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Do Dogs Need Sweaters in Winter?



Do dogs need clothes? While this may at first appear to be a light concern to those who would scoff at the idea of dressing a dog, there are still many dog owners who have seen their dogs shiver violently after exposure to winter temperatures but hesitate to put clothing on their dogs for fear of appearing odd. Well, have no fear. If you are concerned about your dog being cold, there is certainly no harm in putting clothing on him.


If you are still on the fence, consider this: Sure, dogs come equipped with their own external layering system, but some dogs have lighter layers of fur than others, and some are not genetically suited to the environments in which they find themselves transplanted. So your dog may in fact be extremely uncomfortable with the winter temperatures — as uncomfortable as you would be if you went outside without clothing.


Does Your Dog Need Clothes?


A sweater or jacket can be helpful during the cold seasons, especially if your dog is reluctant to go outside in the snow to relieve himself, but also if you tend to keep your home’s internal heating system set low, depending instead on blankets and sweaters for your human occupants.


How warm your dog is able to physically keep himself may depend on his breed, size and even age, but if he just doesn’t have a heavy hair coat, there is only so much curling up he can do to conserve heat. Smaller, light bodied breeds, toy breeds, and breeds that naturally have very short or thin hair coats benefit from a warm dog sweater for when they need to go outside, or for just hanging around the house. A sweater can make a significant difference in your dog’s feeling of well-being.


Of course, short, thin hair is not the only prerequisite for outer clothing. Dogs that tend to have short-cropped hair — like poodles, which may grow thick hair but which owners tend to keep short to avoid matting — should also be given a sweater to protect them from very low temperatures. Also, older dogs with weaker immune systems and dogs with diseases that impair hair growth (i.e., Cushing’s disease, hypothyroidism) typically need an extra source for warmth, and this can be easily provided by a sweater or jacket, even indoors.


Conversely, larger dogs with dense hair coats do not have a need for additional insulation, and would be very uncomfortable if they were forced to wear outer clothing, possibly to the point of physically overheating. Their fur is already genetically designed to protect them from extreme winter temperatures. The Siberian Husky, Malamute, and Saint Bernard breeds are all excellent examples of dogs that are perfectly suited to cold temperatures, while the Chihuahua, Greyhound, and many terrier and pinscher breeds are good examples of dogs that would do well with a little extra outer insulation.


Finding a Good Sweater


Once you have decided to get a sweater for your dog, you will need to begin by considering material. While wool is very warm and one of the best insulating materials, take into account how often it will need to be washed, and whether it will make your dog more uncomfortable due to itching. A good blend of washable wool and cotton or acrylic may be the best bet.


Second, just as you would measure your own neck, chest and waist before buying a piece of clothing, measuring your dog is the best way of assuring the best fit. Why do you want it to fit? So that your dog cannot easily pull the piece off, so it doesn’t drag on the ground, and so it doesn’t get caught on anything during normal movement. You want the piece to be snug without being tight.



Comments  13

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  • Which one is best choice?
    10/15/2012 06:03pm

    Dog Sweaters, Dog Coats and Dog Jackets all are clothes types which we all probably prefer for winter, but which type is more worth and useful to the puppy?

  • 01/30/2014 09:50pm

    Hi Rekha

    As owner of a small dog with a curly coat and someone with a shopping problem, I've tried several different styles and options, and found that each works for different occasions. if it's just extremely cold, i tend to go for a thicker jacket (he's got a really cute wool blend peacoat that is perfect!) when it's wet out (snow/rain etc) i like to give him something that is both waterproof and covers his stomach. if it doesn't cover his stomach, he kicks water/mud up and it gets all knotted. if we're just hanging around the house and it's cool inside, that's when i'll choose a sweater (or preferably, a fleece or sweatshirt, those are much easier to wash)

    I hope this helps!

  • Dog Clothes can Help
    08/25/2013 03:26pm

    Not only can dog clothes such as dog sweaters and dog coats and jackets can help your dog stay warmer when the weather is cold, but also stylish and fashionable pet apparel and dog clothes can be beneficial during summer months as well. Putting a lightweight dog shirt or dress on your dog when taking them outside when the sun is out can prevent sunburn on some dog breeds. I make dog clothing and pet apparel just for all these reasons because I have a small breed maltese dog which doesn't have an undercoat and he does get sunburned. I also sell some of the clothing I make at http://www.whirlydogsupplies.com - Whirly Dog Supplies.
    We love our dogs, and if they don't mind wearing clothes for pets, dress them up. It's fun and it does actually help.

