English bulldogs are not only an adorable breed but also a strong one. When it comes to proper pet gear, it’s crucial that owners do the right research. Picking the wrong harness an English bulldog can mean more time with a trainer and more stress during training.
With its unique body shape, including oversized heads, short legs, and a barrel chest, an English bulldog can be a challenge to walk. Because of their strong desire to pull, finding the perfect harness is never easy.
Here, we go over how to choose a harness for your bulldog along with some of the best harnesses available on the market today. Keep in mind, that this guide is specifically for English bulldogs and not smaller dogs in the bulldog family like the French bulldog or Boston terrier.
- 1 Buyer’s Guide
- 2 Frequently Asked Questions
- 3 Our Favorite Harnesses for Bulldogs
- 4 Final Thoughts
There are a few different things you’ll want to take into consideration when purchasing an English bulldog harness. Because these little brutes are short and stout, you’ll need a harness that will hold onto them during their natural instinct to pull.
This is a perfect reason why harnesses can often be a better choice, as collars can put undue stress on the trachea of a dog that likes to pull hard. Since Bulldogs already have a hard time breathing consistently due to their genetics, adding more stress on their breathing abilities is not usually the best course of action.
Let’s look at some important factors to consider, including the differences between collars and harnesses, size, design, material and more.
Comparing Collars to Harnesses
Many bulldogs have very little neck and short faces in a condition known as brachycephalic. According to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, this term refers to breeds with shortened snouts that differentiate them from some breeds that simply have shorter snouts.
Brachycephalic animals such as bulldogs tend to pull against their collar, which can pose a threat to their overall wellbeing over time. Respiratory problems are common in bully breeds and may lead to complications such as weight gain and hip dysplasia.
Pulling can also strain the spine and neck when going for walks. If your bulldog pulls on its collar during walks, it may put pressure on the neck and throat which can lead to long-term damage of the trachea.
Using a harness as opposed to a collar can help to keep pressure off of your dog’s throat, especially for breeds with chronic respiratory issues such as bulldogs. There’s less risk of choking and strangulation as well.
Harnesses are also a good alternative to choke chains. A choke chain is a training collar that tightens as a dog strains against it to discourage such behavior. Choke chains can end up causing permanent damage to the trachea, however, especially in brachycephalic breeds.
Instead of placing all strain around the neck when a dog pulls, harnesses distribute weight evenly. You can even find models with forward or side attachments specifically designed to deal with dogs that pull.
What to Look for in a Harness
Many people have trouble picking out the perfect harness for their dog. There is an overwhelming number of choices available on the market, all suited toward different breeds and personalities.
When it comes to the best harnesses for bulldogs, there are a couple of essential features to keep an eye out for.
Size and Design
Bulldogs don’t have much of a neck, which can make it easy for them to slip out of both collars and harnesses during walks. You need to find gear that’s sized to offer a snug fit for your pooch.
Many harnesses come in small, medium, and large sizes, though there are some specifically designed with medium to large sized pets such as bulldogs in mind.
It’s best to look for an adjustable harness to ensure that you’re able to get a close, comfortable fit. If you have a puppy, an adjustable harness also grows alongside your dog so that you don’t have to keep replacing it every couple of months.
A tight fit also reduces the risk of accidental strangulation. It’s less likely to catch or snag, which can cause throat damage when a dog tries to free itself.
Material and Durability
Bulldogs are renowned for their powerful bodies, and many can easily break a flimsy or poorly made harness. You need a model made of a robust enough material to stand up to your bulldog’s pulling. Nylon, polyester, and leather are all popular choices.
The stitching of a harness should also be able to hold up to heavy wear and tear. You should look for a strong, high-quality thread and tight, even needlework.
While the harness itself should be made of robust, all-weather material, the interior and edges should be lined with something softer. This helps to prevent chafing and hair loss around the chest and legs. Cotton, fleece, and foam are all good choices for the lining.
If your dog wears its harness frequently or for long periods at a time, it’s essential that you make sure that the material it’s made of is breathable. This feature can help to prevent your dog from suffering from heatstroke, which affects several hundred pets across the U.S. each year.
