9 Best Dog Harnesses for Shih Tzu in 2024

Shih Tzus are spunky little dogs with big personalities in tiny bodies. They’re known for their flowing hair and can-do attitudes. It can be tempting to carry them around everywhere you go but even the biggest princess needs some exercise now and then. Otherwise, you risk a lot of sass and destruction from a cooped-up dog.

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Collars and leashes are easy, but in reality, relying on your collar to bear the brunt of your Shih Tzu’s weight as it pulls the leash can be difficult to manage and cause unintended injuries. Your Shih Tzu should have a harness to better redistribute pressure and make walks more comfortable for both of you.

Choosing a harness for a small breed dog isn’t always easy. They can be difficult to adjust, too heavy for your Shih Tzu to use comfortably, and you always run the risk that your Shih Tzu will be able to slip out and escape. Make sure you measure your dog carefully and pay attention to the sizing charts for the harness you’ve chosen so that you’ve got the right fit. Your Shih Tzu shouldn’t be able to escape the harness no matter how small its body is.

We’ve put together a list of harnesses that would work great for your small breed dog. They’re well designed and comfortable and offer safety features to keep your walks stress free. We’ve also answered some questions you may have about how to choose the right one and what to expect once you’ve chosen the perfect harness. Let’s take a look.

Different Types of Dog Harnesses for Shih Tzu

Different types of harnesses offer pros and cons. The good news is that if your Shih Tzu doesn’t like one type of harness, there are other options. Some are good for rambunctious dogs and others are best suited for puppies or the elderly. Let’s look at a few different options you have when choosing a harness.

  • Step In – This type of harness is easiest for Shih Tzus because it can be difficult to buckle the over the head styles of a harness. Step in also assures that you’ve got the buckle fastened correctly and positioned for better control.
  • Front buckle – Front buckle harnesses are best for highly energetic Shih Tzus. Although they aren’t nearly as hard to control as powerful large breed dogs, the front buckle could discourage annoying pulling or darting on the leash.
  • Back buckle – these are easiest to use for beginners and place the leash clip on the back of your dog. They’re easy to see and the clip is accessible for quick changes. They also have plenty of style options because they’re very common and can be intuitive to use for someone who has never operated a harness.
  • Dual clip – dual clip options offer flexibility for choosing where you want the leash pressure to be. They’re often more expensive, but if you’re Shih Tzu is unreliable with training, they might be a good investment. Make sure you understand how your individual harness fastens and adjusts before you head outside with it.

What to Look for in a Good Harness for Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus are playful and high energy despite their size. They’re highly prone to injuries from overzealous activity and can severely damage their neck and spinal cord if they aren’t harnessed. Making sure you have the right tools for even small walks can help keep your Shih Tzu safe.

Look for a harness that’s made of durable material such as nylon and industrial strength hardware. Nylon is breathable, especially when using a mesh, so your Shih Tzu is less likely to overheat than when using something like leather. Nylon is also easily cleaned so you can keep things sanitary.

One good option for Shih Tzus could be full vest style harnesses that they can wear all the time. Fitting may take some adjusting, but once you get a good one, it can make quick walks a whole lot easier. Try to find one of these if you don’t have a fenced in yard and have to leash walk your Shih Tzu each time you go outside.

Best Dog Harnesses for Shih Tzu

Here are our top 9 picks:

Puppia RiteFit Soft Dog Harness

Our Top Pick

It can be difficult to find a harness that fits your small breed pup comfortably and securely, but you can put your trust in Puppia.

The adjustable chest belt with easy snap buckle and D-ring provides comfort for dogs in between sizes and ensures that your harness will last. You can attach a standard leash to the Puppia harness, making this more than suitable for your every day walks with your Shih Tzu.

The soft air mesh is breathable and lightweight to keep your puppy cool and comfortable on walks. Be sure to measure your Shih Tzu to ensure that you get the right size Puppia harness.

