Does my dog need a dog coat?


As a dog owner, you are often faced with the question: Does my dog ​​really need a coat? In this blog you will learn which dogs benefit from a coat, when it is necessary and how to get your dog used to this type of clothing.

Which dogs need a dog coat?

Although many dogs have a natural coat of fur that protects them from the elements, there are situations and certain dog breeds that can benefit from a dog coat. Despite their natural fur, not all dogs are equally well protected against cold, wet or wind. In particular, dogs with short, thin fur or those without an undercoat can quickly freeze when temperatures drop. Likewise, smaller breeds or those with low body fat, such as Chihuahuas and Pinschers, can lose body heat quickly, especially if they spend long periods of time in cold environments or if the ground is cold and damp.

In addition to the breed and coat condition, the dog's age and health also play an important role when deciding on a dog coat. Older dogs and those with joint diseases such as osteoarthritis may be more sensitive to cold. In these cases, a coat can help keep joints warm and improve mobility. Even dogs suffering from medical conditions such as heart problems or weak immune systems may experience a health benefit from the additional warmth a coat provides.

Different fur textures

Hundefell mit dichter Unterwolle
Dog fur with a dense undercoat
Kurzes Hundefell mit wenig Unterwolle
Short dog fur with little undercoat

Not every dog ​​was blessed with a thick, warm coat of fur. Breeds with thin or short fur, such as Whippets or Dalmatians, lose body heat more quickly. A dog coat can be a valuable help to keep them warm.
To understand why some dogs need a coat while others can survive without one, even in the dead of winter, we need to consider the differences in coat texture.

The Undercoat in dogs works in a similar way to down in birds or the underwear that we humans wear in winter. It consists of dense, fine and soft hairs that lie close to the skin. This layer of hair traps body heat and forms a insulating layer, which protects the dog from the cold. The denser the undercoat, the better the insulation. Breeds like that Siberian Husky, the Alaskan Malamute or the Bernese Mountain Dog have a pronounced undercoat that protects them from extreme winter temperatures. In contrast, dogs with short fur like the Whippet, Dalmatian or even that one Doberman often no or only a very thin undercoat. This means they have less natural insulation against the cold. Their fur is designed more to protect them from sun and heat than from cold. In colder climates or when temperatures drop, these dogs can quickly freeze because their fur does not retain enough heat.

Breeds with short fur that can benefit from a dog coat include: Boxer, the German Pinschers and the Weimaraner. These breeds often have not only short but also relatively thin fur, which requires additional protection in low temperatures. Even long-haired breeds like that Afghan Hound or the Irish Setters are not densely haired and therefore may benefit from a coat in colder climates. Breeds like that German sheepdog, the Golden Retriever or the Newfoundland In addition to their top hair, they have a dense undercoat, which naturally protects them from the cold. These dogs are usually better adapted to lower temperatures and rarely need additional clothing.

The texture of the coat plays a crucial role in how a dog adapts to its environment. Dogs with a dense undercoat are naturally better insulated against the cold, while dogs with short or thin fur need additional warmth from a dog coat, especially in cooler climates or when temperatures drop. As a responsible dog owner, you should monitor your dog's needs and act accordingly to ensure his well-being and health.

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diseases and age

The extra warmth of a coat can be beneficial for dogs with conditions such as HD (hip dysplasia) or osteoarthritis. The ability to regulate one's own body temperature also decreases with age - especially in smaller and less active dogs.

HD (hip dysplasia) and osteoarthritis are particularly common in medium to large dog breeds and lead to pain and limited mobility. The added protection of a dog coat can help keep affected joints warm, which in turn can reduce stiffness and increase comfort. The warmth keeps the joints more supple, which supports mobility and can relieve pain. For older dogs suffering from joint problems, the warmth of a coat can also provide a form of pain relief. The heat helps to promote blood circulation and reduce muscle tension. Even dogs with thick fur can benefit from a raincoat, as wet conditions combined with wind can lead to feelings of cold and resulting tension. A well-insulating raincoat protects against moisture and thus prevents the body from cooling down and possible tension.

As a preventative and supportive measure, a coat should also be put on for neutered dogs and dogs that suffer from a weak bladder. Neutered dogs are more likely to suffer from weak bladders than intact dogs. The warmth helps prevent bladder infections that can be caused by the cold.
Dogs with chronic illnesses such as heart disease or diabetes may also be more sensitive to cold. In these cases, a dog coat can help keep the body warm and therefore reduce the strain on the cardiovascular system.

As dogs age, their ability to effectively regulate their body temperature decreases. This is due, among other things, to the decreasing density of the fur, a weakening circulatory system and a general decrease in activity. Small breeds and dogs that are less active due to their age or health are particularly susceptible to cold. Their smaller volume and larger surface area relative to body weight means they lose heat more quickly. A dog coat can help to minimize heat loss and increase general well-being. When choosing a coat for older dogs, care should be taken to ensure that it is easy to put on and is not too heavy or restrictive, as older dogs are often less tolerant of new or uncomfortable items.


