Do dogs need winter coats? It really depends

One of life’s greatest mysteries that always makes me wonder this time of year is whether all those adorable, bizarre, crazy — insert alternate adjective here — dog sweaters and coats in the winter are necessary. Whenever I voice this question, my significant other adamantly asserts that they are not — dogs are born with their own personal parkas.

But I wasn’t always convinced. How could those tiny Chihuahuas have the proper insulation for 10-degree weather?

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So who’s right? Well, according to PetMD, it depends — on age, breed and fur thickness. Because while dogs do have their own “external laying system,” some have lighter layers of fur and “some are not genetically suited to the environments in which they find themselves transplanted.”

“What these dogs have in common is that they have a more difficult time generating and retaining enough body heat on their own,” according to veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker on “For these dogs, a little help keeping dry and warm is always a good thing. Though protection from the elements is the biggest reason to put clothes on dogs headed outside, it doesn’t hurt to leave a sweater on these dogs inside if you’re keeping the heat down to save energy and money.”

Here are the types of dogs that should be sporting a coat this winter:

  • Small toy breeds
  • Breeds with short or thin hair
  • Dogs with short, cropped hair, like poodles
  • Older dogs with weak immune systems
  • Dogs with diseases that affect hair growth, like Cushing’s disease and hypothyroidism
  • Examples of breeds: Chihuahua, Greyhound, and many terrier and pinscher breeds


On the other hand, larger dogs with dense fur do not need outerwear, and could even overheat in a sweater or coat. For example, the Siberian Husky, Malamute and Saint Bernard will be fine without extra insulation.

So your teeny Chihuahua is shivering? Here’s what you should look for when investing in outerwear:

  • Buy a warm, comfortable material, like a blend of washable wool and cotton or acrylic.
  • Measure your dog’s neck, around the largest part of the chest, and the distance from the neck to the waist for the best fit. You do not want the coat to drag on the floor, get caught on anything or be easily pulled off by your furry friend.
  • However, you do want a bit of room around the arms and neck.
  • Nix the pants.
  • Keep the bells and whistles — like zippers, hooks and buttons — to a minimum.


And now, without further ado, here are some warm, fashionable outerwear for your winter-lovin’ pups.

East Side Collection Andover Argyle Dog Sweaters

East Side Collection Andover Argyle Dog Sweaters
Price: $21.45

Foxy Scarf Cashmere Dog Sweater

Foxy Scarf Cashmere Dog Sweater
Price: $35.99

Leopard-Print Dog Coat

Leopard-Print Dog Coat
Price: $33

PetRageous Designs Alberta Quilted Dog Parka

PetRageous Designs Alberta Quilted Dog Parka
Price: $21.99 to $35.99


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