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What are Dog Sweaters?

A long-haired dachshund puppy in a sage green sweater.
A chihuahua wearing a fashionable pink sweater.
A maltese braving the winter elements in a festive red sweater.
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  • Written By: Cathy Rogers
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 11 July 2014
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Dog sweaters are a popular form of pet apparel that can be both useful and fashionable. They can be especially useful for short-haired, elderly, and small dogs, who may not be able to keep themselves warm effectively during chilly temperatures. The sweaters are available in many styles, sizes, and fabrics, including wool, fleece, cotton, and even cashmere. Originally designed to keep pets protected from the elements, this and other pet apparel are now quite trendy.

A comfortable fit and ease of getting on and off are important features to look for in a  sweater for a dog. The animal's weight, measurements, and physique are all important to take into account for a good fit. For body length, pet owners should measure their dog from the base of the neck to the base of the tail. Neck, chest, and leg length measurements are also important, with the chest measurement ultimately being the deciding factor for a correct fit. In general, it is better for a sweater to be slightly large than too snug.

When purchasing a dog sweater, shoppers should check to see that the neck and leg openings are sufficient to allow free movement. Some have sleeves for all four legs; others fit only over the front legs.  Similar to the human's version, a dog cardigan features a zipper, which can be helpful when dressing the dog. Sleeveless sweaters are easier to get on and off, but don't provide as much warmth as sleeved versions.

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For warmth, