If you’re a dog lover like all of us here at Doodle Doods, you’ve probably heard more than a few times about something called withers on a dog. In this guide, we’re going to answer all of your questions on this topic. What is withers on a dog? How to properly measure dog withers? And what do dog withers even tell us? Keep on reading to learn more. 

Table of Contents

What Is Withers On A Dog: Introduction

Whether you’ve been browsing around online researching different dog breeds and sizes, or heard your veterinarian talk about withers on your dog, it can be confusing at first. What’s up with that? What are the withers on a dog? Those vet visits can get quite embarrassing if you have no idea what they’re talking about! 

Indeed, getting a pup is mostly fun and games, kisses and cuddles. But there’s also the more technical stuff that you as a dog owner should know about. One of the most important things being your dog’s estimated adult size. 

In the following article, we’ll answer your question “what is the withers on a dog?” and discuss the importance of measuring it as well as what it can tell you. 

What Is Withers On A Dog?

Dog withers refers to an area that’s located between a dog’s shoulder blades. This area is the place where you measure the tallest point on your dog’s body. While it may seem like the top of your dog’s head is the highest point of their body, which indeed it is, the correct height measurements are actually taken from the withers on a dog. 

So, whenever you hear your vet talking about your dog’s withers or see the term online, you know that it indicates the muscular area that sits on top of their shoulder blades.

How Do I Locate Dog Withers And Why Are They Important?

Your dog’s withers are where the highest points of their shoulder blades are. Withers are between your dog’s neck and back, basically at the point where these two areas meet. It’s a muscle band that helps move your dog’s neck, shoulders, and back. 

The withers on a dog should sit directly above their front legs and feet. While you may be able to locate the withers while your dog is sitting down, you’ll find the most accurate spot whilst your dog is standing up and not moving around. 

Also, it’s important we note that dog withers can be harder to locate on pups with very thick and fluffy coats. Likewise, the withers are harder to find on more pudgier, chubbier dogs. On the other hand, if your dog is quite slim and also has a short coat, it’s easier to locate their withers. Just start feeling around their neck and upper back area and you’ll soon be able to find the withers even if it does take a bit more time at first. 

But now that you know what dog withers are, you’d probably like to know – why are they important anyway?

As we mentioned, when taking a dog’s height measurements, you’re actually taking them from the withers. Anytime you see an online source or any other material referring to a dog’s height, the height is almost always measured from their withers. 

While it may seem a bit contradictory, knowing that dogs also have a neck and head that are most definitely higher than their withers, that’s not how correct measurements are taken. Dogs tend to move their heads up and down a lot, especially when being measured. So it’s not the most accurate way of measuring their height. The withers, on the other hand, are in a neutral position when your dog is standing still. 

Understanding your dog’s height is crucial for many things. For example, before bringing home a new puppy. You’ve got to make sure that you pick a dog whose size is suitable with your living arrangements and lifestyle. 

Here’s Why You Should Measure Dog Withers

Helps You Detect Health Issues And Track Growth In Puppyhood

Although an important factor in understanding your dog’s size is weighing them, another important thing to look at is their height. To be more precise, the height from the withers. This is especially important in puppyhood when you should closely monitor their growth. If your puppy is growing too fast or too slow, it could indicate that there’s an underlying health condition that your vet should immediately look into.  

Congenital defects, genetic illnesses, intestinal parasites, malnourishment, and growth disorders are all issues that might affect a puppy’s growth and withers height. Also, large and giant sized breeds are at higher risk of growth disorders in puppyhood. That’s why many vets also recommend larger dogs to be fed kibbles and wet foods that are specially formulated for large and giant sized breeds. 

By the way, your dog’s weight and height may also determine the dosage for medications and anesthesia. Your vet will be able to prescribe the most accurate dosage to your pup according to their size, both height and weight. This ensures that your dog is getting the right amount of medication that’s effective according to their size. It’s also crucial for preventing overdose that could potentially have very severe, lasting effects. 

Essential For Harness And Crate Measurements

Knowing your dog’s wither height is also essential when picking out their accessories like a harness or even a crate. Your dog’s collar and harness should sit comfortably on their body, not too tight and not too loose. 

If your dog’s harness is too tight, it’s obviously going to be very uncomfortable for your dog whenever they have to wear it. It could also irritate and injure their skin and lead to balding on the spots where the harness sits. Similarly, if your dog’s harness is too big for them, it’s not going to keep them safe when you’re out and about. They’ll be able to wiggle out of it with no trouble and we all know how dangerous it can be for our canine buddies. 

So before you purchase any random harness for your dog, be sure to properly measure your dog in the areas as instructed. This way, you can ensure that you’re getting an appropriately-sized harness that’ll keep your dog safe and also keep them comfy whilst being leashed. The same goes for jackets and other clothing items that you might purchase for your pup. For instance, a winter jacket or a raincoat if you live in a colder climate or experience harsh weather conditions. 

The height of your dog’s withers is also essential when choosing a crate for them. Although a larger crate might seem like a safe bet, it could actually backfire. It’s not uncommon for dogs to start going potty in their crate if it’s too big for their size. Still, the crate shouldn’t be too small for your pooch, either, as it can be very uncomfortable for them to spend time in there and turn around. 

