Skip to main content?
sprite

wa li fb pin tw in tum red sms call

How to measure your dog CORRECTLY

 Reviewed 24 February 2019 share-a-picture Or go to discussion?join-the-discussion
Sep 212012
 
how-to-measure-your-dog-correctly

We have expanded this topic How to measure your dog correctly:

This now includes all dog measurements and puppy measurements plus, where relevant:

what values to expect for a healthy dog and healthy puppy

and what values suggest sickness.

Why? Because the crap results Google ranks show: too many "blogs" give dog owners wrong "advice", incl. how to measure a dog and expected values for health and sickness! doh!

So see this illustrated explanation how to accurately measure your dog or puppy, and where relevant what values to expect:

  1. How to measure a dog's HEIGHT
  2. How to WEIGH a dog
  3. How to measure dog CHEST SIZE
  4. Measure dog NECK SIZE
  5. Measure FRONT LEG LENGTH
  6. Measure TAIL LENGTH
  7. Measure dog BREATHING RATE and what to expect
  8. Measure dog HEART RATE and what to expect and
  9. How to measure dog BODY TEMPERATURE and what to expect!

And all 9 measurements with ease. This also is a FUN experience for you and your dog: it improves your bonding! grin

Just excuse me that I am not a great photographer nor videographer. At your Cynology Hub MyGermanShepherd.Org it's about insight, not tinsel and glitter. rolleyes

1. How to measure a dog's HEIGHT

Unless you need to boast(?) or like to cheat on yourself(?) don't ever measure dog height or puppy height directly!

Always measure dog height like so:

What you need:

  1. folding rule f: if you don't have one, you may borrow one from someone else
  2. carpenter's level f: if you don't have one, you could try with a broom and a family member, friend or neighbor. wink

1how-to-measure-your-dog-correctly_height-weight-necksize-chestsize-leglength-taillength-breathingrate-heartrate-temperatureLead your dog next to a door frame, and make your dog stand upright on all four paws: say "STAND".

2Place the carpenter's level exactly at the position you see in this da Vinci style painting: ie at the lower end of the shoulder blade.

You can feel it under the skin. The shoulder blade, not the carpenter's level.

Note:

  1. Don't place it up the neck - that's how many dog owners and vets(!) get the exaggerated heights for their beloved dogs. dumb?
  2. da Vinci's arrow ends below the hair because: Don't measure hair length, measure body height! Ie push the carpenter's level firmly onto the shoulder blade's lower end. Without pushing your dog to the ground. mrgreen

Let one end of the level touch the door frame flat, and level it until the bubbles are within their markings.

Sorry, in this painting da Vinci was unable to make the level touch the door frame, but you must.

If you don't have a carpenter's level f, decide between yourself and a family member (or friend or neighbor) who has the better eyesight/judgement:

Whoever this is will have the responsibility to observe from a distance that the other person holds the broom level against the door frame, ie exactly horizontal.

That's what a carpenter's level does: it perfectly judges the leveling. Your family member, friend, or neighbor won't. Thus a carpenter's level is a must-have friend throughout life for every human being. wink

3Now simply mark the lower end of the carpenter's level or broom with a pencil on the door frame or wall.

Then measure the height with a folding rule on the door frame from the ground up.

Once more: you measure dog height on the door frame or wall. Not in thin air next to your dog. lol

Because again, that's how dog owners get the exaggerated heights for their dog!

If you have a small GSD puppy, Chihuahua, French Bulldog or whatever, you must not stretch the dog's legs in order to stand upright: hurts and is cheating!

Instead, if needed you may hold a homemade dog treat in your closed hand in front of and above your dog's head, and wait for the moment when your dog or puppy stands normal and comfortably.

(the STAND command won't work with a small puppy)

When the measurement is taken: Give your dog the homemade puppy treat and smile that you give your dog something healthy for a change. smile

pt-rt-gr If you have a GSD (only then) click the "Update Profile" link in any email to add your dog's HEIGHT measurement to our global GSD research database. smile


2. How to WEIGH a dog

Always weigh a dog like so:

What you need:

  1. bathroom scale f: if you don't have one, why not ask your neighbor if you can borrow one? A great reason for a friendly chat. razz
  2. dog training skill or strong arms wink
  3. in the latter case maybe a calculator f?

1weigh dog on bathroom scaleLead your dog with all four paws onto the scale: "COME", then "STAND" or "SIT".

Yes, it is an awkward position, but I have yet to meet a German Shepherd who can't do this! I can't swear for every other breed or mix, can I?

But most dogs can do this. All the more if you learn to show, don't tell, don't command. Unless you are a despot?

