How to Measure a Dog’s Chest for Dog Clothes

Does Chest Size Matter? -When it comes to making dog clothes it does

Do you know how to measure a dog's chest for dog clothes?

The two most common questions I am asked about making dog clothes is How to Measure a Dog and How to Customize a Pattern. But one of the important questions that isn't asked is Does Chest Size Matter? 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. So determining chest size and shape is key to getting the measuring process right. It will make or break getting an accurate fit and a dog’s comfort and willingness to wear what you make for them depends on it!

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 created 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

Learn How to Measure Your Dog

So, when asked "Does Chest Size Matter" you can confidently say YES!! And now that you know what chest type your dog has it's time to figure out where their withers are. Check out the next post to find your dog's Withers Measurement which is another key factor to getting the perfect fit. 

I'd love to hear what kind of dog you have and about any challenges you have had fitting your dog for clothing.
Let me know in the comments below.

Get a Step-By-Step Guide and Workbook

Do you need help measuring your dog? Download my 4 Steps to Fit Your Dog Guide and Workbook and I’ll walk you through the step by step process to take all the measurements you need to make a simple dog coat your dog will love!

There's even a video you can watch that shows you exactly how to do it!

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My Vision for Transformation

My vision is not only to teach you the steps to making a dog coat but, more importantly, provide the opportunity for you to experience the creativity and pride that comes from making dog wear from scratch. It's not about the fabric or the needles or threads. It’s about magically transforming those components into functional dog wear.

My hope is to inspire and encourage you on your transformational journey so that you can master the art of dog wear design.

I'd love to hear what size you dog fits into or if you have any questions I can help you with. Please leave a comment below if you have any questions about deciding how to pick your dog coat pattern size.  

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