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Admit it: somewhere deep inside, you love winter. (You know it’s true) There’s something so picturesque about freshly-fallen snow and icicles dripping from the eaves. Of course, the beauty of the icy months gets easier to handle with a fleecy blanket, roaring fire, and the perfect mug of hot cocoa. Even if you love the coldest season of the year, odds are you enjoy it more with the addition of thick, comfy sweaters, down-lined coats, and cozy hats. But that’s what makes the chill easier to endure. And the same goes for some dogs. When the mercury starts falling, it’s time to reach for winter dog coats.
To Coat or Not to Coat?
The idea of winter dog coats might sound silly. After all, dogs have hair, don’t they? Why would they need an extra layer of clothing to venture outside? For some dogs, that line of logic works.
Breeds with double coats (Huskies, Newfoundlands, Saint Bernards, or Bernese Mountain Dogs) have ZERO use for a winter dog coat. The addition of clothing will lead to overheating in these breeds. They developed in regions where cold reigns. As such, snow and ice are second nature for them. In fact, you’ll probably see your shaggy hound dash outside without a second thought – eager to play in the chill.
However, other breeds don’t have the same luck.
Whether due to the length of their hair coat or size, some dog breeds find themselves suffering in the cold. Other dogs may have no problem with chilly weather, ordinarily, but circumstances arrive that leave them shivering. All of these pups appreciate having winter dog coats waiting on a hook:
- Skinny-Minnies: You never want to encourage obesity in your dog. However, some breeds naturally lack fat stores (Greyhounds always come to mind). Thin bodies mean the wind cuts straight through them.
- Naked (or Nearly-So): Of course, you expect your hairless breeds to need a winter dog coat. But there are dog breeds with thin hair coats, too. Without an insulating layer against their skin, they feel the bite of the cold.
- Shorties: Small dog breeds come with big personalities. Unfortunately, they’re close to the ground – where the temperature stays the lowest. Their short legs mean they’re often plowing straight through snowdrifts. And – if you know you’re biology – having a large surface area compared to your relative volume means losing body heat FASTER.
- Recovery List: Getting sick or injured takes a lot of resources from the body. This means your dog can’t keep warm as easily. If your pooch is ill or bouncing back from surgery, a winter dog coat may shorten the recovery period.
- Golden Years: As your beloved dog ages, the body wears down. They start feeling winter more acutely. Even if they loved the snow in their younger years, they might cringe now.
However you look at it, a winter dog coat makes a difference. And when a simple jacket means your dog eagerly bounds into the snow for a bathroom break, you’ll appreciate having it around!
Recognizing the Need for a Winter Dog Coat
Maybe you’re not sure if your dog needs a winter dog coat. They don’t quite fit into one of these categories. (Our Greyhound’s a cinch: she doesn’t have an ounce of fat AND she’s practically naked) Good thing your dog will clue you in on whether they’re getting chilled or not. As you wrap yourself in fifteen layers of clothing to step outside, watch for these clears signs of, “I’m freezing!”
- Within seconds, your pup starts shivering
- Your dog slows down, or they even refuse to move (counterintuitive in the cold, but it’s a clue!)
- You see constant pauses to pick up the paws, with or without licking
- They turn into heat-seeking missiles, scoping out every warm spot in the yard
- All you hear is whining (or other signs of anxious behavior)
Dogs displaying signs of cold want a winter dog coat. Ideally, BEFORE hypothermia sets in. Pop that cozy, warm layer on and watch the symptoms clear up right away.
Or you can always decide to use puppy pads for the duration of the winter months. The choice is yours.
Choosing a Winter Dog Coat
You can find plenty of variations in winter dog coats, both in pet stores and online. They come in every color, style, shape, and fabric. And if you’re only looking for a fashion accessory, you’re probably okay with going with whatever catches your eye. If you want to make sure your dog stays warm, safe, and comfortable, though, you need to put in some research.
Key features of a quality winter dog coat include:
- Material: What weather do you experience? Is a fleece jacket enough, or do you need a waterproof shell to protect against sleet and snow? Maybe you need windbreaker technology for severe wind storms. Aim to keep your dog protected and insulated, no matter what comes knocking outside.
- Waterproof: Odds are you’re going to get SOME kind of precipitation. A waterproof shell keeps your dog nice and dry, more so than cotton, fleece, or wool.
- Fasteners: The longer it takes you to get a winter dog coat on, the more frustrated you (and your pup) will get. Buckles clip nicely, but they may end up chew toys for some dogs. And zippers catch on long hair. Velcro often works as a great compromise.
- Safety: You want to make sure your dog remains visible. That means a bright color to stand out against the snow. And reflective strips help with dusk and dawn hours, especially if you live in the city or near active roadways.
- Sizing: Nothing frustrates dogs (or owners) worse than an ill-fitting winter dog coat. Proper coats need to fit snug (but NOT tight) with nothing dragging on the ground to cause a trip hazard. And while most companies offer a weight guide, they’re rarely accurate. Break out the measuring tape.
