How to Measure Your Dog for a Harness?

When it comes to owning an animal that needs as much care and attention as dogs do, it is generally an accepted fact that you will have to buy materials and accessories for the sake of both you and your dog. Of course, what you choose to purchase will depend heavily on the age of the dog, your experience in handling dogs, and whether or not you have other dogs in the house. For instance, if you are adopting a puppy who is not quite old enough to be trained to relieve itself outside, you will have to buy puppy pads, and if you have multiple dogs, you will need to buy even more supplies. Out of all the things that people choose to purchase for their dogs, something that requires more thought than what the most cost-effective type of puppy pad is will be choosing a harness for your dog.

Choosing a harness takes a lot of thinking and some amount of work trying to get the measurements for your dog. If you have never purchased a harness for your dog before, you may also wonder exactly how much better it would be compared to a collar, and if it is worth wrestling with your dog to try and get even more measurements out of it rather than just a simple measurement in the location a standard collar would sit. More often than not, while it might be a little bit more work to try and get the measurements right for your dog’s harness, it is going to be far better for your dog. Before you can really learn the best ways to measure your dog for a harness, you will need to know what to look for in a harness. To know what to look for in a harness, you are going to need to know why exactly so many people purchase harnesses for their dog rather than a collar.

What Separates the Harness From the Collar?

A lot of people believe that harnesses and collars, from functionality alone, provide the same purpose. To an extent, this is true. Both collars and harnesses attach to leashes, allowing you to take your dog on walks without needing to worry about the dog getting too excited about something in the distance and running away from you. However, harnesses can do a bit more than your standard collar. Because of the way that harnesses are made, they can help to drastically reduce the amount of pull an excited dog exudes on the leash. It also makes it much easier to lift up smaller dogs, if you need to carry your dog somewhere.

Collars, on the other hand, have their problems. Because collars tend to be thin straps of material, when a dog pulls on the leash, it ends up partially choking itself. All of the weight of the pulling will be centered on the neck of the dog, and if your dog is one that tends to panic easily, this sensation of increased pressure on the throat can be even more stressful. If you are not careful choosing a collar for your dog, you could end up choosing something that causes more harm than good in the long run.

With harnesses, the majority of the weight and pressure the dog would feel when tugging on the leash will be centered on the chest. While it certainly won’t be comfortable for your dog, a stubborn dog will not run nearly as much risk of actively choking itself if it gets particularly excited. There are also many, many more types of harnesses to choose from allowing you to customize what features your dog would need the most.

Measuring Out the Harness

Now that you understand a little bit more about what makes harnesses a bit more special compared to your standard collar, you should have a better idea of what to look for when it comes time to go shopping for a harness. With that being said, while you are looking at the features of the harness, you are going to want to know how to choose a harness for your dog. Typically, there will be two parts to finding the answer. You will first want to find the size guidelines of the harnesses you are looking at. Most reliable sellers will list a size chart of which harness measurements would constitute a small, medium, or large harness. In line with that, you are also going to want to measure your dog accordingly. But, with that in mind, where exactly do you start measuring your dog?

The rule of thumb for measuring your dog for a harness is that there are often some sizes that almost always equate to a small, medium, or large harness size. There will be a few key locations that you will need to measure and compile, which will be important for finding a harness that fits your dog well. Places that sell harnesses with a strange length or dimensions will usually mention this, although most places will have pictures of how you should measure your dog for the appropriate harness.

There are technically three measurements that you will need to properly gauge how large of a harness your dog is going to need. You are going to need to measure around the dog’s chest, which is usually located just after its forelegs. You will need to measure the dog’s neck, which will usually be in the thickest part of the dog’s neck before it transitions into the dog’s chest. Finally, you will want to add the weight of your dog to the mix as well, so that you can ensure that you are getting a harness that works for your dog, no matter how large it might be.

