Harnesses are safer for Frenchies than collars. But which is the best French bulldog harness? And are there any you should avoid? Here are five harnesses that are comfortable, durable and minimise pressure on your pet’s trachea.
Despite the breed’s popularity, it can be difficult to find a harness that fits the Frenchie’s unique shape. With a barrel chest, large head and flat face, many harnesses are either too tight across the chest or allow the dog to slip free.
In this article, I’ll discuss why it’s important for a Frenchie to wear a harness, along with some of the best French bulldog harnesses on the market.
Durable, adjustable and great for Frenchies
My top pick for a French Bulldog harness is the Ruffwear Front Range. It’s a highly durable harness with plenty of padding for extra comfort. It’s also easy to adjust to your Frenchie’s body shape.
Harnesses are safer than collars for most dogs, but especially Frenchies.
French Bulldogs are a small breed with a reputation for pulling when excited. If your dog pulls on a collar, the force is placed directly onto the trachea (windpipe). This causes pain, difficulty breathing, and even injury.
As I’m sure you know, many French Bulldogs already find it hard to breathe when exercising. This is due to their flat faces, narrow nostrils and palate that partially blocks airways. If a collar narrows the windpipe, getting enough air is a real struggle.
Not only that, but pulling on a collar forces the neck into an unnatural position. This puts pressure on the Frenchie’s delicate spine.
For these reasons, a harness is a much safer option. Harnesses spread force across the dog’s muscular chest and shoulders. They also make it easier to control and train your dog.
This is true even if your dog is trained to walk calmly on a leash. You never know when a squirrel or cat is going to appear, and Frenchie’s have a natural chasing instinct. These sudden jerks are often the most dangerous.
Of course, your pet should still wear a collar with an ID tag. But I don’t recommend attaching the leash to it.
Note: Be aware that a French Bulldog may not be able to walk as far as a non-brachycephalic dog. Monitor your dog’s breathing on a walk, as the breed’s enthusiastic and loyal nature means they often try to keep up with their owner even if they are struggling.
The Frenchie’s unusual body means it can be difficult to find a dog harness that fits. Here’s what to look for when buying:
Tip: Is your Frenchie going near water? If so, make sure you buy a lifejacket that’s suitable for a French Bulldog.
While the above criteria are all important, choosing the correct size is essential for your dog’s safety.
Loose harnesses cause chafing and discomfort. They are also more likely to slip off, which can be terrifying if you’re near a road or other dangerous situation.
On the other hand, a harness that’s too tight can be uncomfortable to wear and restrict your dog’s movement. A tight harness may also rub your dog’s skin – especially if he is likely to pull.
Fortunately, most modern harnesses have excellent sizing guides. Make sure you follow these closely and take the time to accurately measure your dog’s neck and chest girth.
If a harness relies on weight for sizing, it’s probably best to avoid it. While weight can give a quick estimate of a dog’s size, the Frenchie’s unique shape means it’s a poor way to judge a harness fit.
Many harnesses come with seat-belt loops. Despite being advertised for cars, these are not crash-tested.
Most seat-belt loops are little more than a thin piece of fabric. As you can imagine, these often snap in even low speed collision, causing the dog to fly through the car. If you’re going to be travelling with your pet, you should only use a fully crash-tested harness, such as the ones on this list.
Listed below are five of the best harnesses for French Bulldogs. Make sure you read each mini-review carefully, as the right option depends on your dog’s preferences.
|#1||Ruffwear Front Range||Our #1 harness for French Bulldogs. Durable, comfortable and easy to adjust.||$$$|
|#2||ComfortFlex Sport Harness||A lightweight alternative with a fully padded design. Also machine washable.||$$|
|#3||Julius-K9 PowerHarness||One of the most durable harnesses on the market. Adjustable and breathable inner.||$$$|
|#4||Embark Adventure||Similar to the Front Range but for a cheaper price. Could be hot to wear in summer though.||$$|
|#5||Puppia RiteFit||Soft mesh harness that's cheap and comfortable. Not as durable as other harnesses.||$|
The Ruffwear Front Range is a strong, adjustable and comfortable harness that’s brilliant for French Bulldogs. If you’re not sure which harness to buy for your pet, you can’t go far wrong with the Ruffwear.
What makes it such an excellent dog harness though?
The most important feature for Frenchies is the low neck. This protects the throat and makes walking more comfortable. It also has padding on both the belly and chest, including under the arms, which prevents chafing and pressure points.
Another advantage is the dual attachments. The strong rear D-ring is great for keeping your dog under control, while the front attachment can discourage pulling without causing pain.
It also has four adjustment points. You should be able to get a snug fit to prevent your dog escaping, while also making the harness suitable for the Frenchie’s barrel chest.
There are a few drawbacks though. The front attachment is only fabric rather than metal, so it’s difficult to trust when your dog is pulling. There’s also no handle and the harness can’t be machine washed.
Another issue is the price: this is a relatively expensive French Bulldog harness.
Even so, the durability, comfort and dual-leash attachments make the Ruffwear worth the money.
If you’re looking for a harness that’s less bulky than the Ruffwear, the ComfortFlex Sport is a brilliant alternative. It’s a simple harness with a padded and machine washable design, making it a great choice for French Bulldogs that love spending time outdoors.
The first thing to note about the ComfortFlex Sport is that the leash attachment is on a strap. This, combined with the low front section, keeps the harness away from the trachea – which is great for Frenchies. The simple design also means your dog won’t feel restricted when exercising.
