How to Select the Right Size of Dog Harness for Small Breeds?



Choosing the right size of dog harness is crucial for the comfort and safety of your furry friend, especially when it comes to small breeds. A well-fitted harness allows you to have better control over your dog while walking, prevents choking or injury, and ensures that your dog feels comfortable and secure. However, with so many options available in the market, it can be overwhelming to find the perfect fit for your small breed dog. In this article, we will guide you through the process of selecting the right size of dog harness for small breeds, ensuring that your pup feels confident and content during your daily walks together.

Understanding the Importance of a Properly Fitted Harness

A dog harness serves multiple purposes, including providing control, preventing injury, and distributing pressure more evenly than a collar. It also prevents strain on your dog's neck, particularly for breeds prone to respiratory issues, such as brachycephalic breeds. Choosing the right size harness is essential to ensure that your dog is comfortable and free from any discomfort.

Measuring Your Dog

Before you begin browsing through the various harness options available, you need to accurately measure your small breed dog for a perfect fit. Here's how you can go about it:

1. Neck Circumference

Measure the circumference of your dog's neck just above the shoulders. Use a flexible measuring tape to get an accurate measurement. Make sure to place the tape around the base of the neck, where the harness will sit.

It's important to note that some harnesses, particularly step-in or vest-style ones, may not require a neck measurement. In such cases, you can skip this step and proceed to measure your dog's chest and girth.

2. Chest/Girth Measurement

The chest or girth measurement is crucial to determine the size of the harness that will comfortably fit your dog. Measure the widest part of your dog's chest, just behind the forelimbs. Wrap the measuring tape around this area, ensuring it is snug but not tight.

3. Length Measurement

Some harnesses may require a length measurement, particularly those that extend along the dog's back. Measure the distance between the base of the neck to the base of the tail using a measuring tape. Ensure that your dog is standing or lying down in a relaxed position for accurate measurements.

Choosing the Right Type of Harness for Small Breeds

Selecting the right type of harness for your small breed dog can significantly impact their comfort and ease of use. Here are some popular options suitable for small breeds:

1. Step-In Harness

A step-in harness is a popular choice for small breeds as it's easy to put on and take off. This type of harness has two leg holes and a strap that goes around the dog's chest and back. It's important to measure your dog's girth accurately to ensure a proper fit.

Step-in harnesses are particularly useful for dogs that are hesitant or reactive during the harnessing process. They also distribute pressure more evenly, making them a suitable choice for dogs with delicate tracheas or neck injuries.

2. Vest Harness

Vest harnesses are another great option for small breed dogs. They provide excellent support and distribute pressure evenly across the chest, making them comfortable for your furry friend. These harnesses are often adjustable and include Velcro or buckle closures for convenience.

The vest harness style is ideal for dogs that tend to pull during walks or those that require additional control. It offers better control as it wraps around the dog's body, preventing them from slipping out or escaping easily.

3. Back-Clip Harness

Back-clip harnesses have the leash attachment on the top of the dog's back. They are generally suitable for small breed dogs that don't pull excessively during walks. These harnesses provide good control and are simple to put on and remove.

However, it's important to note that back-clip harnesses may not be the best choice for dogs that tend to lunge or pull strongly. The position of the attachment point can encourage pulling behavior in some dogs.

4. Front-Clip Harness

A front-clip harness has the leash attachment on the front of the dog's chest. This type of harness is beneficial for small breeds that tend to pull, as it redirects their forward motion to the side. It helps in discouraging pulling and allows you to have more control over your dog's movements.

A front-clip harness can be effective in preventing or managing leash-reactive behavior. It's essential to ensure a proper fit and adjust the straps for optimal control and comfort.

5. Adjustable Harness

An adjustable harness is a versatile option for small breeds as it allows you to customize the fit according to your dog's measurements. These harnesses often have multiple adjustment points, enabling you to achieve a secure and comfortable fit for your dog.

The adjustability of this harness type is particularly useful if your small breed dog is still growing or if they have a unique body shape. It ensures that the harness can be adapted to accommodate changes in size or weight.


Finding the right size of dog harness for small breeds is crucial for their comfort, safety, and overall well-being. By accurately measuring your dog's neck, chest, and length, you can ensure a proper fit. Choosing the right type of harness, such as a step-in harness, vest harness, back-clip harness, front-clip harness, or adjustable harness, further enhances your dog's walking experience. Remember to consider your dog's individual needs and preferences before making a final decision. With the right harness, your small breed dog will be ready to step out comfortably and confidently for their daily walks.


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