Are you struggling to find a harness that fits your dachshund? Here are five of the best harnesses for dachshunds – along with tips for picking the right option for your pet.
- Back Problems and the Doxie’s Unique Requirements
- What Makes a Great Harness for a Dachshund?
- 5 Best Dachshund Harnesses
- What About Injured Dachshunds?
- What About Miniature Dachshunds?
Sadly, the dachshund’s long spine and short legs makes it prone to back injuries. These are particularly common during exercise, which is why a properly fitted harness is vital.
In this article, I’ll discuss choosing the best harness for a dachshund, before listing my five top picks for this spirited breed.
Our #1 Pick: Buddy Belt
Leather harness that’s perfect for dachshunds
My top pick for a dachshund harness is the excellent Buddy Belt. It’s not as padded as other harnesses, but was designed with the dachshund in mind. It’s also strong, durable and available in a range of size.
Back Problems and the Doxie’s Unique Requirements
Before we get to the top picks, it’s important to understand why a harness is a better choice for a dachshund than a collar.
Dachshunds were bred to confront badgers and other animals in small tunnels. That’s where the breed’s elongated spine, short legs and large chest originate – along with the doxie’s fearless nature.
Unfortunately, this selective breeding had the unintended side effect of making dachshunds more likely to develop a condition called intervertebral disc disease (IVDD).
In fact, IVDD affects around 24% of dachshunds – more than any other breed.
What exactly is IVDD though? And what causes it?
In short, IVDD is a degenerative condition that affects the discs in the spinal column. Symptoms may go undetected for years, until a fall or sudden impact causes a disc to burst. This results in pressure on nerves, which can cause stiff limbs, pain, reluctance to exercise, weakness, incontinence and difficulty walking. A burst disc can even cause paralysis in severe cases.
Dachshunds most commonly develop symptoms between 4-6 years old. All doxie parents should be aware of its symptoms, as there’s currently no way to predict which dogs are at risk.
Can IVDD be Prevented?
There’s no guaranteed way to prevent IVDD – but there are a few things you can do to reduce the risk.
Most importantly, make sure your doxie stays at a healthy weight. Extra weight puts pressure on the dog’s long spine, which can cause faster degradation.
You should also minimize high-impact activities. This isn’t always easy with an energetic dachshund, but jumping, tug-of-war or running up stairs can all trigger IVDD symptoms.
Walking dachshunds on a harness rather than a collar can also prevent injury. Harnesses support the dog’s long spine and reduce stress on the neck, which could prevent long-term damage.
A harness also spreads pressure across the chest and shoulders, rather than focusing on the trachea, and provides more control. This is especially important if your dog pulls or lunges.
What Makes a Great Harness for a Dachshund?
Now you know why harnesses are a good choice for dachshunds, what should you look for in a harness? And is there anything to avoid?
Here are a few of the most important considerations:
- Comfort. Many harnesses aren’t designed for a dachshund’s broad chest. They often rub the armpits or chafe the shoulders. Look for a harness that has padding, is highly adjustable, or has been designed for a dachshund’s body shape.
- Reduced Stress on Neck and Spinal Column. Most harnesses reduce stress on the neck compared to collars, as they naturally spread force across the chest. Padded or vest harnesses are better distributing pressure though. You should be wary of lifting a dachshund by the harness handle, as this can cause injury unless the dog is properly supported.
- Safe Fit. As I mentioned, it can be difficult to size a harness for a dachshund’s unique body shape, so make sure you check for a proper fit to avoid chafing. Be particularly wary of a harness that rides up to the dog’s throat, as this can be a choking hazard.
- Escape-Proof (Or At Least Escape-Resistant). Doxies have a reputation for being harness escape artists, due to their energetic behavior, short legs and thin necks. This can put the dog in serious danger if they slip out of a harness near a road. Look for a harness that provides a snug fit and won’t allow your dog to “back out.”
