How to Measure a Dog: Finding the Perfect Fit

Fun | Lifestyle | Spring & Summer | Fall & Winter | Dog

You brought home a new sweater for your dog, only to find that it doesn’t fit. You looked at the tag and is said 40-60 lbs. Your dog is right in that sweet spot, so why doesn't it fit? Before you head back to the pet store, check out our tips on how to measure your dog

It’s frustrating to waste time and money only to discover that the sizing guidelines that you were given weren’t totally accurate.

Sizing your dog's clothes can be a struggle. Every type of clothing is going to fit a little bit different, and the wrong fit defeats the purpose. This guide will help you measure your dog properly for clothing, harnesses, muzzles and anything else that needs to be the right fit for your dog.

One Size Does Not Fit All

When choosing any of your dog’s outdoor gear, you need to consider the style and whether or not it’s going to work for your dog’s shape. Just like our clothes, not every style is suited to every body type. Keep that in mind when you find a cute rainbow sweater for your mastiff or a thick thermal parka for your whippet. It’s possible that it just won’t fit.

Let’s start with the measurements. There are a number of measurements that you should track for your dog. I recommend keeping a file of your dog’s measurements that you can update yearly. This will make it much easier to find the appropriate gear each season.

You’ll need a soft measuring tape. This will give you the most accurate values. If you don’t have one, you can make do with some string and a flat ruler, but it’s easier to get inaccurate measurements this way.

Here’s a quick reference chart of the measurements that you’ll need for your dog:


You may not need every measurement right now, so take the measurements that suit the apparel or gear that you are looking for. This chart will help you decide which measurements you’ll need for each type of gear:


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7 Tips for Measuring Your Dog

Your goal is to make your dog comfortable with wearing clothing or walking accessories, so if the simple act of measuring them is a hassle, then imagine what dressing them every day will be like. Measuring your dog isn’t overly complicated, but there are a few best practices that will make the process easier and less stressful for both you and your dog.

  1. Choose a calm, quiet environment. This will help your dog stay relaxed and you can avoid distractions.
  2. Your dog must be standing on all fours. If your dog is sitting or laying down, your measurements will not be accurate. Get a helping hand to keep your dog standing if needed.
  3. If you are in Canada, or if the product is made outside of North America, then the measurements that they give you might be in centimeters instead of inches. It’s smart to write down both, just in case.
  4. Use the Two Finger Rule. When taking measurements, you should be able to fit two fingers between your dog’s body and the measuring tape. This will prevent the clothing from being uncomfortable or chaffing.
    *The two-finger rule does not apply for boots. Loose boots will fall off and will not keep your dog’s feet warm.
  5. Measuring girth means to measure the widest part of the chest circumference. Don’t measure right behind the armpits unless that it the widest part of your dog’s rib cage.
  6. If your dog is fidgety or won’t stand still for you, then try to use an incentive like food to keep him still. Giving him a chew like a bully stick can be helpful, but may encourage him to lay down and chew it. Instead, smear some dog-safe peanut butter on a dinner plate or a Kong toy. This will keep them standing and keep them still.
  7. Measure twice. Always, always measure twice. Mistakes happen and it’ll save you the time and hassle of having to make multiple trips to the pet store because the measurements were off.

Using these tricks and tips, getting your dog’s measurements should be simple and quick. Write them down, save them in your phone, or file them with your dog’s medical documents. Re-measure your dog once or twice a year to keep the file accurate. This way when you need to buy new gear at the start of the next season, you don’t have to repeat the process.

5 Tips for Buying Dog Gear

Now that you have your dog’s measurements, you need to find a product that suits your dog’s needs. There are likely many options available, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. When possible, it’s best to bring your dog in to try the item in-store, but if you are shopping online, or if your dog wouldn’t handle that experience well, then here are some tips to help you save time and avoid a headache:

  1. If your dog is an “in-betweener”, meaning he falls in between two sizes of an item, always go for the larger size.
  2. Don’t worry about the weight guidelines for the product, other than for car harnesses and life jackets. Two completely different shaped dogs could both be 50 lbs but wear very different sizes. Life jackets and car safety harnesses are designed to bear the brunt of your dog’s weight, so keep the weight limits in mind for these items.
  3. Keep the packaging and receipt, and always inquire about the return policy. Not every sizing chart will be 100% accurate, so despite your best efforts, you could still end up with an ill-fitting item. Make sure that you can return or exchange the item before you spend your hard-earned money on it.
  4. Always consider your dog’s mobility. Harnesses and clothing that cover the shoulders could limit movement and might not be right for a dog that runs or participates in sports, so choose the style that fits your dog’s normal activity.
  5. When sizing a kennel, crate, or carrier, always consider your dog’s comfort. Your dog should be able to stand, turn around, and lay down comfortably. Don’t forget to take into account what is going in the kennel with them. Beds, pillow, and even toys take up space, so account for those things.

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Using these tips, you should spend less time fretting over finding the right size and waste less money buying items that just don’t work for your pet. Find your dog’s perfect fit, and get back to your adventures knowing that your dog is comfortable and safe.

Have you struggled to find the right size for your dog? Share your story in the comments below!

Posted by Krystn Janisse

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