Updated: September 29, 2020
Finding a harness for hiking with your Miniature Dachshund can be a real challenge.
Trust me, I’ve been trying to find one that fits well, and doesn’t chafe when it gets wet and dirty, for years.
Literally YEARS. We’re talking over ten.
I’ve tried many harnesses from the biggest names in outdoor dog gear to handmade ones I’ve found at craft fairs.
One issue with finding a well-fitting harness for a Miniature Dachshund is the smallest size made is often still too large for my dogs.
If I find a harness that looks like it will fit, it’s often not made for a Miniature Dachshund’s “odd shape”.
It doesn’t account for a longer back, and skinnier waist, than most small dogs with the same size rib cage have.
That’s not to mention feet that turn out causing the elbows to sit tight against the body (so there is little to no space for a harness strap).
Which Harness Do You Use When Hiking with Your Miniature Dachshunds?
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I get a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a qualifying purchase.
The first harness that finally worked for my Miniature Dachshunds, and the one we’ve been using for over five years, is the Casual Padded Y Harness from Hurtta.
Note: IMPORTANT make sure to view the size chart to find the right one for your pup if you buy.
There have been only a few issues with mild chafing if the trail was really wet and dirty and we hiked over 10 miles. The harness rubbed some of the fur off but my dog's skin was not raw and red.
Discovering the Hurtta Padded Y Harness was such a relief because every harness I had tried before them was troublesome.
Is there a chance this harness could not work for your Dachshund? Sure, just like people, all dogs are built just a little different.
I always suggest trying a harness on at home, before removing the tags, and sending it back for a refund or exchange if it doesn't fit right.
However, I haven't heard from any Miniature Dachshund owners that it hasn't worked for.
Hurtta Casual Padded Y Harness Review
The Casual Padded Y Harness doesn't look so unlike many other Roman style dog harnesses.
But it is!
First, most harnesses of this style have a regular loop that goes around the neck. It's pretty much like a loose fitting collar.
This means that it's easy for the lower part of the neck strap to put pressure on a dog's neck, or put pressure on their windpipe, if they pull.
The Padded Y Harness has a V shape to it so the strap sits lower on the neck in front.
Second, the strap that goes around the rib cage sits a little further back than most harnesses.
This means that the strap doesn't sit tight in the arm pits, which has been the cause 90% of the time my Dachshunds have ended up with red chafe marks after a hike.
The other 10% was because the lower part of their front legs rubbed against, or bumped against, the harness chest strap when walking (when their legs moved toward her rear, their elbows hit the strap).
Again, the strap sits back further on this harness so their front legs don't come in contact with it often, or at all, when walking.
Third, the webbing has neoprene padding on the inside.
This further helps to prevent chafing. It's a smoother surface so it doesn't pick up as much dirt and it isn't as rough against the skin as bare webbing is.
As with everything, there are pluses and minuses though:
- it sits lower on the neck than other harnesses of this style so it's less likely to put strain on your Dachshund's windpipe
- The chest strap doesn't sit in the arm pits so the chance of a dog getting chafed on a hike is greatly reduced
- There is protective neoprene padding on the inside of the straps which make them gentler on the skin
- The chest strap is adjustable
- The harness has 3M reflectors for added visibility when walking, or hanging out around camp, at night.
- The harness comes in 5 different colors
I really don't have many complaints about the Hurtta Casual Padded Y harness.
- It has a sternum strap that runs down the front of the chest and through the front legs. Like most harnesses on Dachshunds, the chest strap slips to the side of the pointy Dachshund breast bone.
- It doesn't support the back enough to use it as a handle to lift your dog on a regular basis. For example, over a log or up onto a ledge. This is especially true if your Dachshund has IVDD or has previously suffered a back injury.
- Like any product, it may not fit all Miniature Dachshunds (but will work well for most).
Where to Buy the Hurtta Casual Padded Y Harness
You can find the Hurtta Casual Padded Y Harness on Amazon.
How to Choose the Right Harness Size
To choose the correct size Casual Padded Y Harness, you will need your dog's neck and chest measurements.
