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How to Choose the Best Chihuahua Collar or Harness

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Chihuahua collars and leashes are usually the last things owners think about. I mean, what kind of question could you possibly have about something so basic? But with Chihuahuas, the choice of leash, collar or harness is a bit more complicated than with other dogs.

Chihuahua holding leash in its mouth.

Chihuahuas are so tiny and fragile that you can really hurt their neck by using a leash attached to their collar when walking them. You can cause neck pain and joint issues, reverse sneezing, or if your dog has a collapsed trachea, it can make the condition worse. A Chihuahua harness is a good alternative.

I am not saying don’t put a collar on your Chihuahua. Collars can contain their dog license, rabies tag, and ID tag. The Chihuahua collar I use has my dog’s name and phone number stitched on the collar itself.

Collars can also be cute and make a fashion statement, but there are special considerations for Chihuahua collars. Let’s take a look at what kind of collar and leash your Chihuahua should use, and whether it is a better idea to use a dog collar or harness.

Collars for Chihuahuas

Collars can be very helpful as a means of ID for your dog. Just make sure you choose one of the safe collars for Chihuahuas. It should be specifically designed for a small breed dog, and it should be adjustable so there is plenty of room to grow.

Fawn chihuahua with red collar.

Some of the things to keep in mind when choosing a collar for your Chihuahua:

  • Be sure to measure your dog’s neck and add an inch if you are ordering a collar online.
  • The collar should never be the exact same measurement as your dog’s neck, or it will be too tight.
  • When trying on collars, you should be able to fit two fingers between the collar and your dog’s neck.
  • If you have a puppy, you might want to get an adjustable collar, so there is room to grow.
  • A lightweight collar is best for a small dog.
  • You may want to get a breakaway collar if your pup wears their collar all the time and you are worried about your dog getting caught on something. You can often find this type of collar in the cat section of a pet store.
  • If you can’t find a collar small enough to fit your chihuahua, try a ferret collar.

Some of the criteria for picking a collar is just your personal taste and the gender and coloring of your dog. My preference is colorful, personalized collars. 

Chihuahua on a leash, walking on grass.

How To Choose The Right Leash For Your Chihuahua

My son likes to take the dogs for a walk late at night. One night he called me and told me to come outside and help him look for Lucas as he had run off.

My son had accidentally dropped the retractable leash. Since the handle is heavier than a normal leash, it had hit Lucas and scared him. He ran, but the poor thing could never get away from the leash. It kept “chasing” him.

It would be funny except for how traumatized he was. I found him hiding under a parked car, shaking. We never used that leash again.

Long-haired Chihuahua holding a green leash in his mouth.

Here are some tips for choosing the right leash for your Chi:

  • Do not use chain leash unless the chain links are small. Most chain leashes are too heavy.
  • Do not use a retractable leash as they can be dangerous and terrifying to your dog. I know this from personal experience! 
  • Be sure you have the appropriate leash length for your Chihuahua. A 4-foot or 6-foot long leash is best.
  • If you are doing a lot of walking at night, consider getting a reflective leash
  • If you have two or three Chihuahuas, you can get a two dog or three dog leash.

Dog Collar Vs Harness

Since Chihuahuas are a toy dog breed, they can be very fragile – even if their personality speaks otherwise. Since they are the smallest dog breed in the world, you need to do what you can as a dog owner to ensure their safety and comfort. 

A collapsed trachea is one of the most common injuries a Chihuahua can experience. They have thin bones and cartilage along with a thinner layer of fat and muscle to protect them. A collapsed trachea can make it hard for your Chihuahua to breathe, and it can cause significant pain. 

This condition can happen when too much pressure or strain is placed on the dog’s neck. It can take a long time to recover, and sometimes your dog may never fully recover. For this reason, a harness is a great way to go.

The harness allows all the pressure to be distributed over the chest area, shoulders, and back rather than the neck, and this will help keep your Chihuahua pup safe and comfortable.

Harnesses are easy to put on and come in a variety of different colors and styles. You can pick a few to keep at home, so you have some choices around for each walk. 

How To Choose The Right Harness For Your Chihuahua

Choosing the best Chihuahua harness will protect your dog’s neck and also prevent your dog from slipping out of his collar and escaping. 

Things to remember when choosing a harness:

  • To measure for the size, place the measuring tape around your dog’s chest, just behind his front legs. Place two fingers between the measuring tape and your dog’s body to ensure a proper measurement.
  • You can get a heavier harness for cold weather (there are even coat harnesses out there) and a lightweight harness for warmer weather.
  • Chihuahuas are known to have very sensitive skin, so the safest chihuahua harness will be soft and padded with plenty of ventilation.
  • Get one with the leash hook on the back of the harness.
  • Cotton and/or nylon are the best material choices for lightweight harnesses.
  • Some harnesses are thin and have straps. Personally, I don’t like these, as it makes it harder to figure out how to get them on.
Chihuahua in green harness and leash.

