6 Best Small Dog Harness Reviews (Tips & Buyer’s Guide)

Written By: Richard Cross | Last Updated:

Are you looking for a harness that’s suitable for your small canine friend? If so, you’re in the right place! We’ve listed six of the best small dog harnesses below to help you get a great harness for your pet.

In a perfect world, all dogs would walk calmly beside their owners when on a leash – even when a cat or squirrel runs across the path.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect world!

The reality is that many dogs pull on the lead. This could be due to a lack of training, frustration, or just because the dog has a faster natural walking pace than the owner. And when a distraction appears, it can take a lot of self-discipline for a dog to continue walking calmly.

Aside from being slightly embarrassing as a dog owner, pulling while wearing a flat collar can be dangerous for your pet – especially if he is a small breed. This is true even with padded collars.

For this reason, a small dog harness is recommended when walking most dogs. Not all harnesses are suitable for small breeds such as the Chihuahua or Jack Russell though, so it’s important to get the right one for your pooch.

In this article, I’ve listed six of the best dog harnesses for small dogs. Each provides excellent comfort and durability, while being suitable for smaller breeds. I’ve also written a guide to choosing a pet harness for small breeds, which you can find below my top picks.

Our #1 Pick

The Front Range is my top pick for a running harness

Ruffwear Front Range

Excellent harness with padding and two leash attachments

If you need a strong, comfortable and adjustable harness for a small dog, the Ruffwear Front Range is my top pick. With its dual attachment points and excellent padding, it’s a versatile harness that’s suitable for strong pullers. The smallest size has a minimum chest girth of 13″, so it’s probably the best small dog harness on the market at the moment.

6 Best Harnesses for Small Dogs

Listed below are six of the best small dog harnesses. Each provides a comfortable fit that’s suitable for smaller breeds – although you should always measure your dog before buying a product.

My minimum criteria for a small breed harness is that it’s suitable for a chest girth of 13″ or more. This won’t fit all dogs, but for most breeds it’s small enough. If you’re looking for an extra small dog harness, some go down to a chest girth of 9″ (such as the Puppia). For larger harnesses, take a look at our best dog harness page.

RankNameMinimum Chest GirthKey FeaturesPrice Range
#1Ruffwear Front Range13"Our #1 harness for a small dog. Plenty of padding, two leash attachments, and excellent build quality.$$$
#2Chai's Choice Reflective Dog Harness13"A dual-leash attachment harness that provides great value for money.$$
#3Julius K9 IDC PowerHarness11.5"Highly durable harness with "Baby" and "Mini" options for small breeds.$$
#4Puppia Soft Dog Harness9"Simple harness that's soft and comfortable. Not suitable for brachycephalic breeds though.$
#5ComfortFlex Sport Harness12.5"Has several sizes that are specifically designed for small dogs. Lightweight.$$
#6Buddy Belt Classic10"A leather harness that's a durable alternative to padded options. Suitable for most small dogs.$$$

1. Ruffwear Front Range Harness

1. Ruffwear Front Range HarnessVIEW PRICE

One of the best dog harnesses available at the moment is the Ruffwear Front Range. It’s a highly durable harness with plenty of padding – plus it has dual-clip attachments. And with a minimum chest girth of 13″ for the XX-Small version, it’s suitable for most small dogs.

Let’s start with one of the best features of the Ruffwear – the dual leash attachment points. Unlike many harnesses, which have an attachment on either the front or back, the Ruffwear has both. The front clip is great for pullers, as the dog finds it harder to maintain forward traction without being spun around.

The only downside is that the front clip is made from reinforced fabric rather than metal, so it’s not as durable (this is less of an issue for small dog breeds though).

Additionally, the Ruffwear is comfortable for your dog to wear. It has padding on the belly, chest, most of the neck, and back, so it’s great for pullers. There are also four adjustment points, so you can get a snug fit that won’t chafe, along with a reflective trim so your dog is more visible at night.

