How Big Should a Pet Portrait Be?

Understanding pet portrait sizing and choosing what size you want can be difficult with custom work. Because you can’t hold the piece in your hand or up to your wall! But in my experience there are really only two things to take into account:

  1. Your Display Space
  2. How Much Detail You Want to See
If you’re just struggling with what art would fit best in the space you have, scroll down to the bottom and check out my “tape method” for estimating art size. 

Otherwise, let’s look at the difference between the different pet portrait sizes. What does each have to offer?

Small Portrait Sizes (under 12")

6" x 6" Oil on Canvas Dog Portrait by Zann Hemphill

Small pet portrait sizing is a great choice when you have limited wall space in your home. Or, if the piece is being commissioned as a surprise gift and space might be an issue. 

Small size also means the reference material doesn’t have to be as good, because not as many details need to be pulled out during the painting process. 

On the other hand the details in the final piece won’t be as fine—because brushes only go so small!

Either way, if you’re looking at a small portrait, here are a couple more examples of what you can expect.

8" x 10" Oil on Canvas Puppy Portrait
colourful pet portrait pink chihuahuad og
12" x 12" Oil on Canvas Chihuahua Portrait

Medium-Sized Pet Portraits (up to 24")

Mid-sized portraits are the most popular size range. Probably because they offer a sweet spot in every direction. For example, having enough room for details, still being affordable, and staying small enough that you don’t need to redesign your living space to display them.

These paintings are good examples of mid-size portraits, and you can really see the difference in brushstrokes!

16" x 20" Oil on Canvas Dog Portrait by Zann Hemphill

They’re life-size for many breeds, if you’re looking for a head-and-shoulders portrait. 

Zann and Cat portrait painting
24" x 24" Cat Portrait
24" x 24" Oil on Canvas Dog Portrait Painting by Zann Hemphill

Large Portraits
24x30 - 48x48

Big, impactful Pet Portrait Paintings are the way to go if you need artwork that can hold a room together without getting lost.

They’re great for locations like above the couch or mantel. There, you need something that can comfortably fill the space. A large portrait can provide a welcome focus for the whole room.

Big Dog Painting Spaniel Oil Art
Zann showing how big a pet portrait looks as a 36" x 48"

For larger breeds, these can also be life-sized, even as a full-body portrait. You can also feature several pets together without cramping anyone.

The biggest difference between medium and large-sized paintings is how they make a space feel once they’re on display. If you have large walls, you might just need large art!


On-the-wall Pet Portrait Sizing Examples

24" x 36" Painting on Display beside Fireplace

In these two examples, the painting above looks almost as big than the one below. It fits snugly between the brick surround and the far wall.

But in reality it’s exactly half the size of the chocolate lab below. Room size and display space really make a difference!

36" x 48" Painting on Display Above the Mantel

Tips on Pet Portrait Sizing: How to find the Right Size for Your and Your Home

Despite all that, making sure the art you want will fit in your home is easy.

All you need to do is grab some tape, and measure it out.

Too small...

It doesn’t matter if your tape-art is square or off. You can get a really good feel for size by doing this! 

Stand close and stand back. 

See how you feel.

This should fit!

The “Tape Method” of art sizing works for prints, too! 

If you have questions about other aspects of getting a custom portrait made, like reference photos, timelines or colour schemes, I’d love to hear from you. Use my contact form to upload images, or get in touch with me directly at

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