When you want to walk your dog or take it on long trips, it’s important to keep it comfortable, especially if you have a young pup or a small breed. The best small dog harness should, therefore, be the only thing on your mind as they’re clearly the future.
But before you think about replacing the traditional dog collar, there are some things you should know about harnesses.
Picking one, particularly for a small dog, can be challenging. In this respect, an oversaturated market won’t do you any favors. Check out the following reviews and buyer’s guide to learn more.
Best Small Dog Harness
Best Small Dog Harness Reviews
1. Ruffwear Front Range Harness
The Ruffwear Front Range Harness is perhaps the best small dog harness made for man’s best friend. Designed to handle almost any sized breed, it offers impressive versatility and control for a wide range of applications.
One of the first highlights worth mentioning is the four-adjustment points design. This will enable you to adjust the tightness of the harness to fit a wide range of breeds, as well as skinny, muscular, and obese dogs.
Another notable design feature is the two-point attachment system. This comes in very handy when you’re the owner of a hyperactive small dog. It will let you exercise more control and also prevent any leash tangling when you’re walking a puller.
There are some nice quality of life features too, like an ID tag pocket, a reflective trim, and reinforced leash attachments. The harness is also lightweight and softly padded to help avoid overheating.
You should get this for your dog if you plan on taking long walks or hikes, particularly in the summer. And even if you have a strong dog, the reinforced webbing around the chest portion of the harness will be able to withstand unruly behavior.
If one feature stands out more than others, it’s probably the adjustability. Being able to tighten and release the grip in all directions will allow the harness to handle weight gain and weight loss, thus you’ll be able to get more use out it for a longer period of time.
There aren’t really any downsides to the Ruffwear Front Range Harness. Sure it has a front-clip design, and some tangling may eventually occur, but in all honesty, only the pricing might be slightly discouraging to some people.
2. US Metric No Pull Dog Harness
This harness is easy to put on, easier to take off, and very comfortable to wear. It’s available for very small to large dog breeds and comes in a variety of colors, if you like accessorizing like that.
Depending on how small your dog is, you’ll have your choice of harnesses. US Metric offers clear measurements for all sizes. But only in chest girth measurements. For example, the small size harness is for chest girths between 15” and 17” while the X-small size is for chest girths of 12” to 14”.
There’s a bit of adjustability to this harness model, but not enough to skip a size. In terms of comfort, this harness is also among the lightest and soft, with the x-small model coming in at around 2oz. The padding is very good, it doesn’t cover the entire chest area, so it doesn’t overheat, and it doesn’t chafe either.
You might also appreciate the reinforced D-rings used to secure the leash. These will do wonders against pullers. And longevity won’t be an issue either.
The main highlight of this US Metric harness? The no-pull design. With the leash attachment in the back, your dog won’t get pulled back too hard, and its weight will be distributed evenly.
There’s limited adjustability when it comes to sizing. This means that if you don’t get the size just right, your dog may feel some added pressure around the armpits, which may restrict its mobility when it comes to running and jumping.
3. Gooby Trekking Harness
Just because dogs seem naturally more adept at trekking long distances, it doesn’t mean that they don’t need comfortable attire just like humans. If you want to take your dog with you anywhere and keep him in a harness, then the Gooby Trekking Harness might be just the thing for you.
For small dogs, Gooby makes two harnesses. The X-small size is ideal for chest girth between 11” and 13” and the small size for chest girths between 12.5” to 15.5”. The harnesses come in five different colors.
Putting it on is easy enough, given the step-in design. Most dogs prefer going in one paw at a time instead of having the harness pulled overhead. But why is this harness superior to others for long walks and hikes?
Mainly because of its fleece lining, which doesn’t overheat and provides very soft padding. It’s also more comfortable for dogs with sensitive skin. Along with the lining, there’s also foam padding around the chest area. This will help keep pullers comfy and reduce the amount of pressure being put on the chest.
The combination of a choke-free neck frame and four-points adjustability makes this a highly comfortable and versatile harness. One that any dog its suitable for could wear for hours in almost any environment.
Unlike other lightweight harnesses, the Gooby Trekking Harness features plastic leash rings. Rigid, they should handle small dogs easily, but don’t last as long as most metal D-rings.
4. Kurgo Dog Harness
The Kurgo Dog Harness is another useful accessory that you can use for small dogs, young or small breeds, in order to better control them on walks and correct any bad behaviors.
This harness has a cool seatbelt feature in the form of a 10” tether belt. It also offers X-small and small sizes, but you should still check the manufacturer’s chart when taking measurements. The small size has been designed for a chest girth between 16” and 22”. This makes the harness considerably larger than other similar models of the same size.