Different harnesses offer a wide variety of options when it comes to where you want to attach your lead. Unlike a collar, which forces you to connect a leash from the neck, harnesses allow you to attach from above, from the front, or on the side.
Front or side attachments are a safe, simple solution for combating pulling when walking your bulldog. This type of connection point prevents forward motion, helping to redirect your dog whenever it strains without placing pressure on the neck and spinal cord. Eventually, your pup will learn not to pull at all.
While your bulldog may not care much about aesthetics, the chances are that you do. You can find harnesses that come in a variety of colors to suit your dog’s personality, or even those with studs, rhinestones, and other accents.
Many harnesses feature reflective accents both for looks and safety. Reflective strips make it easier for motorists to see both you and your pooch in low light conditions, reducing the risk of an accident or injury, making this a must-have feature for any English Bulldog harness.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I measure my bulldog for a harness?
A: Harness sizing depends on measurements of the neck and chest instead of weight. Before shopping, grab a tape measure and figure out the circumference of your dog’s neck. Then, measure around the chest at the broadest area.
If you find that your measurement is between two sizes, it’s best to opt for the larger one. A harness that’s too tight can cause overheating, breathing difficulties, and limit your bulldog’s range of motion. Try to look for an adjustable model so that you can tighten the harness to fit your dog’s body.
Q: Can I leave my bulldog’s harness on all day?
A: As long as it’s made of a comfortable, breathable material, it’s fine to leave a harness on an adult dog all day long. You only need to remove a harness if your dog is showing signs of discomfort, or if they’re chewing on it. Excessive chewing can ruin fastenings and stitching, making the harness more likely to break during walk time.
If your bulldog is still a puppy, you should limit how long it wears its harness. Any garment that covers the body can inhibit proper bone growth, leading to potential lifelong health complications.
Q: When can I start harness training?
A: Puppies can begin using harnesses at the same age that they can start to wear a collar. If you have an older dog, it’s never too late to make the switch from collar to harness, though it may take some time and some training to get your pup used to the idea.
Our Favorite Harnesses for Bulldogs
There are all sorts of different harnesses that are suitable for bulldogs, from no-pull models to specialty car harnesses. Here are our top five favorite picks for the best harness for bulldogs.
Bulldog Grade No Pull Dog Harness
This harness is designed specifically to fit a bulldog’s unique physique. It’s custom-made for small, medium, or large English, French, and American bulldogs.
The design is made to be durable, with a rugged yet lightweight X-shaped chest vest that doesn’t place strain against a bulldog’s thick neck. It also gives you more control over your bulldog as you walk, preventing excessive strain on your arm and shoulder.
Oxford cloth and breathable mesh keep your dog comfortable in any weather. The materials also allow for a full range of movement.
Four quick-release buckles allow you to easily slide the harness on and off even stubborn bulldogs. Reflective nylon straps are fully adjustable, allowing you to custom fit the vest to your bulldog’s body.
This harness features a fixed car seat belt safety strap, making it ideal for both walks and car rides. You can run the seat belt right through the harness to keep your dog safe, secure, and in place as you drive.
Things We Like:
- Designed for bulldogs by bulldog owners
- A unique X-shaped vest design gives you more control while keeping your dog comfortable
- Fully adjustable reflective straps allow you to fit the harness to your pup
- A seat belt strap is included in the design for safer car trips
Rabbitgoo No-Pull Pet Harness
This vest is ideal for bulldogs with a more stubborn personality. It’s designed to slip on over the head without a fuss, with fast-release buckles.
A metal leash ring on the chest of the vest helps to prevent pulling on walks. There’s also a ring on the back for pups who aren’t prone to pulling. A top handle allows you to gain control fast in emergencies.
The Rabbitgoo No-Pull Harness comes in sizes ranging from small to extra large. Two neck and two chest straps are also fully adjustable, allowing you to customize the harness to better fit your bulldog.
The Y shape of the harness reduces pressure around the neck while still fitting snugly to the chest. It’s made of durable Oxford nylon and padded with a soft cushion lining inside. Around the outside, breathable mesh encourages airflow and keeps your dog cool.
If you walk at night, bright reflective strips on both sides of the vest help to make you more visible to traffic and other pedestrians.
