10 Best Harnesses for Shih Tzus: Our Walking, Hiking & No Pull Picks
If you’re the proud owner of a Shih Tzu, you know how much of a handful your little furry friend can be! Shih Tzus are great family dogs, but their curiosity and stubbornness can make it difficult to handle them on a walk or a hike.
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While proper leash training is essential for controlling any dog breed, choosing the right harness can also be helpful for keeping your dog on its best behavior. Harnesses also help protect your dog’s delicate airway – while collars can constrict your Shih Tzu’s throat, a harness will spread its weight out evenly.
If you’ve never shopped for a Shih Tzu harness before, we’re sure you have quite a few questions. So read on, and we’ll discuss everything that you need to know about Shih Tzu harnesses. We’ll discuss the common types of harnesses and the materials they use and the key characteristics of a great Shih Tzu harness, and then discuss our top picks. If you’re ready to get started, just read on!
What is the Best Harness for Shih Tzus?
- Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Harness with Steel Nesting Buckles Enhanced Strength
- Chai’s Choice 3M Reflective Dog Harness
- Frisco Small Breed Soft Vest Dog Harness
- Kurgo Go-Tech Adventure Dog Harness with Seatbelt Loop
- Harness Lead Dog Harness
- PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness
- Sporn Non-Pull Mesh Dog Harness
- Puppia Soft Dog Harness
- Solvit Deluxe Car Safety Dog Harness
- Paws & Pals Control Dog & Cat Harness
Popular Types of Shih Tzu Harnesses
While there are many different styles of harnesses for Shih Tzus on the market, the most common harnesses you’ll find for small dogs include the following:
- Walking harnesses – These harnesses are made for every day, relatively short walks. They are usually strap-based, and use buckles for quick attachment and detachment, and feature minimal padding. This makes them very lightweight and small, but also means they’re not great if your Shih Tzu has back issues or needs additional padding.
- Vest harnesses – Vest harnesses usually use a strap and buckle that attach at your dog’s back, and a one-piece design that is made out of a soft, ventilated mesh. They usually are only used for smaller dogs, because they are relatively weak and do not usually have a no-pull design. However, they are extremely comfortable and offer more stretch and breathability than other harness styles.
- Reflective harnesses – A reflective harness makes you and your Shih Tzu easier to spot, especially on late night and early morning walks. Given your dog’s diminutive size, it’s a great idea to invest in a harness with reflectors to keep you both safe on your walks.
- No-pull harnesses – Shih Tzus can develop a nasty tendency to pull. Most no-pull harnesses use a front chest ring which makes it easy to guide your dog, and naturally moves it to your side when it tries to pull ahead. Some harnesses also gently tighten on your dog’s chest when it tries to pull, and then release when it stops pulling, which helps minimize this behavior.
- Car harnesses – If you drive a lot with your Shih Tzu, a good car harness can be very useful. By securing your dog, you can make sure you drive without distractions, and can do things like leave the windows open when driving. Also, in the rare event you get in an accident, your dog will be protected.
Different Shih Tzu Harness Materials
Dog harnesses can be made of almost any material, but the following types of material are the most common, and used in the majority of modern harnesses.
- Nylon – A synthetic fabric, nylon has a number of useful properties which make it ideal for dog harnesses. It’s extremely durable while still maintaining a little bit of stretch and give, and it’s also water resistant and easy to clean. It also is relatively breathable, and stays strong when wet.
- Polyester – Polyester is another synthetic fabric which is very popular for dog harnesses. It’s more abrasion-resistant compared to nylon and it dries more quickly, but it’s not quite as strong.
- Neoprene – Neoprene is often used to provide additional padding on dog harnesses. It’s a very soft, synthetic rubber which can quickly conform to the shape of your dog’s body, providing extra comfort.
- Leather – Leather harnesses are pretty uncommon nowadays, because they are relatively heavy and expensive, and require maintenance like regular oiling to keep them in great shape. For small dogs like Shih Tzus, a leather harness is typically not a good choice.
