The Shih Tzu is an accurate representation of the phrase “big things come in small packages”. This is because, despite their small bodies, they have such huge personalities and they can do much more than you would expect given their body sizes.
And one of the essentials that they need for a comfortable life is a good harness. Because of their sizes, Shih Tzu’s can easily be injured if strained against collars and this is why trainers and vets recommend harnesses for them. With a harness, your small furry friend won’t experience any straining on their neck as the pressure will be dispersed over a larger area.
In this article, we will review what we think are the five best harnesses for a Shih Tzu while also highlighting why you should get a harness instead of a collar, and the features to consider.
Our best choice award goes to the Comfort Fit Metric USA Dog Harness – it’s made from soft but durable high-quality material, it’s stylish and light-weight and is comfortable for your dog to wear. We think it ticks all the boxes of a quality harness and you can read our review here.
- Why Choose A Harness For Your Shih Tzu?
- What Are The Risks Of Using A Collar On A Shih Tzu
- What To Look For In A Good Harness
- Best Harness for Shih Tzu – Reviews & Recommendations
Why Choose A Harness For Your Shih Tzu?
If you are torn between getting a collar or a harness for your dog, here is why you should get a harness. Unlike some dogs with really muscled necks and shoulders plus thick guard hairs, some dogs are not built to withstand that much pressure especially if their hair is silky and fine and that’s why a harness will be better than a collar. Some of the dangers posed by a collar too small dogs include:
- Breathing difficulties.
- Eye problems.
- Paw chewing.
- Thyroid issues.
- Neurological problems.
- Disc disease.
Other Reasons Why Should Use A Harness
- Harnesses Help Prevent Pulling – Most dogs are active and love playing and will lead to them pulling on the harness or collar leash when they are being walked. There are harnesses that have been designed to curb this pulling behavior.
- Makes It Easy For You To Control Your Dog – A harness will help you to guide your dog to prevent straining. With a harness, you can walk your dog without being concerned about inflicting injuries.
- Easier Travelling – Driving with your dog can be challenging since the dog has to be restricted. Using a harness will come with a strap that shall enable you to restrain your dog on the car seat for a smooth drive. This will enhance both your security and that of your dog.
- Helps Avoid Damage That Can Be Caused By A Collar – A harness is gentle on your dog’s skin and fur as opposed to the collar. Collars are usually attached to the leash at the neck. This predisposes your dog to neck injuries in case the dog pulls hard. The collar is capable of causing injuries to the dog such as a broken trachea, choking and breathing problems. The harness helps prevent this since the leash connects to the harness at the back of the dog between the shoulders.
- It Helps Prevent Tangling – When your dog is excited or jumping up and down, he may get tangled in the leash along with the person walking them. This might cause an injury. Luckily, a harness with the leash attached at the back cannot cause tangling.
- Makes Training Easier – While good leash behavior can be achieved when training your dog using the collar, it is easier to achieve the same using a harness. A collar may be hard to fit especially if your dog is anxious, but a harness is easier to put on. By making it easy to train, the dog will love the harness and anticipate to wear it when going for outings.
What Are The Risks Of Using A Collar On A Shih Tzu?
Apart from their delicate necks, Shih Tzu’s are very active and will jump unexpectedly even from high places. You should, therefore, avoid using collars on them because they pose more risks including:
- Possible Breathing Problems – Collars put a lot of pressure on your dog’s neck. And some small dogs have hereditary respiratory issues, so any added pressure on their neck means difficulties in breathing.
- Increased Risk Of Neurological Issues And Disc Disease – When walking your dog, they might suddenly stop or jump which might result in you pulling them unknowingly. If you are using a collar, this will mean direct pressure on your dog’s vertebral discs and spinal cord thus increasing the risk of neurological problems and disc disease.
- Possible Eye Problems (thin/weakened corneas) – Studies have shown a correlation between weakening corneas in dogs and dog collars.
- Collapsed Trachea – As mentioned above, small dogs have delicate necks, and any sudden pressure might cause lifetime damage. You might argue that you’re always careful when walking your dog, but at times you might have to pull them suddenly to save them from danger and you don’t want that to be the cause of irreversible damage.
