Below are the steps to measure your dog for a dog door:
- Measure your dog’s height at its withers and add at least one inch
- Measure your dog’s width at the shoulders or measure the space your dog needs to pass through a regular doorway
- Include a step-over that is at least three inches but is no taller than one-third of your dog’s height
The rest of this article will provide more details about how to measure a dog for a dog door.
Table of Contents
- The Importance of Getting the Right Measurements for a Dog Door
- How to Measure Your Dog’s Height for a Dog Door
- How to Measure Your Dog’s Width for a Dog Door
- Don’t Forget the Step-Over for the Dog Door!
- The Benefit of a High-Aspect Ratio Dog Door
The Importance of Getting the Right Measurements for a Dog Door
You may be tempted to skip the measuring step and just go ahead and buy a dog door that looks like it is large enough for your pooch. However, if you purchase a dog door that ends up being the wrong size for your dog, it could cause your pet great discomfort or even health problems later on down the line.
If a door is too short for your dog, the pet will experience discomfort because it will have to either duck its head excessively low or even crouch in order to pass below the top of the door. If the door is too narrow, your dog obviously won’t even be able to fit through the sides in order to use the door.
Finally, if the bottom of the door, called the step-over because that is where your dog needs to walk over the door frame, is too high off the ground, your dog won’t be able to comfortably walk through the door as it enters and exits. Especially if your dog starts having trouble walking as it ages, a low step-over can be a real benefit.
How to Measure Your Dog’s Height for a Dog Door
The traditional way to measure a dog’s height is based off of its withers, which is the ridge between the shoulder blades. Don’t meausre from your dog’s head, because dogs have little trouble ducking below an appropriately sized door. As long as its withers can clear the top of the pet door, the dog will have no problem getting through the door.
Make sure your dog is standing tall, then use a tape measure or ruler to measure the height from the floor to your dog’s withers. The top of your pet door will need to be at least one inch higher than your dog’s height at the withers so it can fit through comfortably. It’s okay if the door is a bit higher than the minimum required height.
A too-short dog door can hurt your dog’s back as it passes through beneath the door frame, which will cause discomfort and potential long-term health issues. Your pet even risks catching its collar on the top of the door if the door isn’t high enough off the ground, which will wear out the top of the door and, more importantly, risk hurting your dog.
How to Measure Your Dog’s Width for a Dog Door
There are two good ways to measure your dog’s width. You can use a tape measure or ruler to find the width between the dog’s shoulders. If your dog is a bit heavier around the middle and part of its lower body sticks out wider than its shoulders do, measure the width based on that part of the dog’s body instead.
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You can use an alternative method to measure your dog’s width. If you have a sliding glass door, slide the door open just wide enough for your dog to pass through comfortably. If you have a door on hinges, find an object to block the doorway enough to test the width of the space your pet needs to pass through.
In either case, if your dog is able to pass through the gap without difficulty, measure the width of the gap in the door to determine the smallest necessary width of the dog door. This is only a minimum measurement, so it is okay if you select a dog door that is wider than this.
Don’t Forget the Step-Over for the Dog Door!
It can be easy to overlook the importance of the step-over space on the dog door. When you select a dog door for installation, you will need to take into account the height of the door (which is your dog’s height at the withers plus at least one inch) itself, plus however much space you allocate for the step-over.
How Low Can a Step-Over Be?
According to Pet Doors, a step-over needs to be at least three inches tall in order to maintain the integrity of the door. However, the step-over should be no taller than one-third of your dog’s height at the withers. For example, a door for a dog that is 30 inches tall should not have a step-over taller than 10 inches, and even that would be excessive.
How Tall Should a Step-Over Be?
The goal is to have a step-over that is high enough to keep from damaging the integrity of the door while still being low enough to the ground so your dog can have an easy time stepping over the bottom of the frame.
Another thing to consider for the dog door’s step-over is that even if your dog currently has a big enough stride that it has no trouble clearing a high step-over, it will almost certainly take smaller strides as it ages, which will require a shorter step-over so that your dog won’t catch its paws as it goes through the door.
The Benefit of a High-Aspect Ratio Dog Door
If you have dogs of different sizes, or if you need a taller dog door for a dog that is leaner and not too wide, you may want to consider purchasing a dog door with a high-aspect ratio. This basically means that the door will be narrow and have a low step-over, while still being high enough for a tall dog.