- Cotton – Cotton is somewhat rare in dog harnesses, but it is used in some styles because it’s a natural and organic fiber. If you don’t like synthetic fibers like nylon or polyester, a cotton harness may be a reasonable choice.
- Mesh – Mesh can be made out of almost any fabric, but nylon and polyester are the most common. It’s extremely breathable and offers extra stretch, which keeps your dog from being too constricted by its harness.
Almost all leading dog harnesses incorporate one or more of the following materials, so it’s best to familiarize yourself with them before shopping for a Shih Tzu harness.
5 Key Components of a Harness for a Shih Tzu
Wondering what you need to look for in your Shih Tzu harness? Here are a few characteristics of a great Shih Tzu harness that you should try to find when shopping.
- Breathable material – Shih Tzus are double-coated, and this means they can tend to overheat in hot weather when wearing a thick, non-ventilated harness. To keep your dog safe, we recommend finding a harness with a lightweight and breathable material, especially for warm-weather walks.
- Adjustability – All Shih Tzus are different, and a proper fit is key for your dog’s comfort. We recommend buying a harness that is fully adjustable, so that you can make sure your dog’s harness fits properly, to ensure it’s safe and that the harness won’t rub on your dog’s skin.
- Back padding – Shih Tzus, like many smaller dog breeds, are prone to Intervertebral Disc Disease (AVDD) and herniated discs. Back padding can help alleviate this risk by protecting the spin. Look for harnesses that have back padding, or distribute most of the pressure of pulling on the chest and belly.
- No-pull features – A no-pull harness can help you retrain your Shih Tzu and eliminate pulling behavior, so we recommend picking a harness with a front chest ring if your dog has a tendency to pull.
- Reflectivity – A reflective harness is a good choice if you take a lot of low-light walks in areas with heavy vehicle traffic, or on trails with people riding bikes and other vehicles. It will make you and your dog easier to see, enhancing your safety.
If you can find a Shih Tzu harness that meets most – or all – of these requirements, you’re sure to make a great choice for your dog.
Our Picks for the Best Harness for a Shih Tzu
Now that you’ve learned a bit more about all of the different harnesses available for your Shih Tzu, what to look for in a harness, and the most popular harness materials, it’s time to start shopping for a great harness for your dog. Take a look below to see our top picks for the best Shih Tzu harnesses.
|Our 2023 Picks: Best Harness for a Shih Tzu|
|Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Harness With Steel Nesting Buckles Enhanced Strength
|Chai’s Choice 3M Reflective Dog Harness
|Frisco Small Breed Soft Vest Dog Harness
|Kurgo Go-Tech Adventure Dog Harness With Seatbelt Loop
|Harness Lead Dog Harness
|PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness
|Sporn Non-Pull Mesh Dog Harness
|Puppia Soft Dog Harness
|Solvit Deluxe Car Safety Dog Harness
|Paws & Pals Control Dog & Cat Harness
Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Harness with Steel Nesting Buckles Enhanced Strength
- Padded chest
- Strong straps
- Includes both front and rear ring for lead attachment
- Easy to adjust
Best Overall – This harness from Kurgo is our top pick for a few reasons. First, it’s incredibly strong and durable, with a climbing harness-inspired design, and nesting steel buckles and hardware. It’s also adjustable at 5 points, and includes both a front no-pull ring and a rear lead attachment ring. Not only that, but it also includes a strap and carabiner for use in the car, and is crash-test rated for safety on dogs up to 75 lbs in weight.
