Guide to Dog Coats: Tricks to choose the perfect dog coat

What has long been considered a fashionable accessory has various functions and, depending on the dog breed or in the case of illness, is even essential. In the cold season some quadrupeds start to shiver and freeze at just under 10 degrees Celsius. Especially if trips in the fresh air exceed the period of a regular walk or if you are the owner of a rather sluggish four-legged friend, a dog coat for your favourite can come in handy. Find out in the following when a dog coat is worthwhile, what you should look out for when buying it and what kind of winter coats and dog sweaters you can choose from.

Is a dog coat really necessary? Which dog needs a dog coat?

Not every dog necessarily needs a winter coat in cold weather. However, there are certain breeds such as dachshunds, French bulldogs, greyhounds and Rhodesian Ridgebacks, which freeze very quickly due to their lack of undercoat. This coat quality without undercoat is usually not warm enough for cold winter days. Even dogs with sufficient fur should use a dog coat if they have a stature close to the ground, joint problems or arthrosis in cool weather. In this way the affected areas such as the belly are warmed and continue to be protected from the cold. If your quadruped does not belong to one of these categories, a dog coat is not absolutely necessary, but it will not harm him. However, please make sure that your dog does not get too warm in its clothing. In addition, we would like to distance ourselves explicitly from dog fashion in this guide and focus exclusively on the functional properties of dog clothing.

When does a dog need a dog coat?

In general, dog coats are recommended on cold winter days from a temperature of 5 degrees Celsius. In humid, cool and dirty weather the four-legged friends are especially cold. If you have planned to take your dog to the Christmas market, do winter sports or go skiing, even pets with thick coats will eventually start to shiver in icy temperatures. Especially if your dog is not regularly in the mountains when there is snow, it can become very chilly for these animals there after just a few minutes. Even if your four-legged friend is one of those who sometimes prefers to wait in the car, it can quickly become too cold for the normal coat condition without activity in icy temperatures in the car. Under these circumstances, dog coats are highly recommended. If your dog is very active in local temperatures around 5 degrees Celsius, he usually does not need a winter coat. If, on the other hand, your four-legged friend travels very slowly or you plan to make several stops during the walk, a dog coat makes perfect sense to keep your pet warm during the cold season when there is little physical activity.

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Different types of dog coats

Dog coats with belly protection:

You probably know it yourself, especially from puppies: On the belly, pets are only slightly hairy and have hardly any fur. Especially in this area the dogs need protection and warmth to feel comfortable on the one hand and on the other hand to avoid catching cystitis or a cold from a cold belly. The belly protector is either fastened over one side to the other or threaded through the chest area between the front legs to finally be closed in the waist on both sides. In this way a warming chest protector is also added. When choosing this type of dog coat with belly protection, please make sure that your four-legged friend can continue to do his business without any problems and is not restricted by the dog clothing on his belly. Especially with males, more space should be left free in the lower belly area.

Eco puffer coats for dogs:

Dog eco puffer coats are classic winter coats. They are quilted in chambers, which are each thickly fed. The quilting keeps these dog coats particularly warm. There are eco puffer coats for dogs also with hood and some even with real and fake fur collars (for animal welfare reasons, however, it is recommended to refrain from real fur). These eco puffer coats are particularly suitable if you want to spend many hours in the snow or if your dog is very cold. In the meantime, there are even so-called eco puffer as a food for these dog coats, which completely do without animal down and are therefore particularly sustainable. These eco puffer, for example, is made from recycled PET bottles, giving this material a new life and extending its life cycle. Some winter coats are also very practical with reflective elements so that your quadruped can always be seen, even in the cold, dark season.

Dog coats with fleece lining:

Another variant that is very popular because of its freedom of movement is dog coats, e.g. made of wool or outdoor fabric, which are cuddly lined with fleece. This material is particularly cuddly, quiet and comfortable, so that your quadruped should feel very comfortable in it. Fleece on the inside has a very warming property, but is also robust, easy to care for and dries quickly. This type of winter coat hardly takes up any space in the wardrobe and yet offers plenty of protection for the dog's body. Most dogs like to cuddle up in fluffy fabrics, which is why these dog coats are very popular among four-legged friends and their owners.

Dog sweater:

An optimal intermediate solution for cooler days above 5 degrees is dog sweaters. These dog clothes are available in different materials like wool, cashmere, jersey or fleece, so that a suitable model can be found for every taste and every dog. They differ from dog coats in that they are usually only thinly lined and are therefore also suitable for autumn days and warmer winter days. Some quadrupeds even wear dog sweaters indoors when they are particularly susceptible to freezing.

Dog raincoats:

Not only on cold winter days dog coats are very practical. There are some four-legged friends who are more than reluctant to spend time in the rain and prefer not to take a step outside in damp weather. For these pets, a dog raincoat is extremely comfortable in rainy weather. At best, it not only protects from above, but also the sensitive abdominal area from below. These raincoats are usually waterproof so that the coat remains dry during the stay in the fresh air. This is made possible by specially taped or laminated seams on the inside of the raincoat, as there are no water-permeable stitches.

