Best Harness for French Bulldog (2018 Edition) | Top Frenchie Safety Gear

Quick fact!

The Frenchie is growing in popularity, now reaching the #4 spot among the most popular dog breeds in the U.S. (and first among the small breeds!). It’s probably due to their adorable good looks and spunky personality.

If you already have one of these pint-sized companions, you are probably already aware that their cute squished faces also come with some potential health problems such as restricted breathing.

Getting a gear that won’t make breathing even harder is a chief concern for this lovable breed.

If finding the best harness for your French Bulldog is what you’re after, you have come to the right place.

We have included some information so that you can learn more about the best qualities to look for in the right harness, as well as our top 5 picks in a variety of styles and budget options.


Breathing Problems in French Bulldogs

One of the most important reasons to use a harness instead of a collar with French Bulldogs is that they commonly suffer from Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome (BAOS).

This condition is a direct result of the structural characteristics that are part of the breed confirmation standard in all dog breeds that are characterized as Brachycephalic—including the French Bulldog.

What is Brachycephaly?

Over the course of selective breeding, many of the flat faced dog breeds including English Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Pugs, and Pekingese, have been bred to have the shorter bone structure in the nose and face to maintain the breed standard.

Unfortunately, despite changes in the shape of the bones of the skull and neck, the soft tissues of the soft palate, nose tissues, trachea, and vocal cords are unchanged, and are thus stuffed into the smaller spaces allowed by the bone, causing blockages in one or more anatomical “bottlenecks.”


Symptoms of Obstructed Airway in French Bulldogs

Almost all French Bulldogs will have one or more symptoms of an obstructed airway.

Symptoms range from moderate to severe. In fact, in some cases, the condition can be life threatening.

Even if your Frenchie is breathing just fine when resting, he can suddenly start to struggle with even light excursion.

The additional stress and inflammation of any additional exertion can cascade out of control quickly. Proper management is critical.

It is a good idea to keep a journal of any of the following symptoms to share with your veterinarian. This can help your vet determine what treatment options are likely to be most effective.

Symptoms include:

  • Loud breathing and snoring
  • Frequent coughing or wheezing
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing, eating, or drinking
  • Shortness of breath with even light activity (usually worse in warm or humid conditions)
  • Open mouth breathing or frequent panting

Treatments for Brachycephalic Dog Breeds

Most of the treatments for this debilitating condition are surgical.

Your vet will help you decide which treatment is right for your Frenchie after doing a thorough examination, a few diagnostic tests, and taking a detailed history.


Prevention

While many of the breathing problems associated with this breed are due to the structural problems created by selective breeding for a flat face, they can be exacerbated to dangerous levels if you allow your dog to become overweight.

Make sure to do right by your dog and his comfort by maintaining a healthy weight through proper diet and regular exercise.


Staphylectomy

When the soft palate of your dog is too big for the bone structure of the skull, your vet may recommend this procedure. It involves surgically removing excess parts of the soft palate and is usually done with state-of-the-art laser technology.


Widening the Stenotic Nares

This surgery involves opening the passageway of air in the nostrils, sometimes done with a special CO2 laser.

It can have a dramatic effect on your dog’s breathing, raising her quality of life and making it safer for her to be an active and healthy dog.


Removal of Laryngeal Saccules

Sometimes the airway of this breed is blocked by excess tissue from small nodules near the vocal chords.

When the dog breathes it can pull this soft tissue into the windpipe and keep the air from flowing normally.

Unfortunately, many brachycephalic dogs also have problems with a narrow windpipe or partial or complete collapse of the trachea. This can be a life-threatening condition that unfortunately does not have a surgical fix.

Luckily…

Most French Bulldogs with breathing problems will experience relief after surgery, as long as the problem is detected and treated early and the dog’s exercise and weight is properly managed.


French Bulldog: Harness or Collar?

French Bulldogs are prone to problems with their trachea, an area that can be damaged or inflamed by pulling while on a leash using a regular collar.

French Bulldogs should absolutely use a harness, not a collar!

We normally don’t take such a strong stance on dog products, but in this case we have to strongly agree with the caution that many veterinarians have expressed regarding the short faced breeds.

