what is withers on a dog

What Is Withers On A Dog? A Complete Guide To Dog Withers

what is withers on a dog
Definition Of Withers On A Dog
Measuring Withers On a Dog

So you’ve heard the term withers but what exactly is withers on a dog?

Withers on a dog is the essential part to measure your dog’s height. You can get an accurate and expected measurement when you measure by the withers. Accurately measuring the size of your dog is vital to care for him. If you want to measure your dog’s height, it can be done correctly through the withers.

Similarly, if you plan to enter your dog in an event or show, your dog’s withers’ correct measurement is needed. The vet at the animal hospital also requires your dog’s withers to determine his health. This post will show you the definition of the withers on a dog and how important it is to measure correctly.

Definition Of Withers On A Dog

Definition Of Withers On A Dog

Withers are the tallest point of the dog’s body. It does not include the neck and the head. If you feel for the ridge between the shoulder blades and behind the neck of your dog, you can feel its withers. Near that area, you can spot a bony point.

If your dog’s coat is shorter, you can easily spot it. But, if your dog’s coat is quite long, it becomes difficult to spot the withers area. Moreover, it is a bit complicated to measure your dog’s height manually. But with adequate information, every dog owner must be able to take height measurements at home by themselves. 

It is interesting to note that a horse is also measured by its withers and not from the head. Some dogs like boxers and poodles are called “square dogs.” These dogs require that their height measure the same as the body from the withers to the tail base, like a square’s shape.

Why Is Measuring Withers On a Dog Important?

Here are some reasons why you need to know your dog’s height.

To buy a correct dog bed. 

Only guessing and buying a bed for your dog is not advisable. For young puppies, a big bed or crate is enough until they grow out of it. But purchasing a bed every time for your dog when they grow can be a bit expensive. The right mattress for your dog helps them to rest at the end of a long day. There should also be enough space for your dog to stretch, turn, and stand up quickly.

Only when you can determine your dog’s correct height, then you can buy the perfect bed for him.

To buy fitting clothes and accessories.

Every dog owner wants to pamper their furry friend. They gift clothes, toys, treats, and other things. It would be best to buy the right clothes for your dog to ensure that it is neither too big nor too small.

You also need to buy food and water bowls for feeding your dog. It would be best to place a dog feeder at the correct ground level according to your dog’s lower chest level. If the dog feeder is not placed at your dog’s designated height, it can result in bloating and decreased blood flow pain. It can even progress to shock and death. But, if the dog feeder is at the correct height, your dog’s body posture will improve along with his eating pace.

It even promotes good hygiene and cleanliness in dogs. It is also essential to measure the dog’s withers if you keep dogs to pull sleds.

To make a suitable dog flapper.

If you intend to make your dog run around the house and into your yard, you cannot hold the door for him every time he wants to go outside. Every responsible dog owner needs to make a small-sized doggy door. Your dog should be able to come in and go out. The flapper should not hurt his stomach and back when he jumps through it.

To conduct training and exercise.

Every do owner knows how much important exercise is for dogs. Your furry friend is usually an excited one and needs ample exercise for its health and lifespan. If your dog is overworked or underworked, it can create health problems. To provide him with the right training, first, you need to check your dog’s height.

If you want to train your dog for professional purposes, you need to know its exact height. In competitive sports, a dog has to jump hurdles. If you cannot determine your dog’s accurate height, it might result in him falling and trapping from the hurdles. They can injure themselves because of an owner’s inability to determine the dog’s height correctly.

The American Kennel Club’s regulation for a dog to jump hurdles according to their height are:- 

a) For dogs 11 inches and under – to jump above 8 inches.

b) For dogs 14 inches and under – to jump above 12 inches.

c) For dogs 18 inches and under – to jump above 16 inches.

d) For dogs 22 inches and under – to jump above 20 inches.

e) From 22 inches and above, the owner can enter their dog at their discretion.

To keep track of your dog’s medical records.

When you visit the vet for a regular check-up, they usually ask for data like his length, weight, diets, vaccination history, and illness. You show a bit of irresponsibility if you do not keep track of your dog’s necessary information. Not only that, lack of proper track of your dog’s height can affect his health. A dog suffers from so many hind legs weaknesses and injuries in its lifetime. Any dog, irrespective of its height, can be affected by various hind ailments, and it is the owner’s responsibility to keep daily checks.

To keep data for dog shows.

Similar to competitive sports, a dog show requires you to submit your dog’s data in advance. The examiners check whether your dog is eligible to participate and whether your dog meets the requirements they need. There is a category competition for different breeds of dogs. Before the show takes place, the examiners disqualify the dogs that don’t meet their requirements. This early disqualification eases the anxiety that a dog might get when facing big crowds in the show.

To connect positively with your dog.

To measure your dog regularly is to connect with your dog. You are keeping track of your dog’s development. You are also getting to know your dog better and strengthening a good relationship with your dog. It is also a fun activity to do with your dog and shows that you care for your dog.

To confirm your dog’s breed.

Some dogs are quite tricky to categorize breeds because of a cross or hybrid breeding. Along with their distinct physical features like head, tail, coat, and color, a dog’s height is essential to recognize its breed. Not only that, when you compare your dog’s height with its breed’s general height, it shows its health and its physical condition.

To give information to other prospectors. 

