How to Measure a Dog For a Harness

By Erin Shaffer / August 8, 2021

One of my most aggravating pet peeves is when my puppy chases after something and ever-so-sneakily slips out of her chain or harness.  As you can imagine, I get agitated when such occurrences happen.  Even when I fork out money to buy new leashes or chains for her, she always finds a way to maneuver her way out when she has her eyes set on a prize squirrel.

dog hikingWalking her has been a challenging and nerve-wracking time because I always worry if she will get lost or run into traffic if she gets loose.  After talking to other dog owners in the same boat that I am in, coming up with a guide for knowing how to find a correctly fitting harness was a must.

Tired of chasing after your dog—chasing after a squirrel—when all you wanted to do was take a nice leisurely walk?  We hear ya, and we’re here to help! Below is a step by step guide on how to measure your dog for a harness.

Step by Step Guide [Infographic]


First Rule – Have a Measuring tape!

measuring tapeThe measuring tape is an essential item that will be needed to measure your pet for the size harness that it needs.  Of course, using a standard measuring tape is not going to get you the most accurate measurement.

A better idea would be to use a soft measuring tape.  Such as a sewing or cloth measuring tape.  This softer fabric will give you a very accurate measurement because you will be able to get much closer to the surface of your dog’s skin.

Once you get one that will allow you to take a precise measurement, then you are ready to go.


Big brown dog standingWhen you are ready to get started, have your pup stand in front of you, facing to the side and never be afraid to ask someone for help if you have an uncooperative pooch.  Now, you will want to measure the circumference of its neck (just like where a collar would usually go).

Just a tip!  Make sure to write down the measurements as you go so that you don’t forget and need to do them all over again.  Also, be sure that when you are measuring, the tape measure isn’t too loose or too tight around your pup’s body.

Related Post: How Tight Should a Dog’s Collar Be?

Now remove the measuring tape from the neck and place it around the upper torso, right being the front legs of your pet.  This is where the harness would be strapped which makes it essential that you measure in the right spot.

 Measure Weight and Size

Blue measuring tape and scaleTake those measurements that you took for the sizing of the harness and also get the weight of your pet.  These two sizing methods help you to figure out what size of harness that you will need to get to fit your canine correctly.

If you are looking for a harness online, then go to a measuring chart and with the knowledge of the size and weight of your pet, try to find a size harness that fits your pet’s requirements.

If your pup is in between sizes or if they are at the upper scale of a size, it is strongly recommended that you would purchase the larger size.  If you do this, you will be able to tighten the harness so that it fits your dog nice and snug.

 Adjust The Harness

brown dog up closeIf your pooch is good at staying by your side and not walking ahead of you during walks, then a rear attachment harness would work well for you.

However, if your canine does often walk ahead of you or not follow specific walking instructions, then a front attachment harness would be great to solve that problem.  It makes the dog face you if he/she ever decides to pull, which is confusing for them but amusing for you.

If your animal feels too tight in the harness, loosen it to a snug but comfortable setting so that they have more breathing room.  If it is too loose, tighten it, so they are less likely to slip out.

Collars or Harnesses?

small dog on grassWhile this may seem like a funny question your significant other might ask you, the importance of knowing the need of your pet is what should ultimately guide your decision.  The size, aggression, age, and energy of your animal all play vital roles in deciding whether you should get a quality collar or harness.

Some purposes of a canine harness are to help you have control over your pup, they are suitable for the use of animal training, and they keep your pooch by your side because of the incorporation of strong materials within the accessory.

dog walking on grassCollars aren’t only for making your dog look very sleek and fashionable.  Some collars give you control over your dog, such as a bark collar.  Others give your pup more of a sense of freedom since it is not being held back by a harness that covers most of its upper torso.

The last thing you want to do is pay a lot of money for accessories that would not even benefit you or your pup.  Depending on your pet’s specific needs, the guide below can help you decide which item would benefit your walking experience the most.

 Measuring for a Harness

small dog standing on bricksAs said above in our step to step guide on how to measure for a well-fitted dog harness, you need to get a precise measurement of your pet’s lower neck and upper chest behind the two front legs.

Use a soft or flimsy seeming tape measure to be sure to get close to the surface of your dog’s coat, which will give you the most accurate reading.  Then, get your canine’s weight so that you can look for the right size harness that will suit both yours and your dog’s needs.

(If your pet has any sort of breathing issues, a harness will make walks easier for them due to less pressure on their throats.)

Related Post: Best Dog Harness

Measuring for a Collar

dog laying downJust like step two of the step to step guide on how to measure for a harness, you are going to want to take a soft measuring tape and measure the girth of your pet’s upper neck.  This will give you an accurate measurement of your animal’s neck size.

