Do Dogs Really Need Clothing? Five Reasons Why Your Dog Benefits from Clothes.


Do dogs really need clothing? After all, don’t dogs come with their own coat of fur ready-made? Some people would even argue that it’s cruel. The RSPCA (an animal welfare charity in the UK) says that people who dress their dogs up could be prosecuted. As with most things in life, dressing your dog should be done with a healthy dose of common sense. If it’s 90 degrees out, your dog does not need to be wearing anything. Your Husky does not need a jacket. If your dog can’t move in their clothing, take it off!

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But clothing can be extremely beneficial for dogs for the following reasons.
  • Warmth
Small dogs, elderly and/or ill dogs, dogs with hair and dogs with little body fat definitely benefit from having extra protection against the elements in the form of a warm sweater or coat. These dogs can have trouble retraining or creating enough body warmth to stay warm. Having a single coat of hair and minimal body fat means that Mr. N has scant protection against cold. My usual rule of thumb for him is if I wear a coat, he wears a coat. Without a coat, he shivers and looks pathetic. With a coat, he goes chasing after ducks in the snow and interrupting people’s selfies with snow people.
Wearing: Doggie Design.
Living in a city where rain is the primary mode for three seasons, a raincoat is vital for both of us on walks. If Mr. N didn’t have a raincoat, he wouldn’t be able to go for walks for the majority of the year. Which is cruel in his opinion.
Massive flooding! Mr. N doesn’t know if he should walk or swim.
  • Cleanliness

Wearing clothing can be beneficial to both humans and dogs in terms of keeping them (and their environment) clean. Less dirt means fewer baths. Because Mr. N is low to the ground and his hair is a magnet to attract all the things, a jacket helps ensure that he drags a minimal amount of the outdoors around with him. It’s also helpful when he decides that he wants to roll in something disgusting. The clothing gets the brunt of it.

Wearing: Double Fleece by Gold Paw
  • Visibility

Visibility is key to keeping your dog safe during nighttime walks, hunting season and off-leash hikes. Mr. N is tan-colored and blends in with sand, dry grass, and dirt so I have him wear colorful clothing when he is off-leash so I can keep track of where he is roaming. He also has a visibility vest for walking in the dark and so he doesn’t get mistaken for a rabbit.

Wearing: Sun Shield Tee by Gold Paw
  • Health

Clothing can help dogs with allergies by preventing them from licking, chewing and scratching and proving a barrier between them and allergens. It can also prevent dogs from getting sunburn or from bothering their incisions. Boots can save your dogs from having salt in their paws and walking on abrasive or hot surfaces. A cooling vest can help them cool off.

Wearing: Cool Vest (no longer sold)
  • Fashion

Dressing your dog up for holiday and special occasions can be a fun way to include them in the festivities if the dog doesn’t mind. Pawing at the clothing or freezing in place is a sure sign that they want it off asap. If they are strongly opposed to clothes, you can still have them wear a decorative bandanna or a bow-tie. Mr. N basks in the additional attention he gets from wearing special outfits and will actually help me get him dressed and undressed. He is not fond of hats, however, and those are only worn for a minute or two at a time for a quick photo and he is rewarded heavily.

Wearing: Pearls and Boa provided by photographer

Does your dog wear clothes? Do you do it for fun or practical reasons? If your dog doesn’t, why not?




38 Responses

  1. Beth

    January 14, 2016 3:01 pm

    Barley hate clothes. She'll tolerate reindeer ears or a Santa hat for holiday photos and she'll let me dress her up in some Pirates gear for important baseball games, but she doesn't love it. The only dog-specific clothing she has are her cooling coat, which she has to wear on hot sunny days if we're even going to get out for a quick walk, and her boots that I make her wear on really cold days. She's not a fan of either, though. We tried the thunder shirt recently and I thought she would never forgive me. I guess Barley just prefers to be nude. Mr. N makes dog clothing look fun and practical, though!

  2. cupcakepetrillo

    January 14, 2016 10:37 pm

    I wear a coat whenever it's below 35 degrees. Otherwise, I will shiver. Mom also dresses me when we do therapy work at the VA and library. It makes people smile and keeps me from shedding too much when somebody wants to cuddle with me. When Mom takes a dress out for me, I am very happy. It means we're about to do something FUN!

    Love and licks,

  3. Janet Keefe

    January 15, 2016 12:27 am

    We never put anything but bandanas and harnesses on the dogs until Luke came along. He was our first dog with very thin fur underneath. My husband balked at it at first but he came to realize that Luke's fur is so thin underneath he really needs it. Luke has really come to love wearing coats and sweaters. In fact, I was just taking his sweater off him for the night and he acted like he didn't want it off! Even Sheba was surprisingly fine about having a sweater on when her side was shaved from surgery.
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

  4. Lauren Miller

    January 15, 2016 4:23 am

    Happy #NationalDressYourPet Day! 😀 Great post! The girls would freeze their butts off if I didn't have them wear their jackets! They both complain (Zoe complains loudly) if they are cold. Phoenix refuses to go outside.

    Everyone is much happier when they are warm. 🙂

  5. Emma

    January 15, 2016 12:58 pm

    We agree that some dogs do need clothing for various reasons, but many dogs don't and I think these days a lot of humans are dressing dogs that don't need it. We wear shoes in extreme cold like more than -10, but that is it. Recently we saw an upside down coat that keeps legs and bellies clean and dry. That would be something we would try when it is spring and all wet out. But normally, no clothes here except for photos.

