Return to Blog

Dog Harnesses for Small Breeds: Finding the Perfect Fit

By Canada Pooch on Oct 3, 2023

As a small-breed dog parent, it's essential to understand your pup’s unique needs, especially when it comes to finding the right dog harness. In this article, we'll explore the different types of harnesses available for small breeds, the importance of accurate fit, and the role a well-fitted harness can play in training and behavior management. We'll also give you some handy tips on what to look for when shopping for a harness and step-by-step guidance on measuring and fitting a harness on your small breed dog. Get ready to give your pooch the comfort, safety, and freedom they deserve! 

Proper Fitting Harnesses for Small Dogs 

Small dogs have a unique anatomy. Therefore, finding the perfect fit in a dog harness is crucial for the safety and comfort of your pooch. Whether you choose a padded harness, a no-pull harness, or a soft mesh harness, ensuring a proper fit contributes greatly to a comfortable dog walk. 

Understanding the Unique Needs of Small Breeds 

Small breeds are anatomically different from large breeds. They weigh less, and their bones are more fragile. Thus, a front clip or back clip harness specifically tailor-made for small dogs is generally more suitable for controlling small breeds and preventing them from straying. 

Why the Right Size Matters for Your Small Breed Dog 

The right size of a dog harness matters a great deal. The harness should neither be too tight nor too loose. A perfectly fitting harness is tight enough to prevent the dog from pulling and escaping but loose enough for the dog to breathe and move naturally ensuring their comfort. 

Various small dog harnesses come with dual attachment points - a leash attachment point at the back and at the front. The back attachment provides security and comfort for small dogs during travel or while walking in crowded places. The front attachment also helps divert a pulling dog's attention away from distractions. 

Exploring The Different Types of Dog Harnesses for Small Breeds 

Although many dog parents go straight for a collar, a small dog harness is often a better choice particularly for small breeds. Harnesses offer a level of comfort and security that generic collars don't. 

Below, we will explore the myriad of small dog harness options available in the market, from dual attachment point types like back attachment points and front attachment points to light harness options like the soft mesh or lightweight dog harness. 

Step-in Harnesses 

Step-in harnesses are ideal for small dogs that dislike having anything being pulled over their head. As the name suggests, your dog simply steps into the harness, and then it's fastened at the dog's back or side. The leash attachment point is also typically found at the back. 

Back-clip vs. Front-clip Harnesses: 

Back-clip harnesses are user-friendly, and small dogs usually find them comfortable. The attachment point is located on the top of the dog's back so it doesn't tangle beneath the dog's feet. However, a front-clip or dual-clip harness gives parents greater control and is great for dogs that pull. Canada Pooch offers a variety of harness styles all featuring a front and back leash attachment. 

According to many dog trainers, front-clip dog harnesses effectively get your dog's attention and redirect their path. But, in some extreme cases, such as dogs with tracheal collapse, the pull dog harness (front clip) may cause discomfort. Always consult with a dog professional for a proper fit. Additionally, a front-clip may lead to the leash getting tangled in your dog’s legs. 

Advantages of Padded, Adjustable, and Reflective Harnesses 

Padded, adjustable dog harnesses are beneficial for small dogs. The padding helps add comfort, while the adjustment points ensure a proper fit. Reflective trim, meanwhile, enhances your small dog's visibility during a nighttime dog walk. 

Shopping for Small Breed Dog Harnesses: What to Look For 

When you're the proud parent of a small dog, finding the perfect fit is crucial for their comfort and safety. Many small dog parents prefer a lightweight dog harness that evenly distributes pressure to avoid issues like tracheal collapse. Dog harnesses designed specifically for small dogs also offer parents greater control of their pets, which can be particularly useful for energetic and playful breeds. 

The Role of Material, Size, and Adjustable Features in Harness Selection 

Create a checklist that includes the material, size, and adjustable features when shopping for a small dog harness. A good choice of material for a small dog harness would be soft mesh, this allows for breathability and comfort. The Canada Pooch Everything Harness Mesh Series, for example, is a well-regarded soft harness that is made of polyester air mesh, a lightweight and breathable fabric. 

Knowing your small dog's size is crucial for a proper fit. Measure your dog's neck and chest circumference before purchasing to ensure the harness won't be too loose or too tight. Additionally, take note of your dogs weight and make sure you get a harness rated for that weight, this ensures a safe harness. Remember, what might be a perfect fit harness for a Chihuahua might not work for a French Bulldog. 

Adjustable straps on harnesses are essential to ensure a proper fit for you pup. Look for adjustment points around the neck and chest and for the belly strap. 

Dual attachment points – a back attachment point and a front attachment point – give greater flexibility during your dog walk. For instance, if your small dog tends to pull, a front-clip harness may redirect your dog's attention back to you. 

The Importance of Comfort and Durability 

A comfortable dog harness is essential for a positive walking experience. Soft, lined harnesses can help prevent rubbing and chafing, making them ideal for small dogs. Reflective trim on the harness can also enhance visibility and safety during night walks. 

Durability is another key factor. Dogs are prone to chewing, so a harness that can withstand chewing damage is a smart choice. Consider also looking for a dog harness with a secure leash attachment point and a slot for ID tags – a bonus for dog parents. 

How to Correctly Fit a Dog Harness on Your Small Breed 

Finding the right harness and fit can seem daunting, but it doesn't need to be! As a dog parent yourself, you'll know that getting the perfect fit of the small dog harness is essential for the comfort and safety of your dogs. A proper fit ensures that your small pups aren't at risk of chafing, slipping out, or suffering from extreme cases of tracheal collapse. 

Measuring Your Dog for a Harness: 

The first step towards finding the perfect fit harness is to correctly measure your dog. Experts recommend a soft measuring tape for this purpose. You must ensure you measure the widest part of your dog's chest and the narrowest part of its neck. 

An incorrect measurement can lead to an ill-fitting harness that can lead to an uncomfortable pup, which is not ideal. In extreme cases, it might cause injuries. A proper fit harness also ensures the ID tags are visible, and the leash attachments are in the proper spot. Let us discuss how to do it correctly. 

Step 1: Ensure your dog is in a stand-up position. 

Step 2: Find the widest part of your dog's chest. This is usually right behind their armpits. 

Step 3: Wrap the soft measuring tape around this part, ensuring it is snug but not tight. 

Step 4: Record this measurement as it will determine the size of the harness. 

Step 5: Measure the smallest part of your dog's neck in a similar way. 

Step 6: Take note of your dog’s weight.

Step 7: Compare all this information to the manufacturers size chart to ensure a proper fit. 

Ensuring a Secure but Comfortable Fit 

After obtaining the measurements, the next is to find a perfect harness. A good small dog harness will generally be a soft mesh harness, with adjustment points at the neck and straps ensuring a perfect fit and allowing the parents greater control. Check the fit by placing two fingers between the harness and your dog's skin. If they fit comfortably, you've got a good fit. 


What is the best style of harness for a small dog? 

For small dogs, step-in harnesses are often a good choice. These have straps that the dog steps into with their front legs, and then you clip the harness closed around their body. Step-in harnesses distribute pressure more evenly across the body compared to collars or traditional harnesses that clip around the neck and chest. This makes them comfortable for small breeds that can be prone to trachea injuries. Look for a step-in harness made of soft, breathable material with adjustable straps to ensure a proper fit. A stretchy bungee leash often works well with these too, as it absorbs shock when the dog pulls. The right harness allows you to take your small dog on safe, enjoyable walks. Just be sure to get the proper fit and watch for signs of chafing. With the style and security of a step-in, your petite pooch will be ready for adventure. 

Return to Blog

More to Explore