Depending on the local climate and the type of natural coat that a dog has; there may be no need for ever wearing a coat, or a dog may need one, or more, types of coat or sweater.
In addition to any insulation in the dog coat or sweater, a coat makes another layer of insulation between the dog and the coat, providing more warmth. A coat may block the wind. Additionally, there are many waterproof coats, which both stop a dog getting cold and also reduces the amount of fur that gets wet.
If the weather is very cold or a dog is has little insulation, you can try layering a fleece coat or sweater under another coat.
When deciding what type of coat to buy consider;
- range of local weather – rain, snow, temperature, wind
- types and intensity of activity while the coat is worn
- amount, type and growth pattern of the dogs fur (e.g. has an undercoat?)
- extent of coverage required (e.g. belly completely covered?)
- fastening (easy to do and undo? not come off easily when dog is in bushes?)
- type of fastening (Velcro? buckles?)
- material needs to waterproof? (e.g. neoprene, nylon)
- material thickness, insulation and how windproof
- color – need to see easily? camouflage?
- reflective so visible at night?
- good fit, so doesn’t rub or chafe
- easy to wash – coats can get dirty very quickly
- plus whether you want to make a fashion statement
There are several different types of dog coats.
In cold rainy weather, a dog with no undercoat, such as a Vizsla, can get chilled by being wet, particularly if they are not very active and generating much heat. A coat can help keep a dog dry and maintain their body heat.
Waterproof coats are also useful if you want to keep your dog as dry as possible so you don’t have a dog with totally saturated fur after a walk in the rain. They can help keep the body of your dog dry.
Waterproof coats have a waterproof outer layer and some depending on the level of warmth they are designed to provide, they may have a lining or insulation inside.
Fleece coats are a good choice for many conditions. They come in a wide range of types of fleece, styles and colors. They are easy to wash and keep clean. Fleece keeps some of it’s insulating power when it gets wet.
As with fleece items for humans there are lightweight fleeces and heavier more insulating and windproof fleeces. Decide what weight and type of fleece will be best for your dog, taking into account their type of fur, general activity level and the local climate range.
There are a range of types of insulated coats, some with waterproof coverings. These are useful for dogs that have little or no undercoat and/or will not be very active. They range from a thin lining to a thick quilting.
If you walk with your dog in the dark in the winter, then a coat that is reflective is a good idea. This makes your dog easily visible to motorists.
Most sweaters have no fastening since they are pullover style. Sweaters have pros and cons. The pullover style results in them usually having good coverage of the belly. Since they are very snug, a dog is unlikely to lose their sweater by getting caught up in bushes etc. However, they can be quite tricky to put on a dog, particularly if they are not cooperative or don’t like the coat.
Types of fastening
The two common types of fasteners for dog coats are Velcro and buckles.
Velcro is the easiest and fastest and is the most common. Sometimes it easier to snug a coat with strips of Velcro than it is with buckles. However, it can start to easily come undone when the coat gets a bit older and the Velcro has aged and got stuff stuck in it. Coats with old Velcro have a tendency to come off when a dog goes through bushes.
Buckles can secure a coat very well. However, they can sometimes be difficult to do up, or undo, particularly if your hands are cold. Buckles tend to found most frequently on the higher end, better made, more expensive coats.
A few coats have zippers.
Sizing a dog coat
Make sure that you carefully follow the instructions for sizing a coat or sweater for your dog. Usually the size is determined by measuring round the widest part of the chest.
For optimal comfort for your dog the coat should be the correct size. Coats and sweaters that are too small or too big can be uncomfortable and chafe. Coats that are too big are lost more easily when a dog goes through bushes etc.
Price of dog coats
You can spend anywhere from $5.99 to more than $100 for a dog coat. Obviously the cheaper ones are usually thinner and not so well made. What to spend all depends on how often the dog is going to be wearing the coat, the local temperatures and amount of precipitation, the type of fastening required and the terrain (bushes, etc.) that the dog will encounter, and of course the types of undercoat and topcoat of the dog.
If you want to make a fashion statement with the coat, cheaper ones are probably better so you can change the look without spending much money.
Many owners of small and toy dogs are irritated that most coats are not priced by size. A coat is usually the same price for all dogs, big or small.
For dogs that have little or no undercoat and are outside in cold weather, a coat or sweater can keep the dog warm and comfortable. Waterproof coats, in addition to keeping a dog with a thin coat warm can help keep the body of a dog dry. There are coats available in about any style and color imaginable.