In reality, should dogs wear clothes or not is completely dependent on the dog, his fur conditions, the weather and a few more factors which I will discuss further in this blog post.
In winters, it is very common to see pups parading around in coats and sweaters. Some may even have dog booties on. Though they look super cute and fashionable all dressed up, it is necessary? Or are we doing it to satisfy our psychological need to protect our baby?
Should dogs wear clothes?
So, what to BELIEVE in? Should dogs wear clothes or NOT? The answer to this question depends on multiple factors. Keep reading to find out whether or not YOUR DOG should wear clothes?
How warm your dog can keep himself depends on several factors:
- Breed and Fur coat type
- Age and disease
Breed and fur coat type:
Protection from the elements of nature depends on your skin type. If you have a thin skin, you will get sunburnt quicker than someone who has a thicker skin. Some people are more prone to getting tanned compared to others. Similarly, for dogs, protection from cold depends on the fur coat they have.
Thus, to understand whether or not your dog needs to wear clothes, you need to know what kind of coat your dog has been blessed with.
Let’s have a look at the types of fur coat in a dog’s body:
Undercoat: This coat lies closest to the skin of the dog and grows from a single follicle in a clustered manner. The undercoat is responsible for protection from the cold.
Guard hair: Guard hair is harder in texture and acts as the primary fur coat. They protect the skin from injuries and provide an additional layer of insulation.
If your dog is blessed with a thick undercoat and an outer primary coat, then your dog has a double coat e.g. Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, Saint Bernard etc. He/she can enjoy the cold weather without a jacket. If you make such dogs wear clothes, they might feel really uncomfortable and hot. They are genetically endowed with fur designed to protect them in extremely low temperatures.
However, if your dog has only one fur coat with no undercoat or a very thin undercoat (like in case of terriers, pinschers, chihuahuas etc., then your pooch is likely to feel cold in winters and will need a sweater or jacket to keep warm. They have not been genetically designed to survive in very cold weather conditions. Such dogs are said to have a silky coat.
Breeds like poodles are blessed with thick hair, but the hair is generally kept short to avoid matting. Such breeds need a sweater to keep them warm in winters.
Age and disease:
- An elderly dog
- Your dog has a weak immune system
- Your dog is suffering from diseases that cause impairment in hair growth (e.g. hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease)
Should Dogs wear clothes? When the answer is YES
Most people say dogs are already endowed with a coat. Why bother covering them up even if it is cold outside? Their fur is enough protection for them. This may be right for some dog breeds. However, this generalized theory cannot be applied everywhere.
Saint Bernard’s will never need to wear clothes as they have a thick double coat. Such dogs are bred to survive in extremely cold weather conditions. Such dogs don’t need clothes.
On the other hand let’s look at Whippets. Whippets have very thin fur and they contain very little body fat. You cannot expect a Whippet to survive in severe weather conditions if you do not put a doggie jacket or sweater on the pup.
Furthermore, if you have a senior dog or a dog who is suffering from an underlying medical condition, in such cases dogs wearing clothes is a better option for their own safety.
Puppy wearing clothes
Puppies born during the months of winter, face struggles due to the cold weather. Puppy wearing clothes should be encouraged o keep the puppy warm and to shield him or her from the outside environment. Puppies are fragile and need clothes.
For nervous dogs:
Dogs who get scared when their is a loud noise like firecrackers or during thunderstorms can definitely benefit from wearing clothes. For such dogs, normal dog clothes won’t suffice. For such pups, it is best if you make them wear either a tight fitting dog shirt or thunder jacket. These clothes are tight and provide a hug like feeling to your dog. This hug type snuggly pressure creates a calming environment for the dog allowing him or her to calm down and feel less anxious and stressed.
Post operative care or if the dog is ill
Dogs wearing clothes is a great option post operation. Dogs tend to keep licking the area where the sutures from the operation are. Hence, it is a better idea to have these dogs wearing clothes so their are less chances of the dog being able to reach the suture and disturb the site of operation.
If your dog suffers from pollen allergy or any other skin condition, it is best to make your dog wear clothes. Wearing a t shirt will keep the skin covered and prevent the skin from coming in contact with the allergens. Clothes can also keep your dog from scratching himself or herself too much. Please remember that just wearing a t shirt will not make the allergy go away.
For special occasions or photo shoots
If it is a special occasion like Valentine’s Day, New Year’s, Christmas or Halloween, and you want to have a photo shoot with your pup, Making your dog wear clothes is perfectly okay as long as the dress is made of breathable material and does not bother your pup.
If you have a senior dog, he or she may be suffering from a medical issues which may cause lowering of the body heat. Furthermore, diseases like arthritis tend to cause more problems in the cold weather. Therefore, putting a dog coat on your dog can help keep him or her snuggling winters and keep that arthritis pain at bay. Raincoats for dogs and also available which can be used using the rainy weather to keep your dog protected from the rain.