You may also be wondering what makes this harness good for correcting unruly behavior? Well, mostly, it’s the front-clip design. This allows you to attach the leash in the front. Because of this, dogs will have less inclination to pull as they would when being held from the back or the head.
The D-ring used is made of aluminum, which gives it good resistance to pulling and makes it more long-lasting. Another cool thing is that the harness features a D-ring at the back too. With two leash attachment points, you’ll be able to easily switch between training and regular walking restraint mode.
Perhaps the most interesting and useful feature is the two-attachment points design for the leash. This will allow you to change the restraint method based on how your dog’s behaving and how he feels more comfortable during various activities.
Although the harness comes with a seatbelt feature, the harness itself wasn’t crash-tested. This means that you may still want to invest in a separate tether if you’re anticipating rough patches of road and if you have a hyperactive dog.
5. Expawlorer No Pull Dog Harness
If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure harness for your small dog, this might just do the trick. It’s a very sturdy harness with many quality of life features and is surprisingly affordable given all it has to offer.
The Expawlorer harness only comes in three colors. But while it may lack some variety in the stylistic department, it certainly makes up for it with quality of life and comfort features. A lightweight mesh lining, as well as sponge padding, can be found in the chest and stomach areas.
The harness also benefits from two leash attachment points and aluminum V-rings that offer better resistance to pulling. You might also appreciate the nylon webbing and reflective material. This makes the harness very useful for nighttime walks.
Another thing that makes this harness appealing is the scratch-resistant oxford exterior layer. It makes the harness suitable for doggy play dates as well as walking or hiking through forest areas. It should also prevent snagging to a certain degree.
This harness has all the bells and whistles you could ask for at this price range. But at the end of the day, it’s superior tensile strength that probably takes center stage among the best-selling features.
Due to its design, this harness doesn’t have the best chest coverage. Yes, it’s lightweight, but the weight distribution may not be the best for all dog breeds and body types.
Best Small Dog Harness Buyer’s Guide
Buying the best small dog harness depends a lot on knowing your dog’s weight, measurements, and body type, as well as weight fluctuation tendencies. But understanding specific design features will be equally important if you want to ensure your pet’s comfort and if you want to get a good deal.
Dog harnesses come in a variety of designs or types, regardless if they were made for small, medium, or large dogs. Here are the highlights of each type of harness worth mentioning for small dog owners.
A tightening harness is a type of self-adjusting harness that tightens or releases its hold depending on what the dog is doing. Jumping and pulling will cause the harness to slightly tighten and apply pressure. You can use this type of harness to discourage bad behavior.
This type of harness can be used on dogs that have mobility issues. Think joint pain, injuries, hip dysplasia, and other similar conditions. You can also use a mobility harness if your dog is recovering from a surgery.
A bib harness covers most of a dog’s chest. It usually comes with plenty of padding and is mostly designed for even weight distribution. You can use this type of harness if you’re planning on taking your dog for hikes or very long walks.
No-pull harnesses apply a bit of pressure under the armpits instead of applying pressure all over, as a tightening harness would. These are more comfortable to wear but have to be perfectly sized to avoid chafing or irritating the dog.
Front or Back-Clip
The positioning of leash attachments is an essential part of any dog harness. You may also see harnesses classified by how the leash is attached. Front-clip attachments are considered better at improving your control over the dog.
As a dog pulls the leash, it will be spun around due to the front position of the clip attachment. However, this can also cause the leash to get tangled between the dog’s legs.
Back-clip attachments do almost nothing to enhance your level of control. That said, by opting for a back-clip attachment, you’re ensuring tangle-free walks in the park. They’re also more comfortable for the dog as they feel more natural.
Choosing between the two usually comes down to what type of dog you have. Back-clip attachments can be used with any small dog harness. Larger and stronger dogs may need a front-clip attachment instead.
Keep in mind that there are also harnesses which offer both types of attachments. They might be slightly pricier but definitely worth your consideration if you have a small adult dog or a small dog with lots of energy.
Simply putting a harness on a dog isn’t enough to make him more comfortable. Sure it’s still better than a regular old collar, but the build quality is also very important. If you only want the best for your dog, then look at harnesses that feature plenty of padding.
Padding around the chest and stomach area will prevent rubbing and chafing. Thick padding is also preferable but only when made from soft materials. If the harness is too bulky, it might just restrict the dog’s movement.
And, as already mentioned, the position of the clip attachment is also important. For maximum comfort, always go with a back-clip attachment, or a dual-clip harness that lets you switch.
Dog harnesses are designed to be choke-free. They’re superior to collars in this regard, and even poorly designed harnesses will have very little effect on the dog’s neck, with the exception of the head harness. That could cause some choking in very aggressive or hyperactive dogs.
