If you happen to be the lucky person belonging to a barrel-chested breed, you know it’s not easy to find gear that fits their unique physique.
It’s compounded by the size and strength of many of these dogs; you need durable products as well. Here are some of the must-haves for barrel-chested dog breeds along with our favorite products in each category.
For strong, stocky pups, a harness is a necessity. Even for perfect walkers, taking the pressure off your dog’s throat can only help him breathe easier. Finding a harness that fits around his chest, though, can be quite a task. Look for several adjustable points, notably around the chest. One great option is the Ruffwear Web Master harness, which allows for full size customization. It’s super durable, and it includes a handle on the top to help your pup over obstacles or as he ages.
Even if you rely on a harness for walks, your dog needs a solid leash-and-collar set. Barrel-chested dogs often have thick necks and sometimes, like in the case of Boxers, a short snout. A collar, even if it’s secondary to a harness, should be wide and thick to diminish pressure on a single spot. The wide neoprene collars from EzyDog fit the bill while being super simple to clean. Pair it with a matching leash or a Zero Shock leash if your dog happens to be a puller.
The veterinary jury is out about raised feeding dishes. There’s a range of studies that indicate that raised feeders may diminish risk of bloat, or they might not. If you choose to go with a raised feeder, pair it with a slow-feed bowl, like those from Outward Hound. You can also turn feeding time into a game and slow down your chow hound with an interactive and eco-friendly feeder like the new one from PAW5.
We all love our barrel-chested pups, of course. The sad reality is that not everyone else does. There is a lot of fear surrounding pit-bull-type dogs, in particular, and that often trickles over to fears of similar-looking dogs. Deck your dog in cute apparel, like a festive sweater. It’s difficult to find ones that are large enough to fit barrel chests, though, so look for one with a Velcro strap across the chest rather than arm holes. If a sweater isn’t right for your pup, or you haven’t found one that fits, consider a collar adornment, like a flower or bowtie. Search Etsy for one that suits your dog’s personality.
Maggie is a writer and author, whose first book, Clicker Dog Training: The Better Path to a Well-Behaved Pup was published by Open Air Publishing. When she's not writing (or reading books about grammar), she teaches writing courses to college students and professionals who want to nail down the basics of communication. Outside of work, she hikes, throws dinner parties, plays with her three dogs and cat, and travels as much as possible.