Home Dog Supplies How to Measure for and Choose the Right Dog Harness

How to Measure for and Choose the Right Dog Harness


We all know that dogs need exercise. Whether you do daily walks or go hiking on wooded trails in your area, there are key pieces of equipment you need. A dog harness is a must-have for every dog, but not all pet owners know how to measure a dog for a harness or how to choose the right size.

Me and my dogs had our fair share of different dog harnesses over the years. Today, I'm going to show you the best techniques on how to measure a dog for a dog harness, and how to pick the right type of harness for your dog – all from personal experience.

Dog collars can be detrimental to your dog's neck and throat, especially if you didn't fit it properly and if the dog loves to pull on his leash.

Dog harnesses, on the other hand, disperse the pressure throughout your dog's chest instead of his neck. They also offer better control over your dog, which is very important when you're around other dogs or strange people, and if your dog loves to pull.

While a dog harness may be a better option than a traditional dog collar, most pet owners have a hard time figuring out which size and what style of a dog harness would be best for their dog, their dog's behavior or the type of activities that they partake in.

It may seem a little intimidating now, but this quick guide will show you how to measure your dog properly for a dog harness and pick the correct one. I'll also explain three different styles of dog harnesses and which is the easiest to put on your dog.

For more detailed information on adjusting your dog's harness, check my video guide on how to put on a dog harness – you'll learn an easy way to put on a dog harness.

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How to Measure for and Choose the Right Dog Harness for Your Fido

How To Measure For and Choose the Right Dog Harness
Measure your dog's neck, like I'm doing here with Saddie.

Measuring for a Dog Harness

I know it seems like it would be difficult, but it's actually just two simple steps:

  1. Measure your dog's neck size
  2. Measure your dog's chest size

All you'll need is a cloth tape measure, and you'll be able to get all the measurements you need to find the perfect dog harness for your canine.

As I demonstrate in my video guide above, you'll need to get your dog's neck measurement first. Just wrap the tape measure around your dog's neck where a traditional dog collar would sit (see the above photo).

This is your dog's neck size.

How To Measure For and Choose the Right Dog Harness
Measuring my Saddie's chest (girth).

Finding the right size dog harness will also require knowing your dog's girth measurement. This is the term used for the measurement of the dog's chest.

You need to measure the deepest part of the chest, as this is where the strap of the dog harness will secure around your dog (see the photo on the right).

Find the deepest part of your dog's chest, which is usually directly below his shoulder blades. Put the start of the tape measure on this spot on his chest, wrap the tape up and around his shoulders, and then back down around his chest.

This is his girth, or chest, measurement.

It's best to buy your dog's harness locally, because that gives you the chance to bring your dog with you and try it on before you buy it. If you purchase a dog harness online, be sure that you can return it (Amazon is the most hassle-free online retailer). This is because it's very possible that you'll pick the wrong size dog harness for your pet.

All dogs have slightly different shapes, so different types of dog harnesses fit them all a little differently, and it sometimes takes trial and error. A dog harness that is comfortable for my Labrador may cause chaffing for your dog of the same breed and similar size.

ULTIMATE LIST: The 50 Best Dog Harnesses for Walking Your Dogs

How To Measure For and Choose the Right Dog Harness
Here's what a well-fit dog harness looks like on my Lab.

Different Styles of Dog Harnesses
(and which is right for your dog)

In the video guide above, I demonstrate the two most common styles of dog harnesses – an over-the-head harness and a step-in harness. The names pretty much say it all. One slips over your dog's head, and he'll need to step into the other one.

As you can see, our Saddie prefers the over-the-head harness (the one I have is from Dex Dog). Honestly, I prefer this style too. It's much easier to put on and take off your dog.

The best thing that you can do if you're new to purchasing dog harnesses is to go to your local pet store and check out the available options. Bring your dog with you, try on multiple styles and see which one you both prefer. If you have problems with your dog pulling, then there are specific ones that help with that issue.

In my video you can see that Saddie isn't a huge fan of either of the step-in dog harnesses. However, when it's time to put on her over-the-head harness, she is glad to oblige. It just happens to be the best option for both of us, but if you are in doubt – always choose what is best for your dog, and make sure your pet is comfortable and safe.

While you may like one style better than the other, it's not you that has to wear it. Chances are, if your dog has an aversion to a certain type of dog harness, it is because it makes him uncomfortable.

READ NEXT: 6 Best Dog Harnesses for Dogs That Pull


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