How Do Your Measure Your Dog for a Harness

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How Do Your Measure Your Dog for a Harness
By LITTLE PUPPY PAWS | April 12, 2024
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Getting the right harness for your dog is crucial for their comfort, safety, and well-being during walks and outdoor adventures. A well-fitted harness ensures that your furry friend is secure without restricting their movement or causing discomfort. But how do you measure your dog for a harness? 

To measure your dog for a harness, use a flexible measuring tape to get the girth (around the chest just behind the front legs) and neck measurements. Ensure the tape is snug but not tight. For some styles, like “step-in” harnesses, measure the length from the base of the neck to the base of the tail. Consult the manufacturer’s sizing chart and choose a harness that allows two fingers to fit between the harness and your dog’s body for a comfortable, secure fit.


Why is a Harness Better Than a Collar?

A harness offers several advantages over a collar for dogs, making it a popular choice among pet owners. Here are some reasons why a harness is often considered better than a collar:

Reduced Strain on Neck:

  • Collars, especially when used with dogs that pull, can put significant pressure on the neck and throat, potentially leading to tracheal damage or neck injuries.
  • Harnesses distribute the force of pulling across the chest and shoulders, reducing strain on the neck.

Enhanced Control:

  • Harnesses provide better control over your dog, particularly for those that tend to pull or have a strong prey drive.
  • The design of certain harnesses, like front-clip or no-pull styles, redirects the dog’s forward motion, making it easier for the owner to guide them.

Preventing Escapes:

  • Some dogs are skilled at slipping out of collars, especially if they’re excited or fearful.
  • Harnesses typically have multiple points of attachment, making it more difficult for a dog to escape.

Comfort and Safety:

  • Harnesses are generally more comfortable for dogs, especially those with respiratory issues or neck sensitivities.
  • They don’t put pressure on the delicate throat area, reducing the risk of choking or gagging.
  • For small dogs or puppies, harnesses provide extra security without risking injury to their fragile necks.

Training Purposes:

  • Certain harness styles, like front-clip or no-pull harnesses, are effective tools for training dogs to walk politely on a leash.
  • By discouraging pulling and promoting better leash manners, harnesses can aid in training and behavior modification.


  • Harnesses come in various styles to suit different needs, such as back-clip, front-clip, step-in, no-pull, and safety harnesses.
  • Depending on the activity or situation, owners can choose the most appropriate harness style for their dog.

Safety in Car Rides:

  • Many harnesses double as safety restraints for car rides, keeping dogs secure and preventing distractions while driving.
  • They are designed to attach to seat belts, ensuring dogs are safely restrained during travel.

Ideal for Certain Breeds:

  • Breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, are prone to respiratory issues. Harnesses alleviate pressure on their airways, making them a safer option.
  • Sighthounds, such as Greyhounds, have slender necks that can easily slip out of collars. Harnesses provide a more secure fit for these breeds.

Why is Measuring Your Dog for a Harness Important?

Before we delve into the steps of measuring your dog, let’s understand why it’s so crucial to get the right fit for their harness:


  • A properly fitting harness ensures your dog’s comfort during walks or activities.
  • Ill-fitting harnesses can cause chafing, rubbing, or even injuries.


  • The right harness prevents your dog from slipping out and escaping.
  • It distributes the force of pulling evenly, reducing the risk of neck injuries.


  • A harness allows for better control over your dog, especially if they tend to pull.
  • It’s ideal for training purposes and managing strong or excitable dogs.


  • Harnesses are beneficial for dogs with respiratory issues, as they don’t put pressure on the neck.
  • They can also be helpful for senior dogs with arthritis or joint problems.

Now that we understand the importance, let’s move on to the steps of measuring your furry companion.

Steps to Measure Your Dog for a Harness

Getting the right harness for your dog is essential for their comfort and safety during walks and adventures. But how do you measure your furry friend for a harness that fits just right?

Gather Your Supplies:

  • Measuring Tape: A flexible measuring tape is best for accuracy.
  • Treats: To keep your dog calm and happy during the process.

Get Your Dog Ready:

  • Choose a time when your dog is calm and relaxed.
  • Have someone assist you if your dog is wiggly or excitable.

Measure the Girth:

  • The girth is the circumference of your dog’s chest, just behind their front legs.
  • Have your dog stand up straight.
  • Wrap the measuring tape around the widest part of their chest.
  • Make sure the tape is snug but not too tight.
  • Note down the measurement in inches or centimeters.

Measure the Neck:

  • This measurement ensures the harness won’t be too tight around the neck.
  • Place the measuring tape around the base of your dog’s neck where the collar usually sits.
  • Again, make sure it’s snug but not constricting.
  • Note down the measurement.

Measure the Length:

  • For certain harness styles, you may need the length from the base of the neck to the base of the tail.
  • Have your dog stand up straight.
  • Place the tape at the base of the neck and extend it along the spine to the base of the tail.
  • This measurement is useful for “step-in” harnesses.

Check Breed-Specific Measurements:

  • Some breeds have unique body shapes that may require specific harness styles.
  • Research breed-specific measurements if applicable.
  • Consider adjustable harnesses for growing puppies.

Consult the Sizing Chart:

  • Each harness brand may have its own sizing chart.
  • Compare your dog’s measurements to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • If your dog falls between sizes, choose the larger one for comfort.

Try Before You Buy:

  • If possible, bring your dog to the pet store to try on different harnesses.
  • Ensure a snug fit without being too tight.
  • Check for any rubbing or chafing points.

Test the Fit:

  • Once you have the harness on your dog, check the fit:
    • You should be able to fit two fingers between the harness and your dog’s body.
    • Ensure it’s not too loose to slip out of.
    • Watch for any signs of discomfort or restricted movement.

Adjust if Necessary:

  • Most harnesses have adjustable straps.
  • Ensure all straps are snug but not too tight.
  • Trim any excess strap length to prevent tripping hazards.

Choosing the Right Harness Style

Choosing the right harness style for your dog is crucial to ensure their comfort, safety, and control during walks and activities. With various harness designs available, each serving specific purposes, it’s essential to understand the options before making a selection.¬†

Back-Clip Harness:

  • Ideal for well-trained dogs who don’t pull excessively.
  • Clips on the back for easy leash attachment.
  • Not recommended for strong pullers as it can encourage pulling.

Front-Clip Harness:

  • Helps with training by discouraging pulling.
  • Leash attaches at the chest, redirecting your dog’s forward motion.
  • Great for dogs in training or those who pull.

Step-In Harness:

  • Dogs step into these harnesses and they buckle on the back.
  • Good for dogs who don’t like things going over their heads.
  • Ensure the length measurement for this style.

No-Pull Harness:

  • Designed to discourage pulling behavior.
  • Often includes front and back leash attachment points.
  • Offers more control for handlers.

Safety Harness:

  • Used for car rides to keep your dog secure.
  • Often doubles as a walking harness.
  • Look for crash-tested options for maximum safety.

Adjustable Harness:

  • Ideal for growing puppies or dogs in between sizes.
  • Allows for precise adjustments for a custom fit.
  • Versatile for various body shapes.


Measuring your dog for a harness is a simple yet essential task that ensures their comfort, safety, and control during walks and activities. By following these steps and considering the different harness styles, you can select the perfect fit for your furry friend. Remember, a well-fitted harness not only enhances your dog’s experience but also makes outings more enjoyable for both of you. So, grab your measuring tape, some treats, and get started on finding the ideal harness for your canine companion!