How to Measure Your Dog for a Harness

By: Chewy EditorialUpdated:

How to Measure Your Dog for a Harness

How to Measure Your Dog for a Harness

Dog parents know that no two dogs are the same. Just like with children, pups each have their own unique personality and needs. And the same goes for your dog harness.

Generally speaking, dog harnesses are known to be safe and more comfortable alternatives to the standard collars, but selecting the right option and size for your dog can seem complicated. Luckily, with the right knowledge and tools, measuring your pup for a dog harness can be quick and easy.

Use these tips to measure your dog and get the perfect fit for your next dog harness!

A Modern Fit

One of the main reasons pet parents opt for a dog harness is to take stress off their pet’s neck while preventing pulling and tugging.

“There is no one, perfect harness for every dog,” says Sally A. Morgan, PT and CST at Holistic Physical Therapy for Pets and People in West Hatfield, Massachusetts. “Many popular current harnesses only attach to the dog at the front… [and] any pulling of this attachment will generally shift the harness and pull the dog out of balance [to re-direct the dog’s attention].”

For tough walkers and stubborn, energetic pooches, the PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness is a chest-attachment harness that allows you to steer your pup and regain control over your daily walks. It is available in a wide range of colors and sizes, making it a great tool for all breeds to help make taking walks fun again for you and your four-legged companion.

Consider Comfort

“Ideally, the shoulders should be able to move freely, and the harness should not restrict movement of the front legs. Also, the front of the harness should be fairly low on the chest and not [cross] any of the sensitive structures [on] the neck and throat,” says Morgan.

When it comes to pet collars and harnesses, there’s nothing wrong with combining safety with comfort and style. A mesh harness, such as the Four Paws Comfort Control Dog Harness, reduces tugging and pulling by applying pressure to the chest, rather than the neck to prevent straining and potential injury. Focusing on form as well as function, this harness is designed for multiple breeds and comes in a variety of colors so and your pup can comfortably and confidently walk in style.

Since harness sizes vary between manufacturers, it’s important to follow the measurement charts provided to be sure you have the right fit.

Can’t Go Wrong With a Classic

When trying to figure out how to put a harness on a dog, all of the different measurements required to get a perfect fit might seem overwhelming.

“People tend to…tighten [a dog’s harness] more and more until the dog’s shoulders or neck are injured,” says Morgan. “Measurements for a harness include the girth of the dog just behind the elbows and around the middle, as well as the distance from an inch behind each elbow and around the chest. But, every harness is made differently and may sit higher or lower on the dog’s shoulders [depending on the manufacturer.]”

For pet parents that prefer the classics, the Red Dingo Classic Dog Harness is a high-quality option with sewn seams for maximum strength that never goes out of style. This traditional dog harness is available in a wide variety of colors and sizes to please even the trendiest of pooches.

Finding the Right Fit

Regardless of which type of harness you choose for your pup, whether it’s a step-in harness or a non-pull option, you will need to make sure the fit is right. Here are some tips for measuring your dog so you can pick out the right harness size the first time around.

In order to find the right size, you will need to know the weight of your dog and to take some measurements of their chest and neck. To get the most accurate measurements, use a flexible cloth tape measure, like the ones that tailors use. When measuring your dog’s chest, you should place the end of the tape measure at the bottom of the rib cage, behind the front legs, and loop it around their back to bring it back to the bottom of their rib cage. To measure your pup’s neck, find the thickest part of their neck and take that measurement.

When you look at harness sizes, you will notice that most of the size charts are broken into two measurements (neck and chest girth), and they sometimes have a weight sizing guide. You will use the two measurements you have taken to find the best fit.

It is suggested to size up if your dog is right on the cusp because you can always tighten a harness. You do not want to limit your dog’s range of movement by putting him in a too snug harness. A tight harness can also cause chafing and hair loss.

To make sure your pet’s harness is not too tight, stick two fingers under the harness while it is on your dog. You want to be able to fit those two fingers under the harness and have it be snug. Signs that your harness is not fitting properly include chafing, hair loss, your dog wiggling out of it, the back piece rotating to the sides, or your dog just refusing to walk in it.

For most dogs, going on a walk is fun and exciting. Ideally, pet owners should also enjoy time spent with their four-legged friends outdoors, but that can be tough when working with a dog that tends to behave unexpectedly. A harness is a helpful alternative to the traditional dog collar because it takes the strain off a dog’s neck and gives better control by redirecting a pup’s energy to his chest.

Finding a proper harness is just as important as ensuring the ideal fit. When shopping, consider a variety of options in order to select the one that is right for you and your dog. Remember to reference the specific manufacturer measurement guide when fitting your pet! A properly fitted and comfortable harness can be the winning combination for a safe and enjoyable walk.

Dominika is a Chicago native who graduated from DePaul University with a bachelor’s degree in English. Having nearly a decade of combined experience in the fields of marketing, journalism, UX and social, she thrives in the fast-paced and ever-changing world of digital media. When she is not working, Dominika can be found at the beach, traveling the world or cuddling her female Rottie named Ezra. 


By: Chewy EditorialUpdated: