and 25kg working dogs in size medium – read the size guide before committing, it’s spot on
- It’s heavy – that’s a bonus for us as we discovered it’s calming properties but if you like your gear light and discrete, this isn’t it – Hunter Hounds gear is loud and proud
- Following on – it’s such great stuff, we hope they consider branching out into a petit range
- Because each piece in the range is designed to work in conjunction with another, you really want the whole set – bravo Hunter Hounds – brilliant marketing😊
In summary – everything I tried in the Hunter Hounds range has been outstanding quality and really well designed. Add to that amazing value, lovely customer service and a yellow range that is gorgeous and functional and I think that some of the big guns in the dog apparel world need to watch their backs and sharpen their pencils.
If you want to have a look at the Hunter Hounds gear, here’s their website. https://hunterhounds.co.uk/