Unless your vet tells you otherwise, please use a harness to walk your Frenchie!

Even if you take the time to properly train your pup to walk on a leash without pulling, you can’t predict or prevent distractions such as a cat running away or another dog popping around the corner that could trigger your dog to suddenly run to the end of the leash.

It only takes a split-second to do permanent damage to the windpipe.

If your little guy is on a low-front harness, you won’t have to worry about doing any additional damage to the windpipe if he happens to get excited and run to the end of the leash.


How to Put a Harness on a French Bulldog: Training Tips

Frenchies can be known to be a little stubborn. If you have a puppy, the best thing to do is to help her get used to using a harness as soon as possible.

The truth is most dogs will adjust to a harness in a matter of a few tries.

However, if you have an adult who is struggling to get used to it, here are some tips to help you make the transition:

1

Pick a lightweight harness to start with.

The softer and lighter the gear, the less it will bother your canine companion, helping her make a quick adjustment to the new feel of wearing her halter. 

Check out our top lightweight pick if you think this might apply to your dog.

2

Start by associating the harness with praise.

It is important that when you first take the harness out of the box you start the process of associating it with rewards. 

Use a positive tone of voice when you are holding the harness and give your doggie plenty of praise for showing the least bit of interest in the harness.

3

Keep your cool.

It might be frustrating if your pup rejects the harness at first but avoid letting that show.

Your buddy is likely to associate your negative mental state with the harness and misinterpret the signal to mean that the harness is what is causing your distress.

If you find yourself getting inpatient, put the harness away and try again later.

3

Reward generously.

Before even putting the harness on your Frenchie, just put it on the floor and reward her for even going over to check it out.

When she seems calm around the harness, slip it over her neck loosely, reward and praise, then immediately take it off. At this point the harness doesn’t even have to be fitted as you are not fully connecting it to her body.

Continue with this process but start adding a few seconds before rewarding followed by taking it off.

Once you are up to about 5 seconds, start rewarding it every few seconds without taking it off.

If she starts fussing with the harness, you should just take it off, and put it and your bag of treats away, and say “Too bad!”

Try again in about 5-10 minutes, starting back at just a few seconds of not fussing with the harness to make her earn that reward.

4

Fit the harness.

It is best to do your preliminary adjustments on the harness before you attempt to put it on. Estimate by adding 1.5” to your dog’s measurements along her body where the straps will lay.

Try it on. You want to be able to fit 2 fingers along the harness straps, making sure she won’t be at all constricted in her breathing.

Take it off if you need to do further adjustments.

5

Practice before going on walks.

Before you ever hook on the leash for a walk outside, give your furry friend a chance to get used to wearing it around the house.

Continue to make a big deal about how cute she looks and administer lots of praise and reward.

6

Ignore attempts to get it off.

At first, your pup may try to get the harness off. Have something she really loves to distract her the first few times she wears it around the house.

If you give in and take it off at the first sign of trouble, you are training her that this tactic is effective, and she is likely to try even harder to get it off next time.

7

Adding a leash.

Before you take her out on the first walk with her new harness, practice walking in the house with the leash, using a few treats as a lure if necessary.


The Best French Bulldog Harness: Qualities to Consider

Great Fit

Different styles of harnesses have their own style of fit.

Our review includes the measurements for the sizes most likely to fit to save you a step. Usually this will include a chest, and in some cases, also a neck measurement.

Take your French Bulldogs chest size and neck measurements before you order so you can get the size that gives you the most room to adjust for the perfect fit.


Low Front Neckline

Because it is so important to protect your little guy from any windpipe or tracheal damage, this is probably the most important feature of the right gear.

You want a harness that distributes any pressure from pulling over the chest and shoulders rather than adding pressure to the delicate neck area.


Breathable Fabric

Because these dogs are prone to overheating, you don’t want to walk your pup in gear that will trap body heat and make the problem even worse.

Likewise, while more coverage distributes weight more evenly, it can also trap more heat. It is important to balance these two qualities.

The exception to this rule is if you are looking for a harness for cool weather since these small dogs can catch a chill quickly.

The fact is that if you live in an area with hot and cold seasons, you may need to invest in a different harness so that you have year-round options.


