When walking French Bulldogs, harnesses, not collars, are the safest option. Looking for the best choices? We’ve compiled a list of our five favorite harnesses for Frenchies, including our top choice, the Ruffwear Front Range No-Pull Harness, so you can confidently choose the right one for you and your little buddy.
Why a Harness Is Ideal for Frenchies
French Bulldogs sometimes have difficulty breathing, especially after a period of heavy panting or exertion. This condition is known as Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (B.O.A.S. for short).
B.O.A.S. can lead to a host of issues such as heat stroke, fainting, noisy breathing, heart arrhythmias, excessive gas, acid reflux, and regurgitation.
Anything that you can do to help your Frenchie breathe comfortably is well worth the effort. Avoiding extreme heat, stressful situations, obesity, prolonged excitement, and strenuous exercise can certainly help.
Of course, some exercise is important for your Frenchie’s health, and that is where a nice walk on a harness comes in. Not too strenuous, but enough activity to keep him fit.
Harnesses don’t place pressure on a Frenchie’s delicate windpipe like ordinary collars do. Rather, they distribute pressure evenly across the chest area so they won’t leave your pup gasping for breath should they pull against the leash.
What Are Your Options?
With so many harnesses on the market today, finding one that is best for your dog can be challenging. Let’s break it down a bit so you can shop with a better understanding of the designs and features.
There are many styles of harnesses, like those designed for military or sled dog use, but for everyday walks with your Frenchie, you only have to decide between several designs.
- A strap harness is just what is sounds like. It is made entirely of straps which fit around the rib cage and the front of the chest.
- A vest harness has straps too but also features wider pieces of fabric on the ventral side to distribute pressure across a larger area thus making for a more comfortable experience for the dog.
- Over-the-head harnesses slip over the dog’s head and then are buckled in place with side straps.
- With step-in models, the dog’s front legs are placed through the harness before the back buckle is secured.
- Back clip harnesses are ideal for casual walks with dogs who don’t tend to pull.
- Front clip harnesses are great for training your dog not to pull when on the leash. Rather than pull against the dog, they direct the dog back toward you.
- Lots of harnesses feature both front and back attachment points so you can decide which would be best in various situations.
Many harnesses are constructed of durable nylon and breathable mesh. These materials are lightweight, yet sturdy, and are typically easy to clean. Vest harnesses made with these materials are often cushioned with foam padding for added softness.
Leather is another option that is both comfortable for the dog and will last for years with proper care. Other common materials used for harnesses include polyester, Oxford cloth, cotton, and hemp.
What to Look For
Of course, you’ll want a correctly sized, comfortable harness so that your Frenchie will enjoy his walks while staying securely at the other end of the leash, but also look for harnesses that feature:
- Metal leash attachments for reliability.
- Sturdy buckles with fabric or padding underneath to protect your dog from irritation.
- Bright colors and/or reflective strips.
- Quick and easy steps to put on and take off.
For French Bulldogs, we recommend looking for a vest style harness with padding that includes a front and back leash attachment. These features give you options for levels of control while reducing the risk of irritation in high friction areas.
How to Measure for a Proper Fit
There are two areas on your dog where you’ll want to get an accurate measurement. Ill-fitting harnesses can cause irritation, shortness of breath, and may result in your dog escaping, so be sure not to skip this step.
The easiest way to measure your little guy this will be to use a flexible measuring tape (the type a tailor might use).
If you don’t have a measuring tape, you can simply use a long piece of string to measure the circumference, then hold the string against a yardstick, ruler, or standard tape measure to determine the measurement.
Now, just measure around the base of your dog’s neck – not under his jaw, but where the neck meets the shoulders.
Next, carefully measure around the deepest area of the chest, positioning the measuring tape an inch or two behind his armpits. You can watch this short instructional video to see exactly what we mean.
Lastly, weigh your pooch, and you are ready to start your harness search.
Our Top Five Favorite Harnesses for French Bulldogs
A French Bulldog’s stout, wide body, and predisposition for breathing issues make finding an ideal harness tricky. Not to worry. We’ve sorted through dozens, eliminating those of poor quality to find the finest models that will be ideal for your little sidekick.
Ruffwear Front Range No-Pull Harness – Our Favorite!
We love the foam padding and lack of buckle to body contact of this Ruffwear harness. With bright colors and reflective trim, dogs will remain visible even on nighttime walks – a great safety feature.
This nylon harness sits low on the neck to allow your Frenchie to breathe freely while enjoying his daily walk.
- Designed for everyday use but comfortable enough for all day outdoor activities.
- Two leash attachment points – one aluminum V-ring on back and one reinforced webbing loop on front to resist pulling.
- Four adjustment points to allow for full range of motion and custom fit.
- Foam padding on the chest and belly areas to distribute pressure evenly.
- Quick and easy to put on – slide it over dog’s head and attach the two side straps.
- Sits low on the neck so choking won’t be an issue.
- Features pocket with Velcro closure to stow away identification tags.
- Available in six colors and five sizes.
- Bright fabric colors and reflective trim for high visibility.
- Buckles tuck into sleeve for protection.
- Metal and buckles are on the outside of harness so they won’t rub against dog.
- Lightweight – small size is only 5.3 ounces.
- May not be suitable for extreme pullers.
Available in six vivid colors, this no-pull harness by Rabbitgoo has commendable features such as front and back leash attachments, strong Oxford fabric, reflective stitching, and four adjustable straps.
Our favorite feature is the sturdy handle on top which is great for giving your Frenchie a helping hand or for gaining control of a situation quickly.
- Constructed of durable Oxford fabric and cushioned with breathable mesh padding.
- Equipped with a sturdy top handle so you can gain instant control of your dog or assist him over obstacles.
- Two metal rings for leash attachment – a back D-ring for casual walks with well-behaved Frenchies and a front ring for when you’d like more control over a dog who pulls.
- Outfitted with four fully adjustable straps – two for the chest area and two for the neck region.
- Simply slip over dog’s head, clip on the two side fast-release buckles and adjust to fit.
- Features bright, reflective straps for walking after dark.
- Suitable for year-round use.
- Weighs just 7 ounces.
- Adjustable straps are easy to tighten or loosen with sliding adjuster.
- Mesh fabric keeps the dog cooler in warm summer months.
- Not chew proof.
- Must be hand washed and air dried.
- No pocket to hold pet tags.
This environmentally friendly, vest type harness by EcoBark slips easily over the dog’s head and fastens snugly with one buckle. We love that this harness is made with recycled material.
Although it does come up somewhat higher on the dog’s neck than other models, this modestly priced harness was intentionally designed to be gentle on the throat area.
- Specifically designed to not constrict trachea.
- Sits a bit higher than most harnesses to reduce the likelihood of escape.
- Double layered mesh fabric is breathable and suitable for use in all weather conditions.
- Double-stitched straps are made from recycled water bottles.
- Created to not rub or chafe as your dog moves and features custom-built, strong buckles.
- Ten bright colors to choose from.
- Weighs only 2.4 ounces and is adjustable for a snug fit.
- Affordably priced.
- Features no-choke, no-pull design with extra padding around the neck area.
- Company is committed to reducing its carbon footprint by creating only environmentally friendly products.
- Backed by a six-month manufacturer’s warranty.
- D-ring on back of harness to attach leash.
- No reflective strips or front leash attachment.
- Neck portion can not be adjusted separately.
- Some users complain that the sizing guidelines are not accurate.
- No pocket to hold pet’s identification tags.
We were impressed by the ergonomic design and zinc alloy leash attachment points of this no-pull reflective harness.
Comfortable enough for your Frenchie to use every day, this harness is built to last with durable Oxford material covering a lightweight inner mesh. The sturdy handle will come in handy whenever your Frenchie needs a little help.
- Comfortable, breathable, lightweight mesh lining with durable, scratch-resistant Oxford material outer lining.
- Soft, sponge padding in both chest and belly areas.
- Nylon webbing complete with 3M reflective strips so your Frenchie is visible at night.
- Sturdy back handle to assist in lifting dog or for vehicle safety belt to loop through.
- Ergonomic design for ease in putting on and taking off (over-the-head design).
- Four adjustable straps.
- Duraflex buckles are lightweight with large loading capacity for improved strength.
- Zinc-alloy D-ring on back and front for leash attachment.
- Offers greater support for injured or handicapped dogs when walking, climbing stairs, etc.
- Ten vibrant colors to choose from.
- Only 3.2 ounces.
- Buckles are positioned on top of the harness so they will not snag on dog’s fur.
- Hand washing and air drying are recommended.
- Does not feature a pocket to hold pet identification tags.
- Nylon straps do not have any padding.
For those of you looking for a strap harness that offers excellent control, this martingale style harness might be for you.
The gentle tightening around the dog’s middle corrects pulling behavior without placing any extra pressure or causing harm to the neck region. Use in conjunction with the front ring for even greater control.
- Patented martingale style control loop on back gently exerts pressure around dog’s middle, not neck, to discourage pulling while encouraging him to walk in a straight line beside you.
- Front leash attachment included to use either separately or simultaneously with the back clip.
- Soft velvet lining on the belly strap to prevent irritation.
- Equipped with four points of adjustment and strong nylon webbing.
- Hardware is stainless steel for long-lasting durability.
- Includes a “chew warranty” – manufacturer will replace up to two chewed straps.
- Can be used with amputees.
- Holds any size dog above 14 pounds.
- Designed for daily use, even with extreme pullers.
- Choose from 19 different colors.
- Made with 5/8 inch wide straps for small dogs.
- Recommended by the Veterinary Information Network, and many trainers.
- The two side buckles rest against the dog’s body.
- Harness may slightly slip to one side when using both leash attachments together.
A Quick Review
While each harness on our list would work quite well for a French Bulldog, there was one in particular that stood out from the rest – the Ruffwear Front Range No-Pull Harness. With plenty of padding and sleeves to prevent the buckles from rubbing against the dog’s body, this harness was able to edge out the competition.
We were also impressed that this product was the only one of our five that features a handy pocket to hold identification tags. This harness sits nice and low on the neck so your Frenchie won’t be left gasping for breath.
Last update on 2020-01-20 at 02:58 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API