Why We Recommend It: If you’re looking for the best harness for small dogs and your pet has a 13″ chest girth (or more), the Ruffwear Front Range is my top recommendation. It’s durable, easy to adjust and comfortable for your dog – plus the dual-clips are great for having more control over your dog on walks.
  • Type: Front & Back-Clip
  • Minimum Chest Girth: 13″
  • Price Range: $$$
  • Durable polyester shell and webbing with excellent build quality
  • 4 adjustment points
  • Plenty of padding
  • Expensive
  • Front clip is fabric rather than metal
VIEW PRICE

2. Chai’s Choice Reflective Small Dog Harness With Handle

Another padded option is the Chai's Choice

The Ruffwear is a fantastic harness – but it’s also expensive. If you want a cheaper option with similar features, the Chai’s Choice 3M Reflective is a great choice. Like the Ruffwear, the Chai’s Choice has both a front and back-clip, along with chest padding and an easy-to-adjust design. It’s also suitable for dogs with a chest girth down to 13″.

Like all the best dog harnesses for small dogs, the Chai’s Choice has padding on the chest and belly. This dissipates force when your dog pulls, which helps to prevent injury. It’s also made with 3M reflective material, so your dog is more visible in low light conditions, and has a built-in handle.

There are multiple points of adjustment on the Chai’s Choice, so it’s possible to get a snug fit on most dogs. You might need to spend time fiddling with the straps initially though, as it can take time to get the right fit.

A bonus is that the Chai’s Choice is available in a wide range of colors and sizes. It’s not suitable for machine washing, however, which can be time-consuming if your dog goes on frequent muddy walks. I also don’t recommend attaching the handle to a seat-belt for car rides, as the harness has not be crash tested.

Why We Recommend It: The Chai’s Choice 3M Reflective has a similar design to the Ruffwear, although it’s often available for a cheaper price. The harness has two leash attachment points, plenty of padding, and is available in multiple sizes, making it a great choice for small dogs.
  • Type: Front & Back-Clip
  • Minimum Chest Girth: 13″
  • Price Range: $$
  • Durable harness with wide chest pad
  • Strong leash attachments
  • Built-in handle
  • Only suitable for dogs with 13″ chest girth or more

3. Julius K9 IDC PowerHarness

Julius-K9 Mini

The Julius-K9 IDC Powerharness is an adjustable back-clip option that’s available in a variety of sizes – including “Baby” and “Mini” versions for the smallest breeds. It’s lightweight, comfortable to wear, and suitable for small dogs (the minimum chest size for the “Baby 1” is 11.5 inches). It’s also one of the toughest harnesses on the market.

What makes this harness such a great choice for small breeds though? Aside from the size options, the Powerharness is relatively lightweight and comfortable for a smaller dog to wear. It also has a breathable inner liner to keep your pup cool during the summer months.

Other features include a reflective edge, which is great for walking in low-light conditions, and a heavy-duty buckle. The IDC Powerharness also has both adjustable belly and front straps to get a comfortable fit on your pet.

It’s hard to find much to complain about with this dog harness. I would like more belly strap padding, although the harness shouldn’t chafe if fitted correctly. The Julius K9 also isn’t machine washable.

If you need a strong harness for a small dog, however, it’s a brilliant choice.

​Note: The Julius K9 doesn’t include a handle on the smallest versions. You’ll need the choose the “Mini-Mini” or bigger for a handle.

Why We Recommend It: The Julius K9 Powerharness is one of my favourite dog harnesses – and the “Baby” and “Mini” size options are perfect for smaller dog breeds. It’s stylish, adjustable, and has a breathable mesh to keep your pet cool. The Powerharness is also one of the most durable harnesses on the market.
  • Type: Back-Clip
  • Minimum Chest Girth: 11.5″
  • Price Range: $$
  • Tough and durable harness
  • Breathable inner liner
  • Adjustable belly and front straps
  • Can be used with Velcro hook and loop patches
  • Relatively expensive
  • Doesn’t have a “no pull” front leash D-Ring

4. Puppia Soft Dog Harness

The Puppia is a soft dog harness for small dogs

If you just need a basic soft harness that doesn’t cost much money, the Puppia is an excellent choice for non-brachycephalic dogs. It has a minimum chest girth of 9″, so it’s one of the best small dog harnesses if you have a tiny breed. There are also a wide range of colors available, so you can get one that suits your pet.

The first thing to note about the Puppia is that it’s not as durable as harnesses like the Ruffwear or Kurgo. This is understandable, as it’s also much cheaper, but is worth keeping in mind – especially if your dog is a strong puller.