If you have a small GSD puppy, Chihuahua, French Bulldog or whatever, dog weight measurement will be easier of you do what I always did with My New Puppy:

Hold your pup in your arms and step together on the bathroom scale f.

Afterwards, step alone on it and deduct your own weight from the combined weight! Yes, you may use a calculator f. happy

2Read the scale.

The reading will be as exact as it is for yourself. That is: if the scale is calibrated this procedure will give an exact measurement of dog weight or puppy weight.

Whether your bathroom scale is calibrated you can find out if you also take a measurement on the day your dog sees a quality vet: Simply compare the two readings.

No "3" here, no, not needed.

pt-rt-gr If you have a GSD (only then) click the "Update Profile" link in any email to add your dog's WEIGHT to our global GSD research database. smile


3. How to measure dog CHEST SIZE

Always measure chest size like so:

What you need:

  1. measuring tape f: if you don't have one, forget it: Leave this measurement until you can borrow one from someone!
  2. a steady hand.

1how-to-measure-your-dog-correctly_height-weight-necksize-chestsize-leglength-taillength-breathingrate-heartrate-temperatureMake your dog stand upright on all four paws: "STAND".

2Tightly wrap the measuring tape again from the lower end of the shoulder blade all around your dog's chest right behind the front legs and vertically upright: see the red dots in the da Vinci painting.

"Tightly wrap" means: skin contact, not loosely on the coat!

3Take the reading where you reach back to the beginning of the measuring tape.

pt-rt-gr If you have a GSD (only then) click the "Update Profile" link in any email to add your dog's CHEST SIZE measurement to our global GSD research database. smile


4. Measure Dog NECK SIZE

Always measure neck size like so:

What you need:

  1. measuring tape f: if you don't have one, forget it: Leave this measurement until you can borrow one from someone!
  2. a steady hand.

1how-to-measure-your-dog-correctly_height-weight-necksize-chestsize-leglength-taillength-breathingrate-heartrate-temperatureMake your dog stand upright on all four paws: "STAND".

2Take off the (hopefully!) comfy genuine leather collar f for a minute and replace it with the measuring tape like so:

Tightly wrap the measuring tape where normally the comfy genuine leather collar f sits all around and back to the dog's neck.

This measurement will not be vertically upright but at the angle your dog wears the collar: see the red dots in the da Vinci painting.

Again, "tightly wrap" means: skin contact, not loosely on the coat!

3Take the reading where you reach back to the beginning of the measuring tape. Then put the (hopefully) comfy genuine leather collar back on.


5. Measure FRONT LEG LENGTH

Always measure front leg length like so:

What you need:

  1. folding rule f: if you don't have one, you may borrow one from someone else
  2. a steady hand.

1how-to-measure-your-dog-correctly_height-weight-necksize-chestsize-leglength-taillength-breathingrate-heartrate-temperatureMake your dog stand upright on all four paws: "STAND".

2Hold the folding rule right behind and close to the inside of a front leg, and vertically upright: see the da Vinci painting.

3Take the measurement from the ground to the skin (not coat) of the front leg 'armpit': where the folding rule can't reach any higher because you measure on the inside of a front leg, precisely. - Yet admittedly not well visible in the da Vinci painting.

pt-rt-gr If you have a GSD (only then) click the "Update Profile" link in any email to add your dog's FRONT LEG LENGTH measurement to our global GSD research database. smile


6. Measure TAIL LENGTH

Always measure tail length like so:

What you need:

  1. folding rule f: if your dog's tail can be straightened without force
  2. or measuring tape f: if you can't.

1how-to-measure-your-dog-correctly_height-weight-necksize-chestsize-leglength-taillength-breathingrate-heartrate-temperatureMake your dog stand upright on all four paws: "STAND".

2Hold the folding rule or measuring tape from the base of the tail all the way to the tip of the tail: the skin tip, not the end of the hair! See the red dots in the da Vinci painting.

Although frankly, in this case precision doesn't matter much: Other than your best friend no one is gonna ask you for your dog's precise tail length.

"Where's the base of the tail?"

Well, for precision you may place your middle finger on the anus, but I myself usually prefer to measure along the side of the tail. mrgreen

3Take the measurement.


7. Measure Dog BREATHING RATE and what to expect

Be aware that we measure breathing rate (respiration!) at rest, not during exercise.

Alternatively or in addition you may sometimes want to measure breathing rate right after exercise: namely when you suspect specific sickness and you seek assurance.

I did that as well in such cases with My New Puppy, and I am glad I did.

While generally with sickness there should be no exercise at all. Plain dog walks German Shepherd owners don't consider exercise though: it's to relieve.

Either way, always measure breathing rate like so:

What you need:

  1. stethoscope f: if you don't have one, forget it: spurious precision isn't going to help or impress anyone
  2. a phone or watch or similar
  3. good sense of hearing and good memory, or easier: a notepad.

