Certain dogs are better able to handle winter weather than others. Like humans, dogs come in all shapes and sizes.
Some breeds naturally have more body fat to insulate them against the elements. Other dogs come with their own, nature-made coats of thick, layered fur.
Your dog’s breed, size, and age are all things to take into consideration when it comes to keeping him warm in the winter weather.
Some dogs simply don’t need winter coats because they are genetically built for winter weather, with higher body fat and thicker coats of fur.
A few breeds that are known to be built for cold weather are:
- Alaskan Malamute·
- American Eskimo Dog
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Norwegian Elkhound
- Saint Bernard
- Siberian Husky
- Tibetan Mastiff
However, just as we wear hats and coats to retain body heat in winter months, some dogs need help maintaining heat as the outdoor temperature plummets. Short-haired breeds and breeds with less body mass tend to fair less well in the elements.
A few breeds that are not suited to the chilly weather are:
- Chinese Crested Dog
- Italian Greyhound
- Peruvian Inca Orchid
- Pit Bull
If you have a short-haired dog, a winter coat is a must if he is going to be outdoors in the cold.
Other Dogs who Benefit from Winter Coats:
- Toy Breeds - smaller size dogs tend to lose body heat more rapidly
- Dogs with bigger ears lose body heat because the ears are thin and filled with blood vessels, making them more susceptible to cold
- Dogs with compromised immune systems
- Dogs whose bellies are low to the ground
- Older dogs have difficulty regulating their body temperature
- Dogs with impaired hair growth due to illness or injury
- Dogs with diabetes, hypothyroidism, kidney disease, or heart disease
- Dogs who suffer from arthritis
- Dogs recovering from an injury or surgery
Protecting your dog against the elements is important for his physical health and well being.
So what makes the ideal dog coat? That depends on what your dog will need. You need to factor in your dog and lifestyle. First, identify the factors that are crucial to you.
- If your dog is very active, you may want a coat with leg straps to prevent it from twisting or flying up when your dog runs.
- If you want something that’s hassle-free and easy to put on, you may opt for a coat with velcro closures. However, over time, velcro may not hold up as well as a zipper.
- Will your dog be outside a lot during evening hours, early morning walks, or in flat light? You should opt for a coat with reflective properties.
Beyond your key personal requirements, the most important factors you should be looking for are warmth and wearability.
Warmth in a dog coat this issimilar to warmth in a human winter coat. The amount of body heat the coat retains depends on the materials used and the number of layers. Layers retain body heat, as do puffy pockets of air. For warmth, a good option is a puffer coat. Puffer coats come in down filled and a variety of man-made fillings that are just as warm. Look for a water-resistant or waterproof outer layer to keep your dog dry. A polyester or breathable polyurethane outer shell is a good choice for protection against the elements.
Wearability refers to your dog’s ability to comfortably move around and attain full range of motion in the coat. No matter how adorable the coat looks on your dog, if it doesn’t properly fit and protect his organs from the cold, it isn’t doing its job.
Fit of the coat should cover the length of the dog’s back, from the base of his neck to the base of his tail. The coat should be tight enough around your dog’s neck to keep the warmth in but not so tight as to cause pulling or discomfort. A good coat should cover the chest, back, and belly of your dog. If you have a male dog, remember to look for a coat designed to allow him to do his business without getting the coat wet (and you may want to double check that the coat is machine washable!) Follow sizing/measurement guides or ask a salesperson about bringing your dog in for a fitting.
Worried about making sure your dog stays happy and healthy this winter season? Consider taking out an activre dog insurance policy.