How to measure a dog's height

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Written by Dr Andrew Miller MRCVSDr Andrew Miller MRCVS is an expert veterinary working in the field for over 10 years after graduating from Bristol University. Andy fact checks and writes for Pure Pet Food while also working as a full time veterinarian. Pure Pet FoodPure Pet Food are the experts in healthy dog food and healthy dogs featured in media outlets such as BBC, Good Housekeeping and The Telegraph. Working with high profile veterinary professionals and nutritionists, Pure Pet Food are changing dog food for the better. - Our editorial process

You probably had a doorframe covered in pencil marks as a kid, recording every inch that you grew. But things aren’t so simple when you try to measure a dog’s height. For a start, you won’t measure to the top of their head!

As an owner, you’ll probably need to measure your dog’s height at some point in your pet’s life, whether it’s to buy a new crate, a coat, or to help monitor their weight.

In this guide we’ll explain how to measure a dog’s height at home, and how to take your dog’s other important measurements.

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Why do you need to know your dog’s height?

It’s always a good idea to know roughly how big your dog is, but there are several reasons why you might need to know your dog’s height.

Your vet might want to know your dog’s height and weight to assess their body condition.

Or maybe you’re about to buy a new harness or a cosy jumper to keep your pup warm in the winter.

You will also need to know your dog’s height if you’re planning to buy a dog crate or a doggy door, so you can be certain that your pooch can fit inside it comfortably.

Finally, if you ever want to compete in a dog sport or show your pooch off at a dog show, you’ll need to know your dog’s height. This is especially true if you plan on taking your pup to agility classes because you’ll need to know their height to know how tall the obstacles should be!

Show dogs are measured with a special U-Shaped device called a wicket which goes from the floor, up and over the dog, and back to the floor again. These devices allow judges to measure a dog’s height quickly and accurately, but they’re costly bits of kit! So, how can you measure your dog’s height at home?

How to measure a dog’s height

First things first, you won’t be measuring where you think. Traditionally when measuring a dog’s height, you don’t measure up to the top of their skull like you would with a human. Instead, you will measure them to their withers.

The withers are the highest part of your dog’s back when they’re standing with all four paws on the floor. You’ll find their withers between the base of their neck and their shoulder blades.

How to measure a dog’s height to the withers

To measure your dog to the withers, keep your dog stood still and use a tape measure.

Take the tape measure from the floor straight up to the level of your dog’s withers, keeping the tape perpendicular to your dog’s front legs.

Remember to hold the tape measure straight and to keep your dog still. You might want to get someone to help you by holding your dog still, or try convincing your pup to stand still with a tasty treat!

But because a dog’s withers are right in the middle of their body, it can be difficult to get an accurate measurement with just a tape measure. For a more accurate measurement, you can use a spirit level, a metre rule, or anything else that’s level and try this next trick.

Stand your dog beside a wall and place your level flat on your dog’s withers. Let the level touch the wall and mark where it touches the wall with a pencil. (If you don’t want to mark your wall, use a blob of blu tack or a piece of tape.)

Then simply measure from the floor up to the mark you made on the wall. This will give you a more accurate measurement of your dog’s height.

How to measure a dog’s full height

If you ever need to measure your dog’s full height from the floor to the top of their head, you can use the same methods.

Keep your dog stood still and use your tape measure to measure from the floor up to the top of your dog’s skull. If their ears are the tallest point on their body, measure up to the tips of their ears. You could also use the spirit level trick again.

How to measure a dog’s length

Measuring a dog’s length is a little bit easier, but it still might not be what you expected.

When you measure your dog’s length, you just need to measure the length of their body from the base of their neck to the base of their tail. (There’s no need to measure to the tip of their nose or tail!)

To measure your dog’s length, just take a tailor's tape measure and measure your dog from the back of their neck to the base of their tail, with the tape measure following their spine.

If you don’t have a tailor's tape, you can use anything else that’s long and pliable, like a length of string, their lead, or even a charger cable. Put one end against the base of your dog’s neck, run the cord along their spine, and mark where the base of their tail would be with a pencil, some tape, or cut the string if you’re using it. Then lie the cord flat on the floor or on a table and measure it from the end to the mark.

You could use a regular tape measure to measure your dog’s length, but it’s a bit trickier to get an accurate measurement.

How to measure a dog’s side length

If you’re buying a coat for your dog, you might be asked for their “side length”. This is the length from the front of your dog’s chest to the end of their body.

To measure your dog’s side length, take your tape measure and measure from the furthest-forward part of your dog’s chest, to the furthest-back part of their bum or back leg.

How to measure a dog’s girth

One last but very important measurement you might have to make is your dog’s girth. This measures your dog’s chest, and it’s really important to know if you’re going to buy a coat or a harness for your pooch to wear.

To measure your dog’s girth, you’ll need a tailor's tape measure, a length of string, or anything else that you can easily and comfortably wrap around your dog.

Take your tape and wrap it around your dog’s chest at the widest part of their ribcage. This is usually the area of their chest just behind the armpits of their front legs.

If you’re using a string or a cord, you’ll need to mark the end of the measurement using a pen or tape. Then lay the string flat and measure it from the end to the marked length using a ruler or tape measure.