How to Measure a Dog for a Harness Properly
Knowing how to measure a dog for a harness is essential to keeping your dog safe and comfortable during walks. Dog harnesses are more popular with dog owners because they provide a more secure and stable way to control your dog while outside. Unlike collars that can choke your dog, harnesses apply an even pressure across your dog’s chest so they can still breathe easily even if they are pulling on the harness. What’s more, they allow you to easily pull your dog back and get them under control if needed.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to measure a dog for a harness.
Why do I Need to Measure my Dog for a Harness?
Dogs are wonderful creatures that come in all shapes and sizes, from the tiny Chihuahua to the tall and stately Great Dane to the massive and bulky Mastiff. This means that they have a wide range of proportions that you need to keep in mind when you measure a dog for a harness.
The biggest mistake that dog owners make when it comes to measuring their dog for a harness is trying to “eyeball” the measurements. While you can get away with the eyeball method when measuring your dog for clothes or even a collar, it won’t work as well for harnesses.
Simply put, harnesses are much more than a fashion statement for your dog. They are the main way that you control your dog’s movement when you are outside, so they need to fit properly in case you need to quickly bring your dog under control! Ill-fitting harnesses are dangerous; if they are too tight, they can restrict your dog’s breathing and movement, and if they are too loose, your dog can slip out of them! What’s more, harnesses that are too tight can rub against your dog’s skin and cause rashes or infections.
Another reason why it’s not advisable to eyeball your dog’s measurements when it comes to harnesses is that it is difficult to measure areas of your dog’s body such as their chest, their armpits, and their scruff just by sight.
However, this should not worry you as there are tried-and-tested methods to properly get your dog’s measurements for a harness. Stop asking yourself, “how do I measure my dog for a harness” and read on!
Using the Dog Size Chart
The first thing that you need to do is get a general idea of the harness size that you need by consulting a dog size chart. Dogs are categorized into standard sizes ranging from XXS (teacup breeds) all the way to XXL breeds (mastiffs and Great Danes). While these charts are not exact sizing measurements, it will give you a good idea where your dog fits. There are various sizing charts available, but one of the most popular is the American Kennel Club (AKC) chart. Using this chart, you need to consider three areas of your dog’s body, namely their topline/back, their neck, and their chest.
When it comes to harness measurements, the girth of your dog’s chest is the most consistent and accurate way to measure the size that your dog needs. This is because the topline can be similar for dogs that have vastly different chest girths, for example, a Jack Russell Terrier and a Dachshund can have the same length for their toplines, but the latter will have a broader chest girth compared to the former.
Measuring your Dog in 5 easy Steps
Now that you have an idea of your dog’s size, you need to find the exact measurements to get the best-sized harness. How’s how to measure for a harness for a dog in just five steps:
- Get a cloth measuring tape similar to what a tailor uses.
- On a flat surface, make your dog stand on all fours with their weight distributed evenly.
- Measure your dog’s chest girth using the tape measure. Start at the withers (between the shoulder baldes) and wrap the measuring tape around their chest back up to the other side of the withers. Make sure that the tape is wrapped snugly.
- Measure your dog three times and get the average. This is to ensure that you get the closest accurate measurement as possible since dogs don’t stand still!
- Measure the circumference of your dog’s lower neck by measuring the base of their neck.
Tips to Getting the Correct Harness Size
Here are some tips that you can use to get a more accurate measurement:
- Get a couple of friends to help. Your dog most likely won’t stand still during the measuring process so it would be easier if three people did the job. You can get one friend to hold your dog as still as possible while you measure your dog and another friend takes down the measurements.
- Consider your dog’s fur when measuring for your harness. If you have a dog with a thick coat, add 1-2 inches in your measurements as an allowance for the fur. If the fit is too tight, the fur will be trapped against your dog’s body and it will be uncomfortable for your dog.
- If you are unsure about the harness size or it falls in between existing sizes, go for the larger size. You can always adjust the size down easier than adjusting it up!
- If you have a specific brand in mind, you can check out the manufacturer’s recommendations or existing harness guide if they have it. This will help you choose the best harness for your dog.
If the harness slips off while walking or you notice chafing, fur loss, or redness around the areas where the harness rubs against your dog’s skin, these are signs that the harness does not fit your dog properly.
There you go, an easy method on how to measure a dog for a harness! If you love your dog, it’ll only take you around 10 minutes to properly measure them for harness and you can have safer, more comfortable, and more enjoyable walks for both you and your dog. So, how do you measure a dog for a harness properly? Take your time, be patient with your dog, and find the right measurement – you'll be thankful that you did!
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