Should My Dachshund Wear a Collar or Harness for Walking?

The most essential accessory for your Dachshund is something to attach their leash to while you’re out walking, whether it be a collar or harness.

A standard collar is normally the “default” option for most dog owners.

However, in my opinion, Dachshunds should be walked using a harness. Here’s why.

Read why your Dachshund should always wear a harness instead of a collar while walking

Harness vs Collar: Why a Harness is Safer

Has your Dachshund ever started coughing or “honking” after being pulled on their collar? Those noises are the product of your dog’s airway being restricted.

Has your Dachshund ever tried to run after a squirrel and been abruptly stopped by their collar? That scenario put’s a lot of stress on their neck and back.

When my first Dachshund was younger, I used a collar to walk him so I’ve experienced both of those things first-hand.

One time, Chester took off after something only to be yanked back by his collar, causing him to fall down and scrape the side of his face.

That wasn’t my proudest Dog Mom moment.

Both of the situations above can lead to serious injury.

Dachshunds are prone to back and neck problems, such as Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD), and tracheal collapse (like most small dogs).

Walking your Dachshund using a collar can put direct pressure on their trachea and vertebrae in the neck, which can cause a “cascading effect” and put pressure on other disks in the spine.

If your dog is wearing a harness, their trachea and spine is unlikely to be affected negatively when they start running or pulling.

When using a properly-fitted harness, pressure is distributed across your Dachshund’s chest instead of putting strain on the neck or back.

Choke Free Harness rests on the Dachshund breastbone

Pros of Using a Harness for Your Dachshund

Besides the safety reasons above, which is really all the convincing you should need, there are other reasons to walk your Dachshund using a harness instead of a collar too.

  • Better control of your dog, especially when in crowded or chaotic situations.
  • Helps stop your Dachshund from jumping on people, other dogs or wildlife.
  • Discourages pulling. With a collar, your dog may get an extra step in while pulling. This action is must more difficult with a harness.
  • Keeps your dog from getting tangled in a collar and leash combination.
  • If your Dachshund is easily distracted, a harness will help keep them safe and secure in environments with over-stimulation.
  • It’s less unlikely that a harness will accidentally come off your dog. Collars can slip over your Dachshund’s head. They also pose the risk of coming undone if your dog pulls with enough force.

How to Choose a Harness for Your Dachshund

Harnesses are available in a few different styles but the best once distribute the weight across your Dachshund’s chest.

Closeup of a Dachshund wearing a dog harness

Harnesses that distribute pressure to the chest instead of neck usually look low-slung across the front of their chest (think boat neck shirt) or have a V-neck design.

Take these steps to choose the right harness for your Dachshund:

Find a style you like

Find a harness design and style that you and your dog like.

Your dog steps into some harnesses while some are slipped over the head and clipped.

Some use buckles as for fasteners and some use Velcro.

Some are made of narrow webbing while some fit like a vest or have a wide chest plate.

For Dachshunds, who are short, a harness where you attached the leash at the back is most likely the best option.

Are there extra features?

Take extra features into consideration.

Some harnesses are outfitted with reflective trim, ID tag pockets, a handle and multiple points of adjustment.

Purchasing a harness with these extras comes down to preference.

Choose the right material

Harnesses are most commonly made out of nylon webbing, nylon mesh, cotton fabric, or leather.

Choose the right one for your dog based on comfort, required maintenance (like oiling leather), and preference.

If you plan to hike or walk long distances with your Dachshund, consider buying a harness with breathable padding for extra comfort.

Choose the right fit

Take thorough measurements of your dog and compare it to the size chart to find the size that will fit your dog.

You’ll want to measure the widest part of your Dachshund’s ribcage, just behind the front legs, and the neck circumference.

Some brands will include a chart that shows how to measure your dog for their specific harness style.

It’s not uncommon for a Dachshund to be in-between sizes.

While some harnesses are highly adjustable and have a wide margin of error, some, like the harness pictured below, are not adjustable and must fit perfectly.

If your dog is in-between sizes in two different harnesses, and one is adjustable, it’s probably safest to go with the adjustable one.

Dachshund out for a walk wearing a pink VelPro Choke Free Mesh Harness

Which Harnesses Do You Recommend for Dachshunds?

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. That means that I get a small commission if you purchase a qualifying product.

Harnesses are such an individual decision.

Each person has their preference and each dog has their own unique, size, shape and needs.

However, there are a few harnesses I’ve tried for my Dachshunds over the years that stood out.

VelPro Choke Free Mesh Harness

The VelPro Choke Free Mesh Harness has been our everyday go-to harness for years.

Hanging out having lunch in Leadville, CO

It’s comfortable for my Dachshunds to wear because it’s soft and breathable.

My dogs regularly wear it 24 hours a day, a few days in a row, when we travel. They are not uncomfortable in it nor have they developed any abrasions or sore spots.

Gretel wore hers for almost 10 weeks straight when she suffered an IVDD-related back injury and had to be on strict crate rest.

I love that it puts all of the pressure on a Dachshund’s chest bone instead of neck.

You can read more about why it’s our favorite harness HERE.

Hurtta Casual Padded Y Harness for Active Dachshunds

The Hurtta Padded Y Harness is a more traditional-style harness but it has a V neck so it still distributes most of the pressure on a Dachshund’s breast bone.

Dachshund standing on a rock wearing the Hurtta Casual Padded Y Harness

It also has neoprene padding on the inside of the harness webbing for comfort.

We use this harness any time we’ll be hiking or walking for over 3 miles or when it may get wet or dirty from rainy streets or muddy trails.

I had a really hard time finding a harness that didn’t chafe my Dachshund’s arm pits or elbows.

Gretel has hiked over 10 miles in this harness, through streams and mud, and never developed a raw spot.

You can read more about why it’s our favorite harness for when we’re hiking or walking long distances HERE.

Dachshund Delights Mesh Hug-A-Dog Harness®

Although we don’t currently use any other harnesses besides the two above, the Hug-A-Dog Harness® would be one of my top choices if we did.

Gretel getting ready to climb a rock

The #1 selling point for this vest-style harness is that it’s almost impossible for a Dachshund to get out of.

This harness also stands out because it’s made to fit a Dachshund’s body and comes in 1/2 inch size increments so you can almost get a custom fit for your pup.

I also like it because the mesh version of this harness is very lightweight and extremely breathable.

While it’s been a few years since I’ve used it for the dogs, and we only walked a couple of miles in it, I don’t remember any chafing issues.

However, do be aware that it can put a bit of pressure on your dog’s throat if they pull on the leash a lot (but not as much as a collar because the wider strap distributes the pressure more evenly).

If you have a dog that is constantly straining against the end of the leash, this may not be the harness for them.

Should I Throw Out My Dog’s Collar?

Dachshund puppy sitting in the grass with an orange collar on

Although you’ll want to walk your Dachshund using a harness, you probably want to keep at least one collar on hand.

It’s important for your dog to wear a collar with ID when they don’t have their harness on.

If your dog gets lost without a collar on, they could easily be mistaken for a stray.

Alternately, some people keep the collar with ID on all the time instead of switching their dog’s ID back and forth between the collar and harness.

They just put the harness on in addition when needed.

Either way, make sure your Dachshund’s ID tags are always up to date with your current phone number and address.

While choosing to walk your Dachshund on a collar or harness is a personal preference, hopefully I’ve given you good reason to go with a harness. 

About the Author

Hi, I’m Jessica. I’ve been studying the Dachshund breed since 2007, owned 3 of my own, and shared in the lives of thousands of others through their owner’s stories. When I’m not sharing what I know on this blog, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.

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