- Durable. Harnesses need to withstand all weather conditions. Dachshunds are also energetic, so their harness is likely to snag on branches and undergrowth. Look for a durable harness with a strong D-Ring leash attachment and reinforced seams.
If you’re buying a puppy dachshund harness, look for a product with multiple adjustment points so you can use it for the maximum length of time. You’ll still need to replace it with a bigger harness as your dog grows though.
Tip: Want to take your dog on a boat trip? Here’s a list of the best life jackets for dachshunds.
5 Best Dachshund Harnesses
With that in mind, here are five of the best dachshund harnesses available at the moment – along with mini-reviews to help you decide on the right option for your pet.
1. Buddy Belt Leather HarnessVIEW PRICE
As many dog harnesses don’t properly fit a dachshund, the obvious solution is to buy one specifically made for the breed. While the Buddy Belt isn’t marketed as a dachshund harness, it has been designed with the breed in mind. It’s also comfortable, durable and strong, making it my #1 pick for a dachshund harness.
The Buddy Belt is a bit different to the average harness. Instead of a combination of padding and straps, it’s built with strong leather and a single buckle. This makes it tough, durable and easy to put on.
An advantage of the Buddy Belt is that it’s available in a range of sizes (1-10). You’ll need to measure your dog’s chest girth and weight, but there should be an option for almost every dachshund – especially as the Belt has been designed with the breed in mind.
A concern many dog owners have about leather harnesses is that they appear more likely to rub. Fortunately, the Belt’s leather isn’t too stiff or hard, so it’s comfortable without being so stretchy it becomes unsafe. This is especially important for dachshunds, who can slip out of many harnesses due to their short legs.
Overall, the Buddy Belt provides an excellent fit for dachshunds. It’s snug without being too tight – as long as you get the right size – and durable enough to last a long time.
2. Puppia RiteFitVIEW PRICE
The Puppia RiteFit is another excellent dachshund harness. While it wasn’t designed specifically for doxies, it has adjustable belly and neck straps for a snug fit on almost any dog. The soft design also reduces chafing.
While the original Puppia is one of the most popular harnesses ever made, I think the newer RiteFit is the better option for dachshunds. It has many of the same features as the original – soft design, breathable air mesh and range of colours – but adds an adjustable neck strap. This makes it easier to get a snug and safe fit.
Another advantage of the two-strap design is that you don’t need to pull it over the dog’s head. Some dogs don’t like the feeling of fabric pulled over their face, so the extra buckles are particularly useful for nervous dogs.
The RiteFit is surprisingly durable for a fabric harness. It isn’t designed to withstand chewing, but can handle lunging or pulling. Keep in mind that the RiteFit is not a “no pull” harness, so it doesn’t encourage your dog to walk politely.
Other features include two rear D-Rings and a soft design for extra comfort. Most importantly, it provides an excellent fit for most dachshunds and shouldn’t chafe – as long as you choose the right size.
This leads me to my only complaint about the RiteFit: it’s only available in a few sizes. If your dog falls on the boundary of two sizes, it may be difficult to get the right fit.
For most dachshunds, however, it’s an excellent harness that’s considerably cheaper than the Buddy Belt. If you need a dachshund harness on a tight budget, this is the one to try.
3. Velpro Mesh Pet HarnessVIEW PRICE
If you’re looking for a less bulky harness than popular “no-pull” models, the Velpro Mesh is an option to consider. It’s a shoulder harness that falls between a collar and regular harness, and is designed to reduce pressure on the throat when pulling.
With its one-piece and buckle-free design, the Velpro is a comfortable harness that most dogs won’t mind wearing. It also has a step-in design, so you don’t need to pass it over the head.
The main goal of the Velpro Mesh is to reduce pressure on the throat. A pulling dog can cause severe damage to their trachea by lunging on a collar or high-riding harness, but the Velpro eliminates this risk.
