As a trainer, I can’t help but smile when I see a Frenchie walk into one of my classes. Funny, smart, rambunctious, and always ready to socialize, I understand why they have quickly become one of the most popular breeds in the United States. These small, sturdy dogs make wonderful companions, but when it comes to walking them, choosing the right harness is crucial!
The best harness for a French Bulldog should combine comfort, fit, and safety, all while allowing for unrestricted shoulder movement and not imposing pressure on the trachea. In this article, I’ll guide you through the process of how I select and fit a harness for my Frenchie clients, and I’ll introduce you to the harnesses I personally recommend.
Why a Well-Fit Harness is Essential for French Bulldogs
Before I get into the specific harnesses, I want to discuss why I think they’re necessary for French Bulldogs. Unlike traditional collars, the harnesses listed here distribute the pressure across a dog’s chest instead of concentrating it on their neck. This is particularly important for brachycephalic breeds like a French Bulldog, which have shorter snouts and are more prone to respiratory issues.
I recommend avoiding flat collars, martingale collars, pinch collars, and head halters with your Frenchie. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a dog slip out of a flat collar – it’s terrifying and the LAST thing you want to happen while walking your dog! Head halters tend not to stay on at all, and martingales or pinch collars can apply pressure on the neck that really needs to be avoided for health concerns.
Next up – escape issues! Unfortunately, escaping out of training equipment is an especially common issue with French Bulldogs due to their unique body shape. The right harness that has been fitted properly should help reduce your worries and ensure a sense of safety once your pup is strapped in. A well-fit harness provides better control during walks and isn’t as easy to slip out of, even for a Frenchie.
Another issue you want to keep a close eye on is chafing and sores. A harness that’s too tight or incorrectly adjusted can rub against your dog’s skin. This is an especially prominent issue in French Bulldogs given their sensitive skin. Pro tip! Use a little baby powder or cornstarch to help reduce the chaffing that occurs if you have a Frenchie with susceptible skin.
I’ve talked about how we don’t want to use a harness that applies pressure to your French Bulldog’s trachea, but I also want to address restricted movement. A poorly fitted harness may limit your dog’s range of motion, which can cause discomfort and impact their gait in the long run. It’s important to watch the shoulder as your dog moves and make sure the harness is not sliding down and interfering with the shoulder joint.
How to Properly Fit a Harness for French Bulldogs
It may take you several attempts to get comfortable adjusting the harness, developing an eye for how the harness should fit, and catching any of the concerns I have mentioned above. Be easy on yourself! The more time you can dedicate to learning about properly fit equipment, the more your dog will thank you.
Below, I’ve outlined how to help ensure you get the right fit once you choose your new harness…
- Measure Your Dog: Use a soft measuring tape to measure your French Bulldog’s girth, which is the widest part of their chest, just behind their front legs. Ensure the tape is snug but not so tight it’s digging into their skin. All the harnesses I’ve included below have an adjustable neck piece, but it’s wise to also measure the base of their neck to ensure it will size up or down enough to fit your Frenchy.
- Choose the Right Size: Refer to the sizing chart provided by the harness manufacturer, don’t assume every harness fits the same! Each brand may have different sizing guidelines, so it’s crucial to follow THEIR recommendations. If your dog falls between sizes, opt for the larger one since it can easily be sized down.
- Adjust Straps: Once you have the harness on your French Bulldog, adjust the straps to ensure a snug fit. You should be able to fit two fingers between the harness and your dog’s body without it being too loose or too tight. If your dog is stopping to scratch at their harness frequently (every 2 minutes or so), it might be a bit too tight. If it’s sliding to one side or the other, it’s likely too loose. Make sure the neck is not digging in or causing your dog to cough if they lean forward – this can indicate pressure on the trachea.
- Check Shoulder Movement: Again, one of the most critical aspects of a good harness is that it allows unrestricted shoulder movement. Even if you don’t pick a harness I’ve chosen below, I do NOT recommend harnesses that go straight across the shoulders, these are too restrictive and can cause gait issues over time as your Frenchie tries to compensate.
- Secure the Buckles: Ensure that all buckles and clasps are securely fastened, so your French Bulldog cannot wriggle out of the harness. Sometimes the snaps can look secured but not be fully in place, make sure you push them in until you hear a click!
- Comfort Check: Finally, observe your dog’s behavior while they’re wearing the harness. If they seem uncomfortable, fidgety or resist walking, recheck the fit and make necessary adjustments. Keep an eye out for scratching at the harness AFTER the initial first week. It may take a bit of time for them to become accustomed to their new harness, but if it continues then consider switching to a different style.
Okay, now that I’ve gone over the importance of fit, let’s get into the harnesses I recommend to French Bulldog owners!
1 – Puppia RiteFit Harness with Adjustable Neck
- Price: $15.95 – $29.99 (varies by size and color)
- Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars
The Puppia RiteFit Harness with Adjustable Neck is a fan favorite for French Bulldog owners. It’s made from a soft and comfortable material that won’t chafe or irritate your pup’s skin. The harness features an adjustable neck AND chest belt for the perfect fit. It also has a D-ring for leash attachment on the back. I really like this harness for its secure fit and that it allows for unrestricted movement.
Check it out here.
2 – Rabbitgoo Dog Harness No-Pull Pet Harness
- Price: $24.98 – $26.98 (varies by size and color)
- Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
The Rabbitgoo Dog Harness has a no-pull design, making it an excellent choice if your French Bulldog tends to pull on the leash. It distributes pressure evenly across the chest, reducing the risk of choking and neck injuries. I really like how durable this harness is and how it helps maintain control during walks.
- Price: $39.95 – $49.95 (varies by size and color)
- Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars
The Ruffwear Front Range All-Day Adventure Harness features two leash attachment points, one on the back for casual walks and one on the chest for better control. I love this harness’s quality, and adjustability, and how it provides a secure fit without compromising a dog’s mobility. It’s also equipped with reflective trim for improved visibility, ensuring your French Bulldog’s safety during evening walks.
Check if it is available here.
4 – AUROTH Tactical Dog Harness
- Price: $24.99 – $26.99 (varies by size and color)
- Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars
The AUROTH Tactical Dog Harness sticks out for its tactical design, hardy materials, and sleek style. This harness has the safest and sturdiest construction out of them all, eliminating any worries of your Frenchie escaping. It also has a front attachment point for no-pull training and a back attachment for casual walks along with an emergency handle. Hands down this is the most durable harness on this list!
Check it out here.
- Price: $35.99 – $40.99 (varies by size and color)
- Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars
The ICEFANG Tactical Dog Harness is another incredibly sturdy harness that I love for my French bulldog clients who put safety first. I love the metal clips and how the wide straps are sewn on with extra security in mind, along with the emergency handle! One thing I have seen pop up with certain dogs is the chest plate covering the shoulder joint, but this has occurred more often in larger dogs than Frenchie’s. This tactical design allows a snug fit and total control with a front clip. It does require a bit more measuring, but well worth the time for the quality and safety the ICEFANG brings to the table!
The harnesses I’ve selected stand out for their comfort, fit, and safety combination. However, every dog is unique, so it’s essential to consider your French Bulldog’s specific needs and preferences when making your final choice. While it may take some time and a bit of a learning curve, your Frenchie will thank you for taking such care in selecting the perfect harness!
This harness can be purchased here.