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Should I use a Harness or a Collar for my Chihuahua?

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There are so many decisions to make as a pup-parent. Along with food choices and training habits, many dog owners often struggle to choose between using collars and harnesses. Is one better than the other? Can either of these be harmful to your dog? Does it depend on the size of your pup, or their breed?

There are so many styles and choices on the market, it may be hard to understand what’s best for your dog, especially if you have a little Chihuahua.

fawn chihuahua wearing blue harness

Chi’s are not like other dogs, in many ways. Not only are they petite, but their tiny stature makes them more prone to injury. It’s important for the health and safety of your little pooch, to ensure you’re choosing the right apparel. So what is the right choice for your Chihuahua?

The Best Choice for Chihuahuas

Other breeds are built much differently than our beloved Chihuahuas. These toy breeds need special care in many ways, including their apparel. Dog harnesses are recommended for many breeds for a variety of reasons, Chihuahua’s included. Not only are they a safer choice, but they also fit more securely, and can give them extra support in some situations.

Safety First

Our dogs are usually more enthusiastic about walks than we are most times. The excitement of a bird or squirrel nearby will rejuvenate their primal instincts within, tempting them to pounce. That’s where collars, harnesses, and leashes come in. A leash attached to a collar in this situation can cause damage to your pups’ windpipe, whether they’re big or small. However, Chi’s are petite, and their tracheas are even more fragile!

Using a harness will help distribute their weight, ensuring that if they do make a leap of faith, they won’t hurt themselves in the process.

There’s nothing worse than hearing your pup choke and cough when they’ve pulled too hard. A harness on your Chi will help avoid choking and potential injuries, keeping them safe and secure.


Chi’s are small, wiggly little pups that can often find ways to sneak out of a collar. It’s as simple as backing up and pulling their tiny heads through the collar, and they’re free.

With how little Chihuahua’s are, it’s extra important that we keep them out of harm’s way, and securely on a lead at all times. Strapped across their chest and back, a properly fitting harness is much more secure than a collar, ensuring they can’t squirm into danger.


A Little Leverage

Although most dog owners use harnesses on their dogs for outside, keeping one on your Chi around the house can be helpful too. With short little legs, they will likely run into obstacles throughout their daily routines. Whether they need help up the stairs, onto the couch or bed, or into your car, you can give them a little added leverage with the use of a harness.

Many dog harnesses on the market now have special features like a handle on the back and extra padding. With chest pads and even weight distribution, it’s both easy and safe to help your Chi over the obstacles of life by the grip of their harness.

Types of Harnesses

fawn chihuahua puppy with red harness

If you’ve been shopping around for a dog harness, you already know there are a lot of options available. There are simple strap and buckle designs, heavy-duty vest harnesses, and even coats with built-in harnesses! All those extra features are fantastic, however, the most important thing to consider is their specific type. There are three main types of dog harnesses:

  •         Back- clip harnesses
  •         Front-clip harnesses
  •         Dual-clip harnesses

Back-clip harness

With this design, the D-ring to latch your leash is located on your Chihuahua’s back. Attaching between the shoulder blades keeps the lead out of your dogs’ way, ensuring they don’t get tangled or tripped along your walk.

Although a back-clip harness is a much better choice than a collar, as it redistributes its weight when pulling, it doesn’t help with redirection. If your pup likes to pull, a back-clip harness will make them safer, but it won’t help deter the action.

Front-clip harness

The D-ring attaching point is located on the chest with front-clip dog harnesses. Although this can sometimes be more of a tripping hazard, attaching the lead to the front inhibits pulling. When your Chihuahua gets a little too excited and pulls forward, a front-clip harness will redirect the pressure forcing them to stop. The placement also allows you to have more control over their direction as you walk, by placing the lead across either shoulder.

Dual-clip harness

Why choose if you don’t have to? Dual-clip harnesses are generally more of an investment, however, they give you the ability to choose from two D-rings- one on the front and one on the back. Having the option to choose is great, as different environments and situations may leave you wanting more control or convenience. Determining how and when you will need to use a harness for your Chi, will help you decide if a dual-clip harness is necessary.

How To Choose A Harness

Now that you know the different options that are available to you, how do you pick? Figure out what your needs are for your Chihuahua first. Do you go on adventures often? Do they take drives in the car or need help getting over obstacles? Does your little Chi pull a lot when you take them on walks? These are important things to consider, however, there are some key factors to note when making your purchase, including:

  •         Proper sizing
  •         Visibility
  •         Ease of use

Proper Sizing

Choosing the right fit is vital to ensuring your pup can’t sneak out of their harness and off their lead. The last thing you want is to look down and notice your Chi-Chi has slipped out of their harness and run into harm’s way.

Get an accurate measurement of your dogs’ neck and chest girth using a tape measure, so you can effectively choose an appropriate size. Manufactures measurements can differ between Extra-Small or XX-Small sizes, so it’s good to be prepared. A properly sized harness will distribute your Chihuahua’s weight evenly ensuring there’s no pressure on its neck, and there’s no chafing. Take your time to find the proper sizing for your little Chi’s new harness.


Chihuahuas are the smallest breed of dog, meaning they’re often hard to see. Being out of the line of sight, it’s important to make sure they stand out in certain situations. If you bring your pup outdoors for walks, having reflective components on their harness may prove to be extremely helpful! There are many types and styles of harnesses on the market that can help your Chi be more visible when out and about.

Ease of Use

Choosing the best harness for you and your Chi-Chi depends on many factors, but ultimately you want it to be easy to use. We don’t want to accidentally turn the harness into a “bad thing” in your pups’ eyes by struggling and cursing as you try to put it on them. It should be a fun, easy experience, maybe even with treats included! When buying a harness consider the following:

  •         Which type- front or back-clip- is easiest for YOU to attach the leash?
  •         Is this harness easy to adjust and clasp around your Chi?
  •         Would special features like pockets, pouches, or handles make life easier?

A Time and Place for Collars

In the end, a dog harness is definitely the safest and most secure choice for walking your Chihuahua, however, there’s still room for a cute collar. Collars are a great accessory to put on your pup around the home, as long as they fit correctly.

2 fingers between a collar and a white furry dog's neck

You can use the “two-finger test”, to confirm it’s not too tight. It’s also a good idea to keep identification tags on your Chi’s collar, in the event they ever get out of your home. You never know what could happen, and it’s reassuring to know your address and phone number are available if someone scoops them up.


Friday 16th of April 2021

Thank you! Thank you! I am a brand new chi owner and read every article. They are extremely helpful.


Saturday 17th of April 2021

You are so welcome Peco! Glad to be of help to you.