A useful side-effect of these raincoats for dogs is that your home is also kept free of mud, wetness and dirt after these wet and happy walks. Only the paws have to be dried after the walk.

Dog bathrobe:

Not so long ago, they started offering special dog bathrobes. These consist of particularly absorbent material such as terry cloth on the outside and inside to absorb excess drops after bathing, swimming, showering or a walk in the rain. These dog bathrobes are soft and comfortable to wear, drying your four-legged friend and at the same time protecting your home from annoying water splashes when shaking after activities in the water.

3-in-1 option:

Another very practical option for dog clothing can be a combination of a dog sweater and a dog raincoat worn over it. In cold weather, the dog has a softly lined dog parka that is protected from water; in warmer temperatures, the construction can be split so that you have an unlined raincoat for wet periods and a cuddly dog sweater for dry autumn days.

Partner look for dog and human:

Some dog owners are also enthusiastic lovers of the partner look. It should be noted that the choice of dog clothing should always be made for functional rather than fashionable reasons. Especially in the area of raincoats and eco puffer coats, there is a strongly growing range of products for dog, master and mistress.

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Which material for a dog coat?

You can find some particularly popular materials for dog coats below at a glance:

  • Quilted coat with eco puffer filling
  • Fleece dog coat
  • Wool dog sweater
  • Dog coat made of waxed cotton
  • Dog raincoat with waterproof coating
  • Dog coat with thermal coating

Suitable outer material:

Especially in the humid autumn and winter months, a functional dog coat is characterised not only by crack-resistant, hard-wearing material, but also by water-repellent properties to protect your dog from precipitation. A suitable dog coat should therefore offer protection from wind, rain and snow and reduce the loss of body heat as much as possible.

Waterproofing options:

In order to bring your quadruped as dry and warm as possible from A to B, there are different possibilities of weatherproofness. Please make sure with waterproof materials that the fabrics are still breathable. Only in this way your dog will feel really comfortable.

  • Weatherproofly waxed
  • PU coating
  • Dirt-repellent impregnation

Reflective elements:

In winter it often gets dark much too early. Especially at dusk, dogs can therefore be easily overlooked. It is then practical if the dog coat has reflectors or other elements that ensure better visibility. Examples of this are dog clothing:

  • Reflective ribbons and stripes
  • Reflective seams
  • Polyester with incorporated glass fibres

Popular colors:

Bright colours can also contribute to the visibility of your dog. From the world of dog coats you can choose from bright colours as well as various patterns and subtle natural tones. Some of the most popular designs can be found here:

  • Neon dog coat
  • Plaid dog coat
  • Grey dog coat
  • Dog coat with camouflage pattern

Suitable lining for dog coats:

After the outer appearance has been clarified, the choice of the inside must also be considered. Pay particular attention to the comfort and purpose of the coat - how warm does it really need to be lined? The following variants are particularly popular.

  • Teddy lining
  • Cuddly fleece
  • Viscose lining
  • Down or eco puffer
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What makes a high-quality dog coat

Not every dog likes to have a dog coat or sweater put on. So that your four-legged friend does not associate any additional negative experiences with the clothing, it should be as easy and fast as possible to put it on. A simple handling is of enormous importance. When wearing a dog coat should allow a lot of freedom of movement and not restrict the dog. After all, he should be able to continue to romp around as usual. A dog coat with an optimal fit does not cut into the front or back legs and can be closed loosely and without pressure. When worn, it should be comfortable and hardly noticeable to the dog.

It can also be unpleasant for your four-legged friend if the coat moves with his steps. Finding a good fit without the coat warping is therefore essential for wearing comfort. In the meantime, there are well thought-out systems with elastic and cord stoppers to adjust and adapt a dog coat in the back length as flexibly as possible. It is also recommended to use dog coats with Velcro fasteners, because they can be put on in no time at all and can be easily adjusted around the chest. Velcro is one of the few closing techniques that always stay in place after closing without slipping. In the lower belly range the dog coat should offer with your quadruped additionally sufficiently free space for releasing.

Depending on whether you prefer to put a harness or collar on your dog, dog coats with openings provided for this purpose may also be suitable for you. By a zipper or slit your quadruped can carry the dog's harness comfortably and hidden under the coat and you can still reach it easily to attach the leash to it without any complications.

According to the field of application of the dog coat it should also be rainproof, warmly padded and warming. A clear focus is therefore on the selection of a suitable outer material as well as the inner lining and filling - according to the individual requirements of your dog and your own ideas. For further information, please refer to the previous point "Which material for a dog coat?". What is often overlooked, but is very beneficial to your dog's well-being, is the selection of a material that does not rustle. A dog coat should therefore be as quiet as possible when in motion so that your four-legged friend can romp around in it as much as usual. A dog coat is especially cuddly with an integrated long collar. This protects your favourite from draught and rain and provides additional cosy warmth.

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How do you measure the size for a dog coat?

First of all, the most important factors are the chest circumference and the back length. Measurements are taken from the lower end of the collar to the end of the tail. It is best to measure your dog standing up to determine the exact length of his back that should be covered by the coat. The head should be kept straight and upright. A dog coat with a good fit should be neither too short nor too long. The size tables of the manufacturers take into account whether the side length of the dog coat is shorter or longer depending on the model.

