Choosing A Harness For Small Dogs

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If you have a small dog and are looking for the perfect harness, look no further. This article will provide you with all the information you need to choose the ideal harness for your furry friend. From the different types of harnesses available to the factors to consider when making your selection, we’ve got you covered. Whether you’re a first-time pet owner or a seasoned dog lover, selecting the right harness is crucial for a comfortable and safe walking experience. So, let’s get started and find the perfect fit for your small dog!

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Factors to Consider


When selecting a harness for your small dog, comfort should be a top priority. A comfortable harness will ensure that your furry friend enjoys their walks without any discomfort or chafing. Look for harnesses that have padded straps and a soft lining to prevent any irritation on your pup’s sensitive skin.


Finding the right size harness is crucial for your small dog’s safety and comfort. Measure your dog’s chest and neck circumference to ensure the harness will fit properly. It’s important to follow the sizing guidelines provided by the manufacturer to ensure a secure and snug fit.


The material of the harness can have a significant impact on its comfort and durability. Look for materials that are breathable and hypoallergenic, such as nylon or mesh. These materials will allow air to circulate and prevent your dog from overheating during walks.


An adjustable harness is essential for small dogs, as their size and shape can vary greatly. Look for a harness with multiple adjustment points to ensure a customizable fit. This will ensure that the harness can be properly fitted to your dog’s specific body shape, providing maximum comfort and security.

Safety Features

When choosing a harness for your small dog, safety features should not be overlooked. Look for harnesses that have reflective strips or stitching to increase visibility during low-light walks. Additionally, consider harnesses with a sturdy D-ring attachment for the leash, as well as a handle for extra control when needed.

Types of Harnesses

Step-in Harness

A step-in harness is a popular choice for small dogs due to its ease of use. As the name suggests, your dog simply needs to step into the harness, and it can be secured around their chest. This type of harness is secure and comfortable, making it a great option for daily walks.

Vest Harness

Vest harnesses are another excellent option for small dogs. They typically have a wrap-around design that secures around the chest and back, distributing pressure evenly across your dog’s body. This type of harness provides great support, making it a suitable choice for dogs with neck or back issues.

Back-clip Harness

Back-clip harnesses have the leash attachment point located on the back of the harness. This design is suitable for dogs who walk calmly and don’t pull excessively. However, it may not be the best choice for small dogs that tend to pull, as it can encourage them to continue pulling.

Front-clip Harness

Front-clip harnesses have the leash attachment point located on the front of the harness. This design helps to redirect your dog’s forward motion when they pull, making it easier to control them during walks. Front-clip harnesses are particularly beneficial for small dogs that tend to pull or have leash-reactive behavior.

H-style Harness

H-style harnesses have a design that forms an “H” shape on your dog’s body. It typically has both a back-clip and front-clip attachment point, allowing for versatility depending on your dog’s behavior. This type of harness provides great control and is suitable for dogs that may exhibit both pulling and leash-reactive behavior.

Harness Dress

For small dogs who love to make a fashion statement, a harness dress is a fun and stylish option. These harnesses combine the functionality of a harness with the fashionable design of a dress. They often have adjustable straps and a D-ring attachment for the leash, ensuring that your pup stays safe and stylish during walks.

Specific Breed Considerations

Toy Breeds

Toy breeds, such as Chihuahuas and Toy Poodles, require extra care when selecting a harness due to their delicate frames. Look for harnesses specifically designed for toy breeds with adjustable straps and lightweight materials. It’s important to choose a harness that provides a secure and comfortable fit to prevent any injuries or discomfort.

Miniature Breeds

Miniature breeds, like Miniature Schnauzers and Boston Terriers, have slightly larger frames compared to toy breeds. However, their small size still requires careful consideration when selecting a harness. Look for harnesses that offer adjustability and a secure fit to accommodate the unique body shape of miniature breeds.

