I’m a new fur mom, but I grew up with a lot of big dogs (my brother was a breeder), so I’m not really into putting my Yorkie into one of those costumes where they look like they’re walking in two legs (as adorable as they look). However, with the nip in the air, I did start to wonder if perhaps a winter coat might be necessary for my dog as other people seem to think. Here’s what I found out.

The real reasons people wrap up their dogs

Putting a winter poncho for your pooch is usually a case of projection for some fur parents. Because they feel cold and bundle up when walking their dog, owners feel emotional distress when they see their pets without protection. Most people decide to hedge their bets and wrap up their dogs as warmly as they can before venturing out into the cold, cruel world.

However, most people just like to see their fur babies in fashion. Pet owners in the US spent an eye-popping $1.7 billion on pet clothing alone in 2020, about 21.62% of which was for coats and jackets. Millennials are more likely to follow the trend of humanizing their pets by purchasing clothes and costumes, some even forking out the dough for designer clothing they can’t afford for themselves. Winter coats are just part of the trend.

Fashion aside, some dogs really do need a winter coat

Some fashionable fur parents will be happy to know that some dogs do need the extra layer of protection from that Moncler nylon puffer vests they bought for $500 a pop. Sheesh.

Dogs that may need a winter coat are some smaller ones because they have more surface area relative to larger dogs. Among these are toy terriers, miniature pinschers, and chihuahuas. You can also include larger but thin dogs such as Whippets and Greyhounds in the list because they have little body fat and dogs with very thin fur.

Dogs of any breed that are mobility-challenged tend to be less active unless they use a BFM dog wheelchair to generate some heat. If they don’t and mostly sit quietly at home, it might be a good idea to drape them with a light jacket or coat when going

Some dogs may suffer from wearing a winter coat

Canines with long or thick fur often have double layers of it, so putting on a heavy winter coat might interfere with the ability of your pet to keep the heat in because the coat weighs the fur down. Dogs with dark hair also have a natural ability to absorb heat, so they will probably need a winter coat less than a light-furred one. If your dog is active, they already generate a lot of heat, so a winter coat would be superfluous and may even overheat them.

Dogs that will most likely not thank you for spending all that dough to keep them warm and fashionable are the following breeds:

If your dog’s breed is not on this list, ask your vet if you need to get a winter coat for them.

When you should put a winter coat on your dog

Aside from breed, it would be best if you considered other factors before deciding to bundle your dog into a coat. These include wind chill, the potential for getting wet (the dog, not you), and the sunniness before you go out for a walk. It might be safe not to put it on if the weather seems to be warm enough.

However, if your dog seems reluctant to go out, starts shivering, slowing down, or acting anxious, it probably means it’s too cold, mister! If your dog breed is susceptible to the cold, it might be wise to put a coat on anyway, even when it seems warm, just to be on the safe side. You can always take it off if your dog starts looking overheated.

Age, health status, and acclimation to the cold are also factors that will come into play for your winter coat conundrum. Senior dogs, puppies, and dogs with health issues may have a hard time keeping themselves warm even indoors, so a coat would be a good idea.

Ask the vet about choosing a winter coat for your dog

If you’re playing it safe or your dog really needs a winter coat, don’t get all excited and buy the cutest outfit ever. Dogs sometimes have an allergic reaction to fabrics, so ask your vet for their recommendations.

Even then, some dogs may still be sensitive to the fabric. If your dog starts scratching, sneezing, swelling, or breaking out in hives when you put on the coat, remove the coat immediately. If your dog starts vomiting, consign the darn thing in the trash.

It is also essential that you get the size right. You don’t want it to be too tight that it’s constricting your dog’s movements or breathing or too loose that they trip over it and don’t keep them warm at all. Measure your dog according to the instructions on the retailer’s site or have someone assist you.


A winter coat for your dog can be useful during the brrr months, but you must be circumspect. The goal is to keep your dog comfortable, not chic. If your dog’s breed or circumstances dictate the need for one, then go right ahead. Otherwise, let Mother Nature’s design take over.

Now, where is that catalog?