Things We Like:
- Slip-on design and fast-release buckles make it easy to take the harness on and off
- There’s a choice between a standard top leash ring or a no-pull front ring
- Four fully adjustable straps offer a custom fit
- A Y-shaped harness eases the pressure off a bulldog’s thick neck
- Soft interior cushioning and mesh lining help to keep your dog feeling comfortable
Juxzh Truelove Soft Front Dog Harness
This fashionable harness comes in more than ten bright colors and five different sizes. It’s made of scratch-resistant Oxford nylon with reflective nylon webbing for both visibility and breathability.
Inside, mesh lining and sponge padding in the chest and belly keep your dog comfortable while preventing chafing.
There are two leash attachment points, including an aluminum-alloy V-Ring on the back and stainless steel O-ring on the chest to help train dogs that pull.
A lightweight Duraflex buckle offers a large loading capacity, holding up against even the strongest bulldogs.
A sturdy handle allows you to gain control quickly in any situation, and also doubles as a seat belt attachment when riding in the car.
The harness’s ergonomic design makes it easy to slip on and off over your bulldog’s head. Click-and-release fasteners allow you to secure and remove the vest without a struggle.
Things We Like:
- A variety of fashionable colors to choose from
- Mesh lining and sponge padding keep your dog comfortable
- Made of robust Oxford nylon to hold up against daily wear and tear
- An ergonomic, slip-on design
- A handle that doubles as a seat belt attachment
Kurgo Dog Harness
This harness is designed to be versatile enough for everyday use, allowing you to keep your bulldog restrained both on walks and in the car.
The harness features five adjustable points to give you a completely custom fit. Weinerlock plastic quick-release buckles make it easy to take the vest on and off, even when your bulldog isn’t in the mood to cooperate.
A front D-ring leash attachment helps to prevent straining and correct pulling behavior during walks. You can also opt to use a back leash ring if your dog isn’t a puller.
The Kurgo harness includes a 10-inch lead that can be used as a dog seatbelt when traveling. Whether you’re heading to the park or taking a longer trip, you can keep your pup safely restrained in its seat.
This harness comes with a Kurgo lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects. If your harness breaks or falls apart, it may be covered under warranty, saving you money on replacement models.
Things We Like:
- Offers both a front and back leash attachment point
- Includes a 10-inch “doggie seatbelt” for car trips
- Fully adjustable and easy to take on and off
- Defects are covered by a lifetime warranty
Ruffwear Front Range Harness
This lightweight yet durable harness holds up to everyday use and is ideal for outdoor conditions ranging from snow to sunshine.
Four points of adjustment and eighteen leash attachment points give you complete control over walking time and allow you to train pullers not to strain against their lead. Reinforced webbing around the chest is also designed to stand up against pulling without causing discomfort.
There are foam strips across the chest and belly, providing padding for your pooch and keeping them comfortable when moving around.
The harness includes an easy-access ID pocket in its design so that you can safely store your bulldog’s tags and crucial medical information. If they break loose or run away, you’re more likely to hear from someone who’s found your pup wandering.
Brightly colored fabric with a reflective trim makes this harness easy to spot, day or night. This makes it safer for you and your dog to walk around cyclists and motorists without risking an accident.
Things We Like:
- Suitable for everyday use, with a light yet durable design
- Four points of adjustment and eighteen leash attachment points allow you to customize your walks
- Foam strips inside the vest provide comfort
- A built-in ID pocket gives you a place to store tags and other important information.
- Brightly colored fabric and reflective strips make the harness easy to see
Harnesses are safer for bulldogs than collars, and generally easy to use. If you’re looking for a safer, more comfortable walk for both you and your pooch, you may want to consider making the switch to a harness.
It isn’t always easy to find the right harness for your dog. It’s essential that you look at factors such as fit, durability, and design. You should look for a high-quality harness that’s made to match your dog’s personality, whether they tend to strain, boast a unique body shape, or are new to the world of leash training.
In our opinion, the best harness for English bulldogs is the Bulldog Grade No Pull Dog Harness. It’s designed specifically with bulldogs in mind, created to match their stocky physique and powerful muscles. It holds up to heavy wear and tear and helps to prevent pulling in the many bulldogs that strain against their leash.