With unusually cold weather across much of the country, daily dog walks may be more uncomfortable than ever, for both human and canine. Even if you’ve never used a coat for your dog before, as you bundle yourself up to go outside, consider whether your dog needs some protection from the cold, as well.
As a general rule of thumb, large dogs with thick, dense coats are well protected from the cold. This includes Northern breeds, like Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies, with fur coats genetically designed to keep them warm. But there are dogs that need to be protected from extreme weather.
- Small, toy, and miniature shorthaired breeds, like Chihuahuas and French Bulldogs. These small pups can’t easily generate and retain enough body heat to keep themselves warm.
- Dogs that sit low to the ground. Although breeds like Pembroke Welsh Corgis, for example, have thick coats, their bellies sit low enough to the ground to brush against snow and ice.
- Breeds that typically have long hair but are clipped or shorn, like Poodles. Grooming may alter the natural protection of their coats.
- Lean-bodied breeds with short hair, like Greyhounds and Whippets, should also be protected from the cold.
- Senior dogs are prone to conditions that may require a winter coat, such as arthritis or a weakened immune system. Heat regulation may decline with age, making even a thick-coated dog uncomfortable in the cold.
Once you’ve determined that your dog needs a winter coat, look for a coat that protects his neck and belly. It should extend from the base of his neck to his tail, without being so long that it would make bathroom stops problematic. You’ll want a coat that fits snugly without being tight. Clothing should never restrict your dog’s movement.