- Extremely durable
- Perfect for in-car use
- All-metal hardware
- Straps are stiff
- Relatively heavy
- May be too big for the smallest Shih Tzu breeds
Chai’s Choice 3M Reflective Dog Harness
- Reflective material for enhanced safety
- Lightweight and breathable
- Includes front no-pull ring and rear lead attachment
- Easy to adjust with 4 adjustment points
Runner Up – This harness from Chai’s Choice is our second pick, and it’s a better option for you if you are interested in a more lightweight and padded harness. This harness features plentiful chest and back padding with a ventilated mesh design, and is easy to put on and take off thanks to the rear plastic buckles. Additionally, it’s built with a highly-reflective 3M material which will help keep you and your pup safe in low-light situations, and it even has a rear handle which is helpful if you need to pick up your dog, or even attach it to a seatbelt.
- 3M reflective trim helps enhance safety
- Strong yet lightweight
- Helps control pulling
- Runs a bit large
- Neck is difficult to adjust
- Plastic buckles may not hold up to long-term use
Frisco Small Breed Soft Vest Dog Harness
- Strong, yet breathable polyester mesh
- Fast-release buckle
- Vest-style design makes it easy to put on and take off
- Includes reflective trim for low-light visibility
Most Affordable Pick – If you need a breathable vest for your Shih Tzu, and you have a smaller dog and want a harness that won’t weigh your pup down too much, this product from Frisco is ideal. It’s built for smaller breeds with a vest design that’s secured with velcro and a plastic buckle. The ventilated mesh is strong and durable, yet allows for plenty of ventilation. It’s also soft and stretchy, and helps distribute your dog’s weight evenly when it pulls. The reflective trim helps you stay safe during low-light walks. This product comes in 5 sizes, so you’re sure to be able to find the one that fits your dog perfectly.
- Extremely comfortable
- Strong metal lead attachment ring
- Sized to fit even the smallest Shih Tzus
- Does not include a front no-pull ring
- Velcro strap may not hold up to prolonged use
- Minimal adjustability
Kurgo Go-Tech Adventure Dog Harness with Seatbelt Loop
- Includes carabiner and seat belt attachment strap
- Unique design distributes pressure on chest, back, neck evenly
- Reflective trim for safety
- Handle to help control your Shih Tzu
Best Hiking Harness – If you like to go on longer walks or hikes with your Shih Tzu, a hiking harness like this product from Kurgo is a fantastic option. It’s lightweight and padded with plenty of ventilation, so it’s comfortable enough for all-day wear. The durable metal buckles and hardware keep your dog secure, and a front no-pull and rear lead attachment let you choose how you want to attach your lead. Not only that, but it also has a handle and comes with a car strap and carabiner to help keep your Shih Tzu secure during car rides.
- Excellent strength and lightweight
- Four-way adjustability
- Plenty of padding on chest and back pads
- Not crash-test rated
- Neck cannot be adjusted
- May not fit toy Shih Tzu breeds
Harness Lead Dog Harness
- All-in-one design
- Nylon rope is rated for 3,700lbs of tensile strength
- Easy to clean
- Will fit dogs of any size
No Escape Harness Lead – If your Shih Tzu is an escape artist, or if you have had trouble finding a harness that fits properly, an all-in-one harness lead like this product may be the right choice. It consists of a single strong nylon rope with rubber stoppers, which can be adjusted to wrap around your dog for a perfect, tight fit. When properly sized, it’s nearly impossible to chew or escape from. Additionally, the harness tightens gently when your Shih Tzu tries to pull away and releases when it comes back, which helps it develop better
- No sharp strap edges or buckles
- Gently helps correct pulling
- Hard to size properly on initial use
- Lead is relatively short
- Lacks padding
PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness
- Lightweight and simple design
- Features front no-pull lead attachment
- Four-way adjustment
- Chest/belly straps are color-coded for easy use
Best Walking Harness – If you’re looking for a simple harness that you can use for all of your day-to-day walks with your Shih Tzu, this product from PetSafe is a great option. It uses a three-strap design with plastic buckles and metal hardware, and you can put it on and take it off of your dog in just seconds. It’s simple to adjust, and features a front no-pull ring to gently guide your Shih Tzu back to your side when it pulls.
