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Cairn Terrier wearing a winter dog Coat in the snow.

Winter Dog Coats: How To Choose The Best Jacket For Seasonal Walks

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Last Updated on 28/03/2024 by Claire Coney

Are you looking to ensure your dog stays warm and cosy during chilly winter walks? But you are unsure which dog coat is right for your furry friend. I understand the confusion, especially since both of my dogs have different needs for winter dog coats. 

In this post, I will provide you with a few pointers on choosing the perfect dog coat for your furry friend. These tips will consider size, shape, material, and style. Additionally, I will guide you on measuring your dog for a winter coat and how to ensure it fits your furry friend snuggly. 

By the time you finish reading this article, you’ll be well-equipped to pick a winter coat that will make your winter dog walks fun

Christmas dog walks
Christmas dog walks – Abigail is warm and dry in her stylish rain jacket.

Does Your Dog Need a Winter Coat?  

There is no clear answer to this question. Some dogs need a winter coat, while others do not. Consider factors such as breed, size, age, health, and activity level. These factors determine how your dog experiences the cold and stays warm. They are important because they impact your dogs’ ability to regulate body temperature and handle cold weather. 

Dog Breeds That Are Likely to Need a Winter Dog Coat 

Some dog breeds have thin coats that offer limited protection against the cold. Some examples of these breeds are Greyhounds, Whippets, Chihuahuas, Smooth-haired Dachshunds, and Yorkshire Terriers. 

Dog Breeds That Are Not Likely to Need a Winter Dog Coat 

Not every dog requires a coat, and a few may become too warm if they wear one. Certain breeds, such as Huskies, Malamutes, Newfoundlands, and Bernese Mountain Dogs, already have thick fur that naturally keeps them warm, so they do not need an extra coat. 

Size 

Different dogs vary in size and body type, resulting in variations in their ability to retain heat. Certain dogs are larger and have more body fat, which aids in heat retention. Larger or chubby dogs can withstand lower temperatures due to their increased body mass. Conversely, smaller or leaner dogs have less body fat, making it more challenging for them to stay warm.   

Winter Beach walk with my Greek rescue dog.
A Tribute to My Greek Rescue Dog – Mr Nogood having an exciting winter walk on Exmouth Beach. His coat is keeping him snug. Love him!

Age and Health  

Young dogs usually have more energy and stamina, allowing them to stay active even in cold weather. On the other hand, older dogs, puppies, and dogs with health issues may also need extra protection from the cold. They may have weaker immune systems and a slower metabolism, leading to lower energy levels. As a result, they may need extra warmth to protect themselves from the dangers of hypothermia or frostbite. 

Activity Level 

The need for your furry friend to have a winter coat depends on its activity level. If your dog spends time outside or enjoys playing in the snow, it might benefit from an extra layer of warmth. However, it’s important to mention that highly active dogs may not need a winter coat as they are more likely to overheat.  

Take My Dogs for Example   

Charlie is an English Springer Spaniel. He is lively and loves playing in water and mud. Spaniels are bred for outdoor work in any weather. They have a thick coat that keeps them warm but makes them prone to getting too hot. 

That’s why I always dry Charlie before letting him in the car. I use micro towels to remove as much moisture and dirt as possible, and then I wrap him up snugly in a drying robe. This way, Charlie stays comfortable during the car ride and is completely dry when we get home. He only needs a winter coat in extremely wet and cold weather or when we go camping.  

English Springer Spaniel in a Blue quilted winter dog coat.
Charlie in his smart quilted winter dog coat. Doesn’t he look dapper?

Abigail is a Cairn Terrier. She dislikes getting wet or feeling cold. Abigail enjoys sunbathing or cuddling up next to a heater, showing her love for warmth. Since Abigail is an older and less active dog than Charlie, she benefits from wearing winter coats designed for different situations and activities. It helps her stay warm and comfortable all winter. 

Cairn Terrier in the snow with a winter dog coat for warmth.
Snowy Winter dog walks – Abigail is wearing her waterproof coat with quilted lining. Cuteness overload!

