Measure Your Dog For A Harness In 5 Easy Steps

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Published: 31st August 2012
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A dog harness is a must-have accessory for a lot of dog owners and can be found for almost any type of canine. There are a wide range of benefits that come with its use; for example, it enables lifting assistance by the owner, making more difficult terrain easier to navigate as your pet can be lifted over obstacles such as fences, boulders or rocks.

For those pooches that are a little more difficult to train, a dog harness will distribute the pressure more evenly around the body than a collar does, eliminating the pressure from the pet's neck if they pull against the lead. In this way, it also reduces the risk of neck, throat or spinal injuries resulting from excessive strain or resistance against the owner and the leash. It is also much more difficult for a dog to wriggle out of a harness than it is a collar.

To make sure that the harness you are using does not hurt the dog and is giving both owner and dog the greatest benefit, it is essential that accurate measurements are made so that it fits correctly. It is much better to get out a tape measure and find a harness that meets your dog's dimensions, rather than selecting this accessory based on the dog breed. Naturally, not all animals of the same breed are the same size and shape, so it is unlikely that this method of selection will result in the most fitted harness tailored to your pooch's shape.

If you buy your equipment in store, then a qualified shop assistant may do your doggy measurements. However, for those that like to shop online, this won't be possible, so here are five simple steps to help you accurately measure your dog for its harness.

Before you start, a flexible tape measure should be used and measurements taken with the tape measure fitting snugly (not too tightly) around your dog. Don't include the height of your dog's fur in the measurements even if your pet has a coat that resembles that of a woolly mammoth, try to get as close to the actual body size as possible.

1. Get somebody to help you
One person will need to hold the dog while the other records the measurements. But keep your dog with its back straight, standing on all fours. Three measurements should be done for each part and an average taken. This also lets you determine whether your measurements are consistent.

2. Measure the neck size
Do this by measuring from the breastbone or sternum round to the tip of the shoulder blades in the middle of your dog's back, at the back of the neck. Take this measurement on one side and double it, rather than trying to get the tape measure completely around your dog's neck, which can sometimes distort the reading. When measuring, don't allow any extra space, such as for two fingers to fit underneath the tape measure. This reading is simply so that the harness can fit over your dog's head, but it does need to be accurate.

3. Measure body circumference
Here, measure around your dog at the widest part of their body; this will usually be about 7cm behind the front legs.

4. Measure back length
Get a reading for the distance from the shoulder blades/back of the neck to the base of the tail.

5.Measure from the breastbone to the base of the tail
This should measure the underside of your dog. Place the tape measure at the sternum and measure between the front legs all the way down the ribcage and up to the base of the tail. Ensure that the tape measure isn't too tight or stretched because the chest will expand, altering the size slightly.

It is important to notice how a dog responds when wearing their harness because if they seem to be uncomfortable, or if their gait is altered, then you may have to try a different size. But by following these simple steps and taking accurate measurements, you should be well on your way to finding a harness that fits perfectly.


Laura Smith is a partner in The Waggy Tails Store, which sells quality dog accessories online and at country shows. Waggy Tails stocks a range of soft dog harnesses by Puppia for pampered city pooches and the rather more rugged Ruffwear dog harness for more active dogs.

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