LIFESTYLE

How to Measure Dog Height: Discovering If There’s More Than Meets the Eye About How Tall Your Pooch Stands

measuring dog's height
Wyatt Robinson
Written by Wyatt Robinson

Besides helping you to make the right purchases when buying dog equipment and accessories, knowing your dog’s height can help you predict his behavior and plan accordingly. Also, if you are into dog shows, you might have encountered dogs that failed to meet the threshold for shows and competition because their heights were not accurately taken before by their owners. So, it is important to know how to measure dog height.

When it comes to taking measurements like weight, the process is quite straight forward. However, if you are to measure your dog’s height, you might find it a bit complicated as it requires more knowledge. Not to worry, though—with the right information, every responsible dog owner should be able to take height measurements at home correctly. Here’s where we come in; we have done thorough research on all that you need to know when it comes to measuring dog height.

Below, we have outlined why it is important to measure your dog’s height, the equipment you need for this task, and we also give you a step-by-step guide on how to do it. Additionally, you will find out how your dog’s height affects his behavior and abilities.

Why You Should Measure Your Dog’s Height

Before we get into the steps of taking height measurements of your canine friend, it is important to understand why you need to do it. Below are the major reasons why you need to know the height of your pooch.

#1: To Buy a Suitable Crate or Door

door for a dog

When you need to purchase a kennel or a doggy door, knowing his height will cut out guesswork. Your furry companion should be able to come in or go out the flapper of his door comfortably. The door size should allow him to jump and not get hurt. It is recommended that the door should be about 2 inches higher than him.

A good dog crate should allow him to lie down, stretch, stand up, and also turn around easily while in the cage. For puppies, make sure you buy them a big enough kennel; they are more restless and playful than adult dogs.

An important consideration for growing dogs is that you should predict their future height by considering the average height of their breed when making a purchase.

#2: For Sports and Training

Agility for a dog

Similar to us, your pooch requires training and exercise. Dogs can start agility sports from age 1 or 2 depending on their breed.

Since your dog has to overcome an obstacle course that has jumps in training, it is important to know his height. This will allow proper setting of hurdle height as puppies and small dogs can injure themselves while jumping.

#3: For a Dog’s Medical Records

dog and a vet

Basically, a dog’s medical record should include data and information like his length, weight, surgeries, prescribed medications, vaccination history, and vet visits. Not knowing your dog’s height and keeping tabs on it means you are not updating and maintaining his records.

You might be wondering if the height of your dog makes him more prone to leg injuries. Dysplasia, lameness, and hind legs weakness are some of the leg conditions dogs suffer from. Surprisingly, leg problems can affect a dog of any height. Your pooch’s height has very minimal influence on whether he will or not suffer from leg problems.

Hind legs weakness is caused by various injuries and ailments. Hind problems are broad enough to be a condition that can affect any dog equally, irrespective of their height.

#4: When Putting a Dog Up for Adoption

puppies for adoption

If you are a dog owner, breeder, or seller, you will be required to give information which includes his height when putting him up for adoption; this information is filled in a dog bill of sale form. This information helps the buyer to plan in advance and evaluate if the dog is suitable for his/her home.

#5: To Buy Fitting Apparel, Accessories, and Other Things

Apparel for a dog

Apparel and accessories are designed to cater to dogs of different sizes and heights. To ensure that they are not oversized or too tight, you need to know your dog’s height. For example, a short dog will require a longer training leash while a tall dog doesn’t require a very long one.

You’ll also need to know your dog’s height to buy an elevated dog feeder. An elevated dog feeder is a stand that elevates your pet’s bowls used for feeding and drinking. It is designed to place the bowls several inches above ground level.

The recommended height of a dog feeder should be level with your dog’s lower chest. Not using an elevated dog feeder can cause bloating. Bloating is when your furry friend’s stomach twists or flips, shutting off his stomach’s entry and exit points.

The condition leads to decreased blood flow, pain, as well as blocking the ability of your dog to pass gas and waste. If medical help is not provided, it can progress to shock and cause death.

The other major benefits of elevated dog feeder include improving your dog’s body posture, improving his swallowing, slowing down the eating pace, and promoting cleanliness and hygiene.

See Also: Bloat in Dogs

#6: To Confirm the Breed

measuring a dog

Your furry friend’s breed can be easily recognized by observing his physical characteristics such as his head, ears, coat, color, tail, as well as his height. Every dog breed has an average height, and if a dog falls out of the range of height by a large margin, this may be a reason for concern.

#7: For Dog Shows

dog show

Dog shows require that your dog’s data meets a certain threshold. Knowing your dog’s height will enable you to know if he is eligible in advance.

Dogs which fail to meet the height requirements of their breed for the show ring are mostly disqualified. In addition, taking your dog’s height measurement acquaints him with the procedure, hence reducing instances of discomfort or anxiety when it is done during the show.

