Best Harness for Pugs | Essential Safety Gear
The Pug is best known for their winning personality and stunning good looks. (Also, loud snoring!)
Champions of class, citizens of snooze, and affection aficionados, the Pug is a popular toy breed dog that has won his way into millions of households. With low exercise needs and a lap-dog nature, the Pug makes an excellent companion for both urban environments and apartment life.
However, the Pug also has a few well-known health problems, thanks to the same snub-nosed face that gives him such great good looks.
This article will go over some valuable information for Pug owners, including why a harness is the best choice for this cutie-pie, rather than a collar. Then we will review the best harnesses for Pugs with top picks for budget, style and those pesky pullers.
Brachycephaly: Breathing Issues in Pugs
If you have a Pug, chances are you have already heard of Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome (BAOS). This condition is a potentially life-threatening result of having the short, flat face that Brachycephalic breeds such as Pugs, French Bulldogs, and Boxers all share.
Although also responsible for the adorable good looks of this breed, the flat face that has been selectively bred into Brachycephalic breeds has also resulted in structural changes to the skull that include a smaller passageway for breathing in the nose, muzzle and throat.
Sadly, the soft tissues such as the tongue, larynx, and soft palate have not shrunk accordingly through the generations. This results in a situation where the soft tissue barely fits in the space allowed by the skull. In some cases, surgery is required for these dogs to breath even at a normal rate.
In all Brachycephalic breeds, including Pugs, the inflammation of the soft tissues from over exertion or exposure to heat can swell and fill the airways. If allowed to go on unchecked, this can quickly result in a life-threatening situation where the poor pup can’t breathe at all.
Symptoms of a Potential Airway Obstruction in Pugs
It is critical that Pug owners know to be very careful when exercising their dogs with special awareness given to knowing the symptoms of a potential airway obstruction as well as the action to take if an episode occurs.
Symptoms to pay very close attention to include:
- Shortness of breath or excessive panting with even light exercise.
- Open mouth breathing without any activity.
- Snoring or loud breathing.
- Coughing, sneezing or wheezing on a regular basis.
- Vomiting, particularly if associated with periods of activity.
- Problems eating or drinking.
If you notice any of these signs, start keeping close attention to these behaviors in a log. Schedule an appointment with your vet where you can share your observations to help your vet determine if the situation warrants a surgical fix.
If you notice any of the above symptoms that suddenly start to occur, particularly during exercise, immediately stop any activity and cool your Pug down until breathing goes back to normal.Trust your instincts. If you are unable to get your Pug’s breathing back to normal and things seem to be getting worse, keep as calm as you can (you don’t want to add anxiety to further escalate the problem) and take your little guy to the vet ASAP.
Treatment of Airway Obstructions in Pugs
The treatment options for BAOS include one or more of several surgical procedures designed to reduce the excess soft tissues that are restricting the airway. Examples include:
- Staphylectomy: parts of the soft palate are removed.
- Widening the stenotic nares: making the nostril passages wider.
- Laryngeal Saccule removal: excess soft tissue near the vocal chords is removed.
In some cases, Pugs can be born with a narial windpipe, or experience a partial or complete trachea collapse as a result of their genetics or an injury. These unfortunate conditions are rarely treatable.
Prevention: A Harness is the Right Choice for Pugs
Owners of Pugs should make sure they are doing all they can to support the healthy breathing function of this loveable breed. Here are the recommended tips that all Pug owners should be aware of:
Maintain a healthy weight.
Obesity can severely hamper your Pug’s ability to breath. It is dangerous to allow this breed to become overweight as it can further restrict breathing passageways, as well as making them more exercise intolerant.
Monitor closely during exercise.
It does not take much for some Pugs to start having strained breathing even with light exercise. Keep a close eye on them and transition to a more relaxing activity at the first sign that your Pug is working too hard to breath. Shorter but more frequent sessions of aerobic activity are better than longer sessions, particularly in warm or humid conditions.
Avoid activity during hot and humid conditions.
If the weather outside is hot and/or humid, it would be better to take a short potty break then a long walk. Luckily, you can give your pint-sized Pug a good work out indoors where you have the benefit of air conditioning. Try a game of fetch or “Find it!” in order to make use of cooler inside spaces.
Identify and avoid allergen triggers.
Work with your veterinarian if you suspect that your Pug may have allergies. In some cases, switching to a new special dog food may do the trick, in other cases, avoiding spending time outdoors during certain pollen seasons may be necessary.
Always use a harness for Pugs, never a collar!
