Does My Dog Need a Coat in Cold Weather?

A Guide to Keeping Your Dog Warm Outside in the Winter Months

When bundling up to go for a winter walk or hike with your dog, have you ever wondered if your furry pal needs a coat too?

To some pet parents, a sweater or coat for their dog may seem a bit over-the-top, but the truth is, it’s not just a silly trend. While some dog breeds do have the natural external layering to keep them toasty in the cold, many other breeds benefit from some type of cold-weather clothing.

Certain dogs are more sensitive to the sudden temperature change of leaving their warm, snuggly home to take a walk on a chilly day. Other dogs may even feel better wearing a sweater while indoors, especially if the heat is kept fairly low.

So What Types of Dogs Need a Coat or Sweater?

1. Toy breeds and small dogs like Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, Pugs and terriers – Even though many of these dogs have fairly thick coats, their small size causes them to lose body heat and they don’t produce enough heat while walking to stay warm.

2. Lean dogs with short hair like Great Danes, Greyhounds or Whippets – Their thin bodies and lack of insulating fur make winter clothing a must.

3. Breeds with a single-coat of fur like the Maltese or Poodle – While the hair on some single-coat breeds might be long and look warm enough for winter weather, the lack of a second coat of fur means these dogs need additional insulation.

4. Sick or elderly dogs – Any dog who is older, suffering from illness, or both, should be given an extra layer when outside in the cold. Doing so will protect their immune systems and keep them more comfortable.

5. Dogs with diseases that affect hair growth – Illnesses in canines like Cushing’s disease or hyperthyroidism can stunt hair growth and leave your dog too chilly outside in winter without proper clothing.

Who Doesn’t Need a Coat?

1. Larger dogs with thick, dense fur like the Siberian Husky, Malamute, Samoyed and Saint Bernard – These dogs are well-equipped for cold, wintery weather. If you put a coat on one of these dogs, there is a risk they would actually overheat.

2. Larger dogs with thick fur like the German Shepherd, Collie or Golden Retriever – These dogs will only need a coat if they are going to be exposed to cold temperatures for a long time. Labs or Border Collies may need another layer if they typically stay inside and aren’t used to the cold.

Choosing the Best Coat or Sweater for Your Dog

When picking out a winter coat for your best furry friend, remember to choose performance over fashion. Canine coats come in all different colors and styles, but the most important thing is making sure the coat fits your dog well so they will be as comfortable as possible.

Measure your dog along the top of his spine from the neck to the tail, around his chest, and around his neck for the most accurate sizing. If the coat drags on the ground or is easily caught on other objects, a smaller size is likely needed.

Choose a well-insulated but comfortable coat like these options from Kong. There are also coats made by Ruffwear to protect your dog in varied weather conditions. Simpler designs are better for your dog’s comfort and ease of use.

You and your best friend will enjoy winter much more if you are BOTH warm and dry.

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Comments 1

  1. Nouble

    As long as there’s a reason for it, I don’t mind putting clothes on dogs. It’s just when people buy clothes solely for the purpose of dress up. Now, I’m fine with Halloween customes provided the dog’s not scared.

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