What Are Dog Withers? (& How to Measure It)

Do you know your furry buddy can perform multiple tasks? He isn’t only adorable but also has the capability of doing hard work at the same time.

Besides carrying objects, your buddy can even help with several human tasks, like working in the field.

To perceive if a dog breed can do work, you must understand the importance of dog withers.

Have you heard your vet uttering the word ‘wither’ during your pup’s checkup? What is it, and why is it important for a dog?

Fascinatingly, most dog owners know about withers when measuring their dog’s strength or height. This article will discuss everything you need to know about dog withers and their importance. So keep scrolling down!

What is Dog Withers?

What is Dog Withers

Professionals use the term ‘withers’ while calculating a dog’s height from the ground. This refers to the area above a dog’s shoulder – the tallest area on its body besides the head and neck.

However, the withers are technically a band of muscle situated above the shoulder blade. No matter the dog breed, withers are in the same physiological place. So professionals measure this area on every dog to get an accurate height measurement.

Functionally, withers help move the spine, neck, and shoulder complexly. Moreover, vets measure their size to estimate a dog’s ability to jump, run, and do another task. It’s especially important if you want your dog to enter the official dog show, where every dog seems identical.

On the other hand, many pet parents check withers’ measurements to ensure they aren’t unwittingly overworking their pets. After all, it’s your responsibility to keep your buddy healthy and safe!

Where is Dog Withers Exactly Situated?

Keep your hand on your dog’s shoulders, and you will feel a bony top of the shoulder blades. They are the withers. In other words, it is exactly the neck and shoulders meeting point.

Short-haired dogs have very prominent withers, making them easier to spot and measure accurately. On the contrary, withers are a little trickier to spot in dogs with long hairs.

But no worries! Even if you fail to locate it on the first try, keep trying, and eventually, you will understand how it feels. Moreover, your canine buddy will also get accustomed to your touch and won’t resist while you try to take measurements.

Are you still struggling to spot it in your dog breed? Consider taking them to your vet or a professional to measure them.

What’s the Importance of Dog Withers?

What’s the Importance of Dog Withers

As already mentioned, dog withers are anatomically a band of muscles crossing over the topmost point of shoulder blades.

Generally, all four-legged animals have withered as they help in moving the three body parts –

  • Shoulders
  • Spine
  • Neck

Fascinatingly, most dog parents give importance to withers only when calculating their dog’s strength and height. We are least concerned about the biological role and purpose the withers serve in four-legged animals as it’s taken for granted that they are in good condition.

Why Should You Measure Your Dog Withers?

Are you still wondering what the need is for measuring something like the withers? Below are two measurements and reasons related to it:

Measuring the Height from Withers

Measuring the Height from Withers

Your dog’s withers are used to establish the official height of your pet. In addition, experts use it to detect several conditions developing in different purebred dogs or any genetic anomalies.

More commonly, withers play a vital role in dog shows and competitions. They help to ensure your dog has the correct traits to qualify for the competition.

Measuring from the Withers to the Chest

Use a measuring tape to calculate the length from withers to your dog’s chest or breastbone. This measurement will help to establish two things –

  • One, how big your buddy’s withers are
  • And another one is whether your dog breed has the strength to work on farms or pull a sled.

In other words, the span and size of the withers and chest help to know how much your high-spirited canine buddy can do hard work.

Moreover, vets use this measurement to detect anomalies in any breed, indicating an issue with a dog’s health or in their breeding quality compared to the expected standards in competitions.

Thus, dog owners or professionals measure it daily, besides height and weight.

Reasons to Measure Dog Withers

Reasons to Measure Dog Withers

1. To Understand Your Dog’s Health

The wither’s height helps to determine whether a dog is large, medium, or small. Many dog owners may not consider this information useful, but it’s essential in many aspects.

For example, when you call a vet during a medical emergency, you must provide accurate information about your dog for correct treatment. They could prescribe medications depending on your dog’s height and weight.

Moreover, vets can even predict a dog’s growth by analyzing their height from a younger age. It is essential for determining common ailments affecting dogs of different sizes.

For instance, shorter dogs typically develop leg problems lesser than taller dogs. So accurate height measurements will help you to take preventive measures early, preventing conditions from worsening.

Also Read: Ultimate Guide To Dog Health

2. For Dog Shows & Sports

Each dog breed has its limitations in performing tasks like jumping or racing, and withers’ measurement help to understand it. This measurement also determines whether your buddy conforms to its breed standard quality level.

3. To Purchase the Right Dog Accessories

To Purchase the Right Dog Accessories

This is one of the most common reasons to take accurate measurements of dog withers. For example, you will need this correct measurement to purchase a harness and collar of the right fit.

Accessories like harnesses and collars should fit perfectly; otherwise, your dog can suffer pain and discomfort.

Apart from this, you will need this measurement also to purchase a perfectly-fitted winter jacket for your furry buddy.

4. To Purchase the Right Canine Door or Kennel

Kennels and canine doors are required for training and, often, travel purposes.