#8: For Bonding

measuring dog's head

Taking height measurements is a fun activity for both the owner and the dog. This can be a good way of strengthening the bond between the two of you. Including a treat for your dog may see some more love coming your way.

Equipment Needed for Measuring a Dog’s Height

When measuring your dog’s height, taking accurate readings is vital. This means you have to use equipment that is well calibrated and reliable as well. Some of the items you will need include:

#1: Tape Measure

Tape Measure

This measuring tool will give exact readings because it has imperial units, i.e. feet, inches, and also metrics (meters, centimeters). These units are broken down to give further accuracy. Alternatively, you can use a folding rule.

#2: Carpenter’s Level

This is pushed firmly onto your dog’s shoulder for appropriate levelling. If you make the mistake of placing it up to the neck, you will end up with an inaccurate height reading.

#3: Frame

door frame

A door frame will enable your dog to stand upright for accurate height readings. It ensures he does not move around. Alternatively, you can place him next to a wall for the same effect.

#4: Marking Tool (Pencil)

This will be used to make a marking on the wall or the frame so as to transfer your dog’s height on the wall. A pencil is ideal as it will make a thin line that is erasable.

Steps for Measuring Your Dog’s Height

A dog’s height measurement is taken from the shoulders’ highest point down to the paws. Technically, that part is referred to as the dog’s withers. It is the point of intersection of his neck and shoulder blades.

Quite different from us, the head and the neck of dogs aren’t included when taking height measurements. It is also important to exclude the hair length and to make sure he is starting straight.

#1: Stand Your Dog Straight Against the Wall or Lead Him Next to a Door Frame

dog in the doorway

To ensure you make accurate readings, your dog should be standing upright on his four paws. He shouldn’t be shrinking or leaning towards the floor. His head should be positioned normally, not looking up or down. The surface should be flat, preferably your house floor.

A wall or frame gives you a fixed point from which you can get a reading which won’t be affected by parallax error. You will also need to be standing near the dog.

Small dogs such as puppies, Chihuahuas, and French Bulldogs are quite playful, and making them stand still on the floor might be a hassle. For these dogs, you can take their height measurement on a table.

Notably, you should not stretch your dog’s legs for him to stand upright. Dogs are not very comfortable when forced to stand upright. Instead, you can get a partner who can hold up the dog treat with their hand closed, which can make your dog stand upright by himself. When they stand upright, you can take the measurement.

After completing the exercise, you can give the dog the treat as a reward for cooperation.

#2: Touch Him to Feel His Withers

This is very important, especially if your dog has long hairs. The withers of a dog without much hair are visible. This is where you will place the carpenter’s level. Feel him to locate the highest point of the shoulder blades that is bony. As mentioned earlier, this is the exact place where his neck meets his shoulders.

#3: Place the Carpenter’s Level Across His Withers

dog's withers

Place the length of the level on your dog’s withers and make sure one of the ends of the carpenter’s level either touches the frame or the wall. To ensure it is level, check if the level’s bubbles are within their markings.

Having done that, you can now make a marking where the bottom of the level touches the frame or the wall. This will ensure that you have transferred his height measurement onto the wall. It is important to make sure the marking tool doesn’t draw a very thick line.

#4: Take the Measurements

You can now let your dog free. Measure the height from the floor to the marking you made. Make sure that the tape is parallel to the wall or frame and perpendicularly falls to the floor. Ensure that the tape is not bending. Now you can read the measurement of the tape and record for future reference.

Other Methods for Taking Accurate Readings

Sometimes you may find yourself without some of the tools mentioned above, for example, a carpenter’s level. This will require you to use alternative methods like the ones described below.

#1: Without a Level

On a flat surface like the floor or a table, make your dog stand still and upright like mentioned above. If he is excited, you can calm him down. You can get a family member or friend to help you with keeping him still.

Locate his withers and run your tape from the ground up to the withers point. Make sure the tape is straight and perpendicular to eliminate errors. Read and record the readings while the dog is still there.

#2: Using a Height Measuring Stick

Height Measuring Stick

These are sticks made specifically for measuring the height of a dog. They can be used on puppies and grown dogs as they are light and very sturdy. They are calibrated in inches on one side and centimeters on the other.

Before buying one, make sure the maximum height of your dog’s breed is accommodated.

  • Stand your dog upright and still on a flat surface like in the methods mentioned above.
  • Place the bottom of the measuring stick to sit on the floor next to your dog.
  • Adjust arm that comes with the stick to rest at the withers of your canine friend.
  • Read and record the reading of your dog’s height and release your pet.

#3: Professional Dog Show Measures

The steps above show you how to measure your dog’s height accurately at home using various methods. Are those the same methods used by judges at dog shows? Let’s find out together.

