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How to get the best dog coat fit: A guide for measuring your dog

dog coat blog l

As winter looms it's time to start thinking about buying a dog coat or jumper to help your pooch cope with the colder weather. Yes it’s important to choose a dog coat that provides warmth and looks great but it’s also important to choose the correct fit. So how should you measure your dog to ensure maximum comfort for them, and save you the hassle of an exchange? We share some tips below.

The vital statisticsdog coat measurement guide 750

First things first, like any good tailor you'll need some measurements. For this you'll need one tape measure and one compliant dog. (If your dog is a wriggler keep some treats handy.) A dog's vital statistics are torso, back-length, and neck. Try to measure these as accurately as possible, using our illustration as a guide.

  1. Torso: aim for the thickest part of the torso typically just behind the front legs.
  2. Back length: from the base of the neck to the base of the tail.
  3. Neck circumference: Surprisingly some size guides don’t provide this measurement but it is important to ensure the coat fits comfortably around the neck. Snug is fine, restrictively tight is not.

Once you have these measurements compare them to the size guide shown for your selected dog coat. The torso measurement should be adjustable and shown as a range, whereas the back measurement will be a single figure. Shown below is the size range we have at Animal Outfitters for our Windsor and Paddington winter coats:

Size  30  35  40  45  50 55 60
Coat length (cm)  30  35  40  45  50 55 60
Torso range (cm)  36-46  43-53  49-59  53-68  60-75 62-77 66-81
Max neck size (cm)  27  33  38  44  49 53 55

Size Coat length (cm) Torso range (cm) Max neck (cm)
30  30 36-46  27
35   35 43-53  33 
40   40 49-59  38 
45  45 53-68  44 
50  50 60-75  49 
55  55 62-77  53
60  60 66-81  55

Watch how to measure your dog in under three minutes:

  • Since our coats are hand-cut and sewn there can be a variation of 1-2cm against dimensions shown above
  • Where your dog is between sizes we recommend the next size up
  • View our Measurement Guide or contact us for help.

Next step, choose the correct coat size based on your recorded measurements. Easy, right? But what if the torso measurement indicates one size, and the back-length indicates another?

Torso is key

We believe the most important measurement is the torso. Why? Consider a typical back length of 40cm. Many different dog breeds share a similar back length but their torso measurements can vary dramatically. At the skinny-mini end of the scale you have Dachshunds and Italian Greyhounds, and at the other end you have thick-set stocky dogs like Pugs and Staffordshire Terriers. Too tight, at best it will restrict the dog’s movement, at worst you won’t get it on. Too loose it will flap around uncomfortably and won’t provide as much warmth, defeating the purpose. If the coat is uncomfortable your dog might not want to wear it at all.

Similar back length

As a rule of thumb when your dog is wearing the coat ideally you'll be able to squeeze a couple of fingers between the coat and your dog's skin. 

Dog coats are often marketed and sold by reference to back length. Whilst not irrelevant, we don't believe this to be as critical to a dog’s comfort level as the torso. The back length will rarely be a perfect fit anyway as most coats are made in 5cm intervals or more and the back length cannot be adjusted in the same way as the torso.

Other considerations

If your dog is super fluffy and overdue a haircut when you take the measurements, consider taking 2-3cm off the torso measurement to compensate. Conversely if your dog is still growing, you might choose to go up a size to future proof.

We hope you find this coat sizing guide useful. It’s worth taking the time to get the best coat dimensions for a proper fit so your dog stays warm and comfortable this winter. After all, Happy Dog = Happy Owner. If you have any questions or need help measuring your dog then please get in touch.

Looking to buy a dog coat or jumper? Then why not browse our own range of coats here. They are limited edition designs, made in NZ from a whole range of premium fabrics offering warmth and style.

(First published 12 Aug 2016, updated 20 Apr 2017)

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