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Does Chest Size Matter?

Chest Size Matters when it comes to making dog clothes

When it comes to Dog clothes it does!

One of the most common questions people ask when making dog clothes is How to Measure a Dog. And one of the key areas to be aware of is the Chest size. Dog’s bodies are completely different than ours, so clothes don’t fit the same way and the chest on a dog determines how the clothes will fit. Getting the measuring process right will make or break an accurate fit and a dog’s comfort and willingness to wear what you make for them!

Key Factors in Measuring:

  • Dogs don’t have shoulders in the same place that we do so there’s nothing around the neck to keep clothing in place so clothes will slip down the back if you don’t accurately measure their neck and chest.
  • The position of the dog’s withers (which are their “shoulders”) indicates where the belly section should start and again, chest factors into this. If you haven't made enough room at the chest it will “pinch” under the legs and limit a dog’s movement.
  • And Chest shape makes a big difference in how clothing will fit. There are typically three types of dog chest shapes:
    • Barrel-Chested – wide, short ribcages – Bulldogs, Boxers, Pitbulls, etc.
    • Deep-Chested – narrow, taller ribcages – Dachshunds, Poodles, Rottweilers, etc.
    • Round-Chested – even width and depth ribcage - Corgis, Golden Retrievers, Labradors, etc.

The shape of a dog’s chest will affect how the front of the dog clothes fit. If there isn’t enough room in the chest the dog will feel like they are wearing a straitjacket and they simply won’t move. And if the chest section is too big the clothes will slip around on them. Take a look at the following chest shapes and see what category you think your dog falls into.

Barrel Chests

The shape of a Barrel-Chested Dog is rectangular from the front and square from the side. Their ribcage is wider than it is deep. If you can draw a rectangle on the dog's chest then you've got a Barrel-Chested dog.

  • The bottom of their rig cage is usually in line with or above their elbows.
  • They typically have a wide stance with a larger gap between the front legs.
  • When making clothes for Barrel Chested Dogs you’ll want to add lots of width in the chest area if you are making clothes that cover the chest.

Deep Chests

The shape of a Deep-Chested Dog is more like an oval from both the front and side angles. They have a very deep and narrow ribcage. If you can draw an oval on the dog's chest then you've got a Deep-Chested dog.

  • The bottom of their rib cage is usually in line or below their elbows.
  • The gap between the front legs is typically smaller.
  • When making clothes for Deep Chested Dogs you’ll want to have a lot of material in the front length if you are making clothes that cover the chest.
Deep Chested Dog
Deep Chested Dog Side View

Round Chests

The shape of a Round-Chested Dog is circular from both the front and side view. Their ribcage is pretty much the same width and height.

  • Most dogs fall into this category of chest shapes.
  • If you have a round-chested dog you will probably have an easier time working with standard dog patterns without too much customization.
Round Chested Dog Front View
Round Chested Dog Side View

How to Measure Your Dog

Now that you know what chest type your dog has it's time to measure your dog so you can make them some clothes. Watch this video to see the best way to measure your dog. It covers eleven areas to measure, which may seem like a lot. But if you get them all at once you will be set to make any pattern you want. If you have “wiggly” dog that won’t stay still, I suggest taking them for a good walk or play first so they are a little tired as they will be much more tolerant of you wrapping a measuring tape around them. Once you have watched the video on how to measure your dog use this chart to fill in your measurements and see which pattern size you're dog most closely matches.

Next week I will go over how to customize a pattern for the perfect fit for YOUR dog. I'll also provide you with a pattern to work with.

I'd love to hear what kind of dog you have. Let me know in the comments below.

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