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How to Measure a Dog for a Harness

Purple harness on a white curly haired dog

Many dog owners are making the transition from collar to harness. A harness offers you more control of your pup on outdoor adventures, as well as preventing any neck stress that collars could cause.

Harnesses are the best choice for many furry friends, but they must fit your dog correctly in order to offer the most benefit. In this article we will explain the importance of harness sizing for dogs, and help you determine your dog’s accurate harness measurements.

Introduction To Harnesses For Dogs

More and more dog owners have made the decision to ditch their collar and lead for a canine harness. Harnesses are not only beneficial for our canine friends, but they offer assurance for dog owners as well. Ranging from issues of comfort to safety, a harness can provide support that a collar just cannot. 

Let’s list a few benefits to harness use in dogs below. 

Decreased pressure on the neck: Due to the fact that harnesses strap around your dog’s chest, they do not put pressure on a dog’s neck throughout their walks. Even slight pulling can cause neck pain for dogs, especially those with arthritis or underlying disc conditions. 

Adequate control of your dog: When a harness is measured correctly and strapped in place, it is highly unlikely for your pup to accidentally slip out. This means that no matter how hard your pup attempts to pull or escape your grasp, you have full control with your hands on the lead. 

Reduces pulling on walks: Due to the positioning of the harness along a dog’s chest and back, it is more challenging for them to pull their owner on walks. Unlike a collar that allows them to plant their feet on the ground and pull forward, a harness gives you more control of their entire body. If you stand firm, most dogs will be forced to slow down. 

Though each of the above benefits are impressive, they can only be achieved when a harness is properly measured to fit a dog’s body. The harness must be secure against a dog’s body, and should not allow for any slipping or rubbing against the skin. 

Not only will a properly measured harness offer comfort for your pup, but a harness that is too loose can increase the risk of them slipping out and running away. With this information in mind, you can begin to understand why harness measurement is so important.

How Tight Should My Dog’s Harness Be?

A harness that does not fit your dog correctly can lead to an array of complications. Whether the harness is too small or too large for your pup, this will eliminate the many benefits the harness could offer. 

Some of the potential risks of an improperly sized harness include:

  • Uncomfortable rubbing against the dog’s skin
  • Inadequate control of the dog on walks
  • Increased risk of pulling
  • Abrasions from constant rubbing of the harness
  • Pain due to the harness being too tight
  • Potential for the dog to slip out of the harness and escape

When determining if your dog’s new harness is right for them, you should always follow thetwo-finger rule. You should be able to place two fingers snuggly under the harness when it is secured, no more and no less. This extra space allows for comfortable movement for your dog, while also preventing any escape attempts.

Measuring Your Dog for a Harness

We always suggest measuring your dog before you purchase your harness of choice. This will allow you to choose the best sizing based on their body measurements, as well as reduce the risk of harness complications from improper sizing. 

In order to proceed to the next steps below, you should get out your measuring tape and ruler!

Step 1: Consult a Size Chart

All reputable harness and dog collar shops should provide asizing chart for each product sold. This should be in the section where you choose the color and sizing of your preferred harness, so be sure to have that pulled up and ready when making your sizing choice. 

Once you obtain the measurements we will discuss below, you can examine the sizing chart and choose the best size for your pup. 

Step 2: Measure Neck Girth

First, you will need to measure the girth of your dog’s neck. You can use your measuring tape around where a collar would typically sit, making sure to apply the two finger rule when measuring. Once you do this, make sure to write their results down.

Step 3: Measure Chest Girth

Next, you will move onto measuring your dog’s chest girth. You can do this with your measuring tape again, making sure to measure the widest portion of their rib cage. Make sure you measure around completely, with the end of the tape coming together on the top of the dog’s back. Once you complete this, write this result down as well. 

Step 4: Measure Body Length (may be optional)

The last area to measure is your dog’s entire body length. You can do this with either measuring tape or a ruler, but this will vary based on how big your furry friend is. Be sure to measure from the base of the neck to the base of their tail. Once completed, write this result down as well. 

Not all harnesses require this measurement, but it’s good to have this measurement just in case.

Now that you have these measurements for your pup written down, you can examine the sizing chart for your harness of choice. Just scan the chart for a sizing option that fits your dog’s results, and you can determine the best harness for your canine friend. 

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Other Factors to Consider

Proper measurement is the most important aspect of finding the best harness for your dog, but there are other important factors to consider as well. Everything from harness style to harness purposeis essential when making the best purchase, so we urge you to research these optics as well. Some harnesses work better for certain pups based on their size and activity interest, so you will want to understand these details before you start shopping.

Now that you understand the importance of harness sizing for dogs, you can choose the best harness for your canine companion!

Meet The Author 

Amber LaRock Author of Doberman Breed Guide

Amber LaRock

Vet Tech & Trainer

Amber is a Licensed Vet Tech with a degree in Veterinary Technology. Recently she has specialized in veterinary and animal-related content creation and social media management. When she is not working she loves spending time with her furry friends exploring the outdoors.

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