Can My Dog Wear a Coat Indoors?  

In most cases, dogs do not need coats when they are indoors. Take off the coat once you enter the house. 

How to Measure Your Dog for a Winter Coat   

To find the right size winter coat for your furry friend you must measure their length, girth, and neck. 

  • The length is the distance from the base of the neck to the base of the tail. 
  • The girth is the circumference of the chest at the widest point. 
  • The neck is the circumference of the neck, where the collar sits. 

You can use a tape measure or a string to take these measurements. Then, compare them with the size chart of the coat you want to buy. Make sure the coat fits snugly but not too tightly. It should cover your dog’s back and chest without restricting their movement or covering their genitals. 

Cairn Terrier in her lightweight rain jacket
Abigail in her lightweight rain jacket. Paw-fact!

How to Check the Fitting of Winter Dog Coats   

Once you have bought a winter coat for your dog, you need to check if it fits. Here are some tips to do that:  

  • Try the coat on your furry friend indoors before going outside. If your dog seems uncomfortable or tries to take it off, it might be too small, too big, or too itchy. 
  • Check that the coat does not rub or chafe your dog’s skin, especially under the armpits, around the neck, and belly. 
  • Check that the coat does not interfere with your dog’s collar, harness, or leash. You should be able to attach them securely. 
  • Check that the coat does not restrict your dog’s vision, breathing, or hearing. You should be able to see their eyes, nose, and ears. 
  • Check that the coat does not drag on the ground or get caught on objects. You should be able to lift it slightly with your fingers.  
Wet day walks - waterproof winter dog Coat.
Wye Valley – Abigail is dry and happy in her waterproof coat. She is fascinated by ducks on the River.

Types of Winter Dog Coats   

There are many types of winter dog coats available, each with different features and benefits. Here are some common ones: 

  • Fleece coats: These are soft, warm, and lightweight coats that are easy to put on and take off. They are suitable for mild to moderately cold weather and for indoor use. You might like the Trixie Grenoble Dog Fleece Coat 
  • Quilted coats: These are padded and provide extra insulation and protection from wind and rain. They are suitable for moderate-to-severe cold weather and outdoor use. Try the Joules Quilted Dog Coat.
  • Waterproof coats: These have water-resistant outer layers and a warm inner layer. They are suitable for wet and snowy conditions and for dogs that like to play in puddles or snow. The Henry Wag Waterproof Dog Coat is a good choice.
  • Reflective coats: These have reflective strips or patches that make your dog more visible in low-light conditions. They are suitable for dogs that walk at dawn, dusk, or night.  The Ancol Stormguard Hi-Vis Dog Coat are ideal for dark winter walks.
Cairn Terrier on the beach wearing a winter dog coat.
Druid Stone Beach, Pembrokeshire – Abigail in her Quilted Coat. Wow! It’s a windswept walk.

What are Some Brands of Winter Dog Coats?  

You might be overwhelmed by the number of winter dog coat brands and options available. To help you narrow down your choices, here are some of the best dog coat brands of 2023, according to various sources and reviews: 

Danish Designs

I love this brand because their winter dog coats are stylish and functional. The coats are made from high-quality materials and feature adjustable straps, reflective piping, and fleece lining. Abigail and Charlie look fabulous in the 2-in-1 Ultimate Dog Coat. It’s a practical coat that is easy to put on. It’s great for camping, too.

Winter beach walk
A Tribute to My Greek Rescue Dog – Mr Nogood in his HiVis Danish Design 2-in-1 Ultimate Dog Coat.

Kurgo

This brand is ideal for dogs that travel. They are famous for their adventure-ready winter dog coats, designed to keep your dog warm and dry while exploring the outdoors. Their products are made from rugged and lightweight materials and have features such as zippered pockets, leash attachments, and LED lights. Some of their cool products are the Loft Dog Jacket, the North Country Dog Coat, and the Blaze Cross Dog Coat. 

Hurtta

This brand is known for its innovative and high-performance winter dog coats designed to protect your dog from harsh weather conditions. Their products are made from breathable and windproof materials and have adjustable collars, harness openings, and safety reflectors. Some of their top-rated products are the Razzel-Dazzel Dog Coat, the Expedition Parka Dog Coat, and the Rain Blocker Dog Coat. 