- Helps discourage pulling
- Extremely easy to use design
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Minimal padding
- No rear lead attachment ring
- Not ideal for extended walks or hikes
4 More Top Rated Harnesses
If you’ve looked through our top picks, but are interested in seeing a few more top-rated harnesses for Shih Tzus, we’re here to help. Below, we’ve put together a few Shih Tzu harnesses that didn’t quite make our top picks, but may still be a great option for you and your pups.
Sporn Non-Pull Mesh Dog Harness
This harness is sort of a hybrid of a step-through vest harness and a strap-based harness, and uses a stretchy nylon fabric that offers plenty of breathability. The straps and chest are heavily padded with mesh, which provides both comfort and ventilation for your Shih Tzu. It helps your dog move without being constricted, and the rear lead attachment point provides you with great control over your pup. The one-piece design also makes it easy to put on and take off of your dog, and the nylon material is easy to clean.
Puppia Soft Dog Harness
This soft harness from Puppia uses an over-the-head vest design with an additional rear strap for added security. It’s made of a high-quality polyester mesh fabric, and feature soft inner padding for additional comfort. Two plastic buckles in the back make it easy for your Shih Tzu to wear, and a strong metal ring in the back provides a lead attachment point. We don’t recommend this harness for heavy pullers, though, because it does not have a no-pull chest ring.
Solvit Deluxe Car Safety Dog Harness
If you’re worried about your Shih Tzu’s safety in the car, this harness from Solvit is a great option. It has a strong nylon design that features plenty of padding and ventilation, and is crash-test rated and DOT approved for over 3,000 lbs of tensile strength. The included carabiner and strap make it easy to attach your dog to a seat belt, and the rear attachment straps can also accept a leash, so you can walk your dog once you’ve reached your destination.
Paws & Pals Control Dog & Cat Harness
This one-piece, over-the-head harness secures tightly with two plastic buckles, and distributes weight evenly across the neck and chest, though it lacks any significant back padding. A lead can be attached to the rear metal ring, providing you with plenty of control over your pup. This harness is very inexpensive, making it a great value. However, the neck and chest area cannot be adjusted, so it’s very important to make sure that you have the proper fit for your Shih Tzu before ordering this harness.
4 Common FAQs About Shih Tzu Harnesses
Got more questions about Shih Tzu harnesses? Need answers? We’re here to help – here are answers to a few common Shih Tzu harness FAQs.
- What size harness should I get for my Shih Tzu? A small, extra small, or XXS harness may be appropriate, depending on the size of your Shih Tzu.
To make sure you get the right size of harness, we recommend measure your dog’s neck at the broadest point with a flexible tape measure, and doing the same to measure its chest. You can also weigh your dog. This information will help you pick out the right size when consulting online harness sizing charts.
- Will a harness prevent my Shih Tzu from pulling? Not necessarily. A harness – particularly a no-pull harness – will help you control your dog when it pulls. But it’s not a replacement for proper leash training. We highly recommend leash training your dog properly before using a harness. If you’re not sure where to start, consider consulting a local animal behaviorist.
- Why shouldn’t I just use a collar on my Shih Tzu? Collars put a lot of pressure on your dog’s neck and trachea. In some dogs – particularly small dogs – excessive strain can cause choking, or even make the airway collapse. For this reason, harnesses are safer for use, especially on longer walks.
- How tight should my Shih Tzu’s harness be? When tightening your dog’s harness for the first time, it should be slightly loose – you should be able to fit two fingers between the straps. If the harness is too tight, it could cut into your dog’s skin. Too loose, and it may cause rubbing and abrasion, or your dog may even be able to escape the harness.
Thanks for reading – we hope these answers have been helpful, and can guide you as you shop for the perfect Shih Tzu harness for your precious pup!
We know that all of the above information is a lot to take in – but if you take another look at this guide and consult our list of top picks, you’re sure to be able to find the right Shih Tzu harness for your dog. So take your time, think about what’s right for your dog and its particular needs, and make sure you get the best harness for your pooch!