The Chihuahua is a delightful dog, not least because that pint-size body contains a whole heap of character.
Although they are well known for their strong mindedness, it should not be overlooked that they are physically small and delicate.
This means collars and choke chains stand a greater chance of damaging their delicate windpipe, especially when used inappropriately.
For walks and training using the best harness for Chihuahua is essential.
Quick look: Top 5 Best Harnesses for Chihuahua in 2018
This gives you a safe way of keeping your dog under control.
This is because when the dog pulls, the force of the tugging is spread over his entire chest, shoulders and back, rather than just the throat area.
One reason collars, especially choke collars, are popular with some owners, are because it restrains their dog around the throat, and encourages them to walk to heel.
However, for a small chap like the Chihuahua it’s a very fine line between restraint and strangulation.
The fine nature of the Chihuahua’s bones and the thinness of the cartilage in the trachea (windpipe) make them more vulnerable to damage.
Add into this that ‘collapsing trachea’ is a common condition in Chihuahua and it becomes even more important not to put pressure on the area.
To understand this better, let’s take a brief look at the anatomy of the windpipe.
It is a tube, made up of ‘U’ shaped rings of cartilage that are bridged across the top with a ligament to holds the windpipe in a ‘pipe’ or ‘tube’ shape.
A collapsing trachea is the result of a combination of overly soft cartilage (which compresses easily) and a slack ligament (which allows the trachea to flatten or collapse).
In addition, when the dog breathes in, instead of inhaling air through a rigid tube, the soft trachea sucks against itself and closes, cutting off the air supply to the lungs and causing the dog to collapse.
Definitely a problem to be avoided where possible.
And with the Chi’s tendency to collapsing tracheas, a harness (rather than a collar) is a must when on the leash.
Rather than inadvertently doing your dog harm, take the sensible option of a harness.
Your Chihuahua puppy is so small they fit in the palm of your hand, and this is exactly the right time to get him used to wearing a harness.
Start him young and he’ll think wearing a harness is completely normal, which is a great way to avoid a battle of wills later in life.
Of course, for such you pup is so tiny that albeit the teeniest of harnesses are going to dwarf him, which is why we love this EXPAWLORER product as a best harness for Chihuahua puppy.
Fit-wise it comes in both small and extra small, and is suitable for even teacup breeds to wear.
In addition the harness is very soft and comfortable, which means pup is going to be happy wearing it because it fits like a soft second skin.
The air mesh that makes up part of the harness is breathable yet durable, and indeed the whole harness can be machine washed (although hand washing is recommended.)
The harness is “X” shaped, with a soft, air mesh arm that slips over the neck, and a webbing strap that goes around the puppy’s girth.
This strap is adjustable, to ensure the pawfect fit, and there’s a handy D-ring on the back to attach a leash.
We found that the sizing did indeed come up small…very small in fact.
If you have a tiny dog then go for the XS, but otherwise think of going up a size.
However, the payback is that the design places no pressure on the throat and even those dogs prone to coughing can safely wear this harness.
One slight negative is that the harness can stretch or give after a little use, so again bear this in mind if your dog is between sizes.
If you missed out on the opportunity to get your adult dog used to a harness, don’t despair.
This super comfortable harness from EcoBark is so snuggly that even the most rebellious of dogs is happy to give it a go.
Ecobark describe their product as a luxurious padded vest that fits exquisitely.
Getting the correct measurement for the neck is especially important because this has to slip over the dog’s head and it is none adjustable.
However, the payback when you get it right is a breathable mesh harness that molds itself to your dog’s shape.
There is a knack to finding the perfect fit which is to measure your dog before ordering!
Don’t assume that other brands use the same sizing and therefore order what fitted well in another manufacturer’s product.
Instead, measure around the base of the dog’s neck and the waist and then consult the EcoBark sizing chart.
Given the name “EcoBark” you’d expect this to be an ecologically sound product, and indeed it is, with fabric made from recycled plastic bottles.
The dog doesn’t want to take it off.
It’s also super easy to put on and take off, and got full marks for the quality of the craftsmanship and the materials.
All in all, a most excellent harness and definitely one to bear in mind if you have a dog who normally isn’t great with a harness.
This could be just the product you’re looking for.
And oh yes, it comes in a rainbow of different colors to choose from. Nice!
Let’s not be size-ist about this: Even small dogs like to go hiking or enjoy a good walk…which is when you need a strong harness that’s comfortable and will keep them safe.
As a best harness for a Chihuahua we picked this Kurgo product.