The height of a dog in a show is very important, and all dogs must have their measurements taken by judges. This is done to ensure that your pet fits the height range of his breed. This is done quickly but accurately using a wicket.

A wicket is a U-shaped measuring tool with two legs that stand firmly on the ground. It has a centrally placed movable bar that is adjusted to fit firmly on top of your dog’s withers. Show judges are allowed to wicket your dog only once. This is one of the reasons you should teach your dog to become comfortable with height measurements.

One of the most unfortunate things is that sometimes a dog can object to the wicket being swung over his back. This can be bad news to the dog owner because if the dog does not stand still to be measured, he can be excused by the judge as being “unable to measure.” This can lead to your dog being eliminated.

How a Dog’s Height Affects His Abilities and Behaviors

It’s no lie that a dog’s height can help predict a number of aspects related to his behavior. Surprisingly, shorter dogs have been found to be more aggressive than their taller counterparts. This behavior is also known as the small dog syndrome.

Bog dogs are usually more cool-headed. They have nothing to prove, and they don’t go around demanding attention. Read below for more information on this.

#1: What You Need to Know about Tall Dogs

very tall dog

Big dogs are naturally tall. There are some advantages to owning a tall dog as well as disadvantages.

Pros

  • They are great cuddling friends.
  • They provide better security; they scare away burglars, hostile people, and protect you from harmful animals better than small dogs.
  • They are great for sports and exercise; when you start to teach or train them at an early age, they learn quickly and easily.
  • They are more patient and have surprising self-control. They usually don’t demand attention all the time and respond to commands better.
  • They are gentle giants. They can be great for kids.
  • Most big dogs were bred to protect their owners, their families, and other small dogs.

Cons

  • They have a shorter life span; most large breed dogs like Great Danes generally don’t live as long as their smaller siblings.
  • They aren’t aware of their size; if you have both small and big dogs, you will realize the big dogs will want to do what the smaller ones are doing. Something like jumping on you spontaneously can hurt, but they don’t know that.
  • They scare people. People not familiar with a big dog will be very cautious as they don’t know what to expect. Small dogs mostly attract people. However, big dogs are usually sensitive to the size of children and maintain calmness around them.
  • They require more exercise; most big dogs need to be trained to maintain fitness and avoid becoming obese.
  • They require more resources; most big dogs will require more food, water, bigger crates, and kennels. They also produce more waste.
  • They are not easy to travel with. They aren’t allowed in plane cabins or hotels.

#2: What You Need to Know About Short Dogs

short dog

Small dogs come with their own limitations and advantages which we have outlined below.

Pros

  • They require less exercise; the physical exercise requirement of your small pet can be met by taking him out for a short walk and playing in your house.
  • They have a longer life span; small dogs can live for around 12-15 years, something that not all big dogs can achieve.
  • They are easier to travel with; when travelling long distances, you can go with them as they can be allowed in the cabin.
  • They require fewer resources; unlike big dogs, small dogs will require less food, smaller crates, and cheaper vet costs.
  • They are easier to groom; you will find cleaning their teeth, fur, or ears easier compared to big dogs.
  • They’re easier to walk; walking a big dog can be a hassle, especially for children. Small pets are easier to control with a leash.
  • They are easier to cuddle; small dogs don’t have big heavy bodies, hence carrying or cuddling them is easy. They can easily sit on your lap, unlike big ones.

Cons

  • Small Dog Syndrome. They will want to be in control and may misbehave.
  • Some tend to be rather fragile; handling small dogs requires you to be gentle and careful, which may not be possible with children.
  • They bark excessively and unnecessarily; small dogs are often bold and will want attention. They can bark at other big dogs and people unnecessarily.
  • Small dog breeds are quite expensive.
  • They are less sporty. Also, they tire much faster.

Wrap Up

tall and short dog

Height is very important in dogs. Knowing how to accurately measure your dog’s height is important for any responsible owner. This helps you to plan accordingly and improve the quality of your canine companion’s life.

At different heights, some of your dog’s needs change. It is also apparent that short and tall dogs come with their fair share of pros and cons. All in all, when you are armed with the right information, any dog, short or tall, can become the best companion you will ever have.

Do you know the height of your dog? Try any of the above methods of measuring and let us know how it goes. What are some of the traits in your dog that you think are influenced by his height? Share this and any other feedback in the section below, plus, check out our next article on best joint supplements for dogs.

About the author
Wyatt Robinson
Wyatt Robinson

Wyatt Robinson had a great 25-years career as a veterinarian in United Kingdom. He used to be a member of British Veterinary Association and worked in 3 pet hospitals in London and Manchester. He is shining when he sees his pets healthy and full of energy and it is his duty to help other dog owners to keep their best friends full of life.

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