Measuring for a Winter Dog Coat
Odds are you’re making a fairly hefty investment in your winter dog coat. The last thing you want to do is get it and find it doesn’t fit. To prevent that from happening, make sure you take time to measure your dog carefully.
Most of the time, you’ll need to know your dog’s breed, height, and weight. However, the measurements don’t stop there. To get the best fit for the coat, you’ll need a few more measurements.
- Armpit: Sounds weird, but you need to measure around each of your dog’s front legs.
- Chest: Go ALL the way around the chest. If you have a deep-chested dog (such as a Dachshund), this is critical.
- Length: Start from your dog’s chest and go all the way to their hind end. (You can skip the tail)
- Neck: This differs from the chest measurement. You need to circle the neck.
If you miss a measurement, the winter dog coat may end up too tight (or too loose!). This can make it too difficult to get on (or off), or your dog may end up uncomfortable.
As with any measurement, check everything TWICE to make sure you’ve got it right.
The Best Winter Dog Coats
Nothing ruins a beautiful winter day faster than shivering and freezing down to your marrow. The same goes for our canine companions. Dogs often love playing in the snow and experiencing the changing seasons. But removing icicles from their tails? Not so much. Winter dog coats give them the insulation their bodies might lack. Then they can run around without a care. You still want to monitor for signs of cold, though. An outer layer helps, but some pups will develop chills if left outside for too long. Besides, you want to get back inside to that fire and cocoa eventually, anyway.
If you’ve worked outside in any rough weather conditions, you recognize the Carhartt label. They’ve applied the same sturdy weatherproof coating to their dog winter coat, on their trademark cotton duck material. A quilted lining offers plenty of insulation for your dog, along with a trendy corduroy collar. Everything secures with two Velcro tabs. You can choose from five colors, and it comes in four sizes.
Downsides? There’s no opening for a harness connection; you’ll have to use a collar. It also has two pockets on the sides attached with rivets, which may pose a chew-temptation for some dogs. Keep an eye on your pup.
There’s nothing more frustrating than having a breed with unusual proportions. Foggy Mountain understands. Specializing in winter dog coats designed for individual breeds and their unique proportions, you can find one sure to fit your pooch. They originally started making turnout jackets for horses, then adapted the design for dogs! The outer shell features water- and wind-repellent 420-D nylon, guaranteed to hold up against the worst winter weather. Inside, your dog gets a fleece liner with extra Polyfill insulation to keep them toasty. Two adjustable straps cross under the belly, with an additional adjustable clasp across the chest. You get Velcro and a brass clip to hold everything together. And with FOURTEEN sizes? You’ll definitely find one to fit your pup!
The downsides? The front clip may tempt chewers. Make sure you supervise your kiddo. You get an additional D-ring, but only on the larger sizes, leaving no attachment point for the smaller sizes. And, unfortunately, you have to handwash this winter dog coat.
Gooby offers a winter dog coat that’s simple and easy in design. The water-resistant outer shell keeps your pup dry in the snow, while the inner fleece layer provides plenty of insulation. You can choose from twelve bright color options, sure to help your dog stand out against a winter wonderland. You also get a handy D-ring on the back to serve as a leash attachment (be careful if you have a strong puller, though). Best of all, the entire coat’s machine washable for easy clean-up.
So what are the downsides? Sizes range from XS to XL, but the top weight estimate is 25 pounds, which means larger dogs miss out. You close this winter dog coat with a zipper and snap. While they claim there’s a “fur guard,” you should still be careful if your dog has fur of any length.
Hurtta offers some of the best outdoor products for dogs. And their Extreme Winter Dog Coat is no exception. The outer shell comes with a special lamination that keeps it waterproof yet breathable. Meanwhile, polyester insulation creates a sturdy barrier between your dog and the outer temperatures. A foil lining then reflects your dog’s body heat to them, keeping them warm no matter how much snow lies on the ground. (You may have this same reflective lining in your coat or gloves) You have five colors to choose from in nine sizes, ranging from 10-26 inches in length. (This is why those measurements matter!)
Downsides? This is one of the more expensive winter dog coats out there. You’ll need to decide if it’s worth the expense. You’ll also have to monitor the buckle around chewers. It DOES come with straps to go around the legs, which some owners (and pooches) struggled to cope with. You need to decide if they’ll work for your situation.
If you want to go a little easier on the bank account, Hurtta offers a lower-priced winter dog coat. The Summit Parka will still keep your dog protected against the worst the cold season offers without taking chunks out of the wallet. The outer shell features their Houndtex material – waterproof, dirt-repelling, and breathable! Then they add in a thick fleece lining to protect your pup down into arctic-level conditions. (Please don’t make your dog go outside if it’s THAT cold) They offer adjustments in three places for the best fit, preventing a nasty draft from sneaking in. And you even get reflective patches in addition to four bright colors. Fourteen sizes stretch from 8-35 inches.
The downsides? In addition to the buckle, you now need to keep the elastic stays away from your chewers. And some people found the arm openings caused sores on their dogs. However, that COULD be due to improper measurements. (Always double-check!)
What’s more fun than a reversible winter dog coat? Kuoser gives you two coats in one. On one side, you get a water-repellent puffer coat. On the other, a soft cotton plaid. Combined, it’s a nice insulation against the average winter day. Seven different color options let you decide on the fashion statement you want to make. And with seven sizes to choose from, every dog has the chance to participate. You even get an easy button-closure so you can attach your harness underneath.
So what are the downsides? If you live in genuine polar regions, this isn’t the warmest winter dog coat. And sizing is pretty inconsistent. Take a careful look at their chart to make sure you measure appropriately.
Migohi offers another reversible winter dog coat. The terylene shell remains water-resistant during snow or sleet, with a collar to protect your dog’s neck from the chill. The cotton plaid interior adds extra insulation while still looking stylish when the winter weather stays dry. You get a whopping eight sizes to select from, in six different color combinations. And nothing beats an easy Velcro closure!
Downsides? Again, you sacrifice something in the warmth department with this winter dog coat. Sizing presented some problems for people, as well. Double-check their chart carefully (and they recommend going up if you’re not sure). Also, it’s not the most durable material. Think twice if you have a rambunctious pup.
You like the idea of a reversible winter dog coat, but you’d like both sides to remain soft against your dog’s body. ThinkPet to the rescue! You still get the option of two colors, but they’re each padded cotton for comfy insulation. And both sides include reflective piping to keep your pup visible in low light levels. Easy Velcro bands allow you to adjust the fit without pesky buckles or clasps. And a weather-proof zipper allows easy access to your dog’s harness when it’s time for a walk. You have four color combinations to choose from, in eight different sizes.
The downsides? Unhappily, there’s no weather-proofing on this particular coat. You might want to reserve it for the sunny, snow-free days. Also, sizing runs small, so make sure you estimate UP.
Everyone knows you lose the most body heat through your head, right? Well, Vecomfey offers to protect your dog’s head during the colder days. The polyester shell and fleece lining extend up into a cozy hood you can tuck around your pup’s ears. The button closure snugs over the belly for extra warmth, too. With six bright colors to choose from, you’re sure to spot your kiddo playing against the white snow. And they cover seven different sizes, too.
So what are the downsides? Again, you’re missing out on weather-proofing. And buttons can get tricky to fasten, especially if you have a long-bodied pup or one close to the ground. Not to mention the temptation for chewers. The size DOES run small, so buy larger than you think you need.
Nothing matters more to you than keeping your dog warm and protected. Then you want to hit up Voyager K9. Whether you have a dog breed that’s an unusual shape, or you simply want the best, they’re the top of the line when it comes to winter dog coats. They use Taslan nylon shells to offer waterproof protection against sleet, rain, and snow. Underneath, your pup gets the warmest polar fleece lining. And every coat comes with an adjustable hood to keep those ears warm and toasty. They offer three standard colors, but you get an additional two options (pink and smoke) if you want a custom coat. They offer five sizes for each breed-specific coat, but they’ll also custom-make a coat to your dog’s needs.
I’m not going to lie: our girl not only has a winter dog coat from Voyager K9, but she also has a raincoat (not spoiled in the slightest). Finding clothing appropriate for a Greyhound gets tricky, but they do a FANTASTIC job. She looks beautiful, and those coats are the only things getting her out the door when the weather turns. They’ve both even survived her weird desire to roll around on the ground.
Downside? Yeah, these winter dog coats don’t come cheap. And if you need customizations? The price goes up. (Also, you can’t return custom pieces)
Zack & Zooey took inspiration from horse blankets for their winter dog coat. The water-resistant polyester shell protects your kiddo from the elements on the outside. They also get reflective piping, so they remain visible in low-light conditions. On the inside, they get the comfiest fleece to keep them warm. And everything closes up with simple Velcro closures. Nine color options offer you plenty of customization, and you CAN reverse the coat – if you really want. Eight sizes accommodate just about every dog, too.
The downsides? For once, sizing runs LARGE. You may need to consider going down. (Double-checking your measurements is always the first step, though) Some people also found the reflective strips peeling off, making them question the durability. The strips were the only faulty point, though, so it’s up to you.
Let it Snow
Cold’s always easier to handle when you have a cozy layer between you and the snowy weather. That goes double for certain dog breeds or pups with special circumstances. Winter dog coats allow our canines to enjoy the same wintery activities we enjoy without suffering from dropping body temperatures. Not to mention they look adorable.
You don’t have to barricade your dog inside. Invest in a stylish parka and let them explore the winter wonderland. You won’t regret the decision. (Plus, it’ll encourage YOU to get out there and breathe in the cold, bright air!)