Harnesses are much safer than collars when walking English bulldogs – but the breed’s unique shape can make finding the right harness difficult. In this article, we review five of the best bulldog harnesses to help you choose the right option for your pet.
Bulldogs have big heads, thick necks and broad shoulders. Unlike many dogs, their necks are often the same width as the head. They also have deep chest, loose skin and powerful muscles. These characteristics can make it difficult to find a harness that fits without slipping, chafing or restricting movement.
Fortunately, there are some excellent harnesses for bulldogs on the market. In this article, we’ll go through five of the best options for English bulldog owners, along with some tips for choosing.
Durable, comfortable and easily adjusted to a bulldog's body shape
My top pick for a bulldog harness is the Ruffwear Front Range. It’s a tough and durable harness that’s easy to adjust, so it’s great for a bulldog’s unique frame. It also has plenty of padding, and both front and rear leash attachments.
Before we go any further, why does your bulldog need a dog harness at all? Isn’t a collar just as good?
The short answer is that harnesses are much safer and more comfortable than a collar. I recommend a harness for most dogs when on walks, but especially bulldogs.
The neck is a fairly secure collar location for most breeds, but the short and thick neck of a bulldog makes it much easier for the collar to slip off.
This can lead to embarrassment if you need to chase your pet around the park. But if your bulldog slips his collar while near a road, the consequences could be horrendous.
Collars also focus all leash pressure on the windpipe. This can cause severe damage if your dog tends to pull the leash – especially if he suddenly lunges.
Additionally, bulldogs are a brachycephalic breed. This means they have a narrower trachea and partially collapsed airways compared to other dog breeds, so even a small amount of pressure can make breathing more difficult.
I’m not suggesting your pet shouldn’t wear a dog collar though. Collars are the best place for an ID tag, as they can be worn all day without chafing (click here for my top picks).
For walks or other outdoor activities, a dog harness is a better option though. They are safer for your dog’s throat, secure (if properly fitted) and give you more control over a powerful breed.
Many of the considerations when buying a harness are the same for all breeds. There are a few things to watch out for when buying a bulldog harness though. These include:
Finally, you might also want to consider the style of a dog harness. While this is arguably the least important factor, a smart and stylish design is a bonus! Reflective material can also help to make your pet more visible in low light conditions.
Despite many harnesses having handles that double as seat-belt loops, the vast majority are not safe for car travel. These fabric loops are almost certain to break in a high speed collision – especially when attached to large dogs.
You should only trust car harnesses that have been fully crash-tested. These don’t guarantee your dog’s safety in an accident, but at least give him a chance. If you need a car harness, check out our guide here.
Now you know what to look for in a bulldog harness, let’s take a look at my top five recommendations. Scroll down to #5 if you’re looking for a puppy bulldog harness, otherwise start from the top and read each mini-review to find the best option for your pet.
|#1||Ruffwear Front Range||Highly durable harness with 4 adjustment points, front attachment, and reinforced chest webbing. My #1 pick for bulldogs.||$$$|
|#2||Julius-K9 Powerharness||One of the strongest harnesses on the market and great for deep-chested bulldogs.||$$$|
|#3||Kurgo Tru-Fit||Five adjustment points and a padded chest. Cheaper alternative to other no-pull harnesses.||$$|
|#4||Embark Adventure||Easy to adjust, front and rear leash attachments, and plenty of padding. Also provides great value for money.||$$|
|#5||Puppia RiteFit Harness||My top recommendation for bulldog puppies. Comfortable, adjustable and cheap. Probably not strong enough for adult bullies though.||$|
The Ruffwear Front Range is one of the most popular harnesses on the market – and for good reason. It’s a durable, high-quality and comfortable harness that’s brilliant for nearly all breeds, including bulldogs.
One of the key features of the Front Range is the quality construction and design. It’s made with lightweight material so it doesn’t weigh your dog down, but still has reinforced chest webbing, an aluminum rear D-Ring and extra padding to spread force more evenly. There are also four adjustment points, which is important for deep chested bulldogs, and a reflective trim.
The Front Range has dual-attachments. This means it has a front leash attachment in addition to the standard rear D-Ring. Front attachments provide more control and discourage pulling, as the dog is turned in a circle when he tries to pull forwards. If your bulldog’s loose leash walking still needs some work, a front-attachment harness could help.
There are several drawbacks though. Firstly, the front leash attachment is only fabric, unlike the rear aluminum D-Ring. While it’s still reinforced, it isn’t as durable as the rear attachment. There’s also no handle and it can only be hand washed.
Despite these issues, the Front Range is still my pick for the best harness for bulldogs. It’s comfortable, easy to adjust, and strong enough to keep your pet safe.
If you don’t need the dual-attachments of a no-pull harness, the Julius-K9 Powerharness is an excellent choice for bulldogs. It’s tough and durable, while still being comfortable to wear. It’s also available in a variety of sizes and a huge selection of colors.