For the neck, drape a flexible measuring tape loosely around the base of your dog's neck. You may even want it to hang down slightly like short necklace would.
For measuring the chest, even though the rear strap may not sit on the widest part of your dog's rib cage when they have it on, that is the best place to measure.
Then compare those two measurements to this size chart.
Some dogs will fall somewhere in the middle of the size ranges when the neck measurement is considered.
I recommend going with the closest chest measurement range.
Even though the neck strap is not adjustable, there is some "fudge" room there to accommodate a neck a bit larger or smaller than the measurement listed.
For reference, Gretel’s chest measures 16 – 16 1/4 inches and the base of her neck is about 12 inches around.
Summit’s chest measurement is 15 1/4 inches and her neck measurement is also around 12 inches.
Both of my miniature Dachshunds wear a size 18.
Although this harness is advertised as "ideal for everyday walks and activities for all dogs", my Miniature Dachshunds have hiked miles of trail up and down mountains in it.
What If My Dachshund's Chest Measurement is On the Borderline for Sizes?
Sometimes I receive emails about sizing from Dachshund who measured their dog's chest circumference and find it in the middle range.
For example, if their Dachshund's chest measured 17 inches, they wonder if they should order the 14-18” size Padded Y harness or the 18”-22”.
If your Dachshund is in-between sizes, and you think the smaller size would just fit when adjusted to the largest range, it's probably best to go with that one.
I tell them, although I can't 100% guarantee I will choose the right fit for their dog, I've found the maximum size of the Padded Y harness listed to be accurate (so the 14"-18" harness does indeed expand to fit an 18 inch chest).
If a Dachshund's chest measurement is clearly under the maximum range listed for a specific size, I recommend going with the smaller size (vs sizing up).
I think it's best to go with the smallest harness size you can so that the chest strap adjustment buckles will sit higher up on the back, versus lower and potentially in the armpits or in a position that causes your dog's elbows to bump against them when they walk.
If a Dachshund is full grown, they will not likely need a larger size later unless they gain weight.
Are There Any Other Harnesses You Would Recommend?
I sometimes like to use a different harness for hiking. Especially if we are hiking for several days in a row.
Using a different harness occasionally helps to eliminate any hot spots because the straps hit in different places.
We've used two other harness on a limited basis but, so far, any chafing issues are few and far between.
Ruffwear Flagline Harness
I was delighted to discover the Ruffwear Flagline Harness.
I love this brand and love the look and functionality of their Webmaster Harness.
Unfortunately, my Miniature Dachshunds, despite how many times I tried to adjust and modify it, always experienced severe chafing.
The Flagline looks very much like the Webmaster but the fabric is not as stiff and the first chest strap sits further back on the chest.
This means the harness conforms to their body better and the chest strap doesn't sit in my small dog's arm pits.
We tried it on a couple shorter, drier hikes with no chafing issues, first. Then my Dachshund wore it for a 10 mile hike through several streams where it got wet and dirty.
It looks like this harness is going to work for us too! There was no chafing.
I was a little concerned because the strap that runs between the front legs is a wide panel instead of a narrow strap.
There have been instances before where the side of a wide panel cut into the inside of my Dachshund's legs. But it appears that we won't have the same issue with this one.
Hug-a-Dog Harness by Dachshund Delights
The only other harness we've tried that caused almost no chafing issues when we went on wet and muddy hikes and walks is the mesh Hug-a-Dog vest harness from Dachshund Delights.
I don't like it as much as the Hurtta Padded Y harness, or even the newly-discovered Flagline harness, but I do carry it with us often in case the harness we started out with does start to chafe - as kind of an emergency backup.
My first choice of hiking harness for my Dachshunds is still the Hurtta Padded Y.
The Flagline is coming in at a close second though and the Hug-a-Dog is a good emergency backup if the harness they are wearing starts to chafe.
It's fits significantly different than the other two so it would be unlikely to rub in the same places the skin was starting to get raw.
I will say that if you have a Dachshund that refuses to walk and tries to back out of their harness, the Flagline or Hug-a-Dog might be the better options.