Finally, you should definitely use a harness for any of the Brachycephalic breeds, including Pugs!
When you walk your dog with a traditional collar and leash, you are taking a risk that they might run to the end of the leash and put stress on the delicate areas of the neck. Even well-trained dogs can be excited by a stray cat or squirrel and hurt themselves in an instant.Since the airways of this breed are potentially already compromised, this can spell disaster. Many vets insist that these dogs should be walked on a harness, not a collar, as a result.
Training Tips: How to Get Your Pug to Love His Harness!
Teaching your Pug to transition from a collar to a harness is very easy work in most cases. Most canines are walk ready in a few ten-minute sessions getting them used to this gear. Here are some fast tips to make the job a piece of cake:
Keep a Positive Attitude.
If you find yourself getting frustrated, then just come back to working with the harness later. Canines are very sensitive to the emotions of their people, and you want to make sure you are not accidentally associating the harness with your own anxiety about getting it fitted or learning to put it on and take it off.
Introduce the Harness with Praise and Reward.
Until your Pug has the hang of wearing the harness, make a special effort to lavish her with praise, pets, and a few treats here and there whenever the harness is part of the equation.
Eventually, the harness will become associated with the joy of a walk and you won’t have to make any more special efforts in the way of praise or rewards.
Fitting Your Pug Harness.
The perfect fit for a harness is tight enough to prevent escape, but loose enough so that it will not in any way restrict the neck or chest area during exercise. If you can fit two fingers along the entire harness and your canine companion’s body, then you have found the right fit.
Practice Makes Perfect.
Once you have the right fit, give your Pug a chance to get used to walking on the leash with the harness in the familiar environment of your home. Make sure to praise and reward for great walking as you go.
You will know when she is ready for an outdoor walk because she will no longer be fussing over the harness and instead will be facing forward and ready for the next adventure.
Pug Harness | Top Qualities to Look For
Small Dog Fitting
Small and large dogs do not just have a different weight, their body proportions are slightly different. Look for a harness that is specially designed for small dogs where possible.
Front Leash Clip
The reason a front clip option (also called Front Range) is handy is that it can be a safe way to help make it harder for your Pug to pull obnoxiously on the leash, without putting any additional pressure on the chest or neck. It is not a requirement, but if you know you have a puller on your hands, it is a great idea.
Web strap harnesses, or breathable mesh fabrics, are the best materials to choose from for most months. However, you can go a little more heavyweight for added thermal protection in the cold months.
Critical for the flat faced breeds, making sure that the harness has a low neckline in front is an important safety consideration.
BEWARE of the following
Training harnesses that employ a chest squeeze
Some training harnesses are designed to apply a corrective pinch when your dog pulls, usually around the front chest. While this can be an excellent tool for breeds such as Labradors, it is a bad idea for any of the flat-faced dog breeds.
Halter style, or face harnesses
Another training tool that we recommend you avoid for Pugs are the face style harnesses. Actually, these harnesses should only be used by professional dog trainers because they carry a strong risk of whiplash…and they should NEVER be used with the short muzzle breeds such as Pugs.
Decorative harnesses that employ excess fabric
While it might be tempting to highlight your Pug’s great looks with a cute harness with all the bells and whistles, be wary of adding too much fabric that can trap heat and potentially cause your pup to overheat on an everyday walk.
Best Harness for Pugs: A Review
Rogz Utility Reflective H-Harness
Ruffwear - Front Range
Puppia Soft Dog Harness
Comfort Fit Padded Harness
Gooby Choke Free Comfort X Soft
The Best Basic Dog Harness for Pugs
Rogz Utility Reflective H-Harness
Back to basics.
If you have not tried a dog harness before, this simple design is a great starter for you and your Pug. There is a reason this tried and true design is so popular: It is economical, durable, easy to use, fully adjustable and washable.
You can get a perfect fit with this harness since there are four adjustment points. Once perfectly adjusted, you only have to use the quick clip to get the harness off and on, making it very easy for even those new to using a dog harness.
This model includes reflective stitching for an added layer of safety in low-light conditions. Another important safety feature is the low front neckline, perfect for Brachycephalic breeds.
In addition, the lack of additional padding and fabric on this design will make sure it does not trap any excess heat, a major concern for Pugs that are prone to breathing issues.
The Rogz harness comes in 10 bright color options which is great for multiple dog households since every Pug can have their own signature look. Matching leashes are also available for the fashion forward Fido.
Best No-Pull Pug Harness
Ruffwear - Front Range
Pulling Pug? Go for a front range dog harness.
