What Are The Withers On a Dog & Why Are They So Important?

The withers on a dog is the highest part on a dog’s back when the dog is standing on all four legs. When measuring your dog’s height, it’s important to measure by the withers to get an accurate and consistent measurement.

Whether you are customizing an outfit, applying for a dog show, or at the vet, sometimes they may ask you to accurately measure the height of your four-legged friend. This may be your first time measuring your dog, so what does it exactly mean when they tell you to start or end at their withers?

Today’s post is all about the withers on a dog and why it’s so important to know the height of your furry friend. We will begin by defining the withers and showing you how to find them, then we will go into various techniques on how to correctly measure your dog by the withers.

What Are The Withers on a Dog?

When measuring a dog’s height accurately, it is important to know that the withers are the tallest point of the dog’s body (not including the neck and head). If you were to feel around for the withers, you would feel for the ridge between the shoulder blades and behind the neck of your four-legged friend.

There will be a bony point that you’ll feel around this area. Depending on your dog’s coat, it may be easier to spot it. If the coat is shorter, it will be easier to find than a dog with a longer coat.

Once you have found it, this is where you would start or end when accurately measuring their height.

How Should I Measure My Dog?

If you want to measure your dog accurately, you will have to make sure that your dog is standing on a leveled, stable surface.

Your dog must be postured up and all four paws would be on the ground. Your dog must be very still at the moment. In a professional setting, such as a dog show, a dog is measured with a wicket.

Wickets are usually a costly tool. This can be unnecessary if all you want to know is how tall your dog is. There are many cheaper ways that you can do it at home without a wicket.

Remember that one door frame with multiple lines of pencil marks or pen marks that represent how tall you got every year? Well, that can be applied to your growing pup as well.

Instead of measuring from your dog’s head, you would place a level across your dog’s withers and mark the bottom of the level.

If you do not have a level and don’t want to invest in one, you can also use a height measurement tool. You can typically get these at any local pet store.

These usually have an arm that sticks out that you can place along your dog’s withers. You can continuously mark along the stick portion as your little pup grows.

Tips To Get An Accurate Measurement

It’s easy to measure children because they try to stand as tall as possible each time you measure them. Dogs, on the other hand, are a completely different story. It can be hard to get a dog to stand still (and stand tall) long enough to measure them. Here are a few tips and tricks to get an accurate and consistent measurement.

Get Someone to Help You

The easiest method is to get someone to help you. Have your partner hold the dog by the waste. At first, your dog may try to escape, but most dogs will calm down and stay still after a few seconds.

Measure When Your Dog Is Seated

It’s easier for some people to measure their dog when they’re sitting instead of when standing on all fours. This is because some dogs have a hard time staying still when standing.

If you’re measuring simply because you want to keep your own record of your dogs height to ensure they’re growing properly, measuring by the withers while seated is fine. Just make sure they’re sitting down each time you measure them, that way you’ll get a consistent result.

However, if you’re measuring your dog for a crate, clothing, or because you’re wanting to enter them into a show, you’ll need to take the measurement while they’re standing on all fours.

Why is my Dog’s Height Important?

You may not realize how important it is to know your dog’s accurate height.

Like humans, our size and height matter when it comes to comfort in clothes, cars, medical records, etc.

Throughout your four-legged friend’s life, their height may be needed in many situations. I have listed a few important situations that your dog’s height may be needed:

Dog Crate

If you have decided to crate train your dog, it is important to get a suitably sized crate.

You do not want to get a dog crate that is too small or too big for your furry friend. This is where measuring your dog is very important.

If you just got a puppy, you should take multiple measurements throughout their puppyhood. Many times, owners will have to get multiple sized crates for their puppies until their puppies are fully grown.

By buying the correct crate for your dog’s size, you add to your dog’s comfort. This means that training them in their safe space will be much easier.

Playpen

Dog crates and playpens are very similar. For your dog to safely play in a playpen, you must make sure you invest in one that is not too short for your dog.

There’s no point in a playpen if your dog can easily jump out of the boundaries. This would be another time where your dog’s height measurements are essential.

Medical Records

When humans go to the doctor, they will always take our blood pressure, weight, and height. This is no different for dogs.

It is responsible to keep your furry friend’s medical records updated and accurate.

If your dog is too tall or if your dog’s potential height is tall (vets can usually tell the potential height of a puppy), your vet will want to keep track of their height because your dog would be prone to more injuries or leg conditions throughout their life.

Dog Apparel and Accessories

Humans come in all different shapes and sizes. Our clothes, shoes, and accessories also come in different sizes to fit our bodies.

This is no different for our furry friend counterparts. By knowing your dog’s measurements, you will be able to find accessories and apparel that will perfectly fit their bodies.

You will make sure that their harnesses are not too tight or too loose. You’ll be able to find the perfect sized leash, and if you have to get a winter coat to keep them warm, you’ll be able to find one that doesn’t suffocate them.

Elevated Dog Feeders

If you are in the market for an elevated dog feeder, it is crucial to consider your dog’s height.

The rule of thumb is that you do not want your dog’s bowls to be lower than their chest. If your dog feeder is below their chest, this can cause digestive problems such as bloat and decreased blood flow.

The correct elevated dog feeder can also promote better posture. I highly suggest investing in a dog feeder with adjustable heights, this way as your four-legged friend grows, you won’t have to keep buying another one.

Dog Door

If you’re going to purchase and install a dog door, this is probably the most important reason to get an accurate measurement at the withers. If you get a dog door that’s too small, your poor dog may develop back or hip issues from being required to bend over too low.

Ideally, your dog should be able to go through the dog door without having to crouch at all, especially if they’ll be going in and out a lot.

When you go shopping, be sure to find a door that is the same height (or an inch or two more) as your dogs wither measurement.

Measuring By The Withers is An Accurate Measurement

Your dog’s height is very important, and we believe an owner must keep up with it. If you are unsure of how to measure your furry friend or if you do not have the correct tools, we would suggest reaching out to your personal veterinarian to provide you with your dog’s most accurate measurement. You can also ask them how to accurately measure your dog’s height at home.

The beauty of measuring by the withers is that it’s an accurate measurement. If you measured to the top of the head, you have no control over whether or not your dog’s head was at the highest point.

We hope that this article helped you understand where your dog’s withers are and why their height is critical!

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