1Make your dog lie down: "DOWN".

Either on the couch next to you like I prefer it, or on the ground and then you'd have to sit on the ground as well.

2Using the stethoscope and looking on your chosen timer, at a full minute start counting inhalation for a minimum of 30 seconds for accuracy.

For example I simply use a timer on my phone for 30 seconds, and then multiply my count by two.

Reposition the chestpiece or diaphragm until you hear well.

See an otologist in case you don't: I have to put the eartips loosely in my ears, so loud is the sound.

3Note down your count of breathing rate per minute, because you will want that for comparisons in the future.

This video shows how to auscultate respiration and measure breathing rate:

The Hide-a-squirrel toy f in front of the pup is not required for precise auscultation, no. mrgreen

While you count inhalation, also listen for any unusual sounds during both inhalation and exhalation: With practice you will notice what's unusual and what not.

Hence why it's best you start auscultating early: when you get your healthy rescue dog or puppy.

For example this recording when My New Puppy was sick is very unusual, you likely get to hear this extreme only here at your Cynology Hub MyGermanShepherd.Org:

What to expect for dog breathing rate

At rest a healthy puppy typically breathes between 25 to 100 times per minute.

If breathing rate rest goes significantly higher then the puppy almost certainly is in pain and thus is subject to some kind of sickness.

Whether a disorder or disease or defect you'll have to find out. Because your allopathic vet almost certainly won't: In allopathic medicine treatment is routinely being undertaken without knowing the cause of sickness!

The expected values are all the same for breathing rate rest in adult dogs, only that both a healthy dog and a sick dog generally have a lower breathing rate than a puppy.

Discomfort and more so pain leads to faster panting. My New Puppy Miguel had his record at inconceivable 200 pants per minute.


8. Measure Dog HEART RATE and what to expect

Be aware that we measure heart rate at rest, not during exercise.

Alternatively or in addition you may sometimes want to measure heart rate right after exercise: namely when you suspect specific sickness and you seek assurance.

I did that as well in such cases with My New Puppy, and I am glad I did.

While generally with sickness there should be no exercise at all. Plain dog walks German Shepherd owners don't consider exercise though: it's to relieve.

Either way, always measure heart rate like so:

What you need:

  1. stethoscope f: if you don't have one, forget it: precision or not at all.
  2. a phone or watch or similar
  3. good sense of hearing and good memory, or easier: a notepad.

1Make your dog lie down: "DOWN".

Either on the couch next to you like I prefer it, or on the ground and then you'd have to sit on the ground as well.

2Using the stethoscope and looking on your chosen timer, at a full minute start counting heartbeat for a minimum of 30 seconds for accuracy.

For example I simply use a timer on my phone for 30 seconds, and then multiply my count by two.

Reposition the chestpiece or diaphragm until you hear well.

See an otologist in case you don't: I have to put the eartips loosely in my ears, so loud is the sound.

3Note down your count of heart rate per minute, because you will want that for comparisons in the future.

This video shows how to auscultate heart rate and measure heartbeat:

While you count heartbeat, also listen for any unusual sounds both with and between heartbeats: With practice you will notice what's unusual and what not.

German-Shepherd-Dog-alive-and-kickingHence why it's best you start auscultating early: when you get your healthy rescue dog or puppy.

Contrary to auscultating respiration and measuring breathing rate above, I am glad to say that for heartbeat I do not have a similarly exciting audio recording for you:

A heartbeat like that would mean My New Puppy would have been dead! And I can assure you: Miguel is alive and kicking. razz

What to expect for dog heart rate

Unlike breathing rate, dog heart rate is significantly subject to dog age: Overall, the younger the puppy, the higher is heart rate at rest.

My New Puppy Miguel topped at 225 heartbeats per minute at age 9 weeks. And even during sickness his heart rate never again reached what it was before age 12 weeks.

When his heart rate suddenly jumped to 184 at age 40 weeks he clearly was sick: he had fever too.

For a German Shepherd (not for every other dog), heart rate rest of a healthy puppy comes down to heart rate rest of a healthy adult dog around age 8 months: must be clearly under 100 heartbeats per minute.

I say "not for every other dog" because the higher metabolic rate of herding dogs tends to coincide with a generally higher dog heart rate.


9. How to Measure Dog BODY TEMPERATURE and what to expect

Be aware that we measure rectal body temperature.

I do not hold anything of those infrared ear thermometers: that's a gimmick. Because the temperature in the ear is different and irrelevant:

  1. Body temperature mostly rises due to an infection, ie disease.
  2. An infection is predominantly fought by the gut microbiome, and so that's where body temperature rises most.
  3. The temperature closest to the gut is the body temperature obtained through rectal measurement, and so that's what I always recommend you do.