  6. SlimDoggy

    January 15, 2016 2:01 pm

    Haha – love that last pic. We don't usually put clothes on our Labs – it's pretty warm in SoCal, so they don't really need it. We did have a coat for Becca when she was sick as she would get the chills.

  7. FiveSibesMom

    January 15, 2016 3:42 pm

    Love the pics, especially that last fashionista one! While my Huskies prefer to go "naked" as they love the cold, I do have two jackets for them that we have used during extreme rain storms. I grew up with Poodles and my Mom always had a little sweater for each of them when they went outside. I remember her one miniature (my personal buddy) Princie, he had a crimson red knit one. As soon as it was on him, he would get so excited because he knew he was going out with us! Great article!

  8. Edie ThePug

    January 15, 2016 6:34 pm

    All great points for why some dogs need clothes. With Edie's short coat she needs coats and sweaters to keep her warm and protected against the cold elements. Beautiful pics!

  9. Pawesome Cats

    January 15, 2016 7:21 pm

    All great reasons why dogs need clothes – especially the visibility factor. People here often walk their dogs on the road (we don't always have footpaths) – and they can't be seen at night.

  10. Val Silver

    January 15, 2016 11:51 pm

    We had a dachshund that wouldn't move a step with his little sweater on. Ted will wear a coat, but most of the time he doesn't need one with is thick, tight, curly coat. When the weather is too cold Mom and Dad usually won't walk him, its a quick trip to the yard.

  11. K9s OverCoffee

    January 16, 2016 3:32 pm

    Missy & Buzz both have water repelling coats for those rainy and cold days – without their coats they will actually shiver (they are Boxer Mixes with no insulating undercoat), and they're a wonderful layer of protection against mud. Although they're not low to the ground like Mr. N, especially Buzz has a tendency or getting all kinds of muddy when he plays fetch with his ball. Which happens in all types of weather, even in the rain 😉 Makes for a much easier cleanup for me!

  12. Kristen–well minded

    January 16, 2016 7:50 pm

    Great post. It makes sense that Mr. N would be more active in the cold when he's more comfortable. I hadn't really considered a coat for N.A.S.H.A. before because we don't spend a whole lot of time outside with her when it's cold. But maybe if she had a coat, we would!

  13. Fur Everywhere

    January 17, 2016 11:36 am

    I agree – clothing definitely has some benefits, especially when it's cold and/or rainy out. I wouldn't want to be walking in the cold or rain without something on – why would a dog? I think as long as people use common sense, dressing up dogs can be both functional and fun!

  14. Talent Hounds

    January 17, 2016 5:39 pm

    I love the photos- Mr N is such a great model and his outfits are so stylish as well as practical. Kilo likes posing in different fun outfits for treats and praise but he hates going out in more than a harness or bandana. He will now wear a sweater if it is freezing out but prefers not to. I felt bad today because it was colder than I thought with the wind so he shivered on our long walk.

  15. Suzanne Dean

    January 17, 2016 10:51 pm

    Mary does not wear cloths. First we live in Florida, second she has an undercoat, so those cute pictures with a shirt; well that shirt is quickly removed after the photo. She doesn't mind the occasional neckerchief for sporting events. While she is in the house she doesn't even where a collar. I guess Mary just likes being naked, for her seeing the collar means it walkie time and she get excited. I am all for dogs that need the protection against the elements, and for those dogs that enjoy it. Otherwise, I'm an against dogs wearing cloths and recommend people wear a tail for a day. Your post was spot on, if a dog freezes in place then there is a problem. Thanks for making that clear.

  16. Daily Dog Tag

    January 18, 2016 1:50 am

    My Maltese, Nelly, seems to appreciate a fleece on cold days. In the summer I found that a lightweight tank seems to prevent her from scratching and chewing herself when she is suffering from allergies.

  17. Robin Mudge

    January 18, 2016 2:51 am

    These are great points! As long as the dog (or cat for that matter) doesn't mind wearing clothing and that clothing is appropriate to the environment, I think it is fine. Right now, with windchill figured in, it is -5*F here in Metro Detroit. There are a lot of pets whose bodies are not prepared for this sort of temperature. Visibility is important too -especially at night!
    -Purrs from your friends at

  18. Faith Ellerbe, Live.Wag.BARK!

    January 18, 2016 4:24 am

    I love the photos! I agree that closes can be very beneficial to dogs and your point about Huskies not needing clothes (I have 3). If anything my huskies get hot in the house during the winter and love being out on the patio. Love this post!

  19. 2browndawgs

    January 18, 2016 1:27 pm

    We dress our dogs in a vest for hunting season to help keep them warm. I think the difference today compared to years ago is that most dogs live inside and as house dogs they do not develop the same coat they would if they were outside dogs.

  20. Jessica @

    January 21, 2016 5:20 pm

    I usually never notice if someone is sneering at Chester and Gretel in clothes. However, I HAVE felt the "inferior-ness" people have causally thrown our way when they see "cute, dressed up" dogs on a tough hiking trail. Most people are surprised by their size but, lately, I've felt the judgement of a few people because we "dressed them up" for a hike. THEY HAVE NO HAIR AND ARE COLD PEOPLE! It's a utilitarian thing.


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