We were drawn by Kurgo’s reputation as a manufacturer of dog safety harnesses for car travel (another important aspect of keeping your dog safe.)
A product by brand with their finger on the pulse of road traffic safety had to be worth looking at.
That said this is specifically a walking harness and not sold as a crash-tested travel harness.
There is a short strap which is designed to pass through a seatbelt to secure your dog in transit – but remember it has not be crash tested so its effectiveness in a crash is not guaranteed.
However, the harness does come with the craftsmanship you expect from Kurgo and has a lifetime guarantee for parts and materials.
As to the actual harness itself, crucially it does not put pressure on the windpipe.
It’s also extremely flexible in terms of fit because it has five – yes, five – adjustment points.
There are also two D-rings to which to attach a leash: One on the dog’s back and one on the brisket which acts as a no-pull attachment point.
With the latter, when the dog pulls, his own momentum turns him sideways, and with the benefit of pulling removed the dog tends to drop the habit.
On the downside, if we want to be really picky, you can have any color you like – as long as it’s black!
It would be nice for it to come in bright colors to match the sparkling personality of the Chi.
Spare a thought for the safety of your Chihuahua in the car.
When not secured inside the car, in the event of a crash the dog will fly through the air resulting in a variety of nightmarish scenarios.
Indeed, don’t think for a moment that holding your dog on your lap is safe, because in a smash the dog becomes your personal airbag. Not good.
For a small dog you have a number of options to secure them, including booster seats, travel boxes, or a harness.
We love this Kurgo Crash-Tested product as a best harness for Chihuahua precisely because it has all the benefits of a harness, is safe in a crash, and you can use it to walk the dog.
So what about the construction of this harness?
There is a padded chest plate, which in the event of a sudden deceleration (OK, a crash) spreads the forces over the dog’s chest rather than compressing the windpipe.
The webbing is made from materials used in human safety restraints, and is indeed depended on by high risk sportsman such as mountain climbers to keep them safe.
But don’t take Kurgo’s word for it because they have the harness independently tested by a university testing facility that certifies children’s restraints.
The harness passed (this sounds obvious, but not all products claiming to be crash-tested are safe…some were tested but failed!)
Again, balancing the pawsitive with the negative, this may not be the most comfortable harness to wear whilst exercising and it’s only available in black.
No one said we had to be dull and boring! Fed up with black?
Then put some sparkle in your life with this Doggyzstyle Rhinestone harness – it’s the bling every Chihuahua secretly craves.
What’s not to love about a pink harness studded with sparkle?
OK, not so great if you’re a male Chi so go with the blue or red instead!
Made from PU leather this inexpensive harness looks so cute you can’t help but smile.
It has a D-ring to which to attach a leash, and the size is adjustable via two buckles.
This harness is all about fun and looking good, so in reality it’s a better choice for the carry-in-the-arms Chihuahua rather than a piece of equipment to go hiking in all day.
But heck, we all need stiletto shoes in our life and they aren’t necessarily practical in all situations.
Just bear in mind that this is an H shaped harness and the top loop does pass around the throat.
Again, if you know your Chihuahua has a collapsing trachea then unfortunately it’s best to cross this one off the shopping list (a bit like having bunions and wanting to wear stilettos – sorry, but no dice.)
And finally, if you Chihuahua is new to wearing a harness, take your time to get them used to it.
Try putting the harness on immediately before a meal, and that way they get food as a reward for being so good.
Then praise your dog and tell them how handsome/ beautiful/ clever they look, so the dog builds strong positive links to wearing the harness.
Always keep safety in mind and check the straps regularly for signs of wear and tear, and ‘retire’ the harness if you spot a problem.
That is unless you purchased one of the two Kurgo harnesses mentioned here, since these both come with a lifetime guarantee for parts and workmanship.
Remember, buying the best harness for Chihuahua is a good investment in your Chi’s future health.
And absolutely the final words are don’t leave a dog unattended that is wearing a harness.
Although safer than a collar from a choking perspective, it is still possible to get hooked up on something and come to harm.
Supervise the dog at all times…or take the harness off.
Happy walking everyone!
Dr Sarah Robinson attended veterinary school at Oklahoma State University receiving a D.V.M. in 2008. Sarah’s longtime interest is to help people to better communicate with their pet companions, and in doing so, to help them to strengthen their relationships with their dogs and cats. Sarah has published numerous articles on canine feeding in pet related magazines, veterinary journals and leading natural health web sites.