Best Harness for Small Dogs

best harness for small dogs

It seems in many ways, living with a small dog is easier than living with their larger counterparts. They eat less, they shed less, and it costs less to board and groom them. When a small dog jumps on you, it’s hardly noticeable compared to a 70 pound Lab. But there are some unique aspects of caring for small breed dogs, and finding the right harness is one of them.

These are our top harness choices for small breed dogs.

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Considerations When Buying A Harness For A Small Breed Dog

Tracheal Collapse in Small Dogs

Tracheal collapse is the number one reason why small dog owners should consider a harness instead of a collar when walking their tiny pooch. The trachea, or “windpipe,” which carries air from the nose and mouth to the lungs, is made up of sturdy rings of cartilage. In some cases, the tracheal rings begin to collapse, and as air tries to squeeze through, a cough develops. The sound of this cough is best described as a honking cough, similar to a goose honk. These intermittent bouts of coughing can be made worse by exercise, excitement, stress, eating, drinking, or when pressure is applied to the neck by pulling on a collar.

Tracheal collapse primarily affects small breed dogs, especially Yorkshire Terriers. Because a harness removes pressure from the neck area and distributes it over a much wider area through the chest and shoulders, it can help prevent tracheal collapse. If your dog is already experiencing tracheal collapse, a harness may allow your dog to get back to going on daily walks without triggering the symptoms.

Fit

The harness fit has to be snug enough that your dog can’t get out of it, but also comfortable for your dog to wear on daily walks. Most sizing guides suggest you should be able to get two fingers under the part of the harness that comes around the shoulder and neck area, and also be able to get two fingers under the strap that goes under the chest. There are reviews of some harnesses (not recommended in this article) stating that they stretch with wear, so make sure to recheck the fit of the harness over time.

Make sure to measure your dog with a soft measuring tape, like one used for sewing or alterations. Alternatively, you can use a piece of string to wrap around the circumference of your dog’s neck and chest and then lay it flat to measure it with a ruler or rigid measuring tape if that’s what you have on hand. Always check your neck and chest girth measurements against each company’s specific sizing guide before purchasing, as they may be different.

Be sure to watch for chafing around your dog’s underarm area. If your dog should develop sores under their arms from the harness rubbing wrong, give them a break from the harness until the sores heal and recheck the sizing. If it happens again, you will need to try a different harness.

Material

Obviously, most of us are looking for comfort for our dogs along with functionality. Choose a material that is soft and doesn’t chafe or irritate the skin. Mesh is often a good choice as it is breathable and lightweight, and perfect for warmer weather.

Easy To Put On And Take Off: Step-In vs. Over-The-Head

There are two basic types of harnesses: the step-in harness, and the over-the-head harness. The step-In harness requires you to get your dog’s two front legs through the leg holes and then secure the harness around the back. This can be tough if you have an overly excited dog who can’t be still long enough to get their legs through.

The over-the-head harness simply slips over their head, and then you secure the other strap around their chest. This type of harness can be tough for a dog that is fearful of something strange coming toward them and being slipped over their head.

Best Dog Harness For Small Dogs

Puppia Soft Dog Harness

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The highly-rated, over-the-head, Puppia Soft Dog Harness is made of breathable polyester air mesh and is an affordable choice. It has an adjustable chest belt with a quick-release buckle and is machine washable.

If you’re looking for a harness that also has adjustability in the neck area, check out the Puppia RiteFit Harness.

Bolux Dog Harness

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This over-the-head harness is made of a comfortable, breathable material, and has reflective stitching and a reflective strip across the adjustable front strap for increased visibility at night. There is even a small elastic loop to insert a small flashlight on nighttime walks! The Bolux harness also has a sturdy nylon handle on the back next to the steel D-ring that you can hold onto instead of trying to control your dog with the leash.

EcoBark Classic Dog Harness

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For those dog owners with a mind toward being environmentally friendly, there is the EcoBark Dog Harness. Founded by a Single Mother, EcoBark’s goal is to be the first Eco-Friendly pet supply company. With that end in mind, the design of this over-the-head harness includes soft, durable, no-fade, adjustable straps made from recycled water bottles. The certified non-toxic, polyester mesh is lightweight and flexible, allowing your dog full range of motion. The no choke design protects your pups delicate trachea, and the non-breakaway, quick-release clasps offer further protection.

For those of you who prefer a step-in harness, check out EcoBark’s Step-In Dog Harness.

PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness

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Though they are small in size, some small dogs can be mighty in spirit… and pulling while walking! Developed by a veterinary behaviorist, the Easy Walk Harness stops light to moderate pulling. The front-leash attachment with a Martingale loop rests low on your dog’s chest, well away from their neck, and gently turns your dog to the side when they pull. This harness comes with 4 adjustment points to make the fit as accurate and comfortable as possible.

Fitting the PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness:

Voyager Step-In Air Dog Harness

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This simple, easy-to-use harness is extremely comfortable for your pet. Made of all-weather, breathable mesh, this harness also includes reflective safety strips on the shoulder area for increased night-time visibility. Enjoy double security in the harness closure with both a Velcro closure to ensure a good fit and a double D-ring closure over the Velcro for leash attachment.

If you’re looking for a softer, warmer harness, check out Voyager’s Step-In Soft Plush Dog Harness, which is sure to keep your dog warm and comfortable, even in chilly weather.

Conclusion

The right harness can free you and your pal to explore the world, and provide freedom from worrying about injuring your small dog’s neck in the process. Any of these choices will help keep you both on the road to adventure.

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