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How To Measure A Dog For A Harness

How To Measure A Dog For A Harness In 4 Simple Steps

Have you decided to use a dog harness instead of the traditional collar? We applaud you! Here at WileyPup, we agree with the many veterinarians and dog trainers who recommend using a harness for safety and health reasons.

If you have started shopping already, you probably already noticed that different styles and manufacturers use different measurements for their products. This guide will help you get all of the accurate dog harness sizing information you will need to find the right fit regardless of the style or brand you decide on.

Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa | Doctor Of Veterinary Medicine


Sara is Wileypup’s Veterinarian Adviser and helped compose this article to ensure the information is up to date and accurate. For more information on Sara click here


What You Will Need:

Before we get started with measuring for a dog harness, gather these materials:

  • Measuring tape (used for sewing)
  • If you don’t have a measuring tape get some twine or yarn about a yard in length and a ruler
  • Paper and pen to record your measurements
  • Bathroom scale to get your dog’s weight
image

Steps for Measuring A Dog for A Harness

Now you are ready to measure your dog! You will be taking three measurements which are each detailed below, along with your dog’s weight.

  • PRO TIP: Measure your dog in both inches and centimeters. Different manufacturers use different sizing charts, so having both ready will save you time when shopping!

How To Measure A Dog’s Chest

The chest measurement refers to the girth around the widest part of your dog’s chest.

Steps to get an accurate chest measurement on a dog:

  1. 1
    Ask your dog to stand quietly. If he is anxious or moving around a lot, try using some treats to reward standing still a few times before attempting the next step.
  2. 2
    Take the tape measure or string around the chest, behind the front legs, at the widest part of the chest. The tape or string should be flat against the dog but not tight.
  3. 3
    If using string, hold the end of the string to where it meets the rest and then measure this distance using a flat ruler.
  4. 4
    If using string, hold the end of the string to where it meets the rest and then measure this distance using a flat ruler.
  • PRO TIP: Note that a chest measurement taken while your dog is sitting or lying down will not be accurate.

How To Measure A Dog’s Neck

Depending on where around the neck you measure, you can get very different results. Key to getting an accurate neck measurement is to measure more or less where a traditional collar would fall on your dog.

Steps to get an accurate neck measurement on a dog:

  1. 1
    Ask your dog to sit or stand quietly. Reward a few times for calm behavior.
  2. 2
    Take the tape measure or string around the base of the neck where a normal collar would lay. The tape or string should be flat against the dog but not tight.
  3. 3
    If using string, hold the end of the string to where it meets the rest and then measure this distance using a flat ruler.
  4. 4
    Remember to record your results in both inches and centimeters.

How To Measure A Dog’s Length

The length of your dog is also known as the topline or back measurement. Not all brands will ask for this measurement, however, since you have all the stuff out, you might as well get it just in case it comes up while you are shopping.

The back (topline or length) measurement on a dog goes from where the neck meets the back (also usually where a collar lays) to the base of the tail (that is, where the tail meets the body on the back).

Remember to record your results in both inches and centimeters.

  • PRO TIP: Note that a chest measurement taken while your dog is sitting or lying down will not be accurate.

How to get an accurate topline measurement on a dog:

  1. 1
    Ask your dog to stand quietly. If he is anxious or moving around a lot, try using some treats to reward standing still a few times before attempting the next step.
  2. 2
    Take the tape measure or string from where the neck meets the back to where the tail meets the back, following the spine of your dog.
  3. 3
    Take the tape measure or string from where the neck meets the back to where the tail meets the back, following the spine of your dog.
  4. 4
    Remember to record your results in both inches and centimeters.
  • PRO TIP: Note that a length measurement taken while your dog is sitting or lying down will not be accurate.

How To Weigh A Dog

Generally, if a harness is sized by weight, a rough estimate in pounds will usually do. For example, if you remember your dog’s weight from their last vet visit, you can safely use it for estimating a harness size for your dog.

If you have no idea how much your dog weighs, here are the steps to find out:

  1. 1
    Place a bathroom scale on a hard surface such as a wood or tile floor.
  2. 2
    Stand on the scale and record your weight to the nearest pound, rounding up.
  3. 3
    Pick up your dog and stand on the scale again. Record the combined weight to the nearest pound, rounding up.
  4. 4
    Subtract your weight (from step 2) from your combined weight (from step 3) to learn your dog’s weight.

Dog Harness Sizing Guide

Unfortunately, there is no industry standard that applies to sizing on dog harnesses. For example, the measurement of a medium dog harness for one brand may actually be the same as a large harness for another brand.

This is why we are not able to provide a dog harness sizing chart that will apply across the board. What we recommend is that you find the measurements chart provided by the manufacturer in the style you choose and apply the dog measurements that you recorded from the steps above.

PRO TIP: When your measurements fall at the intersection of two sizes, go with the larger size.

dog being measured

Find the Right Harness For Your Dog

While accurate measuring is definitely part of making sure you purchase a well fitting harness, it is really only part of the trick to finding the right gear for your dog. In fact, different styles of harnesses work better for different dog sizes and breeds.

In addition, special issues such as the needs of brachycephalic breeds such as pugs and french bulldogs mean the design of the harness is just as important as the right size.

In order to help our readers truly find the best harness for their dog, we have developed the following guides that consider both harness sizing for small, medium, and large dogs as well as special breed considerations.

Large Size Dog Harness

The best harnesses for large dogs not only fit well, they are designed to account for the weight and pulling power of these dogs. Wider webbing, cooling fabrics, and quality manufacturing for durability are key considerations.

We recommend the following guides for owners of large dogs:

Medium Size Dog Harness

Medium sized dogs should be judged based on their pulling habits as they can generally find the widest selection of harness styles available.

If your pooch is a strong puller, choose styles from the large dog selections above. If you have a petite and polite medium sized dog, or one who has special needs such as a tender neck or a flat face, then look into the harnesses designed below for the small breeds for a better fit.

Small Size Dog Harness

With small and toy breed dogs, harnesses need to be designed less with pulling in mind, and more with lower necklines and better weight distribution designed specifically with our tiny tikes in mind.

In addition, those dogs who have flat faces or those prone to back problems have some special needs when it comes to choosing the right harness.

Here are some more specific guides to help you find the right dog harness size and design for toy and small breeds:

A Few Other Dog Harness Guides to Check Out

Look for a dog harness for a specific activity or need? Check out these other harness guides:


Size Your Dog Harness Right the First Time!

We hope this article has helped you get the accurate dog harness measurements so you can buy the right size for your dog the first time.

Once your new gear arrives, you may find that adjusting to it over a traditional collar is a bit of a learning curve. Be sure to check out our guide on How to Put on a Dog Harness to learn more about:

  • Tips to help your dog get used to their harness
  • How to get it on and off quickly
  • How properly adjust the size your dog harness for a great fit

Sharon Elber (M.S. in Science & Technology) - Professional Dog Trainer

Sharon is a professional dog trainer with over 10 years experience. She is also a professional writer that received her M.S. in Science & Technology Studies from Virginia Tech.

For more info on Sharon click here

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