A canine door is designed to let your pet go in and out effortlessly. Therefore, they must be about 5.1cm (2 inches) taller than your doggy.

Similarly, a kennel also must be sufficiently big to offer ample space for your dog to move around without hurting themselves.

5. To Put Up For Adoption

To Put Up For Adoption

As a dog owner, you should know all the necessary information about your dog. And experienced owners will enquire about these physical traits while adopting a dog.

6. To Get the Right Food

Most dog foods are usually tailor-made for different-sized dogs to get the necessary nutrients they need for the healthiest life possible. Thus, you will need to know your dog’s height and withers’ measurements to narrow down the food options.

Measure Accurate Dog Height Measurement with Withers: Step-by-step Guide

Now that you know what dog withers are and their importance, you may wonder how to measure them accurately. Dog’s withers are generally measured to determine their correct height, which is essential to assess their growth over time.

Withers is considered the standard dog height measurement because this four-legged animal moves its head too much. Eventually, it takes time to attain precise measurements.

Equipment You Will Need For Height Measurement

Equipment You Will Need For Height Measurement

Although nothing specific, it’s recommended to use the following items for accurate height measurement –

  • A carpenter’s Level

This commonly used tool can help to take the most accurate measurement if placed firmly onto your dog’s shoulders.

  • Measuring Tape

It’s another excellent option for height measurement. Set it next to the dog standing still and calculate the length from the withers to the ground.

  • Measuring Stick

Another great way of measuring accurate height is with a measuring stick.

  • Marking Tool

You can use a pencil, sticky tape, or your finger to mark the spot on the wall or any frame for the right measurements.

Measuring Height At The Dog’s Withers

Step 1: Make your Dog Stand Against a Door or Wall

You will have first to make your canine stand against a door or wall to measure its height accurately. You will even get a fixed point next to your doggy to use as a standard while measuring.

  • Make your canine stand up straight.
  • Try to keep him on all four feet on the ground and evenly spaced, maintaining his stance as square as possible.
  • Then, keep his legs perpendicular to the floor. The feet should maintain a shoulder-width distance.

Step 2: Locate the Withers

As you already know, the withers is the topmost point of a dog’s shoulder blades. You can spot it just behind the base of your canine’s neck. It will feel like a protruding bony point on the shoulder.

You can easily locate it on shortly-coated dogs. However, experienced owners can spot it just by looking at a dog.

Step 3: Put a Level Across the Withers

Take a long level, like a carpenter’s, to place it on your dog’s withers. However, the end of the level should touch the wall.

Ensure that the level is perfectly at level, followed by marking the point where the level’s bottom touches the wall. This marks your dog’s height on the wall.

However, you can use a pencil for marking or place a finger on that spot on the wall. Otherwise, utilize a magnet or removable tape to mark the spot.

Step 4: Take the Measurement

You can let your doggy move freely away from the door frame or wall.

Use a tape or yardstick to measure from the mark you made to the ground and establish your dog’s height.

Ensuring the Measurement is Correct

Step 1: Make your Dog Stand Still

  • Don’t let your buddy move too much to get an accurate measurement.
  • Seek help if your pet doesn’t stay still on its own. They can help you take proper measurements by holding or distracting your dog for a long time.

While achieving it with trained dogs is generally easier, it can be challenging with more active dogs.

Step 2: Use a Measuring Stick

You will get measuring sticks from veterinary suppliers. They feature an adjustable arm sticking out to the side.

  • Adjust the arm to rest at the dog’s withers and let the stick’s bottom rest on the ground simultaneously.
  • However, make sure to keep the measuring stick at the level.

You may even find many height measurement tools with a level embedded in them.

Step 3: Measure Show Dogs with Wickets

You must take correct measurements of show dogs to ensure they qualify for the standard parameters set for the respective breed.

Dog show officials usually use a U-shaped measuring stick or wicket for measuring show dogs efficiently and quickly.

  • The rounded end of the wicket is placed on the shoulder blades’ top of a dog.
  • Moreover, the wicket’s feet should touch the ground surface.

Officials adjust the wicket’s height according to the height parameters of the measured dog breed. However, they won’t grant a dog taller than the allowed breed height.



Where do you measure a dog’s height?

Please measure the topmost point of your canine’s shoulder blades to know its height. You can feel it along your dog’s back, close to the base of the neck.

How to measure your dog’s height?

First, locate the exact spot of your dog’s withers and then run the measuring tape from the withers to the floor to calculate the length or height.

What is withers in dog anatomy?

Withers is the muscle bands between the shoulder blades of a four-legged animal. It’s the tallest point of your dog’s body besides the head.


So withers is an area between a dog’s shoulder blades, responsible for measuring their height. Moreover, this muscle band helps assess a dog’s strength and capability to perform various tasks.

Knowing your dog’s height may appear initially insignificant, but there are several reasons to perceive it. For example, it will be required to determine your dog’s health condition, buy well-fitted accessories, etc.

Don’t yet know your dog’s height? Now that you know what withers is, measure your dog’s height today.

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