Front Range

The best French Bulldog no pull harness designs have a clip in the front so that you can attach the leash.

When your pup tries to pull this will gently transfer the forward momentum to the side without adding pressure to the chest or neck.

Here’s what to avoid

  • Squeezing style training harnesses. This breed is already prone to have trouble breathing so additional restriction on their chest is just not safe.
  • Face harnesses. Marketed as training gear, the type of harness that fits on a dog’s face like a halter on a horse is simply a terrible idea for these flat faced dogs.
  • Bulky decorative styles. While lots of toy breeds are great to dress up, particular care needs to be taken with French Bulldogs since they are prone to overheating, especially during exercise such as a walk. Unless you are walking your pup in cold weather, go with a lighter weight choice for an everyday walking harness.

Best Harness for French Bulldog

Dog Harness

Name

Rating

Price

Rogz Utility Reflective H-Harness

$

Ruffwear - Front Range

$$$

Puppia Soft Dog Harness

$

Comfort Fit Padded Harness

$

Gooby Choke Free Comfort X Soft

$$

Best Basic Dog Harness for French Bulldogs

Rogz Utility Reflective H-Harness

Size

Chest Measurements

Small

12-20”

Medium

12-20”

Sometimes less is more.

There are plenty of specialty harnesses on the market these days, and our review does include some great deluxe models. However, it is worth considering the value of a basic design, particularly for this breed.

Heat exhaustion is a serious concern for these brachycephalic canines. This harness offers all the control you could want, without adding layers of fabric or padding that can trap heat on your daily walk.

If your furry friend tends to get panty after even a short walk, this lightweight design may be the best choice for you.

The nylon webbing is 5/8” wide and it has reflective stitching for extra visibility for your petite pooch on evening walks. The seams are oriented to the outside so the parts that touch your dog are smooth and comfortable.

This selection is available in 10 bright colors and matching leashes are available for a separate purchase. Fashion forward canines have lots of options.  

Since this harness does not have any padding, there is a chance of chaffing. For those looking for a harness for more extended wear, read on.

PROS
  • Lightweight design without additional fabric or padding to trap heat
  • Fully adjustable for the perfect fit
  • Low profile front to keep from putting pressure on the windpipe
  • Reflective stitching for low-light visibility
  • Excellent price point for quality gear
  • Durable no frills design will last for years to come
  • 10 vibrant colors for style conscious pooches
CONS
  • Takes a little getting used to for getting on and off (requires stepping through with one paw)
  • Lacks a front range clip—not a good choice to fix strong pulling

Best No-Pull Frenchie Bulldog Harness

Ruffwear - Front Range

Size

Chest Measurements*

XXS

13-17”

XS

17-22”

S

22-27”

*(at the widest part of the chest)

Is your Frenchie a strong puller?

Then this is an excellent choice. It features a front leash attachment point that will gently transfer the forward momentum of your dog to the side, taking the force out of their pull without squeezing or restricting their breathing.

Pulling dogs are also most likely to experience chaffing that sometimes happens with more basic models.

The padding on this harness is in just the right spots—where rubbing contact is highest, without excessive padding that will cause your dog to overheat.

Plus, the whole thing is lined with a breathable mesh fabric to keep it cool during extended wear.

This gear is easy to get on and off too. You just slip it over your dog’s head and then clip the two side buckles.

It comes in 8 colors so if you have more than one pooch in your pack, you can make sure everyone has their own look.

(Matching leashes are also available for an additional purchase.)

PROS
  • Front attachment point to safely take the force out of pulling
  • Padding to minimize risk of chaffing, without causing overheating
  • 4 points of adjustment for the perfect fit
  • Small built in pocket for ID tags
  • Quality construction with extra stitching and high-end all-weather fabrics
  • Reflective trim for high visibility
CONS
  • Pricey—this is a top of the line model with plenty of bells and whistles

Best Inexpensive French Bulldog Harness

Puppia Soft Dog Harness

Size

Neck

Chest

XS

7.5”

9-13”

S

9.8”

12-18”

M

12.5”

14-21”

L

14”

19-29”

No need to break the bank.

