Should Dogs Wear Clothes in Winter?

Does putting a sweater on a dog actually help keep it warm or is it more of a fashion faux paw?

Should Dogs Wear Clothes in Winter?

It’s not uncommon to see pups parading around in sweaters and coats in the wintertime—some even wear booties in really cold climates—but do dogs need to wear clothes in the winter? Does putting a sweater on a dog actually help keep it warm or is it more of a fashion faux paw?

Do you snicker or squeal in delight when you see a pooch in a parka? Before you answer, let’s take a look at why your dog may or may not benefit from a little extra attire during the colder months.

Hair Type & Breed

It’s important to consider what type of coat your dog has if you’re thinking about outfitting it for winter weather. Some dogs have very fine whispy hair, (like my boy, Ira G, the Terrier mix pictured here, and yes, he wears a coat on cold North Carolina winter days); some have very short hair (think Whippet or Pug); and others have dense coats (like Huskies or Malamutes)and are literally built for the snow. Putting a sweater on a dog with a thick, dense coat is likely unnecessary and may even make them uncomfortably warm.

For dogs with fine or short hair, however, a sweater provides an extra layer of insulation that can help regulate their body temperature and keep them snug and warm. Plus, if you think about it, dogs have very little hair on their bellies. How would you like to walk tummy first through a snowdrift? (Makes me freezing just thinking about it!) A sweater on a dog with short or fine hair will help protect your pooch from the elements and keep their core nice and warm.


Small dogs aren’t built for cold weather. Toy breeds dressed in sweaters aren’t just for fashion—those little pups need the extra insulation for warmth. If you have a small dog with little body fat and a thin coat, it’s a no brainer: Get a sweater on that pup, stat! If you keep your heat on low in the house, it’s not a bad idea to keep a sweater on your pup inside, and to put out some warm blankets for them to snuggle up with at night. My guy, Ira G, is quite the “burrower” and knows how to find his way under the covers, whether or not he’s invited.

Age / General Health

Just like older people, senior dogs may have a harder time generating and retaining body heat, so a sweater can add some added warmth, and comfort. If your pooch is getting on in age, a coat or sweater may be just the thing so that they can spend less time curled up and sleeping and more time enjoying the great outdoors.

General Behavior

Of course each dog is unique, with unique needs, so if you’re considering whether you should get a sweater for your dog, look to you animal’s winter behavior for clues. Do they shiver uncontrollably when they’re outside, or maybe even when they’re inside the house? Are they reluctant to go outside in the freezing cold to take care of business? It’s natural for dogs to hibernate a bit more during the winter, but if your pet doesn’t want to leave the house—or even leave their bed—then a sweater is a good thing to consider. Plus pets, like people, can be prone to depression from seasonal affective disorder from the shorter, less sunny winter days, so anything that can get your best friend outside for some fresh air and sunshine—like a cozy sweater—is a good thing, for your pets physical and mental well being.

All pups look good in personalized pet tags. Take a look at all of our pet id tags and see what outfits you can coordinate!

Kathleen McCafferty wouldn’t call her pooch Ira G a fashion victim exactly, but he does own a couple winter sweaters and a winter coat. When in doubt she thinks it’s important to sweater your pup, especially if they’re small, older, and have thin hair—and particularly if they’re all three! Better yet, she thinks adding a coordinating pet ID tag to go with your pet’s sweater will keep them looking cool while they stay nice and warm.