Picture of a dog looking over a fence.

Fence Height for Dogs: How Tall Should a Dog Fence Be?

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Keeping our dogs safe is important, and this often entails keeping them contained in a secure space like a yard.

This may require the use of a fence, so it is necessary to know how tall that fence should be to prevent a dog from jumping over it and getting lost or hurt.

Dog owners who are preparing to build a fence or wondering if their existing fence is adequate, or potential dog owners who are planning a safe space for their future pup should read on to learn more.

How Tall Should a Dog Fence Be?

The required height of a fence varies depending on the height of the dog needing to be contained. Unsurprisingly, larger dogs generally require higher fences than smaller dogs.  Most dogs can jump 1 to 3 times their height, which is measured from the highest point of the dog’s shoulder straight down to the ground. Dog owners can obtain a rough estimate of the minimum fence height necessary to contain their pup by measuring the dog’s height at the shoulder and multiplying by 3.

Fence Height for Large Breeds

For large breed dogs, a 6-foot fence is generally required. For small breed dogs, a 3 to 4-foot fence is often sufficient. However, it is important to consider that variations to these guidelines may be appropriate depending on the different abilities or tendencies of each individual dog.

Fence Height for Dogs That Jump Over Fences

Dog breeds that are better able to jump to over fences will often require a higher fence than other dogs of the same height. These breeds may include, but are certainly not limited to, huskies, boxers, German shepherds, Belgian shepherds, pitbulls, jack Russell terriers, border collies, greyhounds, vizslas, and Australian shepherds.

Young and healthy dogs can also often jump higher than senior dogs or dogs with orthopedic issues, so they may require an increased fence height. Male dogs that have not been neutered are more likely to stray when they detect a female in heat nearby, and may be more inclined to jump over a fence in this scenario.

Territorial or aggressive dogs may be motivated to jump over a fence if a behavioral stimulus, such as a stranger, another dog, a loud motorcycle, etc. is on the other side. Owners of athletic, young, territorial, or intact male dogs should consider adding at least one extra foot to their fence height to ensure their dog stays safely contained.

Dog Fence Types & Fence Height

Choosing the right fence material for your dog is also important. Any fence links or pickets should be spaced apart narrowly enough that a dog cannot slip out between them. Chain link, wire, or wrought iron fences, while typically strong, are abrasive and may cause injuries to dogs’ muzzles, teeth, paws, or nails if the dog chews or digs at the fence.

Clever pups may figure out how to climb a chain link fence to escape. Additionally, dogs attempting to jump over a wrought iron fence with sharp spires may be seriously hurt. Vinyl fences are dog safe and strong but may not be the most stable, depending on the type and how well it is anchored. Wooden fences without sharp tops are generally safe, though dogs may damage them and they degrade with environmental exposure over time.

Preventing your dog from jumping over a fence, digging under it, or slipping out between the posts are all important considerations when ensuring that the fence will effectively keep your dog safe.

Looking for more information about dog fences? We have a library of in-depth information about various aspects of dog fences. Including tips and ideas for keeping your dog from jumping and building your own dog fence:

As well as in-depth reviews of each category of dog fence (with recommendations generated by licensed veterinarians):

And in-depth product reviews of some of the leading dog fence brands:

 

 

Dr. Jennifer Masucci
Dr. Jennifer Masucci, VMD is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Through multiple years of working as a small animal general practitioner, Dr. Masucci is particularly well-versed in canine and feline medicine. Dr. Masucci is passionate about educating pet owners, so that they can offer the best care to their furry companions.