- Hypothyroidism And Front Limb Nerve Damage – Another study has shown a correlation between pressure from the collar on the dog’s thyroid gland and hypothyroidism. This might take time to manifest, but it might eventually happen if one continues to use a collar for a long time. Again, you risk causing nerve damage to your dog’s front limbs every time you pull the leash, and the long-term results are them licking their paws excessively.
What To Look For In A Good Harness
- Connection Type (back-clip & front-clip, side attachment) – You can choose this based on your dog’s behavior. If you have a very active dog, a front-clip will help you have better control of him/her, but the problem is that it might tangle under his/her front limbs. On the other hand, back-clip harnesses are not only easy to put on but also very comfortable. However, unlike with a front-clip, you won’t have total control over your dog with a back-clip harness.
- Thickness And Size Of The Harness – To get the perfect harness for your dog, ensure that its thickness and size is perfect for their age and breed. And remember to check from time to time if it still fits perfectly as they grow.
- Padding – Padding is absolutely necessary when it comes to harnesses for small dogs. Good padding adds more comfort as it prevents skin irritation from direct rubbing.
- Split Leashes – If you have more than one dog, you can opt for a harness that’s compatible with split leashes for easy walks. However, you must consider your dog’s walking habits and their sizes.
- Material – The harnesses material should not only be durable but also breathable and easy to clean. But, if your dog has any allergies, consult your vet before purchasing one.
- Visibility – Harnesses with high visibility come in handy in low-light conditions to make it easy for you to see your dog. That said, look for a harness with a reflective strap, tape or reflective stitching.
Best Harness for Shih Tzu – Reviews & Recommendations
Many manufacturers make small-sized harnesses that are perfect for a Shih Tzu. However, they vary greatly in terms of quality. While it is important to find a harness that fits your dog correctly, it is also necessary for the harness to be durable, secure and good-looking on your dog.
Below we will review the best 5 harnesses we have found on the market that we think tick all these boxes.
Comfort Fit Metric USA
The Comfort Fit Metric USA Harness is among the most comfortable dog harnesses on the market. The metric 66 material that it is made from provides a comfortable hugging effect on the dog which helps to reduce tension and stress during walks with their owners. The interior parts of the harness are padded to reduce the strain on the neck and trachea that is caused by pulling.
This harness is easy to put on and take off to prevent straining. The x-small size has a girth size of 12” – 14”. Also, it has a quick release clip for the ease of putting on and taking off. It has two reinforced D-rings that lock the leash securely and ensures that the dog does not escape. The front leash attachment point enables you to control the dog easily while discouraging pulling.
It comes in a variety of colors thus giving you multiple choices to choose from. Weighing 2 Ounces, it is incredibly light and easy to care for.
This harness has an excellent 4.5 out of 5 star rating on Amazon from over 1,200 customers and you can read the reviews for yourself here.
- It is easy to put on.
- Perfect and comfortable fit for small dogs.
- Soft yet high-quality material.
- Well-made with durable fasteners.
- Very stylish and lightweight.
- Great customer care services.
RuffWear Front Range Harness
The RuffWear Front Range Dog Harness is comfortable for dogs and is easy to put on. It features two attachment points and an aluminum V-ring on the dog’s back. The front leash attachment point makes it an excellent harness for pullers. The V-ring makes it sturdy and durable. At the chest is a reinforced webbing that allows for easy training and control.
It has ID pockets for keeping dog tags easily accessible and quiet. With five different sizes, it is easy to select your dog’s fit based on their girth size. The sizes include XX-Small, X-Small, Small, medium, large and X-large. With side-release buckles, it is designed to easily slip through the head thus making it easy to put on and take off. The padded chest and belly panel make it comfortable for wearing all day for walks, runs, and hikes. In addition, it features a reflective trim that allows you and your dog to go out during low-light hours.
This harness has an excellent 4.5 out 5 star rating on Amazon from over 4,200 reviews and you can read what other customers have to say about this product here.
- Reduces pulling in dogs with a pulling behavior.
- Fits comfortably and easily.
- Well-designed and well-constructed with high-quality materials.
- The Padding is perfect for sensitive dog skin.
- The adjustment points make it easy to find the right fit.