  • Even Big Dogs Need Coats
    11/19/2013 03:29pm

    ...when nature doesn't provide them. My house is old and drafty, so warm clothes are a must even indoors. My Great Dane loves the sweatshirt I put on him in the winter. He has a nice custom made dog coat for going places, but his sweatshirt is perfect for laying around the house or playing in the yard. He loves his clothes and collars and car harness and tries to put them on himself. Here's a funny video of what putting a sweatshirt on a frisky Great Dane looks like.

  • Dogs wearing clothes
    03/24/2015 09:24pm

    Dogs need jumpers? Seriously? This is the biggest load of rubbish I have ever heard. Dogs have not evolved to need clothes, nor do they originate only from warm countries. What about leg warmers for cows? thermal underwear for pigeons? knitted mittens for otters? Truth is, the only reason to dress up animals is because it looks funny. Which is a pretty good reason, but dont pretend to yourself that they need it. If anyone tells you this is necessary for wellbeing, they are probably trying to sell you something!

  • 01/06/2016 07:50pm

    Guess you know more than the vet? I have owned many dogs and 2 presently and in winter they need a coat for walks as short hair.... Go out doors yourself with little clothes and see how long you last...

  • Sometimes they do
    03/28/2015 01:33am

    I agree with nickwood to some point, but the problem with dog's evolution is that they didn't evolve by them selves. We made all those breeds because we wanted them to have certain characteristics. The consequence of this process was that dogs lost some of their characteristics. Therefore we have breeds that look so different. Some of the breeds lost their thick coats because we wanted them to have short hair, or very thin silky hair. Most dogs manage perfectly in warmer climates, but in colder climates the situation is different. Can you imagine a German short haired pointer in Winnipeg (Canada) in winter? It's much easier to imagine Alaskan malamute, right?
    I live in Canada and my dog has few sweaters. He doesn't even want to go out without a sweater when it's cold. He has a pretty weird body shape because he is mixed breed, but I found a website where you can enter the measurements and they will send you a handmade sweater just for your dog. The company is called My Dog Sweater, and the website is mydogsweater.com. Maybe the moderators will delete the link, which is ok!

  • Yes to dog clothes
    09/29/2015 10:14am

    I totally agree that dog clothes such as dog coats can definitely help your pet in the winter. Morgan's Dog Boutique can also help your dog keep warm during the winter weather: http://www.morgansdogboutique.com/dog-coat-and-jackets-20-c.asp

  • Don't Clothe Dogs
    11/05/2015 01:11am

    I'm sorry, but putting clothing on dogs is ridiculous and nothing but a cash cow for pet stores and clothing manufacturers.

    What did dogs do before human beings came along and started clothing them? Well, they bred in climates that suited their breed, size and tolerance. It's called 'evolution'.

    There is a reason Chihuahuas have such thin coats of hair and are small - they're from Mexico. Mexico is very hot in climate, therefore, Chihuahuas evolved to have fairly thin coats of hair in order to keep them cool. Being small also helps to keep them cool. This is basic biology and physics.

    So, if you own a Chihuahua it is probably best not to live in a colder climate. A 'cute' little sweater isn't going to save the poor thing from freezing to death up here in the Canadian tundra. They aren't bred for this climate. Bringing a Chihuahua up here is akin to animal abuse, in my strong opinion.

    Please stop treating dogs like human beings. They are dogs. They have a natural coat of hair for a reason - to keep them warm when necessary. This pet clothing industry is exactly that - an industry. Another way to take unknowledgeable pet owners' money. Don't give in to it. If you get a dog that is accustomed to the climate where you reside then there is definitely no need to clothe it.

  • 12/01/2015 04:20pm

    My dogs are Chihuahuas and i live in Florida and they get cold in the winter, a sweater helps them to stay warm.

  • Yes to clothes
    12/03/2015 08:21pm

    I own a miniature Xoloitzcuintli, Mexican hairless, and live in Puerto Vallarta. She will start shivering at 82F so, yes, she needs a t-shirt for a good night's sleep, otherwise she will toss and turn all night because she gets so cold regardless of the warm blankets in her bed.

  • Kumfy Tailz
    04/10/2016 08:10pm

    This comment has been flagged as inappropriate.

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