The 7 Best Small Dog Harnesses Australia: Tested & Evaluated 2023
Though it is satisfying to have a huge hug from a Scooby-doo-like Great Dane, the sausage dogs and mini dogs of the world are truly special.
We love small dogs for their quirky habits, handsomeness, and larger than life personas wrapped up in a tiny package! However, many small dogs tend to charge ahead when going for walks and pull on their leads. Not quite so cute.
A dog harness can help you to instill good walking habits, whilst keeping your pup warm and comfortable when out and about with you. (1) They also tend to be better suited for smaller dogs that can have throat and tracheal issues with collars. Each breed of dog has slightly different needs.
So, in this article, we’ll cover the different types and qualities of the best dog harnesses, our top recommendation for a small dog harness in Australia, and an array of options for specific small dog breeds. What makes us such experts? We teamed up with an array of independent researchers including veterinarians and canine behavioural experts to test popular small dog harnesses.
After months of research and several dozen harnesses later, we were able to compile this handy guide. After this, you’ll come away with all the information you need and a shortlist of harnesses for your small dog. Let’s dive in!
Quick Picks - The Top 3
Our Number 1 Pick -
Fur King Ultimate No Pull Dog Harness
- Ultra light & breathable material
- Great range of sizes
- Machine washable
- Soft padding
- Escape proof
- Lightning Fast Free shipping
Runner Up -
Dog Nation Ultra Light Harness
- Adjustable for a custom fit
- Two lead attachments (front and back)
- Durable materials
- Soft lining on the inside
- Easy to put on
Third Choice -
PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness
- 4 adjustable points
- Small and extra-small sizing
- Wide range of colours
- Low price point
Australia's Best Small Dog Harnesses Reviewed
Now that we have identified the key factors of a fabulous small dog harness, let’s dig into the best small dog harnesses Australia has to offer. These are the cream of the crop when it comes to readily available dog harnesses, as put to the test by our team of experts and their willing pups.
Here we’ve identified a few specific breeds and what we recommend for them, but you can translate these qualities to any and all breeds. We just wanted to help you by further personalising our picks so you can find the right fit for you and your pup.
What sets this product apart from the rest?
"Choosing a dog harness suited to your dogs needs is incredibly important for its overall health and safety. The Fur King Ultimate No Pull Dog Harness topped the list in a number of our harness tests including quality materials, escape proof, no pull and at an affordable price. An easy choice that I highly recommend."
The Fur King Ultimate No Pull Dog Harness is a great option for doggos who are on the smaller side. In particular, our research panel loved the ease of use this harness offers as well as the flexible fit that lets you adjust the harness to your dog’s body shape.
Getting the right fit is often a problem with harnesses for smaller dogs, but with the Fur King harness, it’s practically a non-issue. Namely, both the chest strap and the belly strap are fully adjustable, so it’s easy to get a custom fit. The opening around the neck is also quite wide, more so than with our second choice, making the front part rest on the chest bone rather than the neck, which is a great option for brachycephalic breeds.
The only issue could be the size range. Sizes S and M will fit smaller dogs, but Fur King doesn’t make the harness in XS which would fit tiny breeds and small breed puppies.
The Fur King Ultimate No Pull Dog Harness being tested by our independent expert team.
But, if you find the right size, I think you’ll love this harness too. With strong webbing straps and an Oxford fabric exterior, this harness will resist wear and tear for ages. But don’t worry, the harness was still very comfy for my dog, thanks to the soft mesh lining on the inside.
Complete with two metal D-rings for attaching the lead (one at the front and one on the back), and reflective stitching for better visibility at night, this harness is truly a great choice!
We love the Dog Nation Ultra Light Harness because of its fantastic size range! As a harness for small or toy dog breeds, this is a wonderful product with many great features.
First, let’s talk about the cool design. The padded mesh material comes in a fantastically bright array of colours, so your pup will be the envy of all at the dog park. The chest area is made of a breathable, high-quality polyester that is flexible and hugs your dog’s body. The straps are fully adjustable so you can make this product fit your dog perfectly.