Important for the determination of the size is only the distance of the actual back minus neck and tail. The chest circumference is measured at the widest point. Therefore, place the measuring tape loosely around your dog's chest circumference to read off the correct width afterwards. As a rule, the measured chest circumference is longer than the length of the back. This even applies to the relatively long dachshund breed.

As soon as these two measurements are available to you, you can use the back length and chest circumference to find the right size for your future dog coat. Most dog clothing is available in a range of sizes from XXS to XXL, some even in 12 different sizes. Depending on the physique of your dog, special, breed-specific fits may also be considered. You can find out more about this in the rest of the guide. You have found the right size for the dog coat if your dog can move freely enough and the coat neither warps nor cuts into the dog's body when it moves. When choosing a dog coat, it is often worth trying different sizes and models on your dog to find the right one for you and your four-legged friend.

Dog coat or dog sweater?

Dog sweaters are rarely water-repellent. They are usually made of wool, cotton or fleece and are therefore more suitable for dry weather above 5 degrees Celsius. Some dogs freeze quickly in winter due to their lack of undercoat even in the apartment, so a dog sweater can also warm up comfortably and increase the well-being of your four-legged friend. However, if it is heading for winter temperatures below 5 degrees Celsius, experts recommend a dog coat for walking outside with freezing dogs, which is not only made of warming materials, but also protects against wind and moisture. If you are planning longer trips in the snow with your darling, the dog coat is also the better choice in this case. Another, still rather unknown variant are dog overalls. These are very practical, especially for greyhounds, as they warm the legs in addition to protecting the belly, back and neck. These dog coveralls cover the whole dog in cold weather except for the paws, the head and the lower abdominal area. With particularly strongly freezing dogs these dog coveralls are suited very well, in order to carry them still under a winter coat.

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How is a dog coat put on?

As already mentioned under the point "What makes a high-quality dog coat", a suitable dog coat should be put on and taken off in no time at all. Most outdoor coats for dogs are put on over the head and finally fastened with a waist belt. This belly belt can either run from one side length to the other or be threaded frontally in the chest area between the two front legs and then closed in the belly area. The fasteners are usually Velcro fasteners, click fasteners or belt-like straps. The dog coat should never be laced or buckled too tightly, but always provide sufficient freedom of movement.

If you want to combine the dog coat with a harness, this is possible without any problems. If your dog parka has an opening for the harness, simply pull it underneath and attach the leash to it via the slot provided for this purpose. If the dog coat you have chosen does not have an opening for a harness, you can let your quadruped carry the dog harness over the dog coat in most cases without much effort. Persons and dogs who prefer a dog collar can still follow this preference when using a dog coat. To do this, either connect the leash to the collar via the collar of the coat or, if available, also use an opening provided for this purpose.

Dog coats for old dogs and dogs with osteoarthritis

Not only quadrupeds with little undercoat benefit from dog coats in the cold season, but also old dogs or fur noses with muscle atrophy, bone and joint problems such as arthrosis. For these dogs, wearing a dog coat in winter offers some advantages. For example, because of the pain and their inertia, these four-legged friends find it difficult to remain sufficiently active and thus keep themselves warm through exercise. Older dogs also have a weaker immune system than young dogs, so a dog coat can provide additional protection.

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Dog coats for special breeds

Nowadays there are no longer only dog coats in standard sizes. Dog breeds such as dachshunds, French bulldogs, greyhounds, pugs or small breeds such as chihuahuas and pinschers have a special body structure, so that new demands open up - because only an optimally fitting dog coat can also warm properly.

In order to enable a gapless, non-intrusive, tailor-made fit like a dog coat, dog jackets for dachshunds, for example, are shortened in the chest area and at the same time offer a longer back. French bulldogs, on the other hand, require a coat with a larger collar with more room for the head and a wider chest area. When developing special greyhound coats, attention is paid to a narrower collar for a narrower head, a narrower chest and a significantly longer back. These specially developed dog coats are not only visually more attractive for dog owners due to the optimised fit, but are also the most comfortable choice for the dog itself.

Coats for large dogs

As strong and powerful as most large dogs look, there are nevertheless some breeds among them that have little undercoat and therefore freeze particularly quickly. Rhodesian Ridgebacks, for example, originally come from warmer regions, which is why, due to evolution, they produce little winter coat. Other large dog breeds with little undercoat are for example Poodle, Doberman, Weimaraner as well as all sighthound and terrier breeds. Labradors, on the other hand, have undercoat; they are usually very active animals, but even these may need a warming dog coat when they get older.

It is good that there is now a large selection of dog coats for the various XXL dogs to help against freezing and joint problems in the cold winter months.

How do I get my dog used to wearing a dog coat?

The best way to get your dog used to a dog coat is to put it on at home, in a safe place for him, before he goes for a long walk. Leave the coat on your dog for a few minutes so that he can get used to it. Only when he feels comfortable in his coat in the apartment, you should start the trip including the dog coat. Your fur nose will soon notice how much more pleasant it is to walk with a dog coat on cold winter days and thus to avoid annoying freezing.