Small Dog Harness vs Large Dog Harness: What’s the difference?

In recent years, more and more dog owners have opted to invest in a high quality dog harness. Whether to train their furry friends, take them on a short walk, or venture out on high-impact sports; dog harnesses provide a far safer and more convenient alternative to a simple collar.

But with an expanding dog harness market comes the responsible owner’s question: which dog harness is best for my dog breed? Especially if you are the proud momma or papa of a small pooch, you probably want to know if all dog harness designs are safe for delicate builds. Likewise, if your best friend resembles a bear as much as a canine, then you want to make sure that your dog harness is both adjustable and sturdy to provide good support.

Believe it or not, there is a big difference in dog harnesses for small and large breeds. Here, we lay it all out to help you make the best choice.

The Obvious…. Size

Of course, the most easily notable difference between small dog harnesses and large dog harnesses is, well, their size. But this is not as straightforward as it may seem.

Even if your harness of choice is built for large breeds or small breeds, it is not necessarily a one-size-fits-all. Many harnesses are built with adjustable points for maximum flexibility, while others are purposefully designed to be snug for extra support.

A good dog harness seller will provide information on fitting tips and adjustment points, so that both small and large breed dog owners can decide on the best harness match for their best furry friends.

The bottom line: don’t assume that “small breed” and “dog breed” labels will automatically be the size you need; make sure that the harness you buy is actually going to provide the perfect fit for your small or large pooch.


Differentiating large dog harnesses and small dog harnesses is the nature of their functions. Large dog breeds will be prone to need harnesses for a range of activities and sports: mushing, bikejoring, sledding, hiking, racing, running, walking, etc. On the other hand, smaller breeds may not need a dog harness that is designed for pulling activities; but you may choose to seek a specially engineered training or no pull dog harness for small dogs.

Small dogs that pull on their leashes are especially at risk of neck strain and long-term damage if they do not have a properly fit harness; traditional collars and poor quality harnesses can easily cut off circulation and harm delicate builds.

That said, some activities require harnesses for small and large dogs. For example, there are both small breed no pull dog harnesses and large breed no pull dog harnesses, as well as large and small harnesses ideal for training. However, although the designs of these harnesses may be the same, it is still important to make sure that you’re buying what is specially made for a small or large breed.


As much as all dog breeds have their own body build, so do the well-made harnesses that are engineered to fit them.

Depending upon the activity, the shape may vary. However, large dog breeds tend to do well with x-back harnesses, which facilitate many adjustment points in the neck and chest, and also uniformly distribute pressure (especially helpful in pulling activities).

Small dog breeds, on the other hand, don’t tend to need this type of x-back design. They do just as well with an h-type harness, or any snug-fitting and supportive design-- especially if it also features an easy-carry handle on the back.

The Best Harness for Small Dogs

With all this in mind, the best harness for small dogs is supportive and padded, made to be gentle on delicate body frames. It also will feature a handle on the back, which provides an ideal option for no pull dog harnesses, as well as for easy lifting during dog training and other activities.

The Best Harness for Large Dogs

The best dog harness for large dogs will highly depend on the specific activity you and your pooch like most. That said, it should provide ample support and adjustment points in the neck and back, and also facilitate large movement.

No Matter the Dog Harness, Make Sure it’s Quality

If there is one thing to remember when buying any good dog harness, it’s that quality counts.

Both small dogs and large dogs need a harness that is built with durable, flexible, lightweight, and extremely comfortable material. The best dog harnesses are made with non-allergenic and water-resistant material, for optimal long-term use. Likewise, if you are to invest in a harness, you want it to be convenient for you to snap on and off your companion.

So, whether your best friend is fun size or king size, you can get active together-- with the best dog harness to support healthy and safe bonding adventures.