Size of the dog

Smaller dogs have a larger surface area relative to their body volume. This causes them to release heat into the environment more quickly. In physics, this is described as the surface area to volume ratio, and it explains why smaller animals are generally more susceptible to temperature fluctuations. In addition, smaller dogs are closer to the ground and therefore more directly exposed to the cooling effects of snow, ice and cold ground. This can be particularly relevant when walking on cold surfaces or when spending longer periods outdoors.

At what temperature do I have to put a coat on my dog?

There is no general temperature limit at which every dog ​​is cold. We would recommend you from around 10 °C outside temperature Pay attention to your dog to recognize possible signs of cold. Pay attention to your dog's body language. If he starts to shiver or seek shelter, it's probably time for a coat.

How do I know if my dog is cold?

When you're walking your dog, it's important to pay close attention to his body language and behaviors to determine if he's cold. Not every dog ​​shows that they are cold in the same way, but there are some universal signs you can recognize. Humid and windy conditions can cause dogs to get cold more quickly. Pay attention to changes in the weather and adjust the duration of your walks accordingly. It's important to pay attention to your dog's needs and respond accordingly. If you notice one or more of these signs, consider dressing your dog in a coat or keeping walks shorter in cold weather. Your dog's health and well-being should always come first.

  1.  Tremble

    The most noticeable sign that a dog is cold is shivering. Just like in humans, shivering is a natural response of the body to generate heat through muscle activity. If your dog shakes while walking, it's a clear sign that he's cold.

  2. Curled posture

    Dogs that are cold tend to curl their bodies. They hold their tail close to their body and often pull their ears back. This posture helps them minimize their body surface area and retain heat.

  3. Stiffening or fidgeting

    A dog who is cold may move hesitantly or more slowly than usual. He may also try to stand still or refuse to move forward, especially if the ground is very cold. Other dogs try to compensate for the cold through exercise by being very active. They then seem downright restless and jittery.

  4. Sustained raising of the paws

    If a dog repeatedly lifts one or more paws off the ground, it could be a sign that his paws are cold, especially on snow or ice. Clumps of snow on the paw fur are also possible, as this can be very painful for dogs. 

  5. Raised fur 

    Another sign that may indicate that your dog is cold is the fluffing of his fur. This behavior is a natural reaction to fight the cold. When a dog fluffs up its fur, the air layer between the hairs increases. Air is a poor conductor of heat and therefore acts as an effective insulator. By fluffing up the fur, a kind of “natural jacket” is created that helps the dog to better store its body heat.

  6. Looking for shelter or warmth

    A cold dog may look for places that are warmer, such as sunny spots, sheltered areas, be close to people, or want to return home more quickly.

  7. Changed behavior after the walk

    If your dog curls up more than usual after a walk or looks for a warm place, it could mean he was cold outside.





Paulina Coppola with AmStaff Vito​​

Accusation: Dog coat is humanization

The accusation that putting on dog coats represents unnecessary humanization is a common misunderstanding. It is important to differentiate between fashion accessories and functional protective clothing for dogs. Here are some points that can help refute this accusation and raise awareness about the real need for dog coats:

Wild wolves


Wild wolves differ from domesticated dogs in many aspects. Wolves have thick, layered fur that protects them from extreme weather conditions. Their underfur serves as an efficient layer of insulation, keeping them warm in winter and cool in summer. The top hair, on the other hand, offers additional protection from moisture and wind. This natural insulation allows wolves to survive in very cold climates without needing additional protection. While wolves have evolved natural mechanisms to cope with different environments, domestic dogs have been bred by humans, often with a focus on specific physical characteristics or behaviors that may affect their ability to adapt to extreme weather conditions.

Freilebender Wolf im Schnee

Health and well-being are the priority

  • Protection from extreme weather conditions: In many cases, a dog coat serves the practical purpose of protecting the dog from cold, wet and wind. This is particularly important for dogs that are more vulnerable to the elements due to their coat texture, age or health.
  • Disease prevention: A dog coat can help prevent health problems such as colds, joint diseases and hypothermia. This is particularly relevant in dogs with chronic illnesses or older dogs who have a reduced ability to regulate temperature.

Distinction between fashion and functionality

  • Functional coats instead of fashion accessories: There is a clear difference between fashionable dog clothes and functional dog coats. Functional coats are designed to provide comfort and protection without restricting the dog's freedom of movement.

  • Adaptation to the dog's needs: A well-chosen coat takes into account the dog's specific needs, such as coat texture, size and health status.

Awareness and responsibility

  • Responsible dog ownership: As a responsible dog owner, it is important to focus on the dog's well-being. This means making decisions based on the dog's needs and comfort, not aesthetic preferences.

  • Clarification of the need: Educating other dog owners and the public about the practical reasons for wearing a dog coat can help reduce prejudice and promote a better understanding of the importance of protecting our pets.

