Dog clothes: Should you buy your dog a winter coat?

I recently read an article in the Guardian about the rise of pet clothes during the pandemic. It seems that our collective drive to help combat global warming by reducing the amount of clothes that we buy for ourselves (‘fast fashion‘), or more likely the fact that most of us haven’t left our comfy pjs and leisurewear since the start of the pandemic, has resulted in us clamouring for something more. Dog clothes. Some have seen this trend as an attempt to anthropomorphise (attribute human needs, emotions, behaviours characteristics to non-humans) our beloved pooches, but I for one am loving this development in fashion – Sash and my partner less so.

We haven’t ventured far with Sash as she generally hates anything new – old girl – but she doesn’t hate her jumper, even if it is too small for her! Sash recently had an operation to remove two (non-cancerous) lumps from her stomach. Before the operation they shaved a large patch of her belly leaving lots of bare skin. Winter in the UK is cold (not Canada, Russia or Nordics cold but cold enough for us!) and we found that she was shivering a lot. She now has a jumper for walks and a blanket at night until her fur grows back. Her one jumper got me thinking about buying others, of course, hence this post.

We would love to hear your thoughts. Leave us a comment about what you do for your dog and if you think your dog needs it!

The look of utter betrayal

Is it ok to dress your dog in clothes?

On social media you will often see dogs dressed up in the most amazing outfits. Use the hashtag #dogclothes for a taste of what dogs are enjoying/being subjected to, depending on how you look at it. Some of them look amazing and, as long as the dog isn’t harmed or distressed and benefits from the clothing, what’s the issue?

On our dog walks we often see whippets or greyhounds, the skinnier breeds, in quilted jackets and warm fleeces. PetMD states that there is nothing wrong with putting a good coat on a dog who is cold. The RSPCA recommends special coats and jumpers for sickly or elderly dogs in the winter to keep them warm. Sash is 11, that’s elderly right? As always, there is the flip side where pet owners are putting inappropriate clothing on their dogs and inadvertently causing skin issues. Sash is a Sharpei-cross and so more prone to skin issues than many other breeds.

There do appear to be some rules of thumb on when it’s ok to dress your dog, nicely summarised by Chelsea dogs and The Spruce Pets as:

  • Cold weather
  • Older and younger dogs needed the added warmth
  • After illness
  • Anxious dogs
  • For a special occasion

Ultimately, we do not know what our dogs do because they like it or because they want us to be happy. We must ensure that we are doing what we honestly think is the best thing for them. Our job as pet owners is to remove discomfort, protect them from harm and give them the best life possible. Overwhelming vets appear to say that dogs don’t need coats thanks to their wonderful natural fur coat, but there may be occasions where a separate coat or extra layer may make your dog more comfortable (i.e. elderly, sickly, after illness, etc.).

So far so good for aging Sash and her upcoming outdoor winter coat collection!

What guidance is there for buying clothes for your dog?

If you do buy clothes for your dog follow the below to make sure that you don’t make the same mistakes we did!

  1. Define your purpose and identify the item that will best meet this purpose For example, if you’re looking at clothes because your aging dog is getting cold quickly and avoids going out, find a coat/item of clothing that actually keeps them warm. We picked something off the shelf that looked sweet without actually looking into it.
  2. Properly measure your dog and buy the right size clothing. For example, see Barbour’s size guide here, Zara’s size guide here and Joules’ size guide here. We didn’t do this for Sash’s jumper, which meant she had a jumper that was too small and required stretching out.
  3. If possible, try before you buy. As discussed above, you dog’s comfort is the most important thing when it comes to dog clothes. Sash had previously wrestled off anything that was put on her, immediately. I don’t know why we didn’t try the jumper on in the shop (it might have identified the size issue!), I’m going to put that down to our minds being elsewhere following her operation, but we were lucky that Sash didn’t hate the jumper and actually seemed to appreciate the added warmth.
  4. Check the washing options. Sash’s jumper can be washed in the washing machine – easy. You want clothes that you will be able to easily clean and maintain because our dogs can smell (especially when wet).

Our favourite finds so far

These are some of the items that we have come across so far. None of the suppliers are aware of nor have contributed towards this post.

Lots of brands are doing their own line of dog wear, including Barbour, Zara and Joules. Plus, there are lots of brands specifically for dogs such as Chelsea Dogs.

The rather fetching jumper worn by Sash in the picture above is from Pets at Home, which also offers a wide range of apparel. Including a cute bathrobe range. However, that seems to be deviating from the only outside and when necessary mandate.

For those ‘special occasions’ there are some more gimmicky items that have also caught my eye. For example:

Finally, for the more creative of you, there is always the DIY option. YouTube has a wide variety of videos that you could honestly watch for hours. I especially appreciated the amount of time and creative ideas these people had! Not too sure how the dogs felt about these masterpieces, I suppose that we have to trust that the owners know their dogs and so have a better idea of what will and will not cause them stress or discomfort.

For example:

Final product from 12:24
Final product from 19:03

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2 thoughts on “Dog clothes: Should you buy your dog a winter coat?

  1. I’m definitely on the side of only dressing up Scarlett out of necessity, aside from silly holidays like Halloween when I put her in a costume for 5-10 mins for photos. She has a winter coat that doubles as a rain jacket, and I believe she truly needs it when it’s wet or snowy out. It’s not fair for them to suffer on a hike without proper gear. I know she looks cute as hell in all types of clothes, but she gives me the look and I feel guilty making her wear anything just for fun. Sash does look adorable in the little sweater!

  2. I don’t even like putting bandannas on the dogs however we do get the Canadian cold here. With Leo’s thin coat and advancing age, he has several layers to choose from. In fact, he has a nicer wardrobe than I do. His favourites are a nice grey fleece that he wore as pyjamas while camping and he was just gifted an adorable buffalo plaid coat from the folks at the pet store. I don’t like the frilly or silly looking clothes so I tend to get the dog coats from an equestrian tack store (Greenhawk). The coats are based on horse coats so they tend to be tougher, warmer, fit better (I’m looking at you King), and are far more affordable. I agree with BigDog: Sash looks so sweet with her jumper.

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