The key feature of the Powerharness is its durability. It’s designed for working dogs, so it has strong seams and buckles, along with a steel D-Ring for greater durability.
While it doesn’t have a front leash attachment, the large rear metal D-Ring makes it easy to secure your dog. There’s also a handle for when you need extra control.
I mentioned earlier that an adjustable design is essential for a bulldog harness, so it’s great that both the belly and front straps can be adjusted. The front strap is also Velcro, so it’s quick and easy to fix at the right size for your bulldog’s chest.
Other features include a reflective chest strap, small torch holder and the option of attaching a side bag. The inner liner is also designed to be breathable, which may prevent your dog overheating.
I also think the Powerharness looks fantastic. This isn’t a big factor when choosing a dog harness, but it’s certainly a bonus!
As with all harnesses, there are a couple of drawbacks. It’s not machine washable, so you’ll need to wash it by hand. The belly strap also isn’t as padded as some of the other options on this list, while the single front strap doesn’t spread force as evenly as a padded mesh.
The Julius-K9 is still an excellent dog harness for big and strong bulldogs though. It’s one of the most durable on the market and is still comfortable despite the lack of padding.
The Kurgo Tru-Fit is a no-pull harness with both front and back leash attachment points. It’s also highly adjustable, has a padded chest and is available in five sizes.
If you’re looking for a cheaper no-pull harness, then the Kurgo could be a great choice. It’s a quality harness that’s built to a high-standard, with a durable design and excellent value for money.
A great thing about this harness is that it has five adjustment points. This makes it easy to get a snug fit around your bulldog’s chest and shoulder without chafing. It’s also easy to secure with the quick-release buckles – although you’ll need to slip it over the head which may be a problem for some dogs.
One thing to note is that the Kurgo comes with a dog car seat belt. I wouldn’t trust this to keep my dog safe – especially as the buckles on the standard Kurgo certainly aren’t strong enough to withstand a crash. With that said, there is a version with crash tested buckles, although I haven’t reviewed this yet.
Another drawback is the lack of underarm padding. If your dog is a puller, make sure that the underarm straps aren’t rubbing when in use. The upside of the reduced amount of padding is that the harness is cooler on a hot day.
Tip: Kurgo provides a detailed guide to sizing their harnesses on this page.
The Embark Adventure is another excellent no-pull harness that provides great value for money. It’s easy to adjust, has plenty of padding and is available in several sizes.
With adjustable straps around both the belly and neck, the Embark Adventure is easy to fit to your dog’s size. It also has plenty of padding for the underarms, back and belly, which helps prevent chafing and discomfort.
Most importantly for strong bulldogs, it’s strong and highly durable. The harness uses military-grade nylon and is quadruple sewn for extra durability. It also has both front and rear leash attachment points, a reflective trim and a handle for when you need extra control.
As with most no-pull harnesses, the front attachment isn’t as strong as the rear. It’s fine for calm training sessions, but for long walks with a pulling dog I recommend sticking to the rear D-Ring (or using a dual leash). The large amount of padding could also make it very hot during a summer’s walk.
On the plus side, it’s a stylish dog harness that looks brilliant on bulldogs.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive bulldog harness for a puppy, the Puppia RiteFit is a great choice. It’s not as strong or durable as the others on this list, but has a padded neck opening and is available in a range of sizes.
The Puppia Soft Dog Harness is made from air-mesh polyester. This is comfortable against your dog’s skin and makes the harness more breathable than other options.
There are both adjustable neck and belly straps. This is great for bulldogs, as their neck and breast girth measurements often put them between categories for non-adjustable harnesses. The neck strap is also covered by the mesh padding, so it won’t rub against your dog’s skin.
Other features include quick-release buckles, two rear D-Rings for a double leash (if necessary), and an easy-to-adjust design. It’s also available in a wide range of different colors.
Why don’t I recommend this for adult bullies though?
The simple reason is that I don’t think the polyester mesh is as strong as other harnesses. It’s not a weak dog harness, but as your bully gets stronger I recommend a harness that’s more durable. For puppy bulldogs, however, it’s an excellent choice.
Note: Puppia also produces a “Soft Dog Harness.” This is similar in design to the RiteFit, but doesn’t have an adjustable neck. I don’t recommend this harness for an English bulldog, but it’s great for many other breeds.
English bulldogs are a wonderful breed – but they have special requirements from a harness. Aside from being strong enough to withstand their muscular build, a bulldog harness must be easy to adjust and comfortable around the dog’s thick neck.
In my opinion, the best harness for an English bulldog is the excellent Ruffwear Front Range. It’s a “no-pull” harness that’s durable, easy to adjust and has plenty of padding – all for a very reasonable price.
Do you have any questions about choosing a harness for your bulldog? Or do you think there’s a harness I’ve missed? Feel free to let me know in the comments section below!