Differences in evolution and domestication

It is true that dogs descend from wolves and in nature wolves do not wear coats. However, this comparison is often misleading when it comes to the need for dog coats. Here are some points that illustrate this difference:

  • Domestication process: Over the course of domestication, dogs have become very different, both physically and behaviorally, from their wild ancestors, the wolves. This also includes changes in their fur that can make them more vulnerable to cold.
  • Breeding and genetic diversity: Many dog ​​breeds have been bred for specific purposes and climates. Some breeds, such as the Chihuahua, are adapted to warmer conditions and do not have the same natural resistance to cold as wolves.
  • Natural habitats of wolves: Wolves live in the wild and have adapted to their specific environments. They have thick fur and natural mechanisms to cope with various weather conditions.
  • Wolves in the Wild: Wolves living in the wild are subject to constant natural selection forces. On average they only live 6 to 8 years. In contrast, many domestic dogs live more sheltered lives, meaning that older, sick or genetically less robust dogs are also part of our families. These dogs require additional protection in the form of clothing.

Practical tips for using dog coats

A dog coat can be a valuable addition to your dog's well-being, especially in colder months. Here are some practical tips on how to get the most out of the coat and get your dog used to it.

Getting used to it: Start by putting your dog's coat on first in a familiar environment, like home. This will help him get used to the feel of the coat without being distracted by external stimuli. At first you should only put the coat on for a short time and gradually increase the duration. Your dog will gradually get used to it.

Positive associations: Associate putting on the coat with positive experiences. For example, you can lure your dog with his favorite treat and give him a snack or food while his coat is on. For dogs who don't like food, you can start another favorite activity, such as a game of tug. Use praise and treats to show your dog that he is doing something good when he wears the coat. This builds a positive connection to the coat. Make sure the coat fits properly. It should be neither too tight nor too loose to ensure optimal freedom of movement. In particular, check that the coat doesn't rub under your armpits or be too tight around your neck. A good fit has a big impact on the positive feeling your dog associates with the dog coat.

Cooperation: Some dogs need time to get used to wearing a coat. Stay patient and consistent in your approach. Make putting on your coat a shared activity. Does your dog like to cuddle? Then use the coat to put on a little massage or caress. Does your dog like to do tricks? In this case, combine slipping into the coat with a trick. Pay attention to your dog's needs as much as possible. Practice putting on and taking off the coat in short training sessions to help your dog get used to it.

Vitomalia's conclusion

After delving into the question “Does my dog ​​need a dog coat?”, it’s clear that this decision is much more than a question of style – it’s about the health and well-being of our loyal companion.

We have seen that dogs react differently to cold depending on their coat texture, age, size and health condition. While dogs with thick undercoats like Huskys and The same are generally well protected against the cold, breeds with short or thin fur, older dogs or dogs with certain illnesses, such as HD or osteoarthritis, need additional protection. It's important to recognize the signs that a dog is cold - such as shaking, fluffy fur or a change in posture. These signs help us make the right decision for our dog.

Although it is often claimed that dog coats are a form of humanization, we have learned that in many cases they are a necessary measure for our dog's well-being and health. The comparison with wolves is flawed because domesticated dogs are exposed to a wide variety of environmental influences and breeding conditions.

It is our responsibility as dog owners to recognize the needs of our dogs and act accordingly. A dog coat can be a useful tool to provide our dogs with comfort and protection during the cold months. By making informed decisions and appropriately outfitting our dogs, we ensure they are happy, healthy and well protected, no matter the weather.

Does every dog need a dog coat?

Not every dog ​​needs a coat. Dogs with thick undercoats or those bred for cold weather often don't need additional protection. However, small, short-haired, older or medically fragile dogs can benefit from a coat.

How do I tell if my dog is cold?

Signs that a dog is cold can include shivering, a curled posture, seeking heat sources, fluffy fur and hesitant behavior or even fidgety behavior in the cold.

Is putting on a dog coat a form of humanization?

Dog coats are not fundamentally a form of humanization. They serve the practical purpose of protecting the dog in cold weather, especially if he is more susceptible to cold due to his breed, age or health. It is important to note that domesticated dogs differ in many ways from their wild ancestors, wolves. Through the process of domestication and specific breeding, dogs have changed in their coat texture, size and adaptability to different climatic conditions. While wolves have developed fur that effectively protects them from extreme weather conditions, this is not the case for all dog breeds. Many modern dog breeds have been bred for specific environments and climates and may not have the natural ability to adequately protect themselves against the cold. Therefore, the comparison to wolves is not always accurate and does not take into account the specific needs and circumstances of our domestic dogs. A functional dog coat can therefore be a necessary tool to support a dog's wellbeing and health in cooler environments.

How do I get my dog used to a coat?

Start with short wearing periods indoors and gradually extend this. Combine putting on the coat with positive experiences such as treats or praise to help your dog get used to it.

Are dog coats only suitable for winter?

While they are more commonly used in winter, lightweight coats can also be useful in other seasons to provide protection from rain or wind.