EcoBark Control Dog Harness
The EcoBark Dog Harness is an environmentally friendly harness and another excellent choice for your Shih Tzu. Made by making use of environmentally friendly recycled water bottles, this product supports the conservation of the environment. It comes in various bright colors and fun patterns thus enhancing style and fashion. It features two styles which are the adjustable comfort harness and the velcro step-in harness. The styles make the harness to fit perfectly while preventing pulling and choking.
While the double-layered mesh is strong and durable, it is soft and breathable. It features a custom stitched cover that is designed to protect your dog from cuts that result from straps rubbing against its legs. The harness straps are made from recycled materials and dyed to match the harness color. Furthermore, its buckles are custom built to ensure high strength. It also fits perfectly and your little furry friend will look adorable running around in one.
This harness has a 4.3 out of 5 star rating on Amazon from over 2,800 reviews and you can read what other customers have to say about this product here.
- Curbs pulling hence preventing choking.
- It is easy to put on and take off.
- Great breathable and comfortable material.
- Perfect fit for small dogs.
- Multiple Sizes & Colors.
RabbitGoo Dog Harness
The cool looking Rabbitgoo Dog Harness is another great harness choice for your Shih Tzu. It’s designed to allow easy putting on and taking off. It features easily adjustable slide straps that make it possible to create a comfortable fit, thus enjoyable walks.
Again, if your dog is the active type and you need to have better control of them, this harness makes it possible as it features a back and chest attachment points. They are sturdy and given its design, you won’t be worried about chocking or any other risks that come with excessive pulling because it will be distributed over a large area on their body.
When it comes to the material, this harness is made of super soft and breathable material. This makes it a good option for long walks and overly active dogs. Again, it is heavily padded to keep any pressure away and make it comfortable for small dogs that might need a harness for long hours.
And, when it comes your dog’s safety, this harness features reflective straps that help to improve visibility while in the dark. It’s a very versatile harness hence suitable for activities like daily walking, outdoor activities, training, hiking, and hunting. It is recommended to measure your dog’s girth using a measuring tape before buying.
This harness has a good 4.3 out of 5 star rating on Amazon from over 4,000 reviews and you can read these reviews for yourself here.
- Prevents pulling and choking.
- Easy to put on and take off.
- It is comfortable since it is made of breathable and padded material.
- Adjustable straps make it easy to fit on the dog.
- Reflective in the dark.
Snazzi Dog Harness
The Snazzi Dog Harness soft mesh step-in vest harness is excellent for summer. The breathable fabric will keep your dog dry, cool and comfortable through summer. It is also easy to put on and take off making putting on time hustle free. Again, the plastic clip closure and Velcro make it lightweight and easy to manage, which is important for small dogs. Also, it features two sturdy D-rings that assure you added security for your dog.
The front ring leash attachment point makes it difficult for the dog to pull on the leash, hence preventing choking. This is good news for any small dog owner because of their delicate small necks. Again, its straps are wide enough hence preventing digging in and hurting the dog. And, the harness is washable thus, making cleaning a breeze.
For size and fitting, measure your dog’s chest behind the front legs and upwards towards the back using a measuring tape for the right fit. Depending on the breed, the X small size will fit a dog measuring 2 lbs. but not less than that. This harness is suitable for dogs of smaller breeds like teacups and puppies. Its US seller ensures fast delivery and shipping to ensure your happiness as well as that of your dog.
The vests are small so it is vital to measure the size of your dog before purchasing. Also, take into consideration long fur since it will affect fitting. Besides, different breeds measure differently.
This harness has an excellent 4.7 out of 5 star rating on Amazon and you can read what other customers have said about this product here.
- Super cute with excellent service.
- Easy to put on and does not rub into the dog’s skin or legs.
- Fits snuggly thus adding to safety since its hard to slip out of.
- Soft and high-quality material.
- Variety of colors.
Getting a harness for your Shih Tzu is a good decision for both of you. Most Shih Tzu’s have low muscle coverage on the neck and shoulder area, thus prone to neck injuries. Using a harness as opposed to a collar is more secure since apart from preventing trachea injuries and breathing difficulties, it helps make it easy to train the dog as well as control it. Proper training is essential especially for dogs that have an infuriating habit of furiously barking if not trained. Generally, the harness is the best choice for your dog. While there are many harnesses out there, getting the right one can be a challenge. Hopefully, our reviews of the best dog harness for small dog and factors to consider will help you in picking the best for your dog.