You can watch me doing that as well, see My New Puppy: the only live and multimedia new puppy chronicles.

Either way, always measure body temperature like so:

What you need:

  1. digital thermometer f: if you don't have one, by all means get one now, it's the most important medical instrument for any household!
  2. a steady hand.

1Make your dog lie down: "DOWN".

Either on the couch next to you like I prefer it, or on the ground and then you'd have to sit on the ground as well.

2Gently insert the digital thermometer into your dog's anus and keep it there until it beeps (10 seconds).

3Take the reading.

No need to note down the body temperature: The linked thermometer remembers the prior temperature and reminds you when you turn it on.

What to expect for dog body temperature

Like with dog heart rate, dog body temperature too is subject to age, until about age 9 months:

  • A very young healthy puppy at age 8 weeks (the age when most people get a puppy) may have a rectal puppy body temperature of just 37.9 C / 100.4 F
  • In such a young puppy, a body temperature higher than 39.0 C / 102.2 F would suggest sickness and make me start to investigate what sickness: disease or disorder or defect?! (for fever in this very order)
  • While with age, standard puppy body temperature will increase until about age 9 months, when it settles at adult dog body temperature
  • Rectal body temperature of a healthy adult dog can be as low as 38.3 C / 101.0 F and typically is no higher than 39.2 C / 102.5 F
  • In fact, if body temperature of an adult dog that in the past was say about 38.9 C / 102.0 F suddenly settles at above 39.0 C / 102.2 F, to me it would suggest sickness and I would investigate the cause: disease or disorder or defect?! (for fever in this very order)

The below graph illustrates puppy body temperature development with age through to adult dog body temperature, and it even shows actual temperature measurements during puppy development:

Puppy-Body-Temperature-and-Adult-Dog-Body-Temperature

In any case, when the rectal body temperature of a puppy or adult dog goes above 40 C or 104 F, I suggest you prepare for a vet visit.

And if the temperature stays that high for 24 hours - even if only intermittently - I suggest you visit a quality veterinarian to determine the cause. NOT to exchange money for treatment outright.

Because: Do not be drawn into the key flaws of allopathic medicine such that you pay for treatment before you and they have identified the cause of suspected sickness.

Clear?

Why "even if only intermittently"?

Because body temperature spikes: it may drop for some hours (particularly at night, but also during the day) and then again go up. This too suggests some kind of sickness if body temperature stays elevated after more than 24 hours.

In almost all such cases fever suggests that the immune system is busy dealing with an infection - thus disease - while a disorder is much less likely to lead to fever.


When all measurements are taken: Yes, why not, award your puppy or dog a homemade dog treat again. Unless your way of taking measurements acts like a treat anyway? smile

I trust you too have had a FUN experience for you and your dog. Either way, taking these measurements certainly has helped to improve your dog-human relationship! wink

 

 


adult GSDIf ever you appreciate the immense work to maintain this uniquely helpful house, feel free to donate a meal.
As .ORG we depend on your (rare!) donations: however small it helps, THANKS SO MUCH!

USD
 

PLEASE SHARE with your circle what we share with you:

wa li fb pin tw in tum red sms call

MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORGAny problem with the social share buttons, PLEASE say here to help everyone.

Join the discussion

 

Jonathan: Thank you for your period advice. It is excellent! My GSD puppy is now 8 months and we read your advice regularly.

Dwayne: I love this site and the info you post onto it. Thanks again!!!!

Penny: Thanks for making your great articles available to all of us. it's nice to know that a recommended product is actually available in my country.

Stay with us and your dog will stay with you, both of you healthy and well-behaved.
If you are ever unhappy with anything we write, do or don't do, we want to be the first to know, thanks.

Disclaimer: Always apply your own common sense when you follow anyone's suggestions. As much as your dog is special (s)he may react different too. Note that when you click a link, for privacy reasons we will not share your browsing history, we do not use any tracking script and no Google Analytics. If you click through to a vendor and buy something, the vendor may share a commission with us or may not, only Amazon links always will.

© MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG - All content is protected. You must not copy or spin or otherwise change our content to republish it in your name, another one's name or without a name. If you wish to make use of our Intellectual Property Rights contact MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG. Thank you.

There's nothing quite like a healthy and well-behaved dog who freely guards every corner of your home, who brings you peace, who brings you joy
Welcome to The Cynology Hub MyGermanShepherd.Org Saves Health, Cost, Lives!
Devoted to serving all well-meaning dog owners, fosterers, and trainers
We help YOU that YOUR DOG does not end up in a(nother) shelter - Nor at a costly incompetent vet
77 database queries, 1.30 seconds, 21MB