Do Dogs Need Coats or Sweaters To Protect Them When It’s Cold?

Cute dog in grey coat

Updated December 5, 2022

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It’s that time of year again when the leaves are changing colors, the air is getting colder…and dog owners everywhere are wondering: do their dogs need coats or sweaters to protect them from the chilly weather?

The answer? It depends on your dog!

Each breed of dog has a different tolerance for cold weather. There are also many factors to consider, such as whether your pup lives indoors or outdoors, how active they are, and their age.

In this article, we will explore all of the factors that go into deciding whether or not your pup needs a coat or sweater to keep warm this winter!

Also check out our top 12 list of the best dog coats, dog raincoats, dog jackets and dog sweaters for an easy pick for your doggerino this winter!

Do Dogs Need Sweaters?

French bulldog in a red sweater - Do dogs need coats

When the temperature lowers in the early spring, late fall, and winter months, many dogs can benefit from wearing a sweater or coat. Specifically, some breeds are more susceptible to cold weather and may even suffer from frostbite or hypothermia if they are not properly protected.

However, it is important to note that not all dogs need sweaters. Furthermore, many dogs actually have a built-in coat of fur that does an excellent job of keeping them warm in chilly weather! For these doggerinos, you’ll need to make sure that you don’t make them overheat by putting a winter coat on them for an extended period of time.

Here are some factors to consider when deciding if your dog needs a sweater:

1. Breed

As mentioned before, some breeds are more susceptible to cold weather than others. Breeds with short fur, such as Bulldogs and Pugs, often feel the cold more than breeds with longer fur. If your four-legged bestie doesn’t have a lot of body fat, like Whippets, they will feel cooler in the winter months as well. This is because their fur and body mass does not provide as much insulation against the cold.

2. Living Arrangements

Another key point is that if your pup lives primarily outdoors, they are more likely to need a sweater or coat in cold weather than if they live indoors. This is specifically because they are exposed to the elements for longer periods of time and their fur can get wet, which lowers their body temperature.

3. Age

Puppies and senior dogs are also more likely to need a sweater or coat in cold weather. Puppies have not yet grown their adult coat of fur, so they are not as well insulated against the cold. Senior dogs may have a thinner coat of fur that does not provide as much warmth.

4. Activity Level

If your dog is very active, they may do better without a coat in the cold weather. These dogs maintain a warm body temperature and may actually overheat if they wear a coat for too long.

5. Hair Length

Dogs with double coats and long hair don’t usually need a winter jacket because their fur provides extra insulation against the cold. They are also less likely to get wet on their actual skin, which helps them to insulate their body heat and temperature.

Which Dog Breeds Need a Coat?

Dachshund in yellow coat on a cobblestone street

Short-haired breeds and dogs with shorter legs who are closer to the snowy ground are going to need a coat in colder weather. Smaller thinner breeds are also going to get cold faster. Here are several pupperino types that will need some extra insulation in the form of a coat or sweater:

  1. Chihuahuas
  2. Dachshunds
  3. Greyhounds
  4. Italian Greyhounds
  5. Jack Russell Terriers
  6. Maltese
  7. Miniature Poodles
  8. Yorkshire Terriers
  9. Chinese Cresteds
  10. Miniature Pinschers
  11. Whippets

Large dogs that shed their undercoats such as Siberian Huskies, German Shepherds, and Chow Chows won’t need a coat because they have a double coat of fur that helps protect them from the cold weather.

These dogs were bred to work in cold climates and their fur helps them to withstand colder temperatures.

At What Temperature Does a Dog Need a Winter Coat?

Dog in yellow coat in the rain

If your dog has a thinner coat, is smaller, or has a lean frame, it’s a good idea to put a coat on when it drops below 40℉ or 5℃. Additionally, extra sensitive doggos may need a coat when it drops to 45℉ or 7.2℃. Generally speaking, if you’re cold, your pup is probably cold too!

Some other factors that you’ll want to take into account are if your pup is going to be outside for an extended period of time, if they are going to be in the water, or if they have health issues that make them more susceptible to the cold.

If you’re not sure whether or not your dog needs a coat, err on the side of caution and put one on them. You can monitor them by checking their temperature, energy levels, and overall demeanor to see if they, in fact, seem too cold, too hot, or generally uncomfortable.

How to Choose the Best Winter Coat for Your Dog

Having the correct fit is essential when it comes to keeping your pup comfortable and warm in their winter coat. A coat that is too big or bulky can actually make it difficult for your dog to move around while tighter jackets may cause them to overheat.

In order to make sure that your pupper’s coat fits properly, you’ll need to measure them from the base of their neck to the base of their tail as well as around their ribcage.

It’s also helpful to find clothing that is easy to put on and off to avoid any stressful situations for your doggie.

If you’re looking for a winter coat for your dog, there are a few different types to choose from:

  • Down jackets: These are usually made with water-resistant materials on the outside and filled with down feathers on the inside. They provide good insulation and are lightweight, making them a good option for small dogs.
  • Fleece jackets: Soft breathable fleece clothing is usually made with a water-resistant outer layer and a fleece inner layer. They are a good option for dogs who are active as they won’t overheat.
  • Raincoats: Slickers are typically made from waterproof materials such as PVC or nylon. They are a good option for dogs who live outdoors as they will help to keep them dry in wet weather.
  • Heavy winter coats: These heavy-duty coats are usually made from a thicker material such as wool or corduroy. They are a good option for dogs who live in colder climates and need optimal insulation.

Do Sweaters Keep Dogs Calm?

Yorkshire Terrier in a Sweater in Autumn Leaves

Yes, the swaddling effect can help to compress and comfort your pup’s nervous system, which can help to calm them down. If your dog is anxious or has trouble settling down, a snug-fitting sweater may be just what they need to feel more relaxed.

Specific calming vests and shirts on the market are designed to help dogs with anxiety, but certainly, any sweater will do the trick. Just make sure that the fit is right and be patient with your pupperino as they adjust to the new clothing item.

The Bottom Line

Extreme temperatures can be dangerous for dogs, so it’s important to take the necessary precautions to keep them safe and comfortable. If you’re unsure whether or not your dog needs a coat, do a little research or talk to your vet.

With a bit of experimentation, you’ll find the perfect winter coat or sweater for your furry friend that will keep them toasty and warm all season long!

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About the Author


I’m Alex and I’ve always wanted the best for my pupper Indy, so she could have a healthy and happy life. I’m pretty sure this also applies to you and your doggie, otherwise you wouldn’t have made it to the end of this post.

I started Pampered Puppers as a family-owned business, based in Australia, to help all dog lovers around the world achieve this easily. So that’s our mission, to help improve your dog’s safety and quality of life with entertaining and helpful articles via our blog 🐶

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