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What Are Dog Withers And Why Do You Need To Measure Them?

If you have a dog, you know that they are fascinating creatures capable of doing hard work and being cute at the same time.

Some breeds can work the fields, carry objects, and help with many human tasks. 

To know if your dog can perform a task or if you just want to measure him, you'll need to know the importance of dog withers. 

What Are Dog Withers?

Photo of labrador puppy

The withers of an animal are the ridge between the shoulder blades. It is the tallest part of a dog and many other four-legged animals. 

It helps you understand your dog's limitations and strengths for sports like jumping or racing. Dog show judges also use withers' measurements to determine if your dog meets breed standards

Why Do We Measure Dog Withers?

There are many important reasons to measure a dog's withers. These reasons include proper training, travel requirements, and more. A dog's withers can tell you a lot about your dog's potential.

To Buy the Necessary Equipment and Accessories for Your Dog

Measuring the dog's withers is an essential process for working dogs that require harnesses to pull sleds. You also need this measurement for different working equipment that requires precise dimensions of the dog's height and width. 

Another reason to have the measurements is to buy the right accessories for your dog, like dog clothes.

For Canine Sports and Dog Shows

Dog withers are also measured to understand the limitations a dog might have to perform in sports like racing and jumping. It is also an essential factor when determining if the dog conforms to the breed's show-quality level. 

To Buy the Right Kennel or Canine Door

It is vital to know the correct measurements for kennels, canine doors, and cages. A canine door should let your dog in and out quickly, and it should be 2 inches (5.1cm) taller than your dog.

Kennels and cages are essential for your dog's training and necessary if you plan to travel with him or her. A dog's kennel should be big enough to give your dog the possibility to move around without hurting him or herself.

For a Dog's Medical Records

Photo of Measure Dog For Medical Card

Knowing the dog's height is even more important for large breeds who suffer from hip dysplasia and other related issues. Knowing your dog's measurements can help your vet understand the severity of the problem. 

To Put a Dog Up For Adoption

It is necessary information for owners, and it's something most experienced owners will ask when adopting a new dog. The info goes with all the vaccines and the weight of the dog.

How to Properly Measure Your Dog?

Photo of Dog Measurement Chart

Knowing your dog's measurements will be of a lot of help when buying the right equipment, kennels, and other accessories. Because of this, breeders and owners must know what is the proper process to measure a dog. 

Measuring a dog's weight is easy and fast. All you need to do is a scale long enough for your dog to stand on it. 

When it comes to measuring the height of a dog, things get a bit trickier. It is not an impossible task, but it does require more knowledge of a dog's anatomy. 

Taking Standard Measurements of Your Dog's Withers and Height

To correctly measure your dog's height, you can follow these steps: 

1. Place your dog right against the wall or a door: To make sure you have the right measurements, you'll need your dog standing on four paws. The head must remain level, not looking up or down. 

The door or wall will help you get a more accurate reading as it won't get affected by a parallax effect. Keep in mind that most young dogs are a lot more playful than older ones, so keeping them standing still will be difficult. 

Be calm and do not lose your patience. A couple of treats can help you with the process. 

2. Locate the withers: This is an essential part of the process, especially for dogs with long hair. Dogs with short hair have visible withers, so you won't have much problem with them. Remember that a dog's withers is where the neck meets the shoulders. 

3. Place the measurement tools across the withers: To measure a dog's height, you'll need to use the measuring device from his highest point (withers) to the paws. Contrary to human measurements, a dog's size does not include the neck and head. 

4. Take the measurements: You can now take the right measurements for your dog. Let your dog free, and keep the information on your phone's notes for future references. 

You can use the steps above to measure your dog's height anywhere. You can do it at home, in the yard, or over any flat surface. It is easy to do and won't require you to buy any special tools. But it is not the only way you can measure a dog's height.

Using a Measuring Stick For Measuring your Dog

Photo of Dog Whiters Measure

For this measure, you'll need a unique tool called a measuring stick. Experts use this tool to precisely measure a dog's height, depending on the breed.

You can use the measuring bar on puppies or grown-up dogs as the material is soft and sturdy. 

You can find measuring sticks found in both inches and centimeters, but make sure you get the right size for your dog's breed. 

Follow these steps to use the measuring sticks: 

  1. Stand your dog over a flat surface like in the previous method. 
  2. Place the measuring stick's bottom on the surface next to your dog.
  3. Adjust the arm mechanism of the measuring stick over the dog's withers.
  4. Take the measurements and release your dog. 

Taking the Necessary Measurements for Dog Shows

Measurements for dog shows work differently than the standard way. These measurements are necessary information to determine whether your dog fits the breed's height range. Dog show judges use a wicket to assess the dog's height. 

A wicket is a measuring tool shaped like a U with two legs standing firmly over the surface. The top of the wicket has an adjustable bar to make sure it fits perfectly over your dog's withers. 

Judges will measure your dog's height only once, so make sure your dog is comfortable with measuring tools before exposing him to dog shows. If your dog does not stand still during the measuring phase of the dog show, then it will be eliminated without a second chance. 

If you would like to see how judges measure dogs, you can check out this video.

Equipment You'll Need to Measure Your Dog?

There's not a specific measuring tool for dogs as you can use anything to measure them. But we do recommend using the following items to get a proper height reading:

Tape Measure: This is an excellent option as many people own one. All you'll need to do is place it next to your dog, make sure it stands still, and cover the length of the withers to the paws. 

Tape measures come in inches, feet, and metric systems like meters and centimeters. Although, you can also use a folding ruler if you have a small dog breed. 

Photo of Measuring Dog height

Carpenter's level: This tool will give you a mostly accurate reading as long as you place it firmly onto the shoulders of your dog. If you set it up to the neck, you'll get an inaccurate reading. 

Frame: The do-it-at-home tool of dog measurement: place your dog's head over the edge so that he stands still. Then, proceed to take the readings. If you don't have a spare door frame, you can just stand your dog next to a wall and have someone help you while you take the measurements. 

Marking tool: A pencil is all you need to mark the wall for taking the right measurements. Although this is not a necessary step as most people do not want to dirty their walls with anything. 

Measuring stick: As mentioned before, measuring sticks are a great way of taking an accurate reading of your dog's height. You don't need one to do the job but go for it if you can afford one. It will make the process a lot easier. 

You can also try to find a wicket if you plan to train your dog for dog shows and help him get comfortable with one before any contest. 


Knowing how to measure a dog's height correctly is vital for responsible owners. It can make buying kennels and accessories a lot easier and more comfortable for the dog.

Having the right measurements for your dog can help you increase his quality of life and happiness. 

The needs of your dog will vary depending on their height. Tall dogs need different routines than short dogs, and each one presents distinct advantages and disadvantages. With the right information, you'll be able to help them have a wonderful life as your companion. 

Overall, keep track of your dog's height as it grows, and have the information with you for future needs like vet visits or sport necessities.