What Size Dog Door Do I Need?

What Size Dog Door Do I Need

Installing a dog door is a decision that every dog owner should consider seriously as it has many benefits. This includes relieving you of the responsibility of constantly letting your dog in and out of the house and giving your pet more freedom.

You may be asking yourself what size dog door do I need and how to tackle this very important issue. Here are a few steps to ensure you get the perfect size dog door.

A common misunderstanding when it comes to measuring the correct door size is only relying on the weight of your pet. While weight is an important factor, using it alone does not offer adequate information to help you get the best door size.

Age, build, agility are also worth considering. Additionally, avoid the urge of simply estimating as you will likely end up installing the wrong door size.

Important Areas to Measure

Here are the main aspects to consider when measuring a dog door:

  • Flap size – The flap height and width are important to guarantee that the flap is adequately large for your dog.
  • Installation height – The door must be mounted at the right door height to enable your dog to comfortably walk through it without the need of crouching, especially for aging dogs. However, it is normal for dogs to slightly duck down when walking through.
  • Rise – This is the clearance of the dog door off the ground. This measurement will tell you the best location for the lowermost part of the dog door should be, and it is the point where your dog needs to step over. Young and tall dogs usually have no difficulty stepping over doors with a steeper rise, like 7” to 9”, whereas older or shorter dogs may prefer an average rise of about 3” to 5”.

Other considerations with regards to rise will depend on the type of pet door you choose. For metal or wood doors, you can modify the rise to fit your dog’s comfort. However, newer sliding glass installations will have a fixed rise, which means you must ensure you select the right one as you will not be able to make any adjustments.

Furthermore, the rise measurement is also essential when calculating flap height for shared pets where you have varying sizes of pets using the pet door.

When it comes to measuring your dog, this is what you need to do. Measure your dog’s height starting from the floor to the highest part of their back.

Next, measure the width by having your dog walk through a slightly opened door or a blocked off space. Take note of the least possible width needed for your dog to walk through the opening comfortably without the need to squeeze.

Installation Tips

Once you have all the proper measurements of your dog and the best dog door size, you then need to figure out location, style and materials of installation. These installation tips should give you a good idea:

  • Wall or door install

Instead of placing the dog door on your doors, you could possibly opt to conceal it and place it on a separate wall. Obviously, it will require more effort to install, but it may be a great solution for people who do not want to create a hole on their front door for aesthetic or security reasons.

  • Use the right frame

There are two main frame options when choosing dog doors, plastic and metal. Plastic is adequate for puppies and small dogs, while bigger dogs that are likely to break things could damage softer material. Consider a more durable aluminum frame if you have a big dog.

  • Height

Aim for the dog door height to be roughly 2” above the dog’s shoulder height. This is more than adequate since dogs duck down to open the flap or door.

  • Width

To prevent your dog from squeezing through the pet door, the width should be safely set at 2” wider than the hips or shoulders. Additionally, consider the potential of weight gain and factor that in when determining the best width size. Consult the average growth size for your specific dog breeds and plan the size accordingly.

Other Notable Considerations

The common concern about installing a dog door is security. Many people are worried that the pet door could be a possible point of intrusion into the home. However, if you properly plan your home for security, then adding a pet door will not affect your safety in any way. Here are other things you must be away of:

  • Children

Young kids can access dog doors and this could even lead to accidents. A good solution for people with kids is to install dog doors that have locking mechanisms. For instance, a magnetic trigger on the dog’s collar could be used as a key to the door, thus preventing kids from accessing it.

  • Animal trespassers

There have been some stories of raccoons and alligators crawling through pet doors into rural homes and causing havoc. In such cases, placing the dog door a bit higher helps to avoid this issue, but conduct a regional research around you area and select accordingly.

  • External environment

Is the external environment in which your dogs are exiting into truly safe? Take the proper safety precautions to make sure that your backyard is well secured.

  • Energy efficiency

Some flap doors have energy saving features to help you keep your long term energy costs low. So consider the local climate patterns and decide if energy efficiency is important for you.


One key consideration for anyone looking for a dog door is that there is no single size that will suit all dogs. The best size should be able to accommodate the size of your dog, your current living situation and also your personal taste.

Your main aim when setting up a dog door is that your dog will actually be able to use the door and reap the rewards of the new freedom you are offering. Remember to set time aside for training your dog on how to use the new door.