What breed is my dog?

“What breed is my dog?” may seem the type of question only owners of mixed breed dogs would ask, but that is not necessarily the case. Short of receiving your dog from a bone-fide breeder, dogs sourced as gifts, rescues, strays or otherwise unknown origins, may be of uncertain lineage. So what are the ways to determine breed?

Red Question MarkThere are, actually, numerous ways to piece together the information needed to come to a reasonable conclusion. For the purposes of this article, we are going to look at measurement as an aspect of determination.

It may seem obvious to you that your dog is either small, medium or large but in fact, even the world’s certifying bodies do not readily agree on these classifications. Therefore, knowing your dog’s accurate measurements and taking them precisely, will provide useful information. Keep in mind that the breeds’ themselves define specific, preferred dimensions, so it would hold true that knowing exact size would provide a valuable hint as to the dog’s breed.

Let’s also keep in mind that breed sizes can overlap and may have considerable range in width, height, etc. We should strive to be accurate but understand that these are going to be simple helpful guidelines, at best.

There are approximately six different measurements that may be taken. Each has precise requirements with respect to location and methods of acquiring data. We will be measuring the Neckline/Back, Chest/Waist and the Front/Hind Legs areas. Whether you use inches or centimeters is your choice, since most breed measurement lists use both. Also, you can use a measuring tape, ruler or yard stick but we prefer a tailors tape due to its flexibility, which we believe, leads to more accurate numbers

We will review these areas individually below

Back Measurement: First we should define the term withers, since this location is critical to this measurement. Withers is the heightened area between the animals shoulder blades towards the base of the neck and lightly behind the front legs. Measuring from this area is standard procedure for determining height and back length.

Have your dog stand in a comfortable, normal stance. Now measure the distance from the withers to the base of the tail and record.

Neck Measurement: This measurement is taken from the widest part of the neck, usually at the base of the neck.

Chest Measurement: Take these numbers from the widest part of the chest by starting at approximately the base of the neck and follow through behind the dog’s forelegs.

Waist Measurement: Find the narrow area of the dog’s stomach prior to the hind legs for this measurement. Please make sure to take this in front of the male’s sex organs to ensure the proper circumference.

Front Leg Inner Length Measurement: Measure from where the chest meets the inside of the leg and follow to the wrist bone.

Hind Leg Measurement: Measure distance from area where chest meets the hind leg along the inside portion through to the hock.

Well there you have it. Take the numbers that you have collected and compare them to dimensions for specific breeds. This will help you to begin the process of elimination and narrow the breeds down to those most eligible.

Stay tuned for future installments, that will provide additional methods to assist you when you ask: What Breed Is My Dog?

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