A downside of this design is that it could be easier for your dog to slip out. This shouldn’t be an issue if you get the right size and adjust the chest strap for a snug fit though.
As you would expect from a high-quality harness, the ComfortFlex is made with durable and padded nylon. It’s also available in a wide range of colours and is machine washable (although it can be hard to keep the Velcro clean).
There’s no front leash attachment though. So, if you want to discourage your dog from pulling, the Front Range is the better option. For a less bulky Frenchie harness, the ComfortFlex could be a right choice.
The Julius-K9 PowerHarness is another excellent harness for French Bulldogs. It has a two strap design with a padded back panel, along with adjustable straps, breathable liner and a relatively lightweight design.
In terms of design, the PowerHarness is closer to the ComfortFlex Sport than the Ruffwear Front Range. It has a single rear leash attachment, along with adjustable belly and chest straps for securing your Frenchie.
The lack of underarm padding might look like it could cause chafing. However, the belly strap sits quite far away from the front legs if fitted correctly, so this shouldn’t cause a problem.
A bonus is that it’s available in a wide range of colours. I also like the breathable liner, as Frenchies are often prone to overheating.
One complaint I have about the Julius-K9 is that it doesn’t have extra padding on the belly strap. It’s also not machine washable.
Even so, it’s a highly durable dog harness that’s secure, breathable, and reasonably lightweight. The low front also makes it great for Frenchies.
With a similar design for Ruffwear Front Range, the Embark Adventure could be an alternative if you’re looking for a slightly cheaper option than our #1 pick. It has plenty of padding, dual leash attachments, and a handle for when you need extra control.
There are four adjustment points on the Embark Adventure, along with quick-release buckles. This makes it an easy harness to put on and adjust to your French Bulldog’s shape and size.
It’s also a durable harness. Embark uses military-grade nylon when sewing their Adventure harness, so it’s built to last. The padding on the chest and belly also makes it comfortable for your Frenchie to wear.
An advantage of the Embark Adventure is that both the front and rear attachments are metal. While this makes the harness more durable, the front leash attachment probably still can’t handle strong pulling.
There aren’t many drawbacks to the Embark, especially for the price, but it’s quite a bulky harness. It could also be warm to wear during the summer months.
Don’t let that put you off if you’re looking for an inexpensive and durable dual-leash harness though. The Embark is an excellent choice for French Bulldogs.
The original Puppia is one of the most popular soft harnesses in the world – but the RiteFit improves the design in a key way. Instead of a single adjustment strap, the RiteFit also has a neck adjustment, which is essential for French Bulldogs.
With its lightweight padded design and mesh material, the Puppia RiteFit is a comfortable and cool harness for your pet. While it’s not as durable as more expensive harnesses, it does a good job of distributing pressure across the chest and shoulders.
If you’re on a tight budget, the RiteFit is less expensive than the other harnesses on this list. In fact, it’s one of the few harnesses worth buying in this price range, so it provides excellent value for money.
Another advantage is the harness doesn’t need to be passed over the head. Aside from being more comfortable for dogs that get nervous, this is perfect for French Bulldogs who often have larger heads in comparison to their neck.
Of course, there are trade-offs when buying a cheaper harness. It doesn’t have a front D-Ring, for example. I also don’t think it’s the best choice if you have a strong puller.
For puppies, light pullers and those on a budget, however, it’s one of the best Frenchie harnesses.
The harnesses above can all be used for French Bulldog puppies, as long as you can find one that’s the right size.
A puppy is likely to outgrow his harness quickly though. For this reason, it’s a good idea to buy one of the cheaper options, such as the Puppia RiteFit, so it’s less expensive to replace as your dog gets bigger.
At The Dog Clinic, we don’t recommend any products that cause a dog discomfort. While Halti-style harnesses are less painful than choke chains, they still rely on discomfort to discourage pulling.
While this is true for all breeds, I think this type of dog harness is even worse for brachycephalic breeds with breathing problems. If you want to discourage pulling, practice loose leash training while using a front-leash attachment.
Many dogs initially dislike wearing a harness, which is why they need to be introduced slowly and respectfully. French Bulldogs are even more intolerant of harnesses, as they often have issues with breathing, overheating and sensitive skin.
Before you get your Frenchie to wear a harness, start by making it seem less scary. You can do this by:
This process can take time. Don’t expect to desensitize your dog to the harness in a single session.
When your Frenchie is happy to be touched by the harness, you can progress to wearing it inside the home. Give plenty of praise and treats when doing this, and only get him to wear it for a short time. You can then gradually increase the time he spends wearing the harness until you feel ready to go on a walk.
Be aware that it can take several weeks of training for some dogs to be comfortable wearing a harness. Don’t rush the process, as this can cause a long-term negative association.
If you’re looking for a dog harness for an English Bulldog, I’ve written a complete guide here. There is a lot of overlap, but some differences between the two lists.
It’s not always easy to find a harness for a French Bulldog. The Frenchie’s unique body shape means many harnesses are either too tight or loose.
Fortunately, there are still some excellent French Bulldog harnesses on the market. My top recommendation is the Ruffwear Front Range, as it’s strong, durable and has a dual leash attachments.
Do you have any questions about choosing the best French Bulldog harness? Or do you think I’ve missed a harness that should be on this list? Let me know in the comments section below.