But just because dog harnesses are unlikely to choke your dog, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t also consider the amount of pressure they exert and how they would fit your dog. That’s when you start to think about adjustability.
When it comes to adjustability, the size and fit is everything really. These are two different things, if you may be tempted to think that the terms are interchangeable.
Sizes are pretty much self-explanatory, but the fit is something else. There are two fits you should be aware of, the Roman fit and the step-in fit; that’s particularly good for small dogs is the step-in.
The Roman fit can do a good job too, especially when used in a harness with a back-clip. The only issue is that you can’t use it safely on dogs with injuries. The Roman fit can sometimes tighten too much and cause muscle problems or even breathing problems.
Small Dog Harness FAQ’s
How to Put on a Dog Harness?
There are two ways in which you can put a harness on your dog, depending on the fit. For step-in harnesses, you’ll have to lure your dog into stepping over it. This way, you can easily take the ends up and wrap your dog. Secure the clips and then attach the leash.
For overhead or Roman fit harnesses, the dog will have to go through head first. Whichever type of harness you get for your dog, it’s always best to lure your pet with some treats, at least during the first few days.
You should also let your dog wear the harness in the house or in the yard without the leash so that it becomes accustomed to it. This will also make it easier to put the harness on, as the dog learns how it works.
Don’t try to attach the leash to the harness before it’s secured to your dog, as it will just get in the way. With smaller dogs, things might be trickier since they’re likely to be hyperactive. But, if you just have a small breed dog and not a young pup, then you won’t have to use any force.
Is a Dog Harness Better than a Collar?
Although the dog collar may be the more popular product, a dog harness is much better constructed, whether it’s for walking purposes or training purposes. And a dog harness is almost always recommended for small breeds or young pups.
There’s less, if any risk of choking your dog if you keep him in a harness. Not only that, but a dog harness offers superior comfort due to how it handles weight distribution. You can also use a harness to discourage unruly behavior without causing too much pain or difficulty breathing.
Some harnesses can apply pressure to the chest, armpits, around the shoulders, so that the dog will feel some discomfort. He’ll then associate that discomfort with bad habits. Last but not least, a dog harness is also better for the owner. With a harness, you’ll get more control, and you won’t need as much force to pull.
How to Measure Your Dog for a Harness?
The simplest method of measuring a dog for a harness is to take lower neck and chest measurements. Use a measuring tape for accurate results. Only one of these measurements is a bit trickier to take — the chest measurement.
In order to get it accurately, use the tape by wrapping it around the widest part of the dog’s torso. Keep the tape as close to the armpits of the front legs as you can. Taking length measurements rarely matters unless you’re fitting your dog for a life-jacket or coat.
Taking upper neck measurements are not necessary for harnesses as they aren’t supported by the upper neck. But keep in mind that if you want a harness/vest combo, then you’ll also need to take the upper neck measurement.
After you take the measurements, stick one or two fingers between the tape and your dog. It’s a good idea to not keep the harness too snug on your dog in order to prevent an overly tight grip or too much pressure.
Do Harnesses Hurt Dogs?
Harnesses are not designed to hurt dogs. However, some designs can definitely hurt your dog if the right conditions are met. For example, dogs with physical disabilities or injuries might get hurt if they don’t wear the right type of harness.
Head harnesses can also hurt dogs if they’re not used by experienced owners or trainers, because they can cause spinal injuries when pulled with too much force. You should also consider getting the right size and fit to avoid any chafing issues.
Another thing that might cause discomfort but not necessarily hurt your dog is too much padding. Some dogs, especially smaller breeds, are prone to overheating. Using bulky harnesses on them, like the ones that cover the entire chest, could overheat the dogs on long walks or hikes during the summer.
Should Puppies Wear a Harness?
Yes, puppies should wear a harness instead of a collar. Because they’re more comfortable and because they can help train dogs, puppies will benefit a lot more from a harness than a collar.
Dog harnesses are much more forgiving on the dog’s neck and spine. Unlike collars that spin around a lot, harnesses don’t tend to shift. This means that unless you’re using a harness with a front-clip design, there’s little to no chance for the leash to get tangled between the dog’s legs. This will also result in unhindered walking, running, jumping, and pretty much unrestricted movement.
As you can see, the best dog harness is usually the one that offers the most versatility. For that reason, the Ruffwear Front Range Harness slightly edges out the competition. Its light weight, strength, adjustability, and usefulness in managing excessive pulling behavior are hard to beat.
That’s not to say that the other four options presented in this article won’t make good alternatives, especially given the attractive pricing.