How to Measure Your Dog for a Perfect Fit

With the wide variety of apparel and accessories available for pets, choosing the right size can be daunting. And proper fit is especially important for dogs. Wearing anything on their bodies is an alien concept to them, and they will not be comfortable with the experience if they feel constricted or their movement is hindered. Improper fit can even be dangerous -- too tight can impair blood circulation or interfere with natural movement and breathing, and garments that are too loose can create safety hazards by tangling in your dog's legs or falling down over their eyes. Beside that -- just like us, our pets simply look better in properly fitted clothes!

And just like us, individual dogs vary in size and physique. Even within individual breeds, there is a lot of variation in size, so choosing your size based on a list of breeds is not a very accurate method, either, so such lists should only be taken as a suggestion, not a true guideline. Size ranges such as 'small, medium and large' can also be deceptive, as everyone's perception of generalized sizes is a bit different. One person's concept of a medium sized dog is quite often another person's concept of a small dog. The only truly accurate way to choose the right sized garments for your dog is to use your dog's actual measurements. Just like in human clothing sizing, there are certain key measurements for each type of dog garment.

Manufacturers will usually list at least one measurement as a guideline for their sizes, but the best fitting clothing will be based on more than one measurement. Knowing what these measurements are, and where they are found on your dog's body is the first step toward finding your dog's ideal fit.

The Measurements:

You may find some of the terminology unique to canine anatomy unfamiliar.

This diagram and the following explanation should help clarify:

The three basic measurements of a dog's body

are Topline, Girth (chest) and Neck

These are the measurements you will need for most basic garments

such as coats and jackets, as well as for collars and neckwear.

The Topline is the length of your dog's back, measured along the top of the spine from the withers (point A) - the high part of the back between the shoulders, where the neck joins the body, to the base of the tail (point B) where the tail joins the body.

The Girth (or Chest) measurement is taken all the way around the biggest part of your dog's ribcage, generally just behind the withers (point C) down and around just behind the front legs (point D) and back up the other side to point C.

The Neck is measured at the place where your dog's collar would naturally rest* - from about the top of the chest (point E) to just above the withers (point F) - this measurement is also taken all the way around.

*note: for Sighthounds such as the Greyhound and some other long necked breeds, the collar is worn much higher, actually at the top of the neck below the head, but in measuring for coats and similar garments, the neck measurement for these dogs is taken lower than the collar, about midway between collar level and withers - approximately the same level as line E-F in the above diagram. For dogs with short thick necks, such as Pugs, and dogs with a very full coat in the neck/chest area like Pomeranians, determining the neck measurement can be a bit tricky. For most apparel, and neckwear accessories like bandannas on this type of dog, you may want to use a neck measurement taken a bit lower than collar level (closer to the withers) for a more flattering fit.

...Incidentally (in case you were wondering) -- the standard measurement of a dog's Height is from the withers (point A) to the floor.

Other Measurements You May Need for Specialty Garments

Follow manufacturers directions carefully, they usually give detailed descriptions

of which measurements are needed. Some (but not all) follow:

The Head measurement is taken from just in front of the ears (point G), around under the jaw (point H) and back up. This measurement is needed for some kinds of headgear, and especially for Snoods and hoods.

The Back of the Neck** is measured for Snoods from just above the ears (point G) to the neck at standard collar level (point F)

** note: For Hoods, Snuggy Snoods, and some turtleneck-type garments, the Back of the Neck is measured from just above the ears (point G) to the withers (point A)

The Under Chest measurement - from just above the chest at standard collar level (point E) down under the dog, between the front legs to just behind the last rib (point L) is sometimes used for garments with chest warmers or belly protectors.

The Waist (also sometimes called girth -- but not to be confused with the chest girth) is measured around the dog just behind the last rib (point L) up around the body (point M) - measured all the way around. This measurement is used for some "shorty" garments, and for specialty items like pants and shorts.

And for the boys --- the Belly Girth*** used for Belly Band sizing is measured around the thin point of the body, just in front of the dog's hind legs (point J) positioned so it will wrap over his 'wee-wee' (point K) This measurement should be taken a bit more snugly than the others -- to ensure the Belly Band will stay in place.

