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Making Sense of Dog Harness Sizes

Making Sense of Dog Harness Sizes


Perhaps there should be a European Union directive on dog harnesses because there are so many different size guidelines on the various styles. A medium size in one may not be a medium in another so it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s measuring instructions for the particular type that catches your fancy.

Maker’s guidelines may specify different measuring points. It’s generally the neck area. But ‘neck’ could be referring to two possible areas. It may mean where the collar fits, like on the Euro Short Harness or Euro Long Harness. On the other hand, the neck area on something like the Distance Harness or the Second Skin Harness from Howling Dog Alaska would actually mean the shoulder area - from the breastbone round to the withers. 

Owners generally check the fit of a collar by slipping two fingers underneath it. But a harness is designed to fit more snugly than a collar - and needs to fit more snugly. However, if it’s too tight, it may be too far up the dog’s neck. Constriction around the throat can cause choking and difficulties in breathing especially when he is pulling into the harness.

If the harness is too big and fitting too low, it could move from side to side when the dog is running. This can cause rubbing and irritation. You also don’t want your dog pulling with the wrong muscles as it may result in structural damage. A harness needs to allow the shoulders to move freely and let the ribs and lungs expand and contract when the dog is exerting himself.

Depending on whether you have a short style harness - known as a shoulder harness - or a long harness, such as the X-Back harness, make sure it finishes in the correct position. You don’t want it pushing down on the hips or finishing too far past the base of the tail as that, again, can cause irritation and damage to the dog during a run.

Snowpaw Store stocks a Mini Skin Dog Harness that has a size range of extra-small to extra-large. These particular types are designed for very small dogs and the extra-large fits breeds such as cocker spaniel. 

By comparison, the Euro Short Harness has a size range of extra-small to triple-extra-large. And the extra-large would fit an Alaskan Malamute, a very different sized dog to a cocker spaniel.

We can help you negotiate this minefield. Simply let us know the breed, age and weight of your dog. Once you have bought a harness, please get back in touch with us if you have any questions or concerns about how it fits. A side-on photograph of your dog wearing the harness would be useful.

As we are an on-line business, we can’t personally measure your dog but we are only too pleased to do harness fitting at any events we may attend. Go to Our guide to measuring for harnesses for more useful tips.

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