Has a bulldog stolen your heart?
Bulldogs are a contradiction on four legs: They look tough but are actually soft, loving and loyal characters.
They may have the (adorable) face of a bulldozer, but inside they are all marshmallow… just some examples of why we why love them so much.
But as a breed the bulldog has several anatomical issues, which make wearing a collar positively dangerous.
Instead, to avoid problems choose the best harness for bulldogs for their long term good health.
Quick look: Top 5 Best Harnesses For Bulldogs in 2018
Bulldog Breathing Problems
Our dearly beloved bulldogs suffer from what technically known as brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS for short).
This is a result of selective breeding because of a preference for a certain flat-faced look.
Over the generations the bulldog’s face has got flatter and flatter.
Unfortunately, whilst the bone case of the nose has shrunk, the soft tissue structures inside haven’t.
Thus the Bulldog has an oversized tongue and a too long soft palate that are crammed into too small a space.
In addition, they have smaller narrow nostrils that make it difficult to breathe through the nose.
And last, but most crucially important from a discussion about collars vs harnesses, is they have a ‘hypoplastic’ windpipe (trachea).
This simply means they have an unusually narrow windpipe.
Anyone who has ever struggled with a six-inch diameter drain that has become blocked down to a three-inch diameter will understand the implications this has for free flow.
The upshot is that a bulldog struggles to breathe, even at rest, and is prone to heavy panting.
Now put a collar round his neck, and when he pulls his windpipe is further compressed.
Not a good idea.
Much better is a harness, which spreads the force over his entire chest and shoulders, without putting any pressure on the windpipe.
The best choice for every bulldog owner is to use a harness.
Of course there are additional problems such as the wide chest and strong shoulders of a bulldog, which can make it quite a challenge to find the best harness for a bulldog, which is why we’re here to help.
Is there anything cuter than a bulldog?
Yes! A bulldog puppy.
All dogs need to start somewhere and this includes the bulldog puppy.
This BINGPET harness is great as a starter harness for a bulldog.
The product is lightweight, so it won’t weigh your would-be-bruiser down.
The chest plate is softly padded so it’s gentle on their tender skin, and the mesh is breathable for added comfort.
The design is super simple, so it’s easy to work out how to put it onto a wriggly pup.
Their front legs go either side of the padded breast plate and the straps fasten over their back with a sturdy, but lightweight plastic buckle.
Then you have two metal D-rings fitting through which to fasten the leash.
The harness itself is pleasantly unassuming and comes in a choice of colors: pink, orange, silver-gray, and black.
It also incorporates reflective material for extra visibility on when walking on a dark winter’s night.
For a bulldog puppy this harness is pawfect.
At the other end of the age range scale is this Big Dog no-pull harness.
This is a practical and comfortable solution to restraining dogs in a way that doesn’t press on their windpipe.
As well as being of sturdy construction and strong enough for adult dogs, it also has an addition handy handle on the back of the harness.
This makes it useful if you have either an elderly dog (and need to support them in a standing position from time to time) or a dog that you literally need to hang onto in certain situations.
The harness consists of a sturdy girth and neck strap, made from strong nylon webbing.
Over the dog’s back is a saddle-shaped padded area, which is where the harness buckles and the handle is mounted.
The webbing is black on all models, but the saddle area comes in red, purple, blue, or black.
A slight puzzle is that this is advertised as a no-pull harness.
However, other than the dog’s good will at wearing such a stylish piece of kit, there seems to be no mechanism to stop the dog pulling.
Indeed, the D-ring for the leash attachment is mounted on the back saddle, in the traditional place, rather than on the front brisket which would pull the dog around if he surged forward.
This point aside, for some dogs it does indeed appear to have near miraculous properties at stopping the dog from pulling.
This harness has many satisfied users who love that it’s comfortable and stylish for their pet and gives them a good degree of control on a walk.
We suggest measuring your dog carefully around the girth and neck prior to ordering.
Anecdotally this harness can come up a little small, so compare your dog’s measurements with the products ahead of ordering to ensure the right fit.
We like this harness as it ticks so many of the right boxes.
The design cleverly incorporates padding and minimizes the use of webbing against fur.
Should the dog pull the force is evenly distributed over the chest, for a truly no choke restraint.
The product has two D-rings, one over the back area and the other attached to the brisket plate.
With a leash clipped to the brisket plate, should the dog pull their own momentum pulls them around to bring them up short.
