how to measure a dog for a harness

How to Measure a Dog for a Harness

A harness is a very important piece of accessory for a dog owner. From taking walks to training a dog, the harness comes in handy for both the owner and the dog itself. Owing to its vast uses and advantages, the harness you choose must be comfortable for both you and your dog. The level of comfort that stems from a harness depends on the type, size, and build of the harness. A comfortable harness can allow you to spend more time with your dog without having to put your dog under any pain or discomfort that might come from a collar. 

Some dog owners unwittingly subject their dogs to dangerous conditions by the kind of harness they choose. This, in most cases, stems from the fitting of the harness. Therefore, this article will focus on how to measure a dog for a harness and ensure that your dog only gets the most perfectly-size harness that it feels comfortable in.  

Why Use a Harness for Your Dog?

why use a harness for your dog

Traditionally, dog owners either use a collar or a harness as the leash attachment for their dogs. They both are about the most popular gears with dog owners, but let’s look at the leash first. This product plays a crucial role in the well-being of your dog. First, you hold the leash when you take the dog out on a walk. 

Second, it is the same leash you’ll use whenever you need to restrict your dog. A harness will allow for more control and restrict jumping, pulling, or too much running. Sure, there are times when you don’t want to let the dog loose, and the leash comes in handy at times like this.

Well, while there is hardly any alternative to the leash, you can choose between using a harness or a collar for your dog. What is better between these two has been a hot debate for a long time, but the available facts tend to favor harness. Let’s see the pros and cons of each of them.

Many dog trainers and veterinarians have argued over the years that using a harness is safer for dogs. They believe collars concentrate the force of pulling around the neck, whereas harnesses spread it across the chest, front legs, and back. As a result, collars are more likely to cause throat damage than harnesses, especially if the dog pulls. The dog’s size is a factor here, just as the fitting of the harness. It is one of the reasons why learning how to measure a dog for a harness is vital for every dog owner.

Another advantage harnesses have over collars is that they are less likely to come off your dog. For instance, dogs with heads smaller than their necks can have collars slip off relatively easily. On the other hand, Harnesses are next to impossible to slip off.

In addition, older dogs may benefit from the support harnesses offer, especially when they want to get back on their feet.

What to Look for in a Harness

dog using a harness

When you’ve decided that you need a harness for your dog, there are several factors to consider. At least we all know there are different brands and styles of harnesses on the market. With all these options available, what are the qualities you should look for while choosing a harness for your dog?

Point of Connection

elastic harness with point of connection at the back
Photo by Cristina Glebova on Unsplash

Harnesses usually have the clips in the front or at the back. Though there are harnesses with buckles at the side, they have limited use. You can consider those only if your dog is still in training. The fact that the leash connects at the side gives you much control over the dog. So quickly, you can decide the direction you want it to move towards. 

Aside from the need for training, you may have to consider a harness with a clip in the front or at the back. In this case, you will have to factor your dog’s size, age, and breed into choosing a harness. It may harm the dog and even you if you get it wrong. This is especially true if your dog exhibits unruly behaviors such as pulling.  

Thickness and texture

harness thickness and texture
Photo by Rajas Chitnis on Unsplash

The thickness of the harness may determine whether your dog finds the harness comfortable or not. The same thing goes for the texture. Some dog owners make the mistake of thinking because dogs have furs, the harness’s texture does not matter. 

Despite the coats, dogs want something soft, so padding is a crucial factor in choosing any accessory for the dog. Besides, thickness corresponds to durability, though the quality of the material is also a factor. You don’t want to buy a harness that falls apart the following month, and neither do you want to buy one that irritates your dog.    

Machine washable

machine washable harness

This is not so important to everyone, yet it deserves consideration. Harnesses get dirty too, and you will need to wash them sooner or later. However, you decide on the type of harness you want before then. You should determine whether you want to get a machine washable model or ones that can only be hand-washed or need to be dry-cleaned. This is one of the glossed over factors that you need to look into before making a purchase.

The adjustability of straps 

Although harnesses with adjustable straps are primarily simple and less fashionable, they may be the best under some circumstances. Besides, adjustable harnesses get you closer to getting the right-sized harness for your dog than any other type. An adjustable harness might also provide some room for your dog to grow into if your dog is still growing or you are expecting it to put on some weight.

Benefits of a Perfect-sized Harness

benefits of a perfect-sized harness

Trying to get a harness of the perfect size for your dog may seem burdensome; however, the pros outweigh the cons. Below are some of the benefits of using a harness of the correct size for your dog:

  • It does not chafe the dog
  • The dog can’t wriggle out of it
  • Does not choke your dog
  • It distributes weight evenly
  • Gives you a lot of control
  • It is comfortable for both you and your dog

How to Measure a Dog for a Harness

dog using a harness

By now, you should agree that before buying a harness for your dog, knowing the right size is essential. What is left now is how to know the correct size. Well, there’s no other way to understand this other than to understand how to measure a dog for a harness. The harness is perfect only when it is the right size.

The first thing to do is get a tape measure and get your dog comfortably standing. The chest is the most crucial part of the dog when measuring for harness sizing, and this is understandable since most of the harness goes around the chest. Besides the chest, the neck’s circumference is another factor that plays a vital role in determining the size of the harness. 

First, you need to put the tape measure around the dog’s chest, just behind the front legs. This point is, in most cases, the broadest part of a dog’s chest. If this point is not the most expansive part for your dog, please locate where it has gotten the broadest girth and take a measurement. 

Let the measuring tape wrap snugly around the dog but not too tight to ensure the size is correct. If you hold the measuring tape in place, you should be able to easily tuck two fingers in between the tape and the body of the dog.  

Finally, while taking measurements, don’t forget to move the tape back and forth a bit. The snugness must leave ample room for the expansion of the rib cage during respiration because your dog needs breathing space.

When you’re sure you’ve taken all these precautions, you then take your measurement. The figure you get is the correct size of harness for your dog.  


You can only enjoy the full advantages of harnesses when you use a harness of the correct size for your dog. Otherwise, the result will be unsatisfactory, and it will be a waste of time and money. To save yourself from this unsavory consequence, you should know how to measure a dog for a harness. This knowledge will help you always get the perfect size for your dog. 

However, you may not feel the need to learn this until you understand why your dog needs a harness. Arguably, dogs and dog owners may benefit more from a harness than a collar. In addition, harnesses are more fashionable and comfortable if they’re the correct size. 

Don’t forget that measurement should be a periodic exercise because your dog’s size is subject to changes from time to time. 

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