The Dog Nation Ultra Light Harness being tested by our independent expert team.
This is an H-shaped harness so you slip the front loop over your dog’s head. It’s incredibly important that you measure your dog’s neck before purchasing the small or extra small sizes to make the fitting process easier. You don’t want your pup to get stuck!
There are front and back-attachment points and the unique design is meant to distribute the pressure from the lead across your dog’s chest. This helps stop your dog from pulling without the strain of a regular front-clip.
This harness is machine washable but the manufacturer recommends hand washing and air drying to ensure the longevity of the product over time. This isn’t the most convenient thing in the world but we do agree that the integrity of the fabric will maintain better if you scrub it by hand.
Unlike our number one choice, we recommend this harness to all small dogs, regardless of breed. Tender throated or barrel-shaped dogs, long-haired or short-haired - the Dog Nation harness is suitable for all!
This is also our number 1 rated option for puppy harnesses available in Australia.
What can bring you joy? (chihuahua) Ooooooooh Chihuahua!
Only a dog so stylish and fun could have an early 2000s bubblegum pop song dedicated to them. And whilst the age of copying the Paris-Hilton-Chihuahua-in-the-handbag look may be passing, your pooch is still one of the coolest around.
Chihuahuas are small but mighty dogs with tiny little chests. This makes the search for well-fitting harnesses quite challenging. Our team of independent experts picked out the PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness for this very reason - it comes in a petite and small size which should be a good fit for your mini pup. There are 4 adjustable points on the harness too so you can adjust the fit as necessary.
The PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness being tested by our independent expert team.
Chihuahuas are also notorious pullers and escape artists. That small dog syndrome gives them big dog energy when walking those streets. They own everything and will try to pull you everywhere. Maybe that’s why Paris had hers in her handbag!
To help your little one stop pulling, the PetSafe harness is very secure with a front-clip and back-clip. I, therefore, had complete flexibility as to how I used it with my pupper. However, Chihuahuas are also brachycephalic breeds, so the back-clip is probably better for them if your dog is a very strong and stubborn puller.
Related: The Best Chihuahua Harnesses.
We love that the PetSafe harness comes in a wonderful range of colours to suit your dog’s chic style. It is economical and easy to use. To sum up, we think the PetSafe is the perfect option as a harness for Chihuahuas.
Pugs are truly amazing dogs! We love the resurgence in popularity they had in the 2010s. Pugly is the new beautiful. For your stunning Pug, you have to take into consideration their very unique anatomical issues. As we mentioned, pugs are brachycephalic breeds. They are also very strong for their size. Therefore, our expert panel notes that your Pug needs a harness with good padding, durable support, and a back-clip attachment to prevent restricting airflow.
Introducing the Rabbitgoo No Pull Dog Harness; the best harness for Pugs in Australia. First, this is an H-shaped harness with excellent padding and adjustability. Like our number three choice, the PetSafe, there are four points where you can adapt the straps to your pup’s body, making for a more comfortable fit.
The material itself is durable and easy to clean. A nylon oxford material makes up the fashionable plaid designed front and cushioning in the inside make it super comfy for your dog.
The sizing is ideal for Pugs and the breathable material feels fresh on the skin. No chafing or sweating. A bonus with the Rabbitgoo is the day and night use. If you are an early riser or late walker, your Pug won’t get lost in the dark, due to reflective strips on the harness. The high-visability makes this product safe to use at all hours of the day and night.
Though this is not the cheapest tiny dog harness on the market, this is a great pick for a harness for Pugs. Highly-rated, stylish, and long-lasting, this is an awesome product all-round.
The original sausage dog! Dachshunds are naughty, playful, and oh-so-lovable. We totally understand why you fell for yours. Well, you’ll be glad to hear that your pup is not brachycephalic at all, so they will do well with a front and back clip. A good Dachshund harness would also have soft padding due to a fine coat and come in a small enough size for extremely small chests.