The harness is made from cotton and polyester, which provides a soft feel that most dogs will like. There’s also an adjustable chest belt – although the neck can’t be adjusted. For this reason, make sure you look at the sizing chart and measure your dog carefully.

Note: The Puppia isn’t suitable for brachycephalic breeds, as it sits too high on the neck. I also prefer the Puppia RiteFit for most dogs, as it has two adjustable straps rather than a fixed neck girth. The RiteFit’s minimum size is only suitable for dogs with 12″ chest girth or higher, however, so the original Puppia is still one of the best tiny dog harnesses.​

Why We Recommend It: The Puppia is a cheaper harness than the other options on this list. It’s not as durable, but with a comfortable design and range of sizes it’s great for small dogs. If your dog is a strong puller or lunger, however, go for a more durable option.
  • Type: Back-Clip
  • Minimum Chest Girth: 9″
  • Price Range: $
  • Great value for money
  • Smallest size is probably the best tiny dog harness on the market
  • Adjustable chest strap
  • Comfortable and soft harness for small dogs
  • Not as durable as models such as the Ruffwear
  • Neck girth is fixed
  • Not the best option for brachycephalic breeds

5. ComfortFlex Sport Harness

5. ComfortFlex Sport HarnessVIEW PRICE

Another harness with sizes adapted specifically for small dogs is the ComfortFlex Sport. Like the Puppia, it’s a relatively simple and lightweight harness, plus it has a padded design for added comfort. It’s also machine washable, making it an excellent choice for muddy adventures.

One of the key features of the ComfortFlex is that it reduces force on the trachea. To do this, the harness has a fully padded design and relatively low front strap. The leash attachment is also raised slightly above the dog’s back, which can prevent the harness from rising up on your dog’s throat.

The drawback to this interesting design is that the ComfortFlex Sport may be easier for your dog to “back out” from. This isn’t an issue with most dogs, but it may not be the best choice for escape artists. Make sure you consult the sizing chart carefully and check the fit before taking your dog on a walk.

Aside from the “no choke” design, the ComfortFlex is made from strong nylon and a padded inner lining. There are plenty of colour options and a strong metal leash attachment. Unfortunately, there’s no front attachment.

Even so, if you need a lightweight harness for a small dog, the ComfortFlex Sport is an option to consider.

Why We Recommend It: The ComfortFlex Sport is a great harness for adventurous dogs. It features a minimal design and padded interior, to keep your pup cool and comfortable. It also provides excellent value for money.
  • Type: Back-Clip
  • Minimum Chest Girth: 12.5″
  • Price Range: $$
  • Designed to avoid pressure on the trachea
  • Fully padded interior lining
  • Adjustable chest strap
  • No front leash attachment
VIEW PRICE

6. Buddy Belts Classic Dog Harness

The Buddy Belt is great for dachshunds and other smaller breeds

The Buddy Belt Classic is traditionally associated with Dachshunds, as it’s one of the best harnesses for their body shape. The unique design and durable construction make it a good harness for many small breed dogs though.

Unlike most dog harnesses, the Buddy Belt doesn’t have straps, quick release buckles, and padding. Instead, it’s built with strong leather and a single buckle, which increases durability. The step-in harness design also makes it easy to put on – especially if your dog hates harnesses being passed over his head.

One of the great things about the Buddy Belt is that it’s available in a wide range of sizes. The smallest is suitable for a chest girth of just 10″, compared to 13″ for the Ruffwear Front Range. It’s also strong and unlikely to stretch.

While the leather is flexible and designed not to rub, the Buddy Belt isn’t likely to be as comfortable as a padded harness. It’s also an expensive choice.

The upside is that this harness is built to last. When it comes to minimising pressure on the delicate throat, it’s also arguably the best dog harness for small dogs.

Why We Recommend It: The Buddy Belt is a durable dog harness that’s a good choice for small breeds. The leather design means it’s not as comfortable as padded alternatives though.
  • Type: Black-Clip
  • Minimum Chest Girth: 10″
  • Price Range: $$$
  • Highly durable step in harness for small dogs
  • Built to an excellent standard
  • Lots of size options
  • No padding
  • Expensive

Why Buy a Dog Harness for a Small Dog?

A dog standing outside with a harness on

Flat collars are great for ID tags or for calm dogs. When a dog pulls, however, all the force is directed onto the neck. This can cause pain and long-term injuries.

