How to Measure a Dog at Shows

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Dog running through obstacle course at dog show.
Dog running through obstacle course at dog show. (Image: Bigandt_Photography/iStock/Getty Images)

Many dog breed standards require dogs to be within a certain height range. While some breeds have only a range of preferred heights, others require that a dog be disqualified from competing in conformation shows if he is outside that height range. A wicket, a device with either one or two legs marked in half-inch increments, is used to determine a dog’s official height.

Things You'll Need

  • Dog show lead
  • Wicket or yardsticks
  • Dog handler (optional)
  • Grooming table (optional)

Lay the wicket flat on the judge’s table. Open the nut or screw that permits the arm of the wicket to move freely. Set the height of the arm for the maximum height permitted by the breed standard of that dog’s breed. Verify the measurement set with a metal measuring tape.

Place the show lead around the dog’s neck. It should rest in the groove behind his ears.

Stack the dog on a flat surface. Larger dogs can be positioned on the floor or on the ramp. Smaller dogs can be stacked on the grooming table used for judging. Use the show lead to hold the dog’s head in place. His neck and shoulders should be held naturally for the breed, typically straight and erect, but not stretched high or at an angle.

Place the leg of the wicket next to the dog, slightly behind one rear leg. When using a wicket with two legs, lower the wicket over the dog’s shoulders.

Bring the wicket forward so that it touches the highest point of the dog’s withers. The leg of the wicket should rest firm on the solid surface and form a perpendicular angle with that surface. If the leg or legs of the wicket cannot rest firmly on the surface, the dog is over the permissible height and should be disqualified.

Note the relative position of the withers to the arm. The wicket arm should be above the highest point of the withers or resting on the shoulder itself. If the wicket arm is resting on the dog’s shoulder, ensure that the wicket arm is resting on the shoulder itself and not any thick hair that might be covering it.

Record the measurement in the appropriate form. When measuring for conformation shows, it is only necessary to record if the dog has measured in or measured out.

Carefully remove the wicket. Bring it back over the dog’s haunches and then lift it to ensure that the dog is not startled by the device.

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