Other features include five colors (black, blue, pink, purple and red), a strong rear D-ring and mesh fabric. The design also makes it difficult for dogs to reverse out (even dachshunds), as long as it’s fitted correctly.
The biggest drawback to the Velpro is that there’s only minimal adjustment options. There are no adjustable straps, so they only way to get a tighter or looser fit is to adjust the Velcro pads. These are relatively small, so there’s not much scope for adjusting the fit.
I’m also not convinced that the Vel-Pro enclosures are as secure as a buckle. The harness uses heavy-duty Velcro, and the D-Ring passes through the upper pad to secure it in place. But if your dog is a strong puller, I would feel safer with the Buddy Belt or RiteFit.
For most dachshunds, however, the Velpro Mesh is an excellent harness.
The Velpro has a strong one-piece design that reduces pressure on the throat. It fits most dachshunds, as long as you get the right size
4. Ruffwear Front RangeVIEW PRICE
The Ruffwear Front Range is one of the best harnesses on the market. It features dual D-Ring attachments, four points of adjustment and a padded design, along with a durable and lightweight construction. If you can get the right fit for your dachshund, it’s an excellent choice.
One of the great things about the Ruffwear is that there are four points of adjustment. While it’s not designed specifically for dachshunds, adjusting both the belly and shoulder straps should allow you to get a snug fit – even for a barrel-chested doxie.
It’s also a durable harness that’s built to last. The material is lightweight, but includes reinforced chest webbing for extra strength. There’s also padding around the armpits and belly for added comfort.
Other features include both front and rear leash attachments – the front fabric ring is useful for discouraging pulling – and a reflective trim. There’s also a pocket for an ID tag.
I’ve got a few complaints about the Ruffwear though. Firstly, the front attachment point is fabric rather than metal, which makes it less durable. If your dog is a puller, I recommend using the rear attachment. It can also only be hand washed.
These are minor complaints in comparison to the quality design and adjustability of the Ruffwear though.
The Front Range is one of the best harnesses on the market. It’s strong, highly adjustable and has a padded design, along with two leash attachment points.
5. Kurgo Tru-FitVIEW PRICE
The Kurgo Tru-Fit is another excellent dual-attachment harness. It features five adjustment points, quick-release buckles and a strong design that’s built to last.
If you need a slightly cheaper alternative to the Ruffwear, the Kurgo Tru-Fit is an option to consider. It’s an excellent harness that’s durable, strong and easy to use, so it provides great value for money.
An advantage of the Tru-Fit is that it has five adjustment points. These allow you to get a tight (but not too tight) fit. There are also both front and rear leash attachment points.
There are a few reasons why the Kurgo isn’t higher up on this list though. While it’s a brilliant all-round harness for most dogs, the body shape of some dachshunds can make it difficult to get a snug fit. And if it doesn’t quite fit your dog, he may be able to wriggle out of the harness. The Tru-Fit also doesn’t come with underarm padding.
It’s still a great harness though. Just be careful to make sure it properly fits your dachshund before using it.
The Kurgo Tru-Fit has a similar design to the Ruffwear, but for a lower price. It’s a great harness, although it’s not as good as the other options on this list for a dachshund’s unique body shape.
What About Injured Dachshunds?
If your dachshund has a spinal injury or can’t use his back legs, your vet may recommend a dog sling harness for walking. These allow you to support your dog’s back while keeping control via a leash.
There are plenty of slings available, but the GingerLead Support & Rehabilitation harness is one of the most popular options for dachshunds.
What About Miniature Dachshunds?
All the harnesses above can be suitable for a miniature dachshund – just make sure you get the right size for your pet.
It can be difficult to find a harness that fits a dachshund. Many harnesses either chafe the underarm area or allow the dog to “back out” too easily.
Fortunately, there are some excellent dachshund harnesses available. My top recommendation is the Buddy Belt, as it was originally designed for the dachshund’s unique body shape.
I hope this article has helped you find the best harness for your dachshund. If you have any questions or comments, please use the form below.