When it comes to training harnesses designed to help your dog learn to walk properly on a leash without pulling, most styles are not appropriate for Pugs. Face (halter style) and pinching (martingale) styles are both out considering they can exacerbate breathing problems for this already troubled breed.
Instead, consider this Ruffwear harness which works using a front attachment point. When your pup tries to pull forward, the front clip translates the force to the side, thwarting your pooch’s attempt to pull forward. Over time, your Pug will learn that pulling just doesn’t work to get her what she wants, and she will give up.
This harness also has more padding than our basic pick, but without adding a lot of bulk. This will prevent chaffing which is definitely a concern with Pugs who pull. If you have an active companion, this is also a great choice for extended wear thanks to the thoughtfully placed padding and breathable mesh lining.
It comes in 8 bright colors so that you can fit your pet’s special look. It has four adjustment points for the perfect fit, and quick clip buckles for getting it on and off with just a few clicks.
Best Pug Harness for your Pug | On a Budget
Puppia Soft Dog Harness
Neck 7.5", Chest 9-13"
Neck 9.8", Chest 12-18"
Neck 12.5", Chest 14-21"
Neck 14", Chest 19-29"
Great Bang for the Buck.
Whether you are shopping for an extra dog harness for your Pug, or are just looking for an economical choice, this is a stylish option that won’t break the bank.
If you want something durable that is going to last for years to come, this probably is not the right choice for you. However, this lightweight mesh design comes in 12 vibrant colors and really packs a punch when it comes to style.
The mesh construction will help to evenly distribute the weight from any pulling over the body of your Pug. In addition, the low front line will safely protect his neck, windpipe and trachea. It is a good choice if you are looking for a nice lightweight harness for a Pug with breathing problems.
Although it comes in several sizes, you will notice they are all on the small side. This is gear that is specially designed for the bodies of small and toy breeds which ensures a great fit for any sized Pug.
Best Winter Harness for Pugs
Comfort Fit Padded Harness
Neck 7-10”, Chest 10-13”
Neck 10-13”, Chest 13-16”
Neck 13-16”, Chest 16-19”
Neck 15-18”, Chest 18-21”
When the cold weather of Fall and Winter descend, small dogs can use a little extra help maintaining their body temperature on chilly days. Most harnesses can be place over a doggy sweater or jacket, but that can ruin the look. This dog harness has cold weather readiness build right in.
The entire harness is a single piece of comfort padding that eventually becomes completely form fitted to your Pug, like a little shell made just for her! It comes in 6 awesome colors that have plenty of pop, perfect if you have more than one dog in your household.
It will work well for pullers because it will evenly distribute any weight from pulling, with a low front neckline to prevent any pressure on the neck or chest. There are no straps with this model, so it won’t cause any chaffing.
This design is just perfect for small and toy breeds. Although it is not a great choice for the warm months (it would trap too much heat), it is the right choice if you are looking for a snazzy looking harness for colder climates.
Best Harness for Pugs with Sensitive Necks
Gooby Choke Free Comfort X Soft
Neck 10”, Chest 9-13”
Neck 12”, Chest 11-16”
Neck 14”, Chest 14-19”
Neck 16”, Chest 17-26”
Finally, if your Pug has a sensitive neck due to injury or a recent surgery, this Comfort Fit Dog Harness by Gooby is an excellent choice. It features a V-neck design that keeps the front piece very low so that it is extra safe.
The fabric of this harness is both lightweight and breathable. Since it has soft fabric on all of the contact points, it won’t chaff. Plus, the open back design makes sure to prevent the harness from trapping any extra heat when worn during periods of heavy activity.
This harness is so comfortable that it would also be a great choice for Pugs that are new to harnesses and may have some trouble adjusting to the new feel. The extremely lightweight fabric will feel so soft and comfortable that it will be almost like wearing nothing at all.
This harness won’t do for very active Pugs that enjoy the outdoors, and it isn’t designed to last forever. However, it is easy to wash and cheap to replace, which will work for some folks.
Conclusion: Review of the Best Harnesses for Pugs
We hope this article has given you helpful information about why a harness is the best choice in gear for Pugs while also helping you navigate all the choices on the market to find the one that works best for your budget, style considerations, and the special needs of your Pug.
If you want to share a story about your favorite Pug, please feel free to leave us your story in the comments section below!
If you think this article would be helpful for other Pug lovers, please feel free to pass this along your social media channels to help get people informed about how a harness is a safer choice for this adorable but sometimes delicate breed.