Short-nosed Breeds

Short-nosed breeds, such as Bulldogs and Pugs, have unique respiratory needs. It’s crucial to choose a harness that doesn’t restrict their breathing or put pressure on their neck area. Opt for a harness with a wide chest strap and avoid harnesses that put excessive pressure on the throat.


Dachshunds have long bodies and short legs, making it important to find a harness that accommodates their unique shape. Look for harnesses that have adjustable straps and a long chest panel to provide proper support along their body. Additionally, a back-clip or H-style harness may be a good choice to prevent strain on their long back.


Terriers, such as Jack Russell Terriers and West Highland White Terriers, are known for their energy and determination. Choose a harness that offers good control and is secure even when your terrier is pulling or trying to escape. A front-clip or H-style harness can be useful for terriers who tend to pull during walks.

Training and Behavior


If your small dog tends to pull on walks, it’s crucial to choose a harness that helps you gain better control. Front-clip harnesses are particularly effective for dogs that pull, as they redirect their forward motion when they pull. Additionally, consider working with a professional dog trainer to address any underlying behavioral issues causing the pulling.


Some small dogs are expert escape artists and can slip out of improperly fitted harnesses. To prevent this, choose a harness with extra security features, such as multiple adjustment points and a double-buckle closure system. It’s essential to ensure that the harness fits snugly and that your dog cannot slip out of it.


If your small dog experiences anxiety during walks, it’s important to choose a harness that provides a sense of security and comfort. Look for harnesses with a snug fit and padding to help alleviate any anxiety your dog may feel. Additionally, consider using positive reinforcement techniques and gradual desensitization to make walks more enjoyable for your anxious pup.

Training Needs

Different harnesses may be more suitable for specific training needs. For example, a front-clip harness can be useful for dogs that require leash training and behavior modification. On the other hand, back-clip harnesses may be suitable for dogs that have already mastered basic leash manners and simply need control during walks.

Behavioral Considerations

It’s important to consider your dog’s behavior when selecting a harness. If your small dog has leash-reactive tendencies or is prone to aggressive behavior towards other dogs, a front-clip or H-style harness can offer better control. Always prioritize safety and choose a harness that allows you to manage your dog’s behavior effectively.

Tips for Finding the Right Fit


To find the right harness size for your small dog, take accurate measurements of their chest and neck circumference. Use a flexible tape measure and ensure that it fits snugly without being too tight. Refer to the manufacturer’s sizing guidelines and select the appropriate size based on your measurements.

Adjustment Points

Look for harnesses with multiple adjustment points to customize the fit for your small dog. This allows for a snug and secure fit without restricting their movement. The more adjustment points a harness has, the better you can tailor it to your dog’s unique body shape.

Neck vs. Chest

Consider whether your dog’s neck or chest is the stronger part of their body. If your dog tends to pull, a chest attachment point may provide better control. However, if your dog has respiratory issues, a neck attachment point may be more comfortable. Choose a harness that balances both control and comfort for your small dog.

Try Before Buying

Whenever possible, try the harness on your small dog before making a purchase. This will ensure that it fits properly and that your dog is comfortable wearing it. Pay attention to how the harness sits on their body and whether there is any chafing or irritation. Remember, a proper fit is crucial for your dog’s safety and comfort.

Walking Test

Take your small dog for a short walk with the new harness to assess its performance. Pay attention to how the harness holds up during your dog’s normal walking behavior. Ensure that it doesn’t shift or slide around excessively and that it provides good control. If any issues arise, adjust the fit or consider trying a different harness.

Popular Brands


Puppia is a renowned brand that specializes in creating comfortable and stylish harnesses for small dogs. They offer a wide range of harness designs, from step-in harnesses to vest harnesses, ensuring that you’ll find one to suit your small dog’s needs.


Ruffwear is a well-known brand that focuses on creating durable and high-quality harnesses for dogs of all sizes, including small dogs. Their harnesses are designed with outdoor adventures in mind, offering both comfort and security for your small pup.


Kurgo is a brand that prioritizes functionality and safety in their harness designs. They offer various harness styles, including vest and back-clip harnesses, specifically catering to small dogs’ needs. Kurgo harnesses are known for their durability and versatility.

Embark Pets

Embark Pets is a brand that is committed to creating harnesses that provide comfort and support for dogs of all sizes, including small breeds. Their harnesses feature adjustable straps and ergonomic designs to ensure a proper fit for your small dog.


Gooby is a brand that specializes in creating harnesses for small dogs. They offer a range of harness styles, including step-in and vest harnesses, designed with the specific needs of small breeds in mind. Gooby harnesses are known for their fashion-forward designs and comfortable fit.

Price Range

Budget-friendly Options

If you’re on a budget, there are affordable harness options available for small dogs. These harnesses may lack some of the premium features offered by higher-priced options but can still provide comfort and security for your furry friend.

Mid-range Options

Mid-range harnesses offer a balance between affordability and quality. These harnesses generally provide additional features, such as reflective strips and adjustable straps, while maintaining a reasonable price point.

High-end Options

For those willing to invest in a premium quality harness, high-end options offer top-of-the-line features and materials. These harnesses often have additional safety features and are made from high-quality, durable materials to ensure long-lasting use.

Customer Reviews

Durability and Longevity

Customer reviews can provide insights into the durability and longevity of a harness. Look for reviews that mention how well the harness holds up over time, especially for small dogs that may be more active or prone to wear and tear.

Ease of Use

Consider customer reviews that discuss the ease of putting on and taking off the harness. A harness that is simple to use can make your walks more enjoyable and hassle-free.


Customer reviews can highlight the comfort level of a harness. Pay attention to feedback regarding the padding, fit, and overall comfort provided by the harness, as this will directly impact your dog’s enjoyment during walks.

Design and Style

If you prioritize fashion, customer reviews can provide insights into the design and style of a harness. Look for harnesses that receive positive feedback on their aesthetics and choose one that matches your small dog’s personality.

Value for Money

Consider customer reviews that evaluate the overall value for money offered by a harness. Assess whether the features, durability, and comfort match the price point, ensuring that you’re making a wise investment for your small dog.

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Additional Features

Reflective Strips

Harnesses with reflective strips or stitching enhance visibility during low-light walks. This is especially important for the safety of your small dog, as it allows them to be seen by drivers and pedestrians.

Padded Straps

Padded straps offer extra comfort and prevent chafing or irritation on your small dog’s skin. This feature is particularly beneficial for dogs with sensitive skin or those prone to rubbing.

Storage Pockets

Some harnesses feature convenient storage pockets, allowing you to carry small essentials, such as waste bags or keys, without the need for an additional accessory or bag.

Easy On/Off Buckles

Harnesses with easy on/off buckles simplify the process of putting on and taking off the harness, saving you time and effort during walks.

Matching Leash

For a complete and coordinated look, consider harnesses that come with a matching leash. This allows you to maintain a cohesive style while ensuring a secure connection between you and your small dog.

Proper Harness Use and Maintenance

Fitting Instructions

Follow the manufacturer’s fitting instructions to ensure that the harness is properly secured and provides a comfortable fit for your small dog. Adjust the straps accordingly to achieve the proper tension without causing any discomfort or restriction.

Ensuring Proper Security

Check the fit of the harness regularly to ensure that it remains secure during walks. Make any necessary adjustments to prevent your small dog from slipping out or escaping from the harness.


Refer to the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions for proper maintenance of the harness. Most harnesses can be hand-washed or machine-washed on a gentle cycle. Ensure that the harness is completely dry before using it again to prevent mildew or mold growth.

Inspecting for Wear and Tear

Regularly inspect the harness for any signs of wear and tear, such as frayed straps or broken buckles. Replace the harness if it shows signs of damage, as it may compromise your small dog’s safety and comfort.

Replacing as Needed

Harnesses have a limited lifespan, especially with frequent use. Replace your small dog’s harness as necessary to ensure that they continue to enjoy safe and comfortable walks. Pay attention to any changes in fit or signs of damage that may indicate the need for a replacement.

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