Pretty quickly the dog learns that pulling only spins them around and so they give up on surging ahead.
Simple but effective.
This RabbitGo products ranks right up there as a best dog harness for bulldogs because it’s well made, is truly no-pull and has added features such as a handle on the back and reflective strips for better nighttime visibility.
It certainly gets approval from a pet parent with tank-like dog that has a history of dragging her down steep slopes in hot pursuit of squirrels.
The harness gave her back control.
Whilst your bulldog may not be squirrel-chaser, the dog’s low center of gravity and those awesome chest muscles make for a dog that has a lot of purchase power to pull.
Rest assured, in this harness you take back control and the dog is comfortable into the bargain.
If you prefer a harness to look more like a traditional leather harness then consider this Dogs Kingdom product.
There’s something about a bulldog in leather that just looks so right.
However, the strength of modern materials with their increased comfort and washability has meant a decline in the number of leather harnesses on the market.
We looked at a few but settled for this leather harness as it not only looks good, but is made from super soft leather so it’s kind to your dog’s skin.
It also comes in a pleasing color range which includes traditional tan leather, butch black, baby pink, and eye-catching red.
The flexibility and suppleness of the leather comes from it being high quality, rather than thin, which is always reassuring.
This means it’s not going to snap or break if you have a strong puller.
In addition the metal findings are good quality nickel plated hardware, including a substantial D-ring.
With regards to fit, the harness has five points of adjustment, which are traditional buckles rather than snap clasps.
In addition each harness comes with a coordinating leash, which is part chain with a matching leather hand strap.
This is a relatively new product on the market so reviews are thin on the ground.
However, the early signs are good with the harness given the green light as strong and capable enough to hold a Pitbull without problems.
What are your top priorities for a harness?
If they are quality, durability, and functionality that can stand up to the strongest of dogs, then you need to consider a Julius K9 harness.
This product isn’t cheap, but in terms of value for money it’s hard to beat.
The Julius K9 was developed using the technology and know-how that goes into rescue dog hardware.
Working dogs demand a lot from their equipment, which needs to be comfortable and 100% reliable.
It is easy to put and take off.
Simply slide over the dog’s head and then buckle the girth strap.
The breast-strap sits low on the brisket, with no pressure on the neck, making it ideal for a bulldog.
The girth strap is adjustable, meaning it’s able to fit a bulldog’s barrel chest with ease.
They come in a range of sizes, and careful premeasuring of your dog is advised before purchasing, so you select the best fit.
As well as quality and comfort, the Julius has a number of unique points that raise it above other harness.
For example, there is a strong handle on the back of the harness.
This will take all off the dog’s weight, should you need to haul them out of a sticky situation by lifting them up.
Indeed, the handle shows the working-dog heritage of the harness, which is used to lift rescue dogs out of holes or cavities in collapsed buildings.
The harness comes with removable signage on the body, which you can remove and replace with a tab showing a brief message (such as “Pats please”) or the dog’s name.
Last, but not least, it comes in a pleasing array of colors.
The good news is that lots of those pet parents own bulldogs, and find this is the best fitting harness they’ve found to date.
Indeed, several remark it has an effect, almost like a thundershirt, which means the dog is happy to wear it when they hated other harnesses.
The Best Bulldog Harnesses
Bulldogs are a special case when it comes to harnesses.
That adorable flat face means they pant a lot, and so pulling on a collar round their throat is not a good idea.
A harness is by far the best solution to keeping your best buddy comfortable on the move.
When selecting a harness keep your dog’s strength in mind.
A harness with narrow straps is going to cut in and quickly become uncomfortable.
So look for a well-fitting harness that spreads the force evenly over the entire dog’s chest.
The use of saddle-shaped padding can help with this, as can a design that keeps the straps away from areas of high movement such as the armpits.
And finally, fit is important.
If you buy the best harness in the world but it’s the wrong size, your dog will get sore.
So invest a few minutes in measuring your pup prior to ordering, to ensure the correct size.
Now it’s over to you! Which harness will you choose?
Which harness will you choose?
Dr Sarah Robinson attended veterinary school at Oklahoma State University receiving a D.V.M. in 2008. Sarah’s longtime interest is to help people to better communicate with their pet companions, and in doing so, to help them to strengthen their relationships with their dogs and cats. Sarah has published numerous articles on canine feeding in pet related magazines, veterinary journals and leading natural health web sites.