Weatherbeeta

This brand is one of the leading manufacturers of horse blankets and has expanded its product line to include winter dog coats. Their products are made from waterproof fabrics and have features such as belly wrap closures, elastic leg straps, and reflective strips. Some of their well-known products are the Comfitec Classic Parka Dog Coat, the Comfitec Ultra Tough Dog Coat, and the Weatherbeeta Comfitec Premier Free Duo Deluxe Parka Dog Coat

Digby and Fox

This brand specializes in colourful and fashionable winter dog coats designed to fit different breeds and sizes of dogs. Their products are made from durable and water-resistant fabrics and have fleece or faux fur linings for extra warmth. Some of their popular products are the Tweed Dog Coat, the Quilted Dog Coat, and the Waterproof Dog Coat. 

River Walks with my Cairn Terrier
Rainy day dog walks in Devon – Abigal is snug in her Coat. Let walk!

How Do I Introduce My Dog to Wearing a Coat? 

To help your dog feel comfortable with the coat, follow these steps: 

  • First, let your dog smell the coat and praise them. 
  • Next, put the coat on your dog gently and let them wear it for a few minutes. Give your dog treats to reward them. 
  • Then, increase the duration of wearing the coat until your dog is used to it. 
Wet dog walk by the river - Cairn Terrier in a winter dog coat
Wet and mucky river walk – Abigail is wearing her smart quilted jacket. Mucky Pup!

Weather Conditions 

Consider the temperature and wind chill factor when choosing a winter coat for your furry friend. As a rule, if you feel cold, your dog probably feels cold. However, some dogs can tolerate lower temperatures than others, depending on their breed, size, age, and health. You can use a thermometer or an app to check the temperature and wind chill factor before going out with your dog. 

Winter dog coats for rainy days.
Abigail is happy wearing her winter dog coat. Stylish pup!

What Temperature Should I Put a Coat on My Dog for a Winter Walk?    

There is no definitive answer to this question. Dogs have different needs and preferences when wearing a coat. However, some experts suggest that if the temperature is below 45°F (7°C), most dogs will benefit from wearing a coat, especially if they have thin or short hair, are small or elderly, or have health issues such as arthritis or diabetes. If the temperature is below 32°F (0°C), almost all dogs will need a coat unless they have extremely thick fur or are bred for cold climates, such as huskies or malamutes. 

You are the one who knows your furry friend the best, so pay attention to their behaviour and body language to decide if they need a coat. If your dog is shivering, whining, lifting its paws, or seems uncomfortable, it might be too cold for them. In that case, put a coat on them or bring them indoors. A coat can keep your dog warm and cosy during the winter, but ensure it fits properly and does not restrict their movement or breathing. Additionally, check their coat for ice, snow, or dirt and dry them off after each walk. Remember, a coat alone is not enough to protect your dog from extreme cold. Limit their exposure to very low temperatures and provide them with warm shelter, food, and water. 

Snowy day walks - Cairn Terrier in a winter dog coat
Snowy day walks – Abigail in a winter dog coat. Abigail loves chasing Snowballs. Such fun!

Wrapping It Up 

Now that you have a clear idea of whether your dog needs a coat for winter walks. 

Here’s a quick recap of the key takeaways: 

  • Choosing a dog coat for winter walks depends on several factors, such as your dog’s breed, size, shape, fur type, and activity level. 
  • Consider the weather conditions, the quality and durability of the coat, and your dog’s comfort and preferences. 
  • A dog coat should fit snugly, but not too tightly, and cover the most exposed areas of your dog’s body. 
  • A dog coat should also be easy to put on and take off and be washable and waterproof. 

By following these tips, you can find the best dog coat for your furry friend and enjoy the winter walks together. 

Ok, now I want to know: 

Did you decide to buy a winter coat for your dog? 

Let me know in the comments below. 

(Psss… read these 5 great tips on how to make winter dog walks fun.   


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