Related: Dachshund Dog Harnesses Australia.
Our team of independent experts' pick for a harness for your Dachshund is the Ruffwear Front Range Dog Harness. This adaptable, colourful H-shaped harness has it all. Front and back lead attachments for flexibility. Structured, cushioned shell formation to keep your dog secure and comfortable as you walk.
I love how the size range is wonderful too. An extra small dog harness can be hard to find. Luckily Ruffwear have small, extra-small, and extra-extra-small options to suit your doggie’s needs.
The RUFFWEAR - Front Range Dog Harness being tested by our independent expert team.
We also love the mix of colours you have to choose from. In fact, it is one of the widest ranges of designs on this list. It’s not just fashionable, but also super practical. The Ruffwear has light-reflective trim for low-light walking - early-risers and nightwalkers rejoice.
As for maintenance, this small dog harness is hand-wash only, like our number two choice. For the high price point and quality, you’ll want to keep this harness in tip-top shape for as long as possible.
As a harness for Dachshunds, our team thinks you can’t go wrong with the versatile, high-reviewed, and easy-to-use Ruffwear model.
Frenchies seem to have taken the world by storm! They are the 'it' dogs of our day. We can tell why you love this caring, sweet, fun-loving breed so much. Frenchies are brachycephalic so you’ll need a back lead attachment.
They are often very much excitable so they may pull on the lead when walking. Our panel of experts suggest that you try to curb that in any way you can. Fine fur and thin skin call for a soft, smooth fabric lining, but not needing as much structure as the Daschunds do.
The economical product that encapsulates all of these features and more is the Best Pet Supplies Voyager. The Voyager is a step-in harness so it’s very easy to slip onto your dog’s body. I appreciated how the material is breathable, stretchy, and has a warm, soft lining that your Frenchie will love on cold evenings or early mornings.
The Best Pet Supplies Voyager Step-in Plush Dog Harness being tested by our independent expert team.
With an astounding array of colours and designs, your pup will be so fashionable with their new coat. They even have options for a matching lead. The Voyager only has a back-clip which is ideal for Frenchies, as it’ll never put pressure on their delicate tracheas. Size range is also quite impressive; with the Voyager there are extra-small and small options available in all colours.
Our expert panel all agreed that this harness for French Bulldogs comes at a great price point for the quality and reviews. The cons would be that this harness is not as adjustable as the H-shaped models we have previously discussed. If you are interested in buying this product, you do need to take good measurements of your dog to ensure you have the right fit for them.
But don’t worry. If it’s not right, the manufacturer offers a 100% money-back guarantee if you are unhappy or need an exchange in size. Win-win!
Our last harness recommendation is for the lovable, hyperactive Jack Russell Terriers. The OG rough and tumble working dog with plenty of attitude and spirit. The epitome of sweet small dogs in many ways! Jack Russell’s need a harness that can keep up with them. It needs to be durable, adjustable, and comfy on your Jack Russell’s skin. As super active dogs who love to roll around, we asbolutely agree that resistant material is a must.
That's why our independent expert team think that best harness for Jack Russell Terriers is the True Love Dog Harness. Scratch-resistant and lightweight, even your boisterous, fun-loving dog couldn’t destroy this harness. It is built to last your pup through all his or her adventures.
The TRUE LOVE Dog Harness being tested by our independent expert team.
This is an H-shaped harness with two lead attachments for maximum versatility. It has some other tricks up its sleeve too. For instance, I love how it doubles as a dog car harness as it has a loop for the car seat belt and reflective properties woven into the nylon fabric are added bonuses to an already solid product. The straps are fully adjustable, ensuring the perfect fit.
With excellent reviews and a decent, mid-range price point, we are struggling to find cons with this product. It’s a shame that the True Love only comes in four colours, which is far more limited than our previous choices. This doesn’t take away from the top quality and good size range available.