If you breed dogs for selling and adoption, giving out information about their physical features proves helpful. This kind of information is useful for those other dog-owners. They might plan carefully and assess whether their homes will be suitable for keeping dogs.

golden labradoodle itching Measuring Withers On a Dog

Step By Step Guide To Measuring Withers On A Dog

It is vitally important to make accurate measuring of your dog. If your dog’s measurement is wrong, it can turn out bad for your dog’s plain and behavior.

To measure your dog, first, you need to do a few steps.

1. Make your dog lean on a door frame or wall.

Gently lead your dog to the wall or door frame that you want him to lean on. Ensure that he is standing upright on all four of his paws. The floor should be flat, and his head should be in a normal position. You can also stand near the dog to avoid a lot of movements.

Do not let your dog stretch his legs while measuring. You can also get a partner to hold up the dog for you while you count him. You can treat your dog as a reward for completing his exercise.

2. Feel for your dog’s withers.

It is essential to feel your dog’s withers before you start taking the measurements. The withers should be at the exact place where your dog’s neck meets its shoulders. Dogs with thick coats or long furs are harder to measure for withers since it is not easily visible. 

3. Measure across the withers.

It is good to measure your dog across the withers to get an accurate measurement. This type of measurement will require you to make your dog stand still and not stoop on the floor. 

Home Instruments Needed For Measuring A Dog’s Height

If you watch dog shows, you will notice that all the judges use an instrument for measuring a dog’s height. That instrument is called a Wicket. It is u-shaped and is place over a dog on top of its shoulder blades. A Wicket is the most reliable instrument for measuring a dog’s height. It is quite expensive and costs a few hundred dollars. If you can afford it, you can buy it at a good pet store.

If not, here are a few suggestions for measuring your dog. Not only that, these measurement instruments are cheap, and you can easily find them at your own home.

1. A measuring tape. You can easily find a measuring tape at home. They are easy to use and will give you an accurate reading. If your dog is easily irritated and distracted, the best instrument to measure his height is measuring tape.

2. A door frame. You can quickly put your dog next to a wall to measure him using a door frame. Moreover, your dog will not be able to move around much in that position.

3. A pencil for marking. A pencil is the best instrument for drawing a mark on the wall. You can easily clean it, and it does not make such a visible line on the wall.

4. A magnet for marking. If you are hesitant about a pencil line on your wall, you can make your dog stand next to the refrigerator and place a magnet on it. The magnet will not fall off easily, and you won’t have a mark on your wall too.

5. A carpenter’s level. A carpenter’s level is also called a spirit level or bubble level. It checks whether a surface is horizontal or vertical. Its accuracy depends on its sensitivity. You can push this carpenter’s level onto your dog’s shoulder for correct leveling. There is also a possibility for incorrect height measurement if placed inaccurately on your dog’s neck and not shoulders. 

Do German Shepherds Suffer From Separation Anxiety? Can A German Shepherd Bite Break Bones Dinovite Alternatives what is withers on a dog Definition Of Withers On A Dog Measuring Withers On a Dog

Measuring Your Dog By The Wicket

If you own a wicket, here is how you can measure your dog.

1) Firmly place the Wicket on the floor.

2) Bring your dog under the Wicket

3) Measure your dog while being under the Wicket.

Some dogs resist standing under the Wicket. Ensure that your dog is comfortable before being made to stand under the Wicket. If you can measure your dog from a wicket, it will give the most accurate measurement.


Measuring your dog’s height is quite essential to check how much it has grown over time. Not only that, withers determines whether your dog conforms to the quality of its breed. Generally, a dog should have clear-cut withers. It is an essential point of attachment for the dog’s muscles. It also directly impacts the most crucial point of complying with the owner, which is the shoulder. If a collar, leash, or harness is tied improperly on your dog, it can cause multiple health hazards like choking and blood flow loss.

 A dog’s height can also predict his behavior. It will also help you to improve your dog’s quality of life. With your dog’s correct information, it becomes the right partner for your life and a life-long companion. 

Some of My Favorite Products For Dog Owners

I hope this article has helped you just a bit in everyday life as a dog owner. Being a dog owner for more than 25 years, I’ve tried many different products with varying success, but these products below are some that I can highly recommend to every dog and their owner without hesitation!

These links are affiliate links, so if you do end up using the links, I will earn a commission. But it’s products that I use daily myself, and I have the utmost praise for.

Dog Food: Every dog needs to eat correctly, and finding the best food for your dog can be challenging, as the market is absolutely flooded with products. But since 2015 when the company was founded, I’ve been using Ollie Petfood. With their product being tailor-made to suit every dog’s specific needs, and as my dogs love the product, I’m pretty sure I’ve found a product I will continue to use for many years more. If you use my link you can get 50% off your first order.

Dog Training: If you’ve ever owned a puppy, you know that it requires a lot of training to grow into a well-behaved adult. Brain Training for Dogs has helped me immensely with the mental training part of raising a dog, and it’s something I strongly recommend you consider.

Grooming: If you have a dog in your home, you’re going to need a brush, and for this, I recommend a Hertzko Self-Cleaning Slicker Brush. For that price, you simply can’t beat this brush for everyday grooming.

If you’re looking for the most up-to-date recommendations, check out my recommended products section that I’ve created to help every dog owner!