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Does Your Dog Need a Jacket?

A lot of pet owners who are new to the concept of clothing for dogs make the assumption that dog clothing is a human idea, and that it doesn’t have any practical relevance to their pets.  This is not the case, however; dog clothing can be very practical, especially in Canada and other parts of the world which are routinely subjected to cold temperatures and harsh winds and precipitation.  Some dogs are naturally more adapted than others to the cold.  For those dogs which aren’t, a dog jacket or coat can make for a more comfortable walk during the winter, spring, and autumn months.  Does your dog need a coat?


As a rule of thumb, if your dog has a single coat of very short hair, he probably could benefit from a dog coat for winter.  Short-haired dogs do not have as much natural protection as many breeds of long-haired dogs.  What is not as commonly recognized is that many long-haired breeds which only have a single coat can also benefit from a dog coat or sweater.  Some of these breeds include Bearded Collies, Maltese, and Briards.  These dogs actually have a harder time with harsh weather than short-haired dogs which have double coats, like German Shepherds.

Individual Disposition

Just as human beings have varying responses to temperatures, so do dogs.  Maybe you feel perfectly comfortable in 60-degree weather, but you have a friend or family member who can’t stand it.  Likewise, you could have two dogs of the same breed that react differently to different temperatures.  You might have one dog that feels perfectly comfortable outside in 50-degree weather, and another of the same breed that is uncomfortable going out without some kind of protection.  Several other factors can also affect how a dog handles the cold:

·    Size:  Larger dogs are able to better handle the cold than smaller dogs.  Smaller dogs are more likely to benefit from dog jackets for snow and rain.

·    Age:  Very young dogs should be protected from the weather, and so should dogs that are very old.

·    Health:  Dogs with health conditions such as arthritis can also benefit from wearing warm dog coats in cold weather.

Another thing to take note of is that not every pet will take to wearing clothing.  Your pet’s acceptance of the garment depends partly on your approach to introducing it.  If you try to get your pet to start wearing outerwear right away, expect this to result in disaster.  Dog jackets and coats are new and unfamiliar when they are first introduced, and your dog will regard a new garment as potentially threatening until you gradually train him to approach it, and eventually, to wear it.  Even if you do take these steps however, some dogs will still reject clothing.  You should never force your dog to wear outerwear if he doesn’t want to.  Most dogs however will take to wearing outerwear without a hassle.  In fact, many dogs that are hesitant to go outdoors to take walks without it will change their attitude about walking outside if they have a jacket to keep them warm.

Other Considerations

How do you pick out a dog jacket, sweater, or hoodie?  Consider the following aspects of dog clothing design while you are shopping:

·    Size.  You absolutely must take your dog’s measurements and then check the sizing charts before you buy.  Just as brands of clothing for you and me fit differently, there are different sizing guidelines for different brands of dog clothing.  So make sure you understand how a particular brand of clothing will fit your dog before you make a purchase.

·    Fabric.  If you are looking for a garment for snowy or rainy conditions, choose a jacket or hoodie that is waterproof.  A garment like a sweater for a dog is best for indoor wear or for wear during dry days, since a sweater can soak up water.  The last thing you want is to make your dog more uncomfortable on a rainy day.

A good guideline for dressing your dog for a day out is to have a look in the mirror.  What will you be wearing out that day?  Your dog will probably want to be dressed similarly.  If you would bundle up in a heavy coat, your dog probably needs a heavy snowsuit, too.  If on the other hand you are comfortable in a sweater, a heavy coat would be too much for your dog, and a dog sweater would be more appropriate.  Some dogs really do need dog sweaters and coats to feel comfortable outdoors in cold weather.  So invest in a few jackets and sweaters which are ideal for different conditions and train your dog to wear them gradually and patiently.  Your pooch will thank you!


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