To measure the chest, you are going to want to use a flexible tape cloth of some sort. If your dog tends to be a bit more on the anxious side and is nervous about sitting still long enough to be properly measured, you may want to consider bribing the dog to stay put. The best way to get these measurements for your dog is going to be trying to get the job done when the dog is standing. This will be the most accurate depiction of where the dog’s fat and muscle will sit when it is standing, as dogs often do when they are in the harness. As for the location of where the tape measure would go, you typically want to aim at the bottom of your dog’s rib cage. Another area where you could consider putting the tape measure to get some accuracy is to put the tape measure just behind the dog’s forelegs while it is standing up.

Measuring your dog’s neck for a harness is strikingly similar to choosing a looser-fitting collar. The rule of thumb is that you should try and place the tape measure at the widest part of your dog’s neck. The reason why you will want to aim for the thickest part of the neck is that if you measure any other part of the dog and get a wrong measurement, the dog could end up being in a harness that is far too tight for it. By measuring the widest part of your dog’s neck, you can rest assured knowing that the harness is going to fit your dog.

Finally, you will need to make sure that you somehow manage to get the weight of the dog as well. Using chest and neck measurements is always going to be the most effective and efficient way to choose a harness of the right size, but knowing how much your dog weighs will give you an idea of just how sturdy the harness can be if your dog becomes noticeably interested. Getting an exact weight of your dog is not going to be nearly as crucial as getting the other measurements, but having it on-hand can make the entire process of choosing a harness easier.

Working Out the Size for Your Dog

Now that you also have a good idea of where you will need to measure your dog, what you will need to get the job done, and why these measurements are important, you can begin getting ready for your new dog harness. Remember that while these sizes might be some of the most common sizes for dog harnesses, different manufacturers may have a different size chart to rely on, so you should always consider paying attention to those size charts first and foremost. However, if you simply just want to get a good idea of what size of a harness certain dog breeds can adapt to, knowing what the size chart looks like will help you tremendously.

Typically, harness sizes will either start out extra small or small. Extra small is usually reserved for miniature or teacup breeds of dog, as when most companies say that a harness is the smallest harness in their stock, they often mean it. For an extra small harness, the circumference of the neck should fall between 9 and 13 inches, or between 23 and 33 centimeters. Likewise, the circumference of the dog’s chest should fall between 12 and 18 inches, or between 30 and 44 centimeters. Most of these harnesses are designed to handle dogs between five and ten pounds, or between two and five kilograms.

Moving into the small category, this category of harness sizes is going to include most of your standard small breeds of dogs that aren’t quite small enough to fit into the miniature or teacup version. For smaller dogs, a small harness is one of the most popular sizes to choose from. Most small harnesses start with a neck circumference between 12 and 20 inches, or between 30 and 50 centimeters. Following that, the chest of the dog can fall between 16 and 22 inches, or between 41 and 56 centimeters. Most small harnesses will accommodate dogs that fall between 10 and 25 pounds in weight, which equals between five and eleven kilograms.

Medium dog harnesses are usually the most common, as most people own a dog that falls into the realm of a medium dog. These dogs are often some of the most popular dog breeds around, including retrievers and labradors. The neck measurements for a dog that would fit into a medium harness will be between 16 and 26 inches, which equals between 40 and 63 centimeters. For the chest circumference of your dog, you should be looking closer at 18 to 28 inches in circumference, or between 45 and 71 centimeters. For a medium dog harness, you can expect it to carry between 25 and 50 pounds, which equals about 11 to 25 kilograms.

If you want to make sure that your larger dog can enjoy its time outdoors without you having to worry about pulling on the leash of a dog that weighs half of your own weight, then getting a harness fitted for a large dog may be the best way for you to go about doing this. As you can imagine, for most places that offer the standard small, medium, and large sizes, this is one of the largest sizes that you can buy from any pet store that you can find, although there may be some specialty providers. For the circumference of the dog’s neck, you will find that large dogs tend to have a circumference of 18 to 30 inches, which is about 46 to 76 centimeters. Their chests will often be even more developed than other dogs, coming in between 24 and 34 inches, or between 61 and 86 centimeters. These large dogs may not quite breach the 100-pound barrier that sets them apart in weight from other dogs, but these dogs can usually reach weights between 50 and 80 pounds, which is equal to between 22 and 35 kilograms.

These are just some of the aspects you will need to think about when you are ready to adopt a dog and you are planning on getting it a comfortable harness to wear.