Dog owners are always looking for the best and safest products for their babies. The healthiest foods, the best flea and tick protection, and the safest shampoos are among the most sought out products by pet owners. Various other pet parents also shop for toys, beds, and (especially for smaller dogs) clothes.
What most people don’t realize, is that finding a harness that is comfortable and keeps your dog safe should be high on that list. Collars can be extremely dangerous for any size dog, but especially smaller breeds that don’t have as much muscle to protect their neck from pain, injury, or strangulation.
Furthermore, if your dog gets distracted easily and pulls a lot, going for a walk when you only have a collar can be as frustrating as it is dangerous. It’s difficult to enjoy taking your dog for a walk if all they want to do is pull on the leash and run off.
Unfortunately, not all harnesses are made for the small dog in mind. Below we’ll go over the top five harnesses for small dogs, as well as buying guide to help you find the best harness for your dog. We’ll also discuss the benefits of using a dog harness.
- Top 5 Best Harnesses For Small Dogs in 2019
- Buyer’s Guide for Small Dog Harnesses
- Benefits of a Dog Harness
Top 5 Best Harnesses For Small Dogs in 2019
- Price: $$$
- Two leash attachments
- Available in size XX-Small through X-Large
- Lightweight padded design
- Three colors available: Blue Dusk, Twilight Grey, Red Currant
The Ruffwear Web Master Harness is by far the top pick out of the list we’ve come up with. It is the most expensive option, but also the most versatile. This harness can be used on any breed and size dog.
Made from lightweight foam-padded strapswith five points of adjustment, this harness allows your dog a snug fit while not limiting his movement. It even comes with a convenient built-in handlethat allows you to lift or assist your dog without compromising his comfort.
While most harnesses only have a front attachment point or a back attachment point, the Ruffwear Web Master Harness has both. This allows you get to choose whether you need more control or if you’re going for an easy, brisk walk. This harness also features a reflective trim, as well as a pouch to attach a safety light (light sold separately).
The Ruffwear Web Master Harness is an excellent choice for adventure dogs, as well as service or working dogs, as it provides support for any terrain or situation.
Chest Measurements for the Ruffwear Web Master Harness:
- XX-Small: 13-17”
- X-Small: 17-22”
- Small: 22-27”
- Medium: 27-32”
- L/X-Large: 32-42”
- Price: $$
- Reflective material for safety at night
- Lightweight Duraflex buckle for extra security
- Available in size X-Small to X-Large
- Comes in 3 colors: Black, Neon Yellow, Orange
Designed by a US Navy veteran, the Chai’s Choice Outdoor Adventure II harness is the perfect choice if you and your dog prefer nighttime walks. Available in a variety of colors and sizes, it is made with a reflective scratch-resistant material to ensure that your dog is safe.
Ergonomically designed to allow just the right amount of pressure distributed around the dog’s body. This is beneficial for calming nervous or jumpy pups. The buckle is made of lightweight Duraflexmakes it easy to put on and take off and is combined with zinc-alloy O and D-rings to make leash attachment a breeze.
The chest and belly area are padded with a soft nylon mesh to prevent chafing on your dog’s sensitive skin
Based on numerous customer reviews, this stylish harness is a top choice for most dog owners and is available at a very reasonable price.
Chest Measurements for Chai’s Choice Outdoor Adventure II Harness:
- X-Small: 15-18”
- Small: 18-22”
- Medium: 22-27”
- Large: 27-32.5”
- X-Large: 32.5-42”
- Price: $$
- Two leash attachments
- Available in size XX-Small to Medium
- Super lightweight – only weighs 2oz
- Comes in 7 colors: Black, Blue, Green, Pink, Purple, Red, Black & Neon Green
Highly rated among small dog owners, the Comfort Fit Pet Harness is designed with the small dog in mind. Available in a variety of vibrant colors and four different sizes, this sturdy vest style harness with reinforced D rings will keep any escape artist from getting free.
Machine washable and only weighing two ounces, caring for it will be an easy part of any busy lifestyle.The designers have gone out of their way to make sure that this huggable design is breathable enough to avoid overheating.
The adjustable velcro straps and quick release clip are backed by a Lifetime Guarantee, and the special padding makes it a comfortable fit for any dog. While it may not be as durable as the Ruffwear or Chai’s Choice, this is a great option for light-pullers or very small dogs.
Chest Measurements for Comfort Fit Pet Harness:
- XX-Small: 9-11”
- X-Small: 12-14”
- Small: 15-17”
- Medium: 18-21”
- Price: $$
- Soft synthetic lambskin strap
- “O” ring on back for free movement
- Available in sizes X-Small to X-Large
- Comes in 12 colors: Black, Blue, Brown, Green, Hunter Green, Lavender, Lime, Orange, Pink, Purple, Red, Sky Blue
An updated version of the Gooby Choke Free Freedom Harness, the Gooby Freedom II offers the same features with much more vibrant colors and a new logo.
The straps on the back are made from super soft synthetic lambskin, while the area around the belly and chest is made of a semi-stretchy, breathable mesh edged with micro suede to avoid skin irritation.
The choke free design of the Gooby Freedom II keeps strain away from your dog’s neck, and the O-ring on the back allows for freedom of movement. This vest is also machine washable and is available in twelve vibrant colors.
Chest Measurements for Gooby Freedom Harness II:
- X-Small: 11-13”
- Small: 12-15”
- Medium: 14-17”
- Large: 16-21”
- X-Large: 19-24”
- Price: $
- Soft, breathable material
- Easily adjustable around the neck and chest
- Machine washable
- Comes in 9 colors: Beige, Black, Camo, Green, Pink, Purple, Red, Royal Blue, Sky Blue
The Puppia RiteFit Harness has the same look and feel of the Puppia Soft Harness but offers neck adjustability that customers have been requesting for years.
Well-known for their experience in creating quality pet supplies, Puppia offers their harness in a variety of colors. The soft mesh material allows your dog’s skin to breath, and the fact that it’s machine washable makes it extremely easy to care for.
If you’re on a budget and not able to spend a lot of money on a harness, the RiteFit by Puppia allows you to get a harness for less money without sacrificing your dog’s safety and comfort.
Neck and Chest Measurements for Puppia RiteFit Harness:
- Small: (N) 9.5-11.5”, (C) 13-19”
- Medium: (N) 11.5-14”, (C) 15-22”
- Large: (N) 13-16”, (C) 19.5-29.5”
- X-Large: (N) 16-19”, (C) 21.5-31.5”
Buyer’s Guide for Small Dog Harnesses
Odds are if you’re in the market for a harness for your small dog, it’s because the usual collar and leash isn’t working out for you and your pup. Either the dog pulls too much and you’re afraid of them hurting themselves, or you need something for the rough terrain you and your dog usually frequent.
Whatever your need is, the best thing to do when you start shopping is to research all the different options available. Find out what’s available for small dogs and become familiar with the materials, sizing options, comfort, safety, and prices. Read and compare customer reviews to find out which would be the best choice for your little fur baby.
Why Do Small Dogs Need a Harness?
While collars can be dangerous for any dog, smaller dogs don’t have as much natural protection around their neck as larger breeds do. Therefore, they are are at a greater risk for collar-related injuries. A small dog wearing walking with a collar can easily be at risk for tracheal and spinal issues, especially if they are notorious pullers. A collar can also get easily snagged on something, prohibiting the dog from getting free. Using a harness in conjunction with proper training can avoid these dangers and keep your small dog safe.
It’s important to know how much the different harnesses cost and what fits into your budget. First, please understand that how much you’re willing to spend doesn’t show how much you do or don’t love your dog. It’s more about what features you and your dog need and what you’re able to afford without compromising other financial obligations.
Thankfully, most dog harnesses, especially the smaller sizes, don’t cost a whole lot, so the decision shouldn’t be difficult. In fact, of the list above, the most expensive harness (Ruffwear) costs $59.95.
Front-Clip or Back-Clip?
Some harnesses come equipped with a front clip, back clip, or both. Front clips are great for the dogs who pull a lot and need more control. As soon as they try to pull against the leash, they’re instead spun around without causing any discomfort. This may not train them to not pull, but it can help to reduce the strain of them pulling on the walk.
