How Do You Measure A Dog’s Size? Instructions

Do you want to measure the size of your dog?

Maybe because you are into dog sports? Or do you need the exact neck size for a new, well-fitting collar?

Then it is helpful to know how to correctly measure the height at the withers and the individual body parts of your dog.

Does that sound really easy?

It is! You just have to know exactly where you start and we’ll explain that to you now.

In a nutshell: How do you measure the size of a dog?

You want to know how to measure the size of a dog? With a tape measure and some practice! To determine your dog’s height or shoulder height, measure from the floor to the highest point of the shoulder. Make sure your dog is standing still and straight.

Instructions: How to measure your dog correctly

If your dog needs a winter coat, a new collar, or a secure harness, it’s best to have them fit properly. So that you can take the correct measurements, we will explain below what is important when measuring your dog.

The measurement works best with a flexible measuring tape.

If you don’t have one handy, a piece of string, a shoelace, or a folded newspaper can also help. Then all you need is a folding rule and you can use it to measure using the tool of your choice.

Easy? Easy!

Measure chest circumference

Measure your dog’s chest circumference about a hand’s width behind the front legs. Here you put the tape measure all around and you have already determined the chest circumference.

You need the chest circumference, for example, if you want to buy a suitable harness or a dog coat.

Measure shoulder height

In order to measure your dog’s shoulder height (or body height), he should be standing upright and stable. To do this, lead your dog to a level surface and make sure that he remains still for the measurement.

You measure the shoulder height from the ground, on the back of the forelegs, to the highest point of the shoulder blade. You can recognize this well when your dog lowers his head, because then it is the highest point of his body.

Your dog’s shoulder height can be relevant for different circumstances. For example, if you are wondering which basket/ which transport box is big enough for your dog or for a fair division into different groups in dog sports.


Is your dog a little fidgety? Then get a second person to determine your height.

She can hold your dog, pet her, or distract her with a few treats in a calm and relaxed manner.

Measure back length

To measure your dog’s back length, you first need to know where the withers are.

From this point you measure to the base of the tail.

In order to be able to take precise measurements here, your four-legged friend must stand still and straight. Legs set too far back or an uneven stand can falsify the measurements.

You need the back length of your dog for many dog accessories. Whether it’s a suitable dog bed, transport box, carrying backpack/bag or coat, nothing works here without an exact determination of the back length.

Measure the height at the withers

You measure the height at the withers similar to your dog’s shoulder height. Except that you put the measuring tape a little further forward here, because the withers are directly above the shoulder.

So you measure from the ground along the front of the front leg to the highest point of the shoulder.

These dimensions can also be important for a tailor-made raincoat with a collar, for example.

Measure head circumference

Measure the circumference of your dog’s head at the level of the ears at the widest part of the head. Tape measure around, read, done.

The head circumference is particularly important for the purchase of a suitable collar. Of course, if you want your dog to be well secured, the collar must not slip over his head so easily. This often happens with retriever collars (or pull-stop collars) if the head circumference is not taken into account in addition to the neck circumference.

Good to know:

It is best to always take the measurements on your dog in a standing position. If your dog is lying or sitting, fur, skin or fat folds can falsify the result.

Measure neck circumference

Place two fingers between the measuring tape and your dog’s neck. You should take this leeway into account for a well-fitting collar. After all, you don’t want to strangle your dog.

You measure the circumference of your dog’s neck roughly in the middle of the neck, tending towards the ears.

Attention danger!

When buying a new collar, keep in mind that the neck circumference should be smaller than the head circumference. This will prevent the collar from slipping over your head.

If your dog has a very narrow head, a no-pull collar or anti-pull harness could be the solution for you.


The waist circumference can be important, especially in an anxious dog!

You measure it about a hand width behind the last rib cage, at the narrowest point in front of the hindquarters.

The waist measurement is important, for example, if you need a safety harness for your dog. In addition to the normal waist belt, such a harness has an additional belt at the waist.


From time to time it may be necessary to determine the exact height of your dog.

The easiest way to do this is to measure with a flexible tape measure and possibly have a second person with you to hold your dog.

Follow our tips when measuring and with a little practice you will soon be able to measure your dog blind!

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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