When selecting a vest for your dog, you will need to take his size into consideration. Vests come in a variety of sizes from toy breed to giant breed. There is size variation even among the same breeds of dog which is why most vests have adjustable harnesses to better accommodate your dog’s shape. One must be careful because vests that are too small can dig into your dog’s skin, specifically under his arms and across his chest. If the vest is too big, he can slip out of the vest or trip on the dangling straps and fabric.
To ensure a proper fit, you will need a measuring tape. When taking chest measurements, wrap the tape around your dog’s chest at the widest/deepest part which is usually positioned a little bit behind the elbows while he is standing on all fours.
For his neck measurement, you should measure the widest part which is from the back of his neck (near his shoulder blades) and all the way down to the front of his chest and just at the point where his forelimbs begin. Do not use the collar that he wears as a measurement example because most vests are worn over the forelimbs. Therefore, most collar measurements for harnesses will be too tight.
When measuring for the length of the vest, go from the back of the neck (again, just above the shoulder blades) and then down towards his lower back near the base of his tail.
Your dog’s weight is also a factor, so be sure to keep this in mind when looking at vest weight ranges. Many common service dog breeds are Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds, but sometimes Great Danes are utilized, and they tend to have much longer backs than other breeds!
Service dog vests should be easy to put on and take off. Most of them have two straps or harnesses which makes them easier to use. Vests should work with either a leash or a handle depending on the kind of work your service dog performs.
The design of the vest should also be comfortable for your dog, so keep in might the kinds of temperatures in which your dog will need to work. Mesh vests are much more breathable, and Velcro straps make for easier vest adjustability.