French Bulldogs are undeniably popular, with their cute squashed-in faces and perky little personalities.
These dogs have the charm to spare and are not hesitant to use it to wrap their people right around their little paws!
However, there are some important health issues that French Bulldog owners need to consider when deciding what type of restraint system to use for walking and safety.
Should a collar be sufficient for a French Bulldog? Would a harness work better? Are there other systems that could work best for your Frenchie? Read on to find out!
Can French Bulldogs Wear Collars?
French Bulldogs can wear collars. Many Frenchie owners choose to use a collar with their dogs for more reasons than just to have something to clip the leash to.
But for deep-chested, brachycephalic (short muzzle) dog breeds like the French Bulldog, using a collar on its own can come with some safety concerns.
When in doubt, you may want to talk with your dog’s veterinarian about the best type of safety restraint to protect your dog’s sensitive tracheal area (throat and neck).
Hear the Debate Between Collars and Harnesses for Frenchies
This short, well-made YouTube video gives you a good overview of the difference between collars and harnesses for dogs and how to know which type of restraint system might be best for your French Bulldog.
One thing the French Bulldog owner points out in the video is that you may actually want to use both a collar and a harness! We will talk more about this option in the remainder of this article.
Pros and Cons of Collars for French Bulldogs
As French Boulevard points out, collars have some important pros and cons that can make them a better choice for some dog breeds than others.
In the same way, collars are actually multi-purpose accessories for dogs, since they give you a way to attach your dog’s I.D., registration, license, and/or rabies tags (as applicable for the laws in your area).
But collars can also have some notable drawbacks, especially for dogs with the type of anatomy the French Bulldog has.
So here is an overview of the major pros and cons of using a collar for walking and training your French Bulldog.
- More comfortable for wearing around the house and while sleeping.
- Easy to attach required tags for I.D. and licensing.
- Simple to put on and take off for grooming, bathing, and other reasons.
- Easy to attach the leash at walk time.
- Lots of different types of collars (width, material, et al) you can choose from.
- For dogs that pull, collars make it harder to control your dog on walks.
- Collars can put pressure on the tracheal area for French Bulldogs.
- Collars may let your escape artist pup slip right out of them!
- Some collars that don’t have an emergency detach feature can cause suffocation.
- Collars can put excess pressure on the deep chest region for Frenchies.
Pros and Cons of Harnesses for French Bulldogs
In the same way that collars have pros and cons, meaning that some French Bulldog owners swear by them and other Frenchie owners hate them. so too do harnesses have their fans and their detractors.
In this section, we outline the major pros and cons of using a harness for walking and training your French Bulldog.
- As a PetSafe K-9 trainer explains, harnesses can be safer for smaller dog breeds.
- A harness will not let your French Bulldog slip out and escape or get into danger.
- As Animal Wellness magazine explains, a harness allows for more even pressure on a French Bulldog’s neck and chest.
- A harness gives you more control over your dog during training and walking.
- Even if your dog gets caught on something, they won’t choke wearing a harness.
- A harness is going to be more difficult to put on and take off.
- Your French Bulldog may not like the feel of the harness on their body.
- Harness wearing for long periods of time may chafe against the skin.
- Front-hook harnesses may still put dangerous pressure on your dog’s neck and chest (better to choose a back-hook harness to avoid this danger).
- As PetMD points out, it may take your dog some time to adjust to wearing a harness.
- Harnesses tend to be less comfortable for all-day/all-night use.
Should You Use Both a Harness and a Collar With Your French Bulldog?
This is an interesting question that can make sense given how many of the pros and cons of using a harness versus a collar that you just read about don’t match up.
For example, you aren’t ever going to be able to easily attach your dog’s identification tags to a harness.
And a harness is not a comfortable option for wearing around the clock or while sleeping.
But a collar isn’t going to provide the type of even body pressure during walks, play, and training that will protect your dog’s sensitive neck, chest, and tracheal area.
And a collar won’t give you the amount of control you may need to teach your dog how to obey and walk correctly.
This is when using both a collar and a harness can make smart sense for French Bulldog owners.
You can attach your dog’s I.D. and other tags to the collar but use the harness clip (back clip preferred) when walking and training your dog.
When you are at home, you can remove the harness without risking your dog going without wearing their I.D. tags just in case of escape.
You can start using the collar immediately even if you need a period of time to get your French Bulldog used to wear a dog harness.
And your French Bulldog can wear both a collar and a harness without one interfering with the use of the other. So it can be easy to put your dog’s harness on and take it off as needed while leaving the collar and I.D. tags undisturbed and in place.
How to Train Your French Bulldog to Wear a Dog Harness
In most cases, dogs don’t need any support or help to learn how to tolerate wearing a collar.
Typically, breeders start using very soft collars with puppies soon after whelping to help tell the puppies apart and track feeding, bathroom habits, and more.
So in most cases, your French Bulldog has probably never really known life without wearing a collar.
A harness, however, can be a whole different story! It is not at all uncommon for a sensitive dog breed like the French Bulldog to rebel against wearing a harness or have a fear reaction when they first see a harness.
In this case, as Emotional Pet Support points out, you may need to go through a period of harness training to get your Frenchie used to wear a harness.
Here are some helpful tips to make your Frenchie feel more comfortable wearing a harness for the first time.
Let your Frenchie get used to the presence of the harness first
It may seem odd to think that just seeing the harness lying there could help your French Bulldog become less afraid.
But this allows your Frenchie to mouth the harness, explore it, sniff at it, play with it and realize it isn’t a harmful thing. If you hold the harness and play with it a bit, your dog may even get curious and want to check it out like they would a new toy.
Use positive reinforcement to encourage your Frenchie to try it on
Most French Bulldogs are very food and treat-motivated and also very keen for their owner’s praise, time and attention.
So when you use these elements to encourage your French Bulldog to interact with the new harness, chances are good your dog will overcome their initial hesitation because they want the reward that is coming.
Always put the harness on from the face-forward direction
Different harnesses may attach differently. Ideally, you want one that is as easy as possible that your dog can just step into.
This way, your Frenchie will be able to see what is going on the whole time and won’t get scared of something going on behind them that they cannot see.
Plan for a period of days to get your Frenchie used to the harness
You definitely don’t want to have a situation where you have no choice but to throw the harness on your dog and hope for the best.
Plan for a period of gradual desensitization over a period of days until your Frenchie is wearing the harness for a few minutes each day without a problem.
With patience, your dog can learn to wear a collar and harness.