Updated: Jan 10, 2020
When it comes to the Toller Tails product testing and reviews, giving you an honest assessment that is Straight from the Snout™ is our goal. We pledge to provide you information that is accurately based on both my humans' experiences and my personal doggy experiences. All the products we test for Toller Tails are tested for a minimum of 30 days.
All our product reviews are my own and my humans’ consumer opinions based after testing the product under the testing conditions outlined in this blog post.
The Sporn Ultimate Control™ Dog Harness product was purchased by Toller Tails and we did not receive any payment or sponsorship in relation to our product review.
Toller Tails Product Rating Scale
No paws – Want money back.
1 Paw – Below average. Would never buy again.
2 Paws – Average. Okay performance.
3 Paws – Good. Would buy again.
4 Paws – Very Good. Would buy again and tell a friend.
4 Paws & Waggin’ Tail - Excellent. Exceeds expectations! Totally buy again, then buy it for a friend and product also has positive social impact (for example, a portion of proceeds of product sales helps animals or the environment).
Henry’s Review of The Sporn Ultimate Control Harness
The Sporn dog harness product line was recommended to my humans by an experienced dog owner in our dog obedience classes. The reason they recommended Sporn was that the person felt the various styles of Sporn dog harnesses marries handler harness control with a dog's need for comfort.
After watching a number of YouTube clips on the Sporn Ultimate Control Harness, we were intrigued by the product claim of "4 methods of pull control in one harness".
Harness Tested: The Sporn Ultimate Control Harness - Medium Size
Where Purchased: Online through the Sporn site.
Cost: $25.95 (USD) + Taxes and Shipping (Canadian: $34.53 + Taxes and Shipping)
Harness Testing Conditions
The Sporn Ultimate Control Harness was tested for a minimum of 30 days under the following conditions.
Weather conditions: Rain, Snow and Heat
Temperature Ranges: -25°C to 30°C ( -13°F to 86°Fahrenheit)
Harness was tested in the following scenarios:
typical urban neighborhood walks;
national park wilderness hiking trails;
urban dog parks;
rivers and tolling in creeks; and,
Tested using a standard 6-foot double ply nylon leash and also a 15 to 30-foot recall training leash.
How the Sporn Ultimate Control Harness Measured Up?
Straight from the Snout™ my humans wouldn’t buy this dog harness again. One of my best dog pals, Gracie the Berna Doodle’s humans also purchased this Sporn Ultimate Control Harness given the product’s promise. After using it, her humans also said they would not buy the Sporn Ultimate Control Harness again.
Based on my doggy and my human’s consumer experience, the Sporn Ultimate Control Harness gets the following rating:
1 Paw – Below Average. Would Never Buy It Again (see our rating scale).
Find our Toller breed specific recommendation at the end of this post.
Measuring Instructions: Not Great.
General measurements for a dog’s girth and the approximate corresponding weight class are listed on the Sporn website under “sizing information”.
No illustrations appeared on the website product page showing where dog owners should measure their dog to ensure the best fit. Alternatively, Sporn could have provided a link from their product page to a general sizing information page, but at the time of this purchase they did not have this option.
No breed chart option for sizing purposes offered. At the time of this purchase, there was no listing of which breeds would fit best a small, medium or large harness. Some dog product manufactures provide breed information along side measurement instructions to help people get a sense of the fit. This is not necessary, but it’s helpful when a dog product manufactures provide this information.
Price Point: Fair. The price of dog harness was fair. Our purchase price corresponded with the medium size. As with most harnesses, the price changes depending on dog size, features and brand.
Online Purchasing: Good. There were no issues with online service. Shipping was fast and product delivered without issues.
Harness instructions: Yes, the harness instructions were clear. The packaging pamphlet has clear illustrations and the Sporn instructional video was good. Even though my humans were sleepy, they were still able to put it on me at 5 o’clock in the morning with no issue.
Did Henry Slip this Harness? Yes, only 1 time. I managed to slip out of the Sporn Ultimate Control Harness only once during play. My humans have no clue how I did it, but the harness was fitted properly. However, as every Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever and all Toller dog owners know, we are very smart dogs!
Did the Sporn Ultimate Control Harness discourage pulling? Yes and no. The harness has a front clip option. Using the front clip option allowed my humans to redirect my attention when I was pulling too much. However, this is not unique to Sporn harnesses. Most harnesses with a front clip option when used correctly will do this too.
When using the back-clip option, I did pull a bit more and the harness acted like any dog harness with a back clip.
Pros of the Sporn Ultimate Control Harness
Front clip design does work to redirect a dog who is pulling.
Back clip did not increase any pressure across the dog’s chest.
The short “built-in” harness handle was helpful. But it does not seem like it was designed as real handle.
Did not shrink after being in water and plastic clips were sturdy.
Cons of the Sporn Ultimate Control Harness
Caused skin Irritation on the chest due to metal “O” Ring’s movement. The metal “O” Ring slides, no matter how good the fit, when a dog moves. Movement, even tiny movements, will cause minor friction. Over a few weeks, this minor friction built up and caused skin irritation from rubbing.
Nylon webbing showed too much wear in areas the metal “O” Ring rubbed the harness. Lasted approximately 70 days before it showed concerning signs of fraying.
Nylon webbing split at one end. It took 4 months for the webbing to split at one end. This end was not in contact with the metal “O” Ring. Seems the stitching was not as sturdy as it should be, which is why the webbing started splitting. Sections closer to the plastic claps could have been improved by better or more box stitching. (See photo below)
Started rejecting and refusing to wear the Sporn Ultimate Control Harness even though the fit was accurate. The skin irritation and friction as well as two step process for putting on the harness, made me really dislike putting the harness on. Although all dog harnesses cause some restriction of movement and can displease us doggies; my dislike of the harness was linked to the metal parts and harness design. My humans created a soft wrap around padding for the harness, which made me reject it less. However, as dog owners, you don’t want to have to sew and create a tailored covering.
The use of a metal “O” Ring is not best design for serious cold weather. Metal gets cold quickly and in the Sporn Ultimate Control Harness design the Metal "O" Ring does come in contact with the dog’s chest. This was a concern with the cold weather. In 2018 and early 2019, there were a number of extremely cold weather alerts in Canada which raised concerns with my humans about using this harness in extremely cold weather. To address this issue, my humans made a polar fleece cover, which also helped lessen the friction caused by the metal “O” Ring movement. (See photo below for metal "O"Ring )
Reflective stitching really isn’t really that reflective. This seems to be a pretty standard issue with all dog harnesses touting “reflective” stitching. My humans wouldn’t rely on the reflective stitching as main way to ensure myself or any dog was visible at night.
The very short “built-in” harness handle did not seem like it was designed as a real handle. It was also surprisingly shorter than the packaging suggested. At the end of the 6 months, my humans could see the stitching loosen on the "handle" section.
Customer service support was Below Average. When my humans called Sporn’s 1-800 customer service number during their office hours, they discovered it was not a manned customer service center. Instead, they had to leave a voice mail message and wait for someone to call them back. They found this to be surprising since on the Sporn website, product packaging and brochure information, a 1-800 customer service number is listed. At the time of this post, my humans still have not heard back from Sporn’s 1-800 customer service line.
Sporn Lifetime Guarantee: Sporn advertises “Lifetime Guaranteed” on the Sporn Ultimate Control Harness. The Sporn warranty is a conditional lifetime guarantee. Naturally, any damage from chewing is not covered. However, any other conditions regarding Sporn’s lifetime guarantee were not listed on their website at the time of purchase or as of this article post date.
Since the issue with our Sporn product was clearly stitching and overall quality of the item, my humans called Sporn’s 1-800- customer service line, during office hours, to as about Sporn’s “Lifetime Guarantee”. They left a voice mail message. My humans have still not heard back as of this post. It's hard to say if my humans would have received a replacement harness since no one returned their call. This was taken into account as part of the customer service rating. Overall, we rated Sporn’s 1-800 Customer Service Support Below Average.
Is This Dog Product Toller Friendly?
No, we would not recommend this harness for Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers.
The Sporn Ultimate Control Harness chest strap was too restrictive given the Toller’s deep chest and physiology. My humans measured several times with a tailor’s measuring tape before buying and followed all the Sporn instructions, but the black front strap (see photos above) is too short to accommodate the Toller chest and the chest strap restricts front shoulder/leg movement too much.
The skin irritation from the rubbing increased discomfort and required my humans to create a polar fleece soft padding which helped, but it was something my humans feel strongly harness buyers shouldn’t have to do. Also, if my humans hadn’t noticed the skin irritation and used the harness on a daily basis the irritation might have progressed to skin sores needing veterinary treatment.
Bottom-line: My humans would never buy the Sporn Ultimate Control Harness again and do not recommend it for Tollers.
Photos: ©Charlotte Wolters & TollerTails.com