You can shop on a budget and still find a great look and feel for your perky pup. This stylish design is available in 12 colors (including camo for the tough guys out there!).

It is made from a lightweight, machine washable, polyester mesh.

It is so soft to the touch that this makes an excellent choice if you have had trouble getting your sensitive French Bulldog to adjust to a harness.

The sizing on this harness is by neck and chest, although the neck is not adjustable. If your dog is in between two chest sizes, go for the larger neck opening to make sure she will have plenty of room in this tender area.

If you have a puller on your hands, this may not be the best choice for you.

Although it will evenly distribute the weight if your dog pulls on the end of the leash, it isn’t designed for that kind of heavy duty wear and tear.

PROS
  • Budget friendly pricing
  • Extremely lightweight design
  • Machine washable
  • 12 vivid colorways to choose from
  • Easy to get on and off—slip over the head and clip the snap buckle
  • You can buy matching leashes for a separate purchase
CONS
  • Neck opening is not adjustable so be careful to measure first
  • Rear leash attachment point only

Best Cold Weather Harness for French Bulldogs

Comfort Fit Padded Harness

Size

Neck (at the base)

Chest (widest part)

XXS

7-10”

10-13”

XS

10-13”

13-16”

S

13-16”

16-19”

M

15-18”

18-21”

What about when it’s cold outside?

The thing about small breeds like the French Bulldog is that they can also struggle with losing body heat rapidly due to their small size.

While a lightweight harness is the right choice for warm spring and summer weather, you may want to consider a bulkier choice for colder months.

This is a unique design with several advantages. It is fully padded with quality materials that provide an extremely comfortable and snug fit.

This is not only an escape proof harness for French Bulldogs, it also has no straps that could cause chaffing.

If you have a strong puller to deal with, this vest style harness will evenly distribute the weight without any pinching or restriction on your pup’s breathing.

Over time it becomes form fitted to your dog, acting like a custom-made parka that completely covers her core.

6 colorful choices mean you can get one for each of the dogs in your home without sacrificing style. It’s a sharp look for the picky pooch.

PROS
  • Quality construction with easy to wipe clean exterior fabric
  • Six bright colors to choose from
  • Plenty of insulation to protect her core temperature from the cold
  • Form fitted comfort and escape proof control
  • Evenly distributes pressure when your dog pulls on the leash
  • Low neckline to keep tender necks safe
CONS
  • Requires a step through with both paws to get on
  • A bit too warm for summer use

Best Choke Free Harness for Frenchies

Gooby Choke Free Comfort X Soft

Size

Neck (at the base)

Chest (widest part)

S

10”

9-13”

M

12”

11-16”

L

14”

14-19”

XL

16”

17-26”

Creature comforts!

Although all of the gear we have featured in this guide is designed to keep pressure off the windpipe, the V-neck style and extra low front of this selection is particularly helpful for Frenchies with sensitive necks.

Just to be clear, if you have a rough-and-tumble active pup on your hands that is prone to pulling on the leash when walked, then this probably isn’t the right choice for you. It is not sturdy enough for that kind of rough wear.

However, if you have a gentle Frenchie that needs something very lightweight and breathable for wear in warm weather, this is an excellent choice.

Another reason to give this model a try would be for those dogs that are having trouble adjusting from a collar to a harness.

This thing is just so dang comfortable and soft—it’s the perfect product to get sensitive dogs accustomed to wearing something on their body.

PROS
  • Very reasonable price
  • Soft and lightweight fabric design
  • Low front neckline to keep pressure off the neck
  • Machine washable to stay clean and bright
  • 6 bright colors, perfect for multiple dog households
  • Easy to get on and off
CONS
  • Not a heavy-duty option—this will eventually wear out
  • Only the chest strap is adjustable
  • Back leash attachment only

Conclusion

We hope this guide has helped you find a safe harness for your French Bulldog. You’re making the right choice to use this simple piece of gear rather than a collar with your pocket-sized pet.

Not only will he look dapper, he will be protected from the damage to his neck that can come from using normal collars.

Do you have a Frenchie story that you would like to share with our readers? Please feel free to tell us about it in the comments section below!

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Leave a Reply:

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons