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Do Dogs Need Sweaters in the Winter?

2. Feb 2021
Do Dogs Need Sweaters in the Winter?

Do Dogs Need Sweaters in the Winter?

December 30, 2015




Are dog sweaters and jackets fashion statements or necessities? Some people think dogs are perfectly equipped by nature to adapt to colder temperatures in the winter but others think their pups need some extra protection from the cold so they dress their dogs in stylish coats or sweaters before heading outdoors. So, who’s right? Well, they both are. Here’s why some dogs need sweaters for extra insulation and others don’t.

10 Dogs That Might Need Sweaters in the Winter

1. Dogs with thin coats

Breeds such as Chinese cresteds, greyhounds and whippets have short, fine coats that don’t offer a lot of insulation when it’s cold outside.

2. Small dogs

Dogs that weigh 10 pounds or less normally don’t have a lot of extra body fat to help keep them warm and because of their small size, they tend to get cold easily.

3. Dogs with short legs

Breeds like dachshunds and basset hounds have very short legs which means their bellies are closer to the ground and are often directly exposed to snow and slush when walking.

4. Senior dogs

Older dogs may have trouble keeping their body temperature regulated when it’s cold outside.

5. Puppies

Puppies also have trouble regulating their body temperature and adapting to very cold weather. If you don’t want to invest in a sweater for a growing puppy, limit the amount of time they spend outside when it’s cold.

6. Dogs with health issues

Conditions such as arthritis, Cushing’s disease, diabetes or heart and kidney disease can make it difficult for dogs to stay warm and comfortable during periods of cold weather.

7. Inactive dogs

Active dogs generate more heat which helps keep them warmer than an inactive dog. Very inactive dogs might benefit from some extra insulation.

8. Dogs with trimmed coats

Breeds like poodles that have a decently warm coat may have trouble in cold weather if their coats have been trimmed short.

9. Lean dogs

Dogs with very little body fat, such as Great Danes and whippets, need extra insulation from the cold when temperatures drop.

10. Dogs living in cooler houses

Short-coated, lean, small and senior dogs living indoors in a cooler environment may need a sweater to be more comfortable inside the house. If you’re wearing a sweater because the thermostat is turned down, consider a sweater for your dog too.

Dogs That Don’t Need Sweaters

1. Cold weather breeds

Breeds such as huskies, malamutes and Saint Bernards were bred for cold climates and have thick, layered coats. Since they naturally stay warm in cold weather, dressing them in a jacket could cause overheating.

2. Large dogs with dense coats

Larger dogs that tend to be active, like German shepherds and Labrador retrievers, don’t normally need extra protection from the cold unless they are outdoors for long periods of time.

If you’re still not sure whether your dog needs a sweater, consider their breed and coat type. You’ll want your pup to be comfortable, not too hot and not too cold. Consider the temperature and how long your dog will be outside and exposed to the cold. A quick trip outside to pee shouldn’t normally require a coat but if you’re taking your pup for a hike or long walk through the snow, he might need or appreciate a jacket to stay warmer.

Keep an eye on your dog for signs that he might be cold or uncomfortable. If your dog is shivering, whining, slowing down, lifting his paws a lot or seems anxious or uncomfortable, it’s time to head back indoors. If your sweater-wearing pup is panting excessively or biting and scratching at his sweater, he may be too warm. If you think your dog would benefit from wearing a coat or sweater this winter, here are some tips for choosing the right one!

Tips for Selecting a Sweater or Jacket for Your Dog

  • Measuring for a jacket is important but the best way to ensure a good fit is to try it on and have your pup walk around to make sure he’s comfortable.

  • The jacket should fit snug but not be tight or constrict your dog’s movement in any way.

  • No parts of the coat should be loose or dragging on the ground where they could get snagged on something.

  • Make sure the top of the sweater doesn’t extended beyond the base of your dog’s tail and the underside of the sweater should end around the waist area of your pup’s belly so he can easily relieve himself.

  • The jacket should be easy to put on and remove.

  • If the sweater has fitted arms, make sure the fabric isn’t too bulky or tight which can irritate your dog’s skin or restrict his movement.

  • If your dog tends to chew or swallow objects, make sure the jacket style doesn’t have fasteners like buttons, zippers or hooks that are easily accessible.

  • Water-resistant models such as this one from Ruffwear are better in regions that get a lot of snow. Sweaters or coats made from fabric that absorbs water or snow can make your dog colder than no sweater at all.

  • Jackets made from 100% wool are warm but they may be itchy for your dog and are hard to wash. Fabrics made from a blend of washable wool and cotton or acrylic are usually a better choice.

  • Always choose comfort and performance over fashion to make sure your pup stays warm and happy in his new jacket.




Some dogs need sweaters to stay toasty warm on cold winter days, but on those bitterly frigid days when it’s just too darn cold to go outside at all, check out 12 Easy Ways to Exercise Your Dog in the Winter for some alternatives to the outdoor walk.

With Haley being a lab/boxer mix, she’s got a pretty warm coat of fur and has never worn a sweater or jacket. But now that she’s getting a little older, I’ll probably look into getting one for those longer, winter walks and hikes. Does your pup wear a jacket or sweater? Do you have a favorite brand or style preference? Let us know what works for your dog!



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