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Where Do You Measure a Dog's Height?

Getting your dog's weight is pretty much straightforward, all you need is a large scale, your dog and some tasty treats, but how do you take a dog's height? Measuring a dog's height at one time or another may be necessary such as when you need to purchase a doggy door or if you're planning to enroll your dog in some type of dog sport or activity. In humans, height is easily measured by standing against a wall and marking the position on top of the head using a measuring tape, but in dogs taking a dog's height is different. So today's trivia question is:

Where do You Measure a Dog's Height?

A At the top of the skull

B At the top of the ears

C At the base of the tail

D At the top of the shoulders

The correct answer is: drum roll please


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The correct answer is D, a dog's height is measured at the top of the shoulders.

square built dog withers

Dog Withers Definition

A dog is measured where the shoulders are the highest, the area that is technically referred to as the dog's "withers." This is the area where the dog's neck and shoulders meet and is used to measure the height of both dogs and horses as it's the tallest point of the body, obviously excluding the head.

Did you know? Some dog breeds are required by standard to be "square" which means that their height from withers to the ground is supposed to measure approximately the same as the length of the body measured from the withers to the base of the tail. Examples of squarely built dogs are the Maltese, poodle and the boxer.

dog height measure

How to Measure a Dog's Height

To measure your dog's height in 3 easy steps, you will need your dog of course and some measuring tape (or a yard stick.)

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  1. Make sure your dog is standing straight without leaning or shrinking to the ground. He should be on an even, level surface with the head carried in normal position. Small dogs can be measured on a table.
  2. Starting at the top of the withers, run the measuring tape parallel to the dog's front leg so that it falls perpendicular to the ground.
  3. Record the measurement for future reference.

Did you know? To measure dogs with precision, professional dog show judges use what's called a "wicket."

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dog door measurement

Measuring for a Dog Door

If you are purchasing a dog door, your dog's height at the withers is important as you need to make sure he can easily fit through the flap without the need for crouching. Consider that the top of the dog door's flap opening should be at, or even better, over, your dog's height. Adding an inch or two to the pet door's height may be helpful.

For large growing puppies though, things may be challenging due to their rapid growth, so unless you plan to upgrade to a larger door once your puppy turns adult, you'll have to have an idea of how tall your puppy will turn to be.

Tip: bigger is better when it comes to door dogs. Best to err on the side of caution and end up with a slightly larger door, than a door that is too small for your dog to fit through.

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Measuring for Agility

dog agility

In the sport of agility, how can one calculate how tall a dog agility jump should be? The answer is fairly easy: the height of the jump is based on the height of the dog! By measuring a dog's height at the withers one can therefore attain an insight as to the height of the obstacles he should jump. Just to have an idea, the American Kennel Club has this jump height regulation:

  • 8 Inches: For dogs 11 inches and under at the withers.
  • 12 Inches: For dogs 14 inches and under at the withers.
  • 16 Inches: For dogs 18 inches and under at the withers.
  • 20 Inches: For dogs 22 inches and under at the withers.
  • 24 Inches: For dogs over 22 inches at the withers.
  • 26 Inches: Dogs may be entered at this height at their owner’s discretion.
dog show judge

Measuring for the Show Ring

Measuring the height of a dog for the show ring may also be important so to ensure the dog meets the height requirements for his breed standard. While for some breeds some minor differences are negligible, in others being outside of that height range can be means for disqualification.

So of course, measuring the dog at the withers at home with precision is important before entering the show ring. Judges may at times decide to verify the height at dog shows using a wicket which they are allowed to use only one time and must get it right that first time around.

Because of the possibility of getting measured by a judge, it's not a bad idea to get the dog used to being around the wicket and measured with it as some dogs not used to it may get easily spooked.


  • American Kennel Club, A bit of a sticky wicket, retrieved from the web on Sept 6, 2016
  • American Kennel Club, Regulations for agility trials, retrieved from the web on Sept 6, 2016

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