Sporn Training Dog Halter

The Sporn Training Dog Halter harness features padded restraint sleeves that fit under your puppy’s legs. The harness is made from high-quality materials and is equipped with steel fasteners for ultimate durability. Even if your dog is pulling on the leash, this harness will not put any strain on their neck. We like that your dog will be comfortable and easy to train with this harness, plus it’s super easy to put on! A special benefit of this dog harness is that it quickly turns into a standard collar if necessary.

Blueberry Pet Spring Prints Dog Harness

This simple harness design is made from durable grosgrain ribbon and tough nylon sewn in a simple harness style. The design is a more familiar one for those of you who don’t have a lot of experience with fancy harness styles, and it’s ultra-lightweight for a small dog’s body.

The clip faces the back and can be fastened and unfastened quickly while multiple adjustment points help ensure that your Shih Tzu is safe and secure. It keeps its position and is cooler than some harnesses because it lacks the full vest or heavily padded chest pieces.

It’s best for well-trained Shih Tzus who don’t pull on their leashes much because the straps could cause some chafing underneath the front legs for particularly rambunctious Shih Tzus.

6 More Highly Rated Dog Harnesses for Shih Tzu

EcoBark Max Comfort Dog Harness

The EcoBark is a stylish, comfortable harness suitable for smaller dogs because of its light weight. It’s padded to make things extra comfy and has some stretch to move with your Shih Tzu. The stretch can also help with positioning despite your Shih Tzu’s plentiful fur, but it won’t cause chafing or discomfort.

The harness is available in multiple bright colors and is easy to adjust for the perfect fit. The design features wider straps around the shoulder area and a durable nylon mesh for breathability. It won’t get hot or uncomfortable as your Shih Tzu exercises, but it offers the snug fit you need even for such a small dog.

The clip is easy to fasten and unfasten and it can be folded up to put in a bag. Wipe off the surfaces with a damp cloth and your harness should stay pretty clean even through heavy use. The seaming is reinforced, and it contains reflective elements for safety.

2 Hounds Design Freedom No-Pull Dog Harness and Leash

While many harnesses can reduce or eliminate the risk of injury from pulling, not all of them can do it as well as the 2 Hounds Design Freedom No-Pull Dog Harness. This patented design’s no-pull feature works by preventing your puppy’s opposition reflex. In some traditional harnesses, the pressure of the harness may encourage the dog to pull harder. The 2 Hounds harness uses an action loop, keeping your dog in a straight line.

As a result, you can maintain better control of an uncooperative Shih Tzu, and even help leash train them, too. With its innovative design, the harness also includes a soft velvet lining that helps reduce chafing or possible skin irritation.

Alfie Pet Vince Sailor Harness

This is another fashion choice that can be used as both an overall vest and harness combined. It’s designed with full padding and is highly-wearable, even for energetic Shih Tzus. If you frequently change from indoors to outdoors, it’s a good choice because your Shih Tzu can wear it for longer periods of time.

Pawaboo Dog Safety Harness

The Pawaboo is an affordable, highly adjustable harness that doesn’t put a lot of pressure or weight on your Shih Tzu. It’s comfortable to wear and doesn’t take much to adjust for beginners. However, it does offer a customized fit that makes it difficult for your Shih Tzu to slip out while remaining comfortable when worn over your Shih Tzu’s plentiful coat.

The chest piece contains padding for when your dog pulls, and the materials are a breathable, yet tough nylon that can be cleaned easily. It features an easy buckle design and a back clip that can be fastened or unfastened without getting the leash tangled in your Shih Tzu’s legs.

Plus, it’s highly affordable and makes a great backup harness or main harness.

Zunea Denim Harness

The Zunea Denim Harness is a high style harness meant to be worn more like a piece of clothing than a harness. It has a bodysuit style that slips on easily and remains in place. The material is durable denim that washes easily with reinforced seaming to provide excellent wear despite active use.

It has a small pocket on the back for carrying identification if your Shih Tzu doesn’t like a collar and the design is fine for indoor wear without causing chafing or rubbing. It’s a great addition to your dog’s overall wardrobe and can be used as a simple vest when not in use.

It’s very important, however, to measure the fit exactly because the style of the vest doesn’t adjust as closely as a traditional harness.