All in all, a great choice as a Jack Russell harness.
How To Find The Perfect Harness For Your Small Dog
As our independent team of experts came to appreciate quickly during our testing phase, dog harnesses come in all shapes, sizes, colours, and materials. Collars may be easier to find, but they can cause a whole manner of health issues if your little pup is a puller. (2) A badly fitted harness, however, can be equally damaging. Here are some key factors our research panel wants you to know in order to choose the right harness for your small dog.
H-Shaped Harnesses vs Step-in Harnesses
There are two main types of harnesses: The H-shaped harness and the step-in harness. Both have their merits.
The H-shaped harness is made of two loops. The first loop goes over the dog’s head and the second loop wraps around their rib cage. Typically, the lead attachment for H-shaped harness is at the top of the second loop, lying on their back. This means the lead is pulling well away from your dog’s neck and enables you more control whilst you are walking together.
This style of harness is extremely popular because they are very easily adjustable, and the straps are often changeable in length. Even if my dog puts on a little weight, I can easily alter the structure accordingly for a lasting fit.
Step-in harnesses are great because of how easy they are to slip on. You lie the product on the floor and line up your dog’s paws. You then pull on the harness and clip at the back. Step-in models tend to be a bit more padded and fitted than the H-shaped models but there are modern, malleable, and comfortable options in both categories.
Quick Guide to Lead Attachments
The beauty of using a harness in the first place is that they take the pressure off of your dog’s neck whilst walking. Instead, the pressure points are around the chest should your dog pull ahead from you. Our experts note that this is much safer in the long run.
Another aspect of this is the lead attachment. Dog collars typically have D-ring attachments at the front of the collar, right by their windpipe. You can imagine how unpleasant this is! Now the concept of having a front-attached lead is not bad at all. The issue is the placement. Collars put pressure on the neck.
Harnesses distribute light pressure around the chest. If you are training your dog to walk nicely, the front attachment halts your dog from pulling too far as the front placement effectively spins them around - they quickly learn that pulling won't get them very far! So front-attached harnesses are fabulous for pulling dogs and/or puppies in training. French Bulldogs and Pugs, however, have tender throats that you need to be wary of.
Dr John Brookes from Small Dog Place writes, “Brachycephalic breeds such as the Frenchies and English Bulldogs love taking walks just like any dog, but their unique anatomy makes it difficult for them to use a typical collar. A strong pull of the leash can put undue pressure on the soft tissues of the neck and throat leading to more serious complications such as tracheal collapse.” (3)
That very same issue can make front-clip harnesses uncomfortable for Frenchies so they would be better off with back-clip models.
Related: French Bulldog Harnesses.
Mostly, harnesses will have their lead attachments at the back which has many benefits. There is far less pressure on the trachea and it gives you quite a bit of control whilst walking. We also learned that they aren’t as effective when walk training your pooch though.
Related: Best No Pull Dog Harness.
As for the small dog harnesses our independent experts recommended, most have both a back clip and front clip so you can adjust to your dog’s unique needs and anatomy.
Check out our YouTube video on How To Put On A Dog Harness
What padding does your dog need?
Manufacturers are generally very aware that dogs will be wearing harnesses from anywhere between 20 minutes and several hours, depending on if you are going on a long adventure together.
Therefore, you need to take your dog’s comfort levels into account when choosing the right dog harness for your pup. Some H-shaped harnesses are pretty basic, with simple hardy straps; no special cushioning.
There are other harnesses that are very padded, adding an extra layer of warmth during the winter. It all depends on your dog’s needs.
PRO TIP: The humble harness will become a daily tool as you walk your furry companion. Comfort is therefore paramount.
My Final Verdict
When it comes to small dog harnesses, our panel of experts love the Dog Nation option as a great all-rounder. The back-attachment is suitable for all breeds and the soft design is comforting for your tiny pup. Though we have given recommendations for certain breeds, we couldn’t cover all of the small dog breeds in Australia or we’ll be here forever!
