Pop Quiz #476

From my mail:

Have you run across a standardized size chart for dogs? I’m looking for something like the government size charts for people. There are so many dog breads and they are shaped differently.

If standardized charts fail to address the fitting needs of people, it’s probably safe to presume they wouldn’t for pets either -if charts were even available.

So here’s the challenge for today, how would you go about developing sizes for dogs? The hint I’ll leave you with is that the particular solution I imagine (what I’d try first) would be better suited to dogs rather than cats. Cats wouldn’t tolerate it for a second. Dogs are a more patient lot, eager to please and more likely to overlook their owners odd behaviors…

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  1. Claire S. says:

    I have a Pomeranian and a Chihuahua & I don’t dress the Pom, but the Chihuahua shivers at anything below 10°C – in Montreal winters, she wears a coat ! The sizing used now is not good as it only takes into consideration the length from neck to rump, but not the chest depth. It does need to be included in the equation.

  2. Valerie Burner says:

    OK, here’s my guess: I actually made some dog sweaters for a groomer friend several years ago, and she told me to measure the length from the base of the neck to the base of the tail. The next measurement was around the rib cage. These sweaters actually had “arms” and “legs”, and an opening for the important things. However, the legs were the problem area, because some dogs are shorter than others. The neck was the other problem area. For actual breed measurements, I would go to the AKC’s site and see if they post the standards for dogs. All breeds have certain height and weight standards for show, so perhaps that would be a good place to start? I never have put clothes on my Goldens, but sometimes I wish there was a body-rainsuit so they wouldn’t drip all over the floors after a walk in the rain!

  3. Hey Claire – I dress my chihuahua for Montreal’s cold winters too! It was even chilly enough on the weekend that I had him in a sweater in the morning. (In August! Gah.)

    Jennie, it’s ok. This isn’t about decorating dogs in frilly outfits. In cool weather my chi is clearly happier with clothes than without: much more relaxed. He’s well-adapted for warm weather with a short coat, a hairless belly and long ears that dissipate heat. And he weighs less than 3 kilos. To be happy in a cold climate he needs some help.

    Dressing small dogs for hikes in the ice is more of a grey area. My 5-kilo terrier hates wearing boots, but gets very sore (bloody, actually) and frozen pads without them. Once she’s wearing them and galloping awkwardly through the snow though, if one falls off she stops and waits patiently for us to put it back on her. She doesn’t rip the remaining ones off or anything.

    She’s not thrilled about wearing a coat either, but then neither is a toddler. And both a small dog and a toddler would rather endure encumbering clothes and go outside than be stuck indoors.

    You’re right, animals can’t speak for themselves. We need to pay careful attention to what they tell us about their needs through their actions, and not treat them as toys. They aren’t toys.

    But they aren’t wild animals either, and they aren’t necessarily adapted to the climate they find themselves in.

    Oh – and RE the question of this post: plastic wrap maybe, but no duct tape!

  4. Eric,

    I think it depends. In my chi’s case shivering can be from what I interpret as low blood sugar. I leave kibble out all the time and (very undoglike) he snacks like a cat and doesn’t get fat. (I wish I could do that.) So he actually doesn’t shiver much at all.

    Specifically for signs of being cold, he shivers but also hides under blankets. Once he locates a soft pillow and a thick blanket he will bury himself and not come out to play or see who’s answering the door or even to eat. And then of course he gets cranky like any hungry, stir-crazy critter. If he has a sweater on he gets out more, is more playful and relaxed. And in the summer he’s really playful.

    So cold is an issue for him, and clothes help.

  5. Jenny Mikoz says:

    OK I admit I make coats for my dogs. I have two female Weimaraners, and their fur is pretty short, but the underbelly fur is even more sparce. I live in a city which is known for its wind, resulting in the wind chill factor getting pretty low. They love their coats – if I haven’t turned the heater on they will go and nuzzle their coats as if to say “Please put it on (me), you have your polar fleece on what about me?”. Other times I will look for them and they are hiding under blankets they have pulled over themselves. (There is no point heating a house when you are being active working/renovating on it).

    Based on what I have encountered with the same breed and sex of dog, it would pay to use care if relying on the “breed standards” for measurements as my dogs are only 1kg difference in weight but the body length difference is about 5cm, while the chest depth is the same.

  6. Kathleen says:

    We saw the cutest little chihuahua at the farmer’s market last weekend. I couldn’t estimate his weight but Eric says definitely under five pounds, kind of a miniature chihuahua. Poor thing, he *needed* booties or shoes for the pavement but not having any, his mama had to carry him. I suggested she get or make a baby sling for him. She seemed genuinely interested, even knew how to sew.

    The real reason we go to the farmer’s market is to get our dog fix… there’s tons to pet. Last weekend, I bought a peanut butter cookie to curry favor, but only with the owner’s permission of course.

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