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.
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.
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.
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
- Authentic Puppia Soft Dog Harness made out of 100% Polyester. The size chart measurements are the dimensions of the actual product.
- Adjustable chest belt and quick-release buckle Comfortable padded neck opening. Make sure all measurements fit within the dimensions with a room to spare in the chest and neck. Please make sure neck measurement of your dog doesn't exceed measurement on the size chart
- Machine washable, but hand washing and air drying are recommended
- If you are looking for a harness that is adjustable around neck, and chest, we suggest trying a Puppia Ritefit Harness.
- See the pictures of dogs wearing Soft Harness at the bottom of page for your reference (7.5” neck girth / 9.0” ~ 13.0” chest girth)
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
- EXTRA SMALL DOG HARNESS: Approx Weight: 5-10 lbs. Neck Girth: 10"-11.5", Chest Girth: 12.5"-14". It perfect for extra small dogs and pups, like Yorkie, Chihuahua, Pug, Maltese dog, etc.
- SUPER COMFORTABLE: Pulling pressure is evenly distributed to the body to prevent pulling and choking. The dog vest harness have a adjustable chest strap with snap on buckle, move its body parts freely, can customized fits for your dogs growth do not need to always change it.
- STURDY HANDLE: The rugged nylon handle further enhances your distance from the dog and is more intimate with each other. It is also the best partner for service dogs and is easy to control your dog.
- OUTDOOR SAFETY: Reflective straps to ensure your dog is highly visible and keep dogs safe at night. You can connect the dog leash on the D-ring and it is safer on crowded streets. The high-end harness is perfect for daily walking, running, hiking, training, hunting, outdoor adventure and more!
- 100% GREAT EXPERIENCE: We are committed to providing our customers with high quality products and the best shopping experience. If you encounter any problems or are not satisfied in any way, we will provide the best solution and all issues will be resolved within 24 hours.
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
- SIZING: XS Dog Harness, EcoBark Mesh Purple Dog Harness for Teacup Breed Dogs: VERY IMPORTANT TO MEASURE- Correct measurements ensure a no slip and no choke perfect fit pet vest. Please Refer to our sizing chart to find the best harness for your puppy. RECOMMENDED BREEDS: X-Small and Very Small Dogs such as Maltese, Teacup Chihuahua, and Very Small Puppies 4 to 6 pounds.
- NO PULL & NO CHOKE HARNESSES: Soft, gentle, breathable double layered mesh fabric made from non-toxic ROSH tested mesh fabric with durability built to last. Strong full body collar for daily walking, running, and hiking. Soft and extremely breathable light weight airflow for an enjoyable walking experience. Anti-rub technology with Custom Stitched Cover Designed to protect your pet from chaffing due to strap rubbing against the dog's legs and chest for ultimate comfort and control innovation.
- ECO-FRIENDLY- Strong Ultra Padded Vests include Recycled Straps made from recycled water bottles. We use environmental friendly material that is highly durable designed to disperse the dog's weight onto the chest to not choke the pet's trachea. Tested Mesh Fabric is an all purpose and all weather ultra padded breathable harness for hot, rainy, or snowy days.
- SAFETY STANDARD: Our Vest Harness is escape proof when the dog has the correct sizing. These Harnesses are made to sit a bit higher than most dog harnesses, this ensures that it is harder for your puppy or dog to escape. Specially made to not constrict dogs trachea. The EcoBark Classic Harness incorporates the highest Standard of Specialized Safety Buckle, Custom built to ensure the highest level of strength and long-lasting safety.
- ANTI-RUB TECHNOLOGY & HYPOALLERGENIC PET SUPPLIES: Anti-rub harness technology with Custom Stitched Cover Designed to protect your pet from chaffing due to strap rubbing against the dog's legs and chest for ultimate comfort and control innovation. Quick on and off over the head feature. Great for puppies and small dogs. We are an American family owned harness company, please contact with any questions or concerns.
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
- VET AND TRAINER RECOMMENDED: Created by a veterinary behaviorist over 15 years ago, the Easy Walk Harness stops light to moderate pulling
- SAFE SOLUTION FOR PULLING: Allows you to control light to moderate pulling and rests across your dog’s chest, instead of their throat, so there’s no choking or coughing
- QUICK AND EASY: Fit the harness on your dog in just a few minutes with the quick-snap shoulder and belly straps, the front clip chest d-ring gives you extra control over your dog
- 1-YEAR CHEW DAMAGE REPLACEMENT: If your pooch decides to turn the harness into a chew toy, we will replace it for a minimal fee
- COMFORTABLE FIT: Our patented Martingale loop on the chest piece helps provides relaxed control and prevents twisting
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
- ATTENTION: Sizing does NOT directly correspond to your pet’s breed or weight. Please MEASURE your pet and refer to our sizing chart for the best fit before ordering.
- ALL WEATHER MESH: Made with a soft, breathable air mesh, this lightweight pet harness is perfect for walks all year round.
- REFLECTIVE BANDS: Two reflective bands on the sides of this harness enhance your pet’s visibility for those early morning and late evening strolls.
- THREE SAFETY FEATURES: Our hook and loop fastener, buckle and double D-rings work together protect your pet in three layers of security.
- STEP IN, CLIP & GO Step into your next walk in this simple and easy-to-wear vest harness. Click ‘Add to Cart’ now
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.
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.