Preparing Your Chihuahua To Wear A Harness

Once you have decided on a collar or harness, it’s time to prepare your Chihuahua to wear it. 

After finding the appropriately sized harness for your Chihuahua, try it on them. Put it on loosely at first, and then tighten it slowly to get the ideal fit. 

You should then let your pup wear the harness around the house for a few hours so they can get used to it. It will take a bit of time for them to become acclimated to their new harness.

Once they have had a few hours to familiarize themselves with the harness, it is time to try it out on a walk. If they resist when you go to put the harness on them, it may be time to re-introduce the harness again and make it a more positive experience.

Pet your dog first or play with them before putting on the harness. Your little dog will then associate the experience with other things he already enjoys, and this can make it much easier on both dog and dog owner. Always use positive reinforcement.

Since Chihuahuas are naturally a more nervous dog breed, you need to comfort them and keep them calm when putting the harness on them. Give them time to adjust and don’t allow them to become fearful of something that is meant for their safety.

When choosing a leash, harness or collar for chihuahuas, always be mindful of their comfort. Collars have their place, but harnesses are a safer option.

Busta's Mom

Wednesday 10th of May 2023

I must have done my puppy wrong when putting things over his head. He refuses to wear any clothes and his traumatized when I try to dress him. We live in Michigan so he needs to wear hoodies and coats a lot of the time. How can I train him to tolerating clothing? He also refuses to wear a harness. I got a step in harness so it wouldn't go over his head but he hates it. He refuses to sit still Wiggles his way off my lap with growls and biting. Are there any other alternatives for a collar that a chihuahua neck can tolerate? Can I get a specific color and use a leash despite his size? Please help

Cathy Bendzunas

Wednesday 10th of May 2023

Unfortunately every collar can cause throat and neck problems. I was going to tell you the steps but this YouTube video does the exact same thing that I would tell you to get him used to his harness: The only thing I would add is that once you do manage to get it on, you should try keeping it on for a while to get him comfortable with it. Also, this same method works for getting them used to clothes too.


Monday 14th of March 2022

Retractable leash is the way to go especially if you have a stubborn Chi. To solve the problem of losing the retractable leash I have a solution I thought of after falling and the handle popped out of my hand. I looked all over the internet for a wrist band to attach to the handle and could not find one. So this is what I did, I bought the smallest collar I could find and put that on the handle with a Scrunchy that secured to the collar. The Scrunchy is soft on your wrist and if you drop the handle you will still have control and not lose the leash. Hard to believe they don't make them like this. Flexi has a small worthless attachment that would not prevent the handle being popped out of your hand. Flexi is the best retractable - safe lead and brake is easy. Some of the less expensive ones have a lead that could really hurt your dog, so beware before you buy.


Friday 26th of March 2021

Omg,, I had the same accident with my chi using the retractable leash, Im actually still traumatized and developed a fear of my chi running off everytime i walk her out... thank you for the information,, I really love ur website.. love

E Gibson

Thursday 15th of April 2021

@Cathy, I wish you would suggest more about bringing home a brand new chi at 6 wks old. Speak abut letting 3 children 4, 6, 8 yr olds leash and drag the baby around. People need to be told a baby is not a new toy that the parents say, LEARN RESPONSIBILITY. A new puppy needs adult care and protection for the life of the puppy. Paying for the puppy does not end your responsibility to learn to take care of a 4 lb chichacha.


Friday 26th of March 2021

I'm sorry that happened to you Lina! And I'm glad you liked the site.


Monday 20th of May 2019

My fur babies weigh between 3 and 4 pounds. They are chipped but I prefer that they also have collars with contact info. They can’t use tags that hang because the collars are so close to their mouths that they chew on the tags and once one got the tag stuck on a tooth. I tried tags that attach along the length of the collar but they don’t curve enough to fit well around a tiny neck. I can’t find engraved buckles smaller than 5/8” which are too big and also don’t curve to fit tiny necks. I also can’t find embroidered collars because the length of the collars they wear is not long enough to include even just the phone number. Any suggestions on IDs for tiny dogs?


Monday 20th of May 2019

I got this one for Ziggy when he was 4 pounds and it fit with a little adjusting. He's 5 1/2 pounds now and I just adjusted it to fit.


Monday 14th of January 2019

I want to have a collar on my Chi with her identity ect on it- but she is afraid of things around her neck. When she tries to eat or drink water and her collar bumps the bowl she jumps back like she's been shot. Any suggestions?


Monday 14th of January 2019

You definitely need a softer collar with no tags hanging off of it. The cloth ones that have their ID embroidered on it might work and be sure it fits properly and isn't hanging off her neck where it can bang against something.