Should dogs wear clothes to keep themselves clean?
The last point in favor of dogs wearing clothes is cleanliness. Making your dog wear a T-shirt will help him or her stay cleaner when spending time outside the house. Less dirt means that you are required to give him or her less number of baths as well. Clothes also ensure that your dog brings in the least amount of the outdoor environment with him or her when they come back into the house.
Puppies have small legs and tend to be closer to the ground compared to adult dogs of the same breed. If the puppy wears clothes and roams around, chances are he or she will be less dirty. Hence, this is another point in favor of puppy wearing clothes.
How to identify if my dog needs a sweater?
Dogs cannot communicate the way humans can. Thus, we need to keep a watchful eye on their behavior so that we can understand when they need what.
If your baby is happy to stay out in the cold or snowy weather, you don’t need to worry about him/her feeling cold. However, if your fur baby shows reluctance in going out for walks, play or just to relieve themselves, put a sweater on them. With the sweater, if they are ready to go out and play then you have your answer.
Also, some short fur coat breeds may even feel cold while indoors if the heating is low or absent. If you find your pooch curled up in a corner and reluctant to move around in the house, put a warm blanket on him/her. If in some time, you see your baby lying in a more relaxed position, then you know that your baby needs a light sweater even in the house.
Should dogs wear clothes? When the answer is NO
Your dog is unhappy or fearful
If your dog does not want to wear clothes, or is looking scared or unhappy, don’t force your dog to wear clothes if their is no need. If your dog is comfortable without clothes, let him be. If after this you force your dog to wear clothes, you will be doing it for yourself, not for your dog.
The outfit is not comfortable or ill fitting
Whatever you plan to make your dog wear, first make sure that your dog will be comfortable in it. The primary objective of the guardian should be to keep the pup comfortable. The t shirt or coat you put on your dog should not get entangled around his legs.
If you are thinking to dress your dog up in a novelty outfit, make sure that the dress is not too heavy or cumbersome for your pup. It should also not interfere with your pups vision or freedom of movement. The clothing should not overheat your dog either. Furthermore, do not leave it on your dog for too long and do not leave your pup unsupervised.
Get the dog used to wearing clothes:
The dog must be used to wearing clothes. For example: if the pup is feeling cold and needs to wear a coat to keep warm. It is important that your pup is allowed to get used to it first. Place the coat within the view of the dog, where he or she can easily smell it and check it out. Give your dog a ton of treats so that he associates the coat with lots of tasty treats.
With every session, bring the coat closer to your dog while ensuring the he or she is given plenty of positive reinforcements. Gradually touch the coast to your dog. When your pup is comfortable with all the above steps, start to put the coat on your dog for short durations.
If at any point your dog starts to get uncomfortable, remove the coat. Go back a step and start again. Your goal should be that your dog associates the coat with something positive and not something that he or she is forced to wear.
My boys, Alpha and Delta are both rescue pups (you can read their story here). They were both born in winter and were severely susceptible to the cold. I would have the heater switched on in the room 24/7. They would lounge in front of it on their blankets, wearing sweaters and completely curled up. Can you imagine, the cold they felt?
If the heater was off, Alpha would shiver, bury himself under blankets while Delta would have water dripping from his nose.
Well, Delta is a year old now. However, in winter, he still needs to wear two sweaters before going out for his walks. Indoors, he prefers to wear a thick t-shirt and still would sleep on top and under the blankets whenever possible. In summers, if the air conditioner is on, Delta needs a light t-shirt to keep him comfortable. Thus, he needs to wear clothes like us, humans..!!
At the end, should dogs wear clothes or not depends on how comfortable your fur baby feels with or without clothes. No one can judge that better than you. So I wish you goodluck and would like to congratulate you on doing an amazing job with bringing up your kid.
Which breed you have and whether or not they wear clothes. Is dogs wearing clothes a common occurrence at your place or it occurs sometimes? Are they comfortable or they just want to rip it off?
Also, do you want me to do a clothes review based on the different dog breeds across the world? Which breed needs clothes and which does not?
See you in my next post
Frequently asked questions:
No, if the dog needs clothes like during cold climate or if the dog is facing medical conditions like arthritis, then making him or her wear clothes is beneficial. However, if the pup is uncomfortable in the clothes and is forced to wear them, this would be cruelty.
If your dog belongs to the breeds who are endowed with double fur coat, it will be cruel to dress up your dog since these dogs don’t need to be clothes at all.
Dogs do not prefer to be dressed up. However, if the dress makes them comfortable, their is a chance that over time the dog may find more comfort in staying dressed up. Therefore, in such condition, the dog may like being dressed up.
If it is needed like during cold weather and in case your pet has thin fur layer, then yes! pets must wear clothes.