Be Aware!

Keep in mind, however, that you should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when choosing the crate for your pooch. Some recommend measuring your dog’s height from the bottom of the front feet to the top of the head instead of the withers. 

A good guide is to measure your dog’s height from the top of their head and also their length from the top of the nose to the tip of the tail. Add about three to four inches to your dog’s measurements and you’ll get the right crate size for your pooch. 

You Get To Know The Right Food Quantity For Your Dog

Regardless if you have a young puppy, a full-grown adult dog, or a pooch who is in its golden years, you should always feed them the right amount of food according to their size, age, and activity levels. 

Keeping track of your puppy’s height and weight in puppyhood, will help you estimate their future adult size. And with that information, you can choose a diet for your pup that’s specially tailored to their needs. As we mentioned earlier, large and giant sized breeds often benefit from a formula that’s designed for larger dogs. Likewise, smaller breeds would benefit from formulas that are targeted for small and toy-sized dogs. In addition to that, you should feed your pup according to their life stage. Puppies should generally be fed a specially formulated kibble or wet food for puppies. 

You should also carefully measure out your dog’s food each day to ensure that your dog is getting enough calories and nutrients from their diet. Our guide How Much Should I Feed My Dog? Calculator And Puppy Feeding Guidelines has all the information you’ll need for calculating the correct amount for your pup. Additionally, look for formulas that are nutritionally balanced, contain high-quality and human-grade ingredients. Opt for dog foods that are free from artificial fillers, flavors, and preservatives. 

How Do You Measure A Dog’s Withers?

We’ll now walk you through a step-by-step guide on how to measure your dog’s withers. First, we’ll cover how you can measure your dog’s height. Then we’ll talk about measuring the girth of the withers, which is not only helpful for choosing the right kind of harness, but can also indicate your dog’s strength. 

Measuring Height From Dog Withers

  • Step 1: Have your dog stand completely still on all of their paws. You can have your dog stand next to a wall or door frame. If your pup doesn’t like to stand still, get someone to help you with that. 
  • Step 2: Locate your dog’s withers. They should be right between the neck and upper back, and you should feel your dog’s shoulder blades poking a little bit. 
  • Step 3: Place a longer, straight object like a ruler or a level across your dog’s withers. If someone can help you with this step, you can be sure to get the most accurate measurements. 
  • Step 4: Mark the wall where the bottom part of the level is. This the height of your dog’s withers.
  • Step 5: Using a measuring tape, measure the distance between the floor and the point that you marked on the wall. That’s your dog’s height from the withers. 
  • If you don’t want to mark your wall with a pencil, take the measurement directly with a measuring tape from the bottom of your dog’s front feet to the lower end of the level. 

If you’re planning to enter your dog into shows and competitions, you can also measure your dog with a wicket that’s used in dog shows. However, most of us have a measuring tape at home already and it’s an acceptable way of measuring your dog’s height. 

Measuring Girth Of Dog Withers

  • Step 1: Have your dog standing still, on all of its four paws. 
  • Step 2: With a soft fabric measuring tape, measure the girth of your dog’s chest by placing the start of the measuring tape in the indentation between your dog’s shoulder blades. 
  • Step 3: Measure the whole circumference of your dog’s wither girth, going behind your dog’s front legs and back up towards the withers from the other side. 

What Is Withers On A Dog: FAQs

What Is A Withers Height?

Withers on a dog refers to the highest point of their body that’s between their shoulder blades. It’s the distance from the ground to a dog’s withers, a.k.a the highest point of their shoulder blades. Withers are located between the base of the neck and upper back. Essentially, withers are a muscle band that cover the shoulders. The function of a dog’s withers is to help move the neck, shoulders, and back. 

What Is The Correct Way To Measure A Dog?

When measuring a dog’s height, it’s always measured from the bottom of the front foot and directly up towards the withers, a.k.a the highest point between their shoulder blades. Your dog should be standing up and being still so that you get the most accurate withers measurement. A dog’s height is not measured from the overall highest point on their body, often thought to be the top of their head. 

How Tall Is A Golden Retriever To Withers?

Golden Retrievers have a withers height of around 21.5 to 24 inches. Male Golden Retrievers are often a bit taller with a withers height of 23 to 24 inches. Meanwhile, females average at 21.5 to 22.5 inches tall. In contrast, their Goldendoodle offspring (Golden Retriever-Poodle mix) come in different size categories. Largest Standard Goldendoodles have a withers height of 20-26 inches, Mini and Medium Goldendoodles can stand at 15-20 inches tall, and the smallest Toy Goldendoodles usually stand less than 15 inches tall at the shoulder. 

What Is Withers On A Dog: Final Thoughts

So, there you have it! To quickly sum it up for you, a dog’s withers are located between their shoulder blades, which is referred to as the highest point on their body. Dogs’ height is always measured from the withers. That’s mostly because when a dog is standing, the withers are in a completely neutral position. Although their head and neck do give them a little bit of extra height, the head is never in a neutral position and it won’t give you an accurate measurement. We hope you learned some helpful information about your dog’s withers from this guide, including how to properly measure it and why it’s important. 

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