Once you get that information, find a collar and go to the sizing chart which would give you what size collar your canine is going to need.  If your pet is in between two sizes, get the larger one because it will provide you with room to tighten and room to grow as well.

Types of Harnesses

You have now decided that the best option for your dog’s needs is a harness.  This is an accessory that gives you more control over your pet’s actions while you are doing certain activities.  You have the authority to call the shots which means your pooch will finally obey—it’s a miracle!


light brown dog standing on grassIf you are athletic or just like to run and jog with your pet for fun, then you are going to want a running dog harness.   When you go for a run with your pup, it is important that he or she is comfortable in the harness that it is in so that they can keep up with you through agility and mobility.

Depending on the design of the harness you feel would work best for you and your pet, I would highly recommend my top three. These products can also be found at our running page (mentioned earlier).

The Bondpaw is weather resistant, adjustable and comfortable for your pet.  This harness is soft on your pup’s skin, and it will allow you to have more control over your canine’s actions which will help you to keep them safe and close by.

As for the PoyPet, this one is eco-friendly, padded and durable.  You can buy size small to x-large because it is made in every size.  This harness also has reflective parts that will help cars to see your furry friend.

The Bonve Pet Reflective Dog Running Harness is a no pull, front attachment harness that will give you say in when and where the dog will go. Suitable for larger breeds and is reflective which is excellent for night runners!


dog in the woodsHiking harnesses are thicker and made more durably.  These are made for long days in the sun with your pet.  Breathable fabrics are used with adjustable sizes for your pet’s comfort throughout the hike.  A couple of good harness candidates are listed below:

The Purebox is lightweight, breathable, and is also reflective for you night time hikes!  Takes a minute to put on (hopefully your pet is patient) but comes in all sizes and they’re all adjustable.

The K-9 Tuff comes in all sort of colors!  Padded with durable stitching, this harness comes in all different sizes and has quick release buckles to save time for more running and water drinking!

No Pull

bulldog walkingThe JUXZH Front Dog harness has a special attachment, in the front where your canine’s chest would be, where a leash could hook to.  This would make your pet turn towards you if they wanted to walk ahead of you.

The Paw Five Dog Harness is meant for bigger dogs because it is a little bit heavier than most harnesses.  This padded no pull harness also has a built-in waste bag dispenser.

Types of Collars

Some dogs just can’t learn their lesson when they are being reprimanded by their owner from barking at the mailman.  Others, however, couldn’t care less about that mail carrier.

Depending on how your pup behaves, you decide whether you’d like a chic, leather collar without any special effects or a bark collar that can go zap-zap when your dog misbehaves.

Bark Collars

doodle barking in houseSome people may think that using a bark collar will hurt or harm your pet.  However, all it does is give your pooch a zap if it is barking at an inappropriate time.  This device will help your dog not to bark when you don’t want it to.

The Fiery Youth Collar has multiple levels of sensitivity depending on how much you’d want it to go off when your pet make noises.  Has safety features and safe amount of voltage.  Its battery life can last up to two weeks before you would need to charge it once again.

The Petfly Shock Dog Training Collar is a great shock collar for every size breed.  With the included remote control, you can make the collar vibrate, beep, or shock your dog.  The remote control that controls the collar that will be on your pet can reach up to 300 meters away.  Even if you take your pup to the dog beach, the collar will still work great because it is waterproof!

 Rolled Leather Collars

dog sitting still on sidewalkIf you’d like to go the classy, sharp looking route, then a rolled leather collar would be great for your fashionable desires. Below is our two recommended collars that can be found on our rolled leather dog collar buyer’s guide.

Digby & Fox Shires leather collar comes in a variety of different colors so that your pet can stand out and show off their personality.  Nine possible custom fit sizes from XXXS-XXL of durable, high-quality leather.  Keeps your animal’s fur nice and soft, and it is very comfortable for every pooch.

Extreme Dog Fence Non-Matting Non-Snagging leather collar compares well to a fine wine—that is—because it only gets softer and better with age.  It is included with bone shaped tags that you can customize, and it will never harm your pet’s skin or fur.

Final Thoughts

I hope that my guide to comfortable, helpful harnesses and collars helped you on your journey to finding the perfect fit for all your pet needs.  Remember to take care of them because all they want to do is love you… love them back with time, attention, and care!


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About the author

    Erin Shaffer

    Growing up without dogs was one of the most regrettable circumstances in my life. When I got my very first puppy my whole world turned upside down. She bettered my life, so every day I do my best to better hers. Dogs are truly little angels and deserve nothing but the best. Our dogs dedicate themselves to us, so lets give back and be the best pet owners we can be in every way possible.

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