*** note: the Belly Girth measurement is also used by some manufacturers for sizing sanitary pants for the girls, too.

How to Take the Measurements:

It helps to have everything you need ready before you start:

1) A flexible measuring tool. A seamstress' or tailor's type tape measure is best, but if you don't have one you can use a ribbon or a piece of string and a yardstick or ruler -- mark the measurement on the ribbon, and then use the yardstick or ruler to measure it.

2) A flat surface for the dog to stand on. For the little ones, a tabletop can save your back!

3) A piece of paper and something to write with. Prevents the necessity of re-measuring when you forget the numbers.

4) A human assistant -- especially helpful if your dog is a squirmer, or to keep your little one from jumping off the tabletop while you write down the measurements.

5) The dog. -- You didn't think we would forget this one, would you??

Now you are ready to measure. Have the dog stand nice and straight (think "show dog") with all four legs spaced normally under the body and head and tail up. Then determine the corresponding points on your dog to the points on the diagram above.

Take each measurement a bit loosely, so there will be room for your dog to move and breathe, but not too loose. (the measurement for Belly Bands is the exception -- it needs to be a bit snug) Do not add extra for the overlap and closures of the garments, that is taken into consideration by the manufacturers. You need the actual body measurements of the dog, not the dimensions of the finished garments.

Write down each measurement, and then measure a second time just to be sure. Most dog apparel is not returnable, in order to prevent the possibility of skin diseases or parasites being transmitted to other pets. It is better to measure twice than be sorry!

When you are all done, be sure to give your dog an extra treat for being such a good model!

How to Use the Measurements to Determine Size

So now you have these numbers -- how do you make sense of the sizes??

This is where things vary a bit according to designer, manufacturer and type of apparel. A general rule of thumb is to choose a size based on the measurement corresponding with the most "fitted" part of the garment. As I stated above, most manufacturers will include at least one measurement with their size, and in many cases, a better fit can be obtained using more than just one measurement, and for some styles, this is necessary.

If any of the measurements are 'between' two sizes, choose the larger size. If your measurements are toward the upper end of the range given for a particular size, you may also want to choose the larger size, as you may also wish to do for heavily coated dogs to accommodate all that fur.

Unless specifically stated otherwise, for all apparel except collars****, the measurements you will use are the actual body measurements of the dog. The designer or manufacturer should take into account the extra inches needed for overlaps and closures, and cut and sew the garments accordingly.

**** note: For Collar Sizes -- the general rule is to take the dog's actual neck measurement and add two inches to get your collar size. This also may vary according to manufacturer and type of collar - so be sure to read descriptions carefully. A properly fitting collar should allow you to slip two fingers easily underneath, between the collar and the dog's neck. Even after he or she is full gown, be sure to check the fit of your dog's collar periodically, as changes in weight, and even the growth of a heavier winter coat can affect the fit. Leather and some other collar materials can stretch or shrink over time, especially if they get wet. A properly fitted collar is imperative, as a too-tight collar can cause serious injury, and a too-loose collar can easily slip off over your dog's head.

If you follow all of these guidelines for measuring and choosing the proper sizes, you should be able to decipher the sometimes confusing or even conflicting information found on different manufacturers' and designers' dog apparel. You should be able to make the best possible choices for a comfortable and flatterring fit, and soon you will have the Best-Dressed Best Friend on the block!

A note about sizing from Especially Fur You Pet Boutique:

There are no standard sizes in the pet industry. Each manufacturer has their own size ranges for their products. At Especially Fur You by Princess Dolly, we have attempted to create a standardized sizing scale for our handcrafted items, so that our products are all uniform. Neckwear and apparel is sized according to the actual measurements of the garment, so unless specified otherwise in the listing, be sure to allow a bit of extra space for comfort. If any of your measurements are toward the larger end of the size range, you may want to choose the next size up, or check our 'specialty size' ranges (Sighthound, Chunky Pup and Long Dog) Also for heavy coated dogs, a larger size may be required, especially in the cold seasons when the coat grows in thicker. See our eBay About Me Page and our size charts for more information on our apparel and neckwear sizes. Please measure carefully before buying and email if you have any questions about fit before you bid or make a purchase.


Especially Fur You Pet Boutique

Especially Fur You
160 Lawr.-Penn. Rd.
Suite 16 #153
Lawrenceville, NJ 08648

eBay seller id: dollydoggy