How I Met My Dog

To Coat or not to Coat... Cool weather suggestions to keep your dog warm and stylish this winter.

As temperatures drop daily and with winter quickly approaching, a question that may be on your mind is “does my dog need a winter coat?” It may seem like a silly question to ask, but its not! Some people will look at a dog and think, they’re covered in fur, of course they don’t need a winter jacket. While this is absolutely true for some dogs, others may require an extra source of heat for a variety of factors, including age, breed and hair length.

What dogs need a winter coat the most?

Some dog breeds such as the Siberian Husky have spent countless generations running through the snow with their thick, beautiful coats protecting them against the harshest of winter colds. Dogs like the husky, shiba inu, and golden retriever (just to name a few) are all born with a double coat. A double coat consists of two layers of hair or fur: one wooly, base layer and a top layer with longer, shinier hairs. Dogs with double coats are often fully equipped to handle the cold without an additional winter jacket.  

Other dogs, like Chihuahuas and some terriers, have short single layer coats and may need that extra layer when taking a trip outside during the winter. Smaller dogs are especially at risk in cold weather and should always wear a jacket if exposed for an extended time.

If you regularly keep your dog’s hair cut short, a sweater or jacket may be necessary for long trips in the winter weather. While most smaller breeds could benefit from a winter coat, even bigger dogs that don’t have a lot of fur will see their body temperatures drop lower than you’d like if they’re outside for too long without an extra source of heat.

Older dogs tend to have weaker immune systems and are more prone to arthritic issues, a warm layer can help keep their joints warm and supple when outside. Always be aware of overheating. If your dog has plenty of fur, don’t risk it. Your dog may be at risk for overheating if wearing a coat they don’t need. Panting, disorientation or fast noisy breathing could be signs that your dog is overheating. Overheating is no joke; it can lead to heat stroke and death. If you’re on the fence about whether or not your dog should have a winter coat, use your best judgment. If your dog is shivering after being outside for a while, it’s time to go winter clothes shopping. On the other hand, if your dog is nothing but happily tail wagging, they’re probably not feeling the elements the same way you would if you ran outside without winter clothes on.

Types of Winter Jackets

There is a wide range of jackets to choose from so you should have no trouble finding one that’s perfect for your dog and your budget. To help speed up the process, we’ve done research into some of the most popular options available.

When choosing what type of coat your dog should wear, consider whether your dog just needs protection from the cold, or if they’re going to be romping around in the wet snow. Knowing if you need a waterproof coat or not, will help you quickly narrow down the choices.  


A sweater is likely going to be the most comfortable and easiest to wear for your dog. Sweaters are usually not waterproof and could take a while to air dry. If your pet is not getting wet outside, or if they need an extra layer inside, a sweater could be an easy (and cute!) option.

Consider the Didog Classic Dog Turtleneck or the cable knit sweater from Blueberry Pet. Both of these companies offer tons of great size and style options.

Waterproof Jackets

A waterproof jacket may be the most practical choice for a dog that likes to get wet and wild outside in the snow! This style of coat may not be as trendy or fashionable but it provides warmth and a waterproof layer.  

A great option for smaller dogs is the Gooby Cold Weather Sport Jacket. Fleece lined with a waterproof shell and reflective coloring to keep your pet safe and visible when walking on the road at night.

Another reflective option is the Didog Reflective Winter Coat. This model comes in a variety of sizes, is waterproof, reflective and fleece lined.

Don’t Forget About Your Dog’s Paws!

Just as important as protecting your dog’s internal body heat is protecting their paws from the winter cold. Dogs are susceptible to frozen paws if left exposed for too long. A versatile option that works both in hot and cold weather is Musher’s Secret wax. To learn more about why your dogs paws need to be protected read our “4 Things You Should Know About Your Dog’s Paws,” article.

For the highest quality dog boots meant for the harshest conditions, the Polar Trex by Ruffwear provides the best all-around feature set. Make sure to measure your dog’s paws and do your due diligence before spending money on boots. Every dog has unique paw sizes, so reading reviews to see what works and doesn’t work for dogs similar to yours can be especially helpful.

Function over Form

Remember, if your dog needs a winter coat, choose the best option for the conditions that it will be worn in. If your favorite dog sweater gets soaking wet in the snow, it’s not protecting your dog the way it needs to be. And if the most stylish jacket in your dogs closet is too warm for the weather outside, it could put them at risk for heat stroke. There are tons of styles, colors and sizes of winter sweaters, fleeces and waterproof coats for your dog. You can keep your pet warm and stylish too! 

Measurements Matter

If your dog is wearing a sweater or jacket that covers their chest, make sure it is not too tight and is made of a flexible material that allows their body to move in a natural, unrestricted way. 

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