How to measure a dog for a coat or jacket

Are you thinking of styling your pup for the winter? 

Good idea.

Dog coats or jackets are not only functional, keeping your beloved companion nice and warm during winter months or cooler evenings, but they also serve as a profound fashion statement for many dog lovers.

However, in the same way as humans get annoyed with an article of clothing that just doesn’t seem to fit right, a dog coat that doesn’t sit well will annoy and irritate more than comfort and keep warm.

So, begin with getting your dog’s key measurements right before you make a purchase. 

Here are a few measurements you’ll need to take on your dog if you can get them to stand still long enough!

Length 

 a sketch of a dog showing the back measurement for a jacket

The length of your dog is measured from your dog’s neck, beginning just behind the collar, down the middle of its back and to the base of its tail.

Take this measurement when your dog stands upright instead of sitting with a haunched back or lying in an awkward or twisted position. 

This will help you get an accurate measurement.

Girth 

sketch showing how to measure a dog's girth

Your dog's girth is measured around his chest and behind his front legs.

Don’t measure around his abdomen, as this measurement will change with his eating and breathing, resulting in a dog coat that doesn’t fit right.

Instead, measure his circumference at the widest part of his chest.

Neck size

The neck measurement is taken around the base of his or her neck, where a collar would naturally sit.

Some dogs have excess skin around their necks or thick coats. Take this into consideration when taking your dog's measurements.

Use the right tools

Try to use a soft measuring tape that will conform to your dog's body. 

Any tape measure will do, as long as it’s marked in the same measuring unit (imperial vs. metric) as the size guide of the jacket or coat you intend on purchasing.

Once you have the measurements jotted down, consider the size guide of the retailer you’re interested in purchasing from.

How should a dog coat or jacket fit?

Dogs are active animals.

And that’s true for indoor and outdoor dog breeds. They are naturally inclined to run, jump, roll, chase and play. 

So make sure that your dog’s coat fits him/her perfectly and won’t obstruct or construe their movement in any way.

When in doubt, opt for a dog coat slightly larger than what you’d ideally want it to be, especially around your dog’s chest. This is for safety reasons, as anything too tight fitting could cause them a great deal of anxiety and potentially hinder their breathing.

Fitment around a dog's chest

A french bulldog wearing a coat

A common misconception is that you can order a dog’s jacket based on its weight and breed.

It’s not that simple. 

Some dogs are heavier than others within their size range, and that would cause a jacket or coat to be oversized.

A dog jacket should fit snugly but not tight around his chest, leaving room for breathing and movement.

Fitment around a dog’s neck

As with the girth measurement, leaving enough room for the animal to move around is essential.

So always add about two fingers' width to the total number to allow for breathability. But no more than that, or the garment will fit too loosely around your dog.

Another consideration is whether or not your dog will wear a collar with the jacket or coat. If you don’t account for it, your dog could feel suffocated and irritated with its jacket.

For a stylish but durable collar to match your best friend’s jacket, check out Sparkpaws’ walk collection.

Top tip for the perfect fit:

Growing dogs will be in between sizes more often than not. So if you’re unsure what size dog coat will fit the longest, try to get one with an adjustable drawstring around their waste line or chest.

This will help you get the perfect dog coat to fit your pup until he or she’s fully grown.

Epic dog coats that will turn heads

There are a few different styles of cut that you should consider when dressing up your best friend. 

Have a look at just two of these dog coats and why you’d consider each of them.

Jacket style coat

A dog coat from Sparkpaws

This coat is a perfect fit for active canines that regularly join their owners on out-and-about adventures like hiking or camping.

Made from various materials such as cotton or polyester, these jackets often come in two styles - with and without sleeves.

While dog jackets with sleeves offer more insulation for their front legs, keeping your pup nice and toasty in frost conditions, sleeveless coats are probably the better choice for larger dogs.

That’s because breeds with long legs tend to run more and have a more awkward shape than shorter dogs.

Another reason for opting for a jacket-style coat is that they’re often made from weather-resistant or waterproof material. Perfect for hiking and camping.

The best dog coats to consider for active dogs aren’t only comfortable and water resistant but reflective, keeping your dog safe in low-light conditions.

So if you plan on taking your dog along on outdoor activities, consider getting them a snug jacket coat.

Blanket style coat

A blanket coat is a loose-fitting coat that simply rests on your dog's back while fastened around its neck and abdomen.

The main difference between this style coat and a jacket style is that it doesn’t hug a dog’s body or have sleeves.

These blanket coats are perfect for dogs that live indoors and enjoy a cuddle on the couch instead of a hike in the woods or running around in the park.

Blanket-style dog coats are often made of softer wooly material that can be washed easily.

Why dress your dog in a coat or jacket

Other than being a real head-turner amongst animal lovers, a winter jacket or coat often has a real purpose.

Smaller, short-haired breeds often struggle with body heat retention. This is especially true if you live in cooler climates when nighttime temperatures dip to near freezing conditions.

a french bulldog in a cosy coat

A winter coat that fits right will help your furry friend retain his body heat and keep it nice and toasty on those cooler evenings.

Dog coats are also super helpful when out and about in the rainy season. When going on a long hike with patches of rain, a waterproof rain jacket for your dog will help him keep dry and happy.

A final thought

When choosing which dog clothing you should get, there are a few things to consider. Those things include how active your dog is, what breed it is and what climate you find yourself in.

In really cold areas, opt for the blanket-style coat, as it will probably be more comfortable for your dog while sitting indoors. 

In places with a chance of cold spells but warm enough weather to go for walks and hikes with your dog, opt for a jacket-style dog coat as it suits an active lifestyle better.

Remember to get the three key measurements of length, girth, and neck size as accurately as you can with your dog standing upright if you want the perfect fit.

And finally, if you’re unsure about the size, consider the sizing chart or sizing guidelines of the company you’re purchasing from. They probably have a better idea of how their products will fit different dog breeds.

Jackets and coats aren’t the only way to keep warm this winter! We also have adorable Dog Pajamas and knit sweaters in a variety of fun patterns.