That said, all of the products mentioned are extremely versatile so Pomeranians, Bichon Frises, Cocker Spaniels, Miniature Poodles, Shih Tzus, Basset Hounds, and Beagles can all be catered for with one of these options.
All you need to know is whether your dog is susceptible to Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome, in which case a back-attached harness is preferable. (4) You’ll also need to take into account your dog’s coat and pulling tendencies. Keeping those factors in mind, any on this list can be adapted to suit your small pooch.
There is a great debate among the dog-owning community regarding whether harnesses are better for dogs than collars. Or indeed, vice versa. It’s fair to say that both have their pros and cons. (5)
As you saw, many harnesses are padded and fitted, which can cause issues for long-haired dogs. The front-attachment of a harness can also affect your dog’s walking patterns as they adjust to this new sensation. Collars are more comfortable for your dog to wear for longer periods of time as they are likely used to wearing them all day every day anyway. Some breeds are even relatively excluded when it comes to sizing harnesses.
Carol McCarthy of PetMD writes “Pet parents with barrel-chested dogs, like English Bulldogs, Boxers, and Pit Bulls might have a tougher time finding a harness that fits properly.” (6)
On the other hand, harnesses are gentler on your dog’s throat. They can provide another layer of warmth and comfort for fine-haired breeds like the small dogs we spoke about today. Harnesses are also fantastic walking training tools.
It is best to review your dog’s specific, unique situation to judge what is best for them.
The important measurements to take are:
- Your dog’s weight
- Circumference of their neck
- Circumference of their chest
- Circumference at their rib cage
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and fully measure your dog before purchasing. Yes, adjustments can be made with the straps but this only goes so far! It is better to have a great fitting base and then adjust, than an ill-fitting base that you have to adjust too much. The harness should fit snugly but not be suffocating or too loose.
We’ve mentioned in this article that harnesses can help with training your dog to walk nicely, but how do they do this? Well, essentially it’s a case of dictating the direction. Having a front-clip attachment for the lead means that your dog cannot get very far ahead of you without the lead pulling them around to face you again.
Certified dog trainer Mikkel Becker says “Once you clip the leash to the front ring and begin walking, your dog has to stay by your side to keep moving forward. If she does pull, the leash goes off to the side—not straight back—which directs your dog back towards you. That gives you greater ability to control and guide your dog back to your side by applying a little pressure.” (7)
- Madson. C. March 17, 2023. “Dog Harnesses: Helpful Tools for Loose Leash Walking”. Preventive Vet. Retrieved May 8, 2023. https://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/dog-harnesses-helpful-tools-for-loose-leash-walking
- Lowe, L. January 16, 2018. “5 Ways Collars Can Harm Your Dog”. PetMD. Retrieved May 8, 2023. https://www.petmd.com/dog/care/5-ways-collars-can-harm-your-dog
- Brookes, J. December 31, 2019. “Harness Train Your French Bulldog Using These 7 Quick Tips”. Small Dog Place. Retrieved May 8, 2023. https://www.smalldogplace.com/harness-train-your-french-bulldog.html
- Williams, K., Weir, M., Yuill, C. “Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome in Dogs”. VCA Animal Hospital. Retrieved May 8, 2023. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/brachycephalic-airway-syndrome-in-dogs
- Clark, M. “Collar Versus Harness: Which Is Best For Your Dog?”. DogTime. Retrieved May 8, 2023. https://dogtime.com/dog-health/general/43739-collar-vs-harness-best-dog
- McCarthy, C. November 29, 2017. “Surprising Dog Harness Dangers to Avoid”. PetMD. Retrieved May 8, 2023. https://www.petmd.com/dog/care/surprising-dog-harness-dangers-avoid
- Rodgers, L. October 11, 2018. “How Do No-Pull Dog Harnesses Work?”. PetMD. Retrieved May 8, 2023. https://www.petmd.com/dog/care/how-do-no-pull-dog-harnesses-work