Every woman knows the fitting-room routine: Always take in three of everything. You bring in one in the size you think you wear, plus one size larger and one smaller. Despite years of attempts at standardizing clothing sizes for people, sizing has become as much about pandering the ego as it is about measuring tapes. Doggie clothing has absolutely no standards, so, unless your local doggie couture has dressing rooms, fitting your dog can prove even more difficult than dressing yourself.
Expect every doggie designer's line to differ on sizing methods. Some lines use weight as a guide, others generalize with S-M-L sizing, and yet others have numerical sizing - but no two sizing charts match up. That’s the bad news. The good news is that measuring tape can save you a lot of returns - if you know how and where to measure. Three basic measurements will guide you through most doggie designs.
Measuring your Dog
To measure around the neck, pick the spot where you expect a collar to ride, generally the narrowest point between shoulder and jaw. Leave a couple of fingers inside the tape when you measure. You don’t want this too tight, and you want room for a well-fit collar to rest.
The next measurement you’ll need is the “girth,” the largest measurement around the chest. You’ll want clothing to fit closely to this measurement, especially if you’re fitting a dog that travels low to the ground. Loose fit in the chest is not only uncomfortable for your dog, but can be a tripping hazard.
The last measurement you’ll want, the “back” or “length,” is the most complicated. A T-shirt should be longer than a crop shirt, but shorter than a dress or long coat. For most mid-length shirts, measure from the “collar” to the point on the back where the ribs end. For a long coat, go to a point a little short of the tail. For a crop-top or bolero sweater, measure to just behind the front leg, making sure you leave room for the free movement of the shoulder. Clothing that bunches in the armpit can produce painful chafing.
Extras to Remember when Fitting your Dog
While ensuring your clothing matches up with those basic measurement can avoid most fashion faux pas, a couple more tips will make your doggie a diva. Some clothes feature “customizable” snaps, velcro tabs, and straps. These items can improve fit, but are put to better use if you adjust them for your pet, then make the adjustments permanent. Removing extraneous buttons, getting rid of irritating extra Velcro, and trimming off the ends of straps once fitted will all make clothes more comfortable. Another thing to think about: measuring the length of your dog’s legs if you plan to include skirts or tutu styles in your canine’s closet. Especially for small dogs, rear paws and claws can become entangled in skirts and netting.
Canine clothes come in diverse fabrics, each of which has its plus and minus points. Some are practical, rain-wear is generally nylon or rubberized. Fashion clothing, however, comes in everything from silk to polyester, and that can affect fit. Stretchy fabrics - and lots have some percentage of elasticized content - have "give" on size. Cotton breathes well, making your dog cool and comfy, but provides no slack for sizing. Shopping in person provides an opportunity to touch fabrics and judge their stretch. Take that opportunity to judge comfort too. The best-fitting itchy fabric is still itchy, and your dog can't look gorgeous if it's scratching all day.
When buying booties, your measuring tape will stand you in good stead once again. Have your pooch stand on a sheet of paper, then trace around the paw. Measure from front to back of the resulting oval, and measure shoes and booties against that length. If your canine friend has thick paws - often true of Danes and Boxers - a second measurement around the foot may come in handy. If you’re purchasing products in person, put your hand in the bootie and measure in the round as well as for length.
Measuring for Leashes
One item that is often forgotten in the fitting room isn’t strictly clothing, but also benefits from fitting your dog - and you! A properly fitted leash allows you to show your pampered pooch to its best. Walking leashes typically come in two-, four-, and six-foot lengths. To prevent tugging but still give good control, your leash should let you put your hand on your hip comfortably.
The choices may seem overwhelming. However, a well-fit leash and comfortable clothing lets you and your dog express yourselves day and night!