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The Best Coats For Dogs For Winter & Beyond

The Best Coats For Dogs For Winter & Beyond

When I was young(er), I had a dog named Piccolo who was part chihuahua and part something else — these were the days before dog DNA tests became the rage. He was tiny and he trembled near constantly. My dear Piccolo shivered morning, noon, and night, no matter the weather. We lived in New York, where the summers were hot and the winters were cold. Too cold for Piccolo at any rate. We used to shudder to bring the poor pup outside when the temperature came remotely close to freezing.

It wasn't until we found the perfect winter coat — not too big and thoroughly insulated — that the dog found any joy in being outside for half the year. The best dog coats can really make a difference in your life, which is why we've compiled this list, detailing the different types of dog coats and curating some of the best of them — for any shape, style, or climate.

Does Your Dog Need A Winter Coat?

While there are a few overarching factors that determine whether your dog should wear a coat, much of this decision should made by someone who sees and interacts with your dog regularly: you! Watch your dog's reaction to the weather. Here are a few tell-tale signs your dog is cold and may need some extra padding:

  • They start shivering soon after going outside

  • They slow down, sometimes refusing to move

  • They keep picking up their paws or licking them

  • They appear anxious or start whining

  • They keep searching for warm places to rest

If you're still unsure whether your pup needs a coat, there are some more universal factors that should help you determine it:

What's Your Dog's Hair Length?

When it comes to keeping warm, certain dogs don't need much help. Does your pup have a double coat? You can probably tell by looking and you can certainly tell by touching. A double coat consists of a dense undercoat of short hair, which you can feel underneath the top coat of longer hair or "guard hairs." If your pup looks like a fluffball, they probably have both. Here are a few examples of double coat dog breeds:

  • Akita

  • Alaskan Husky

  • Australian Shepherd

  • Bernese Mountain Dog

  • Golden Retriever

  • Newfoundland

  • Pomeranian

  • Shiba Inu

  • Siberian Husky

Dogs with double coats can actually overheat if you layer on too much, as their undercoat is already designed to keep them warm in the winter. If you're considering buying a dog coat for a pup who has a lot of hair, pay attention to the fabric, coverage, and insulation of the coat — and, of course, their reaction to it.

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Dogs with shorter hair will generally appreciate the extra warmth a dog coat will provide as they don't have the same protections. But, of course, there are other factors to consider:

Your Dog's Weight

Some of the bigger pups we mentioned above, like huskies or Bernese mountain dogs, are bred to survive in frigid conditions. Other dog breeds, mainly small and toy, weren't born with the same built-in insulation and will require a little extra padding to keep them warm in the cold.

Medium- or large-sized dogs with short hair could also stand to benefit from another layer, especially when the conditions are a bit more intense. If your pup is larger but is thin or underweight, you may want to consider a dog coat option.

Your Dog's Age & Health

Older dogs, whether they are very hairy or not, will have different needs — especially when it comes to cold. A coat helps protect them from the elements and keeps joints warm, which is especially good for arthritis, which is prevalent in older (and larger) pups.

The same goes for dogs who are sickly or prone to getting sick. Adding an extra layer of warmth and protection won't go astray.

Your Climate

Where you live will certainly have an impact on whether your pup needs another layer (and what kind of layers too). If you spend most of the year in freezing temperatures with a dog breed not built for it, you're going to want something insulated. If it rains constantly where you live, you're going to need something water-resistant. Generally speaking, anything 45°F or below is a good cutoff to start dressing your pup.

If it's humid and never below 60 degrees, you're probably just fine without one. But, if your pup demonstrates any of the above signs of being too cold, don't hesitate to add an extra layer. Dogs react similarly to humans when it comes to the cold, so consider how you interact with the temperature and make a judgment call from there.

Now that we've gone through the main factors that determine whether your pup needs a coat, we can go through some different types with awesome options for each. These categories aren't necessarily mutually exclusive; some reversible dog coats may also have reflective detailing, etc. The grouping below highlights the coat's main qualities, and everything else is just an added perk!

Best Overall Dog Coat

Best Budget Winter Dog Coat

Best Waterproof Winter Dog Coats

For dog owners who live in climates that get a lot of rain, a water-resistant coat is a must — otherwise you'd be making your pup a lot colder if you keep a wet coat on. These coat types are also good for dogs that live by the water... or even ones who always end up making a big mess no matter where they go.

Best Reversible Winter Dog Coats

For pups who live in changeable climates with true seasons, a reversible dog coat makes a lot of sense. With two sides that provide different levels of warmth, dual-climate reversible coats mean you don't have to dig in your dog's closet the second the weather changes. Often, at least one side of these coats is water-resistant, combining the best of both worlds.

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Best Reflective Winter Dog Coats

For people who live in less dense populations or who just really like to walk their dogs at night, reflective dog coats are a great way to make sure you stay safe. These designs, which can be either entirely or partially reflective, reflect light as you walk in dim conditions, which is especially important for road safety.

Best Full Coverage Winter Dog Coats

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