A back clip is best for dogs who don’t pull (or are light pullers) for a more relaxed walk. It also helps keep the leash from getting tangled around the dog’s legs.Back clips are also best for smaller breeds who generally don’t pull as much on the leash as a medium-sized breed might.
What Materials Are the Best?
You don’t want your dog’s sensitive skin to get irritated or chafed, so look for anything that is breathable and soft. Small dogs move a lot, so something that allows for a free range of movement while keeping them secure and safe is also a plus.
The most common types of material found in soft harnesses are:
- Synthetic lambskin
- Polyester mesh
How to Measure Your Dog
Many of the harnesses listed above come in various sizes, and sometimes the size will determine the price you pay. It’s important to know what size you’re looking for so you’re better able to compare the prices of prospective harnesses.
You’ll want to measure the length of your dog’s back, neck girth (base of the neck), and chest girth (just behind the front legs). Your dog’s weight could also be a factor, so be sure to make a note of that as well.
Measurements are extremely important, as you don’t want to make sure the harness you get is going to fit snugly. If the harness is too loose or there’s too much extra fabric, you run the risk of your dog’s skin chafing. A loose harness may also enable escape artists to easily free themselves. A snug harness that isn’t too tight will ensure all around comfort while keeping your dog secure.
Do You Walk Your Dog at Night?
Going for walks with your dog at night can be very relaxing, allowing you and your small dog to spend some bonding time after a long day, while also allowing them to relieve themselves before you turn in for the night.
However, the darkness, while peaceful, brings its own dangers, especially if you walk near roads where nighttime traffic is heavy. It’s important that drivers can see you and your small dog to avoid any accidents.
Not to worry, because there are some harnesses made with reflective material or have added a reflective trim for added safety after dark. If you and your pooch frequent nighttime walks, you might want to look at harnesses with this feature.
Benefits of a Dog Harness
For many dog owners, a collar and leash are their go-to options when taking their dogs for a walk, to the vet, or on various other trips out of the house. Collars help to provide identification of the dog, while leashes are sturdy and can be conveniently stored in your pocket or purse.
What many don’t know is that while a collar and leash are convenient, they’re not the best or safest option for your pet. Particularly for smaller dogs. Let’s go over a few of the many benefits of getting a harness for your dog.
Give Owners More Control
Being able to control your dog when out and about is necessary when you’re around other people or dogs. This can be difficult if all you have to work with is a collar.
Harnesses offer multiple contact points instead of just one, allowing you to control the dog’s whole body rather than just the neck. You won’t need to pull back on the leash as much, and your dog won’t be in danger of hurting themselves or getting free.
Having more control over your dog while walking can go a long way for a safe and fun experience.
Dogs are notorious for slipping free of collars. The more they pull, the more it stretches, allowing them to eventually wriggle free.
Harnesses, however, are attached around the dog’s chest and belly, away from the neck. This limits the chances of escaping and running out into traffic or getting tangled up with other dogs.
Limit Your Dog Pulling The Leash
Many dogs pull on their leash because either the collar is uncomfortable, or they just want to get somewhere and aren’t yet trained enough to wait. Using a harness that’s more secure and doesn’t irritate your dog will help to discourage the need to pull.
Preventing Neck Injury and Trachea
Probably one of the top issues associated with collars, especially for smaller dogs, is the propensity for injuries to the neck or trachea. When dogs pull on the collar, the collar pulls dangerously against their windpipe. This is a risk for more than just going for a walk. Even in the house, a collar can be a huge choking hazard if it ever gets caught on something.
Since harnesses hug the body instead of the neck, using one is the best way to keep your dog’s neck and trachea free from injury.
Finding the right harness for your small dog doesn’t have to be a nightmare. It’s all about finding what you and your dog needs to make sure your walks are less stressful on you, and less harmful on your dog. Every harness listed above will work well withany small breed without costing a fortune.
Remember, your dog is a member of your family. Just like you want to do what’s best for the humans in your family, especially your children, it’s your responsibility as a pet owner to find the best harness for your dog. Decide what you can afford and what features you need, do your research, and in no time, you’llhave your small dog in a harness that keeps them safe and comfortable. In addition to finding the right harness, training your dog will also make sure that you and your dog are safe and happy.