The adorable design stands out but won’t chafe or irritate your Shih Tzu’s skin even on top of all that fur. The clip fastens in the back, preventing leash tangles. Breathable material ensures a comfortable walk. Make sure you measure closely for the right size because this one doesn’t adjust as much as a traditional harness does.

Best Harness for a Shih Tzu Puppy

Puppia Soft Dog Harness

You don’t have a lot of choices for appropriate harnesses for small breed puppies, but Puppia is one you can feel safe choosing. It’s made of an airy, nylon mesh that can withstand a lot of heavy duty use but won’t weigh your puppy down. The design can be adjusted even for small breed puppies to feel secure and comes in extra small sizes.

You can choose multiple colors and the easy fasten clip in the back could help you make walking a lot easier with no leash tangles in your Shih Tzu’s tiny feet. It should also help keep your puppy cooler on walks and may not chafe as much as a standard harness with lots of buckles. Make sure you measure your puppy carefully across the girth of the chest to get the right fit.

Tips for Getting Your Shih Tzu Accustomed to Using a Harness

Even though your Shih Tzu is a small breed, using a harness helps your dog feel safer and helps you prevent accidental injury around the neck and shoulder area because of improperly leashed collars. A harness is a great accessory to ensure the safety of your Shih Tzu’s airway and won’t allow your Shih Tzu to take advantage of all that fur to slip out and get away. Use these tips to get your Shih Tzu accustomed to its new harness and start walking safely.

  1. Starting in puppyhood if possible, can help give you a head start on both leash and harness training. Puppies are in heavy learn mode while they’re young, so take advantage of all the training you’re doing to get them used to walking with a leash and harness combination.
  2. If your Shih Tzu is older and has never used a harness, it can be helpful to first desensitize it to the harness before trying to force it on. If your Shih Tzu doesn’t want to wear it at first, just leave it around the house where your Shih Tzu can see it and smell it. Making sure it’s a regular fixture could help alleviate some of your Shih Tzu’s anxiety.
  3. Give treats for when your Shih Tzu shows interest in the harness so that it will associate the harness with good things. Offering a little treat and a bit of praise encourages your Shih Tzu to associate the harness with positive rewards and it may not be so reluctant to wear it.
  4. Avoid punishing your Shih Tzu for not wanting to wear the harness. Dogs don’t always understand why you’re upset, and your dog may begin to associate those negative feelings with the harness itself rather than the behavior. Stick with the positive and reward behavior you want to see rather than punishing behavior you don’t.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I make sure my harness fits correctly? Measure your Shih Tzu in three different places, the neck, the girth, and the body length. Use this when looking at the sizing guide for your particular harness. You should be able to fit two fingers underneath the harness without being able to wiggle them freely and without having to force them underneath.
  • Why should I use a harness for my Shih Tzu? Small breed dogs don’t need the control that large breed dogs do, but they can still cause a lot of damage to their little bodies by pulling on the collar. Just because you don’t struggle to control their weight on a walk doesn’t mean the collar is sufficient. Also, you run the risk of your small breed dog being able to slip out of the collar and get away, so invest in a well-fitting harness for the safety of your dog and for your peace of mind.
  • What harness is best for Shih Tzus? A vest style harness could be a great idea for Shih Tzus because it distributes the weight evenly and is simple to use. Back clips are often the best because the leash can stay out of the way and you don’t need as much forceful control with your Shih Tzu. Whatever you choose, make sure you measure the harness correctly and make sure it’s ultra-lightweight so your Shih Tzu can walk comfortably.


Your Shih Tzu may be a small dog, but that incredible personality is a wonderful addition to any family. Make sure your walks are safe and simple with a well-fitting harness that can help you control your Shih Tzu’s energy without causing injury or discomfort.

Harnesses are the only safe way to walk your Shih Tzu because they redistribute the pressure of your Shih Tzu’s weight across the chest and shoulders rather than focusing it solely on the neck. The harnesses we’ve put together on our list all offer the same protection and durability but will fit your Shih Tzu’s body shape and fur type comfortably.

Give yourself peace of mind as you walk and offer your Shih Tzu more comfort and more safety.

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