Small dogs have less muscle strength than larger breeds. This means smaller breeds are much more likely to be injured by a flat dog collar.

Lunging can be even more dangerous. So, if your dog has a habit of springing towards people, animals or food while on the leash (including retractable leashes), a flat collar – regardless of whether it’s a synthetic material or leather – can cause serious damage.​

A dog harness is a great way to reduce the risk of injury if your dog is a puller. Instead of concentrating all the pressure on the dog’s neck, the force is spread across the chest and shoulders. This isn’t a solution to a pulling dog – you still need to continue training – but a harness is much safer than a collar.

Additionally, a harness can provide more control. Front-clip harnesses (sometimes incorrectly called a “no pull dog harness”) allow you to manoeuvre the dog more easily and can be a pain-free alternative to​ choke chains or prong collars. Back-clip harnesses don’t discourage pulling as much, but allow for a more relaxed and comfortable walk.

Tip: If you choose a dual-clip harness, it’s often best to attach a double-ended dog leash to both front and back clips. Most of the pressure should come from the back clip, but the front clip can be used if you need extra control.

What to Look for in a Harness for Small Breeds?

Buying a dog harness doesn’t need to be complicated. There are a few considerations you need to be aware of though, such as:

  • Front or Back-Clip (or Both). Front-clip leash attachments are great for gently discouraging pulling, so can be a good choice for reactive dogs or pullers. When a dog tries to pull, they are spun round by the leash without causing discomfort. This is unlikely to train your dog not to pull, but can reduce pulling on a walk. Back-clip attachments are better suited to light pullers or for more relaxed walks. They don’t provide as much control, but make it less likely for the leash to get tangled around the dog’s legs. Many dogs prefer back-clip harnesses too.
  • Durable and Sturdy Design. Dog harnesses need to be tough if they are going to survive regular walks. The best options have double-stitched seams, strong metal D-Rings, and are made from high-quality materials (such as rip-stop polyester.)
  • Comfortable to Wear. Comfort is one of the most important factors when choosing a dog harness. Padding on the chest and stomach can prevent rubbing, while soft materials can increase comfort. The harness should also be adjustable and not move too much when attached to a leash (this is often a problem for front-clip attachments). This is important for all harnesses, but especially for vigorous activity such as hiking or jogging (check out our page of the best running harnesses for more information). If you have a dog with a unique body shape, such as a dachshund, you need to be even more careful about which you choose. We’ve written a guide to choosing a dachshund harness, which you may want to read if you are buying for this breed.
  • Sizes. Most harnesses are available in a range of sizes. Not all have options for small dog breeds though – especially heavy duty harnesses. Before you start looking, use a soft tape measure to find out the girth of your dog’s stomach and neck, as you’ll need these measurements when sizing. It’s essential that a harness fits correctly to keep your dog safe and secure.
  • Other Features. Some harnesses come with additional features. These can include a machine washable design, built-in handle, reflective strips or quick-dry materials.

You should avoid any no-pull harness that causes pain or discomfort to your dog. Aside from being unnecessary, these harnesses make walks stressful and painful for your pet. They also only teach the dog to be fearful, not to avoid pulling.

Please Note: Just because a harness comes with a seat-belt attachment doesn’t mean it’s been crash-tested or proven to be safe in a car. If you need a car harness, look for a product that’s been crash tested so you know it’s strong enough to withstand most impacts.

Summary

A dog harness can reduce the strain on your pet’s neck – especially if they pull on walks. If you have a small dog, it’s important to get one that’s designed for a small breed though.

My top recommendation for a small dog harness is the Ruffwear Front Range. It’s durable, has two leash attachment points and loads of padding for extra comfort. If you need an inexpensive harness for a small dog, the Puppia is a great alternative.

For more specific harness advice, I’ve also written guides to popular small breeds, including harnesses for French Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, dachshunds, and pugs.

Do you have any questions about choosing the best small dog harness for your pet? Let me know in the comments!

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About The Author: Richard Cross

Richard is a journalist who specialises in dog behavior. He's written hundreds of articles and books related to dogs, including for the Continental Kennel Club, Dog Fest (the UK's biggest dog festival) and various veterinary surgeries. When he's not spending time with Jess and Rudy (his beloved Labrador and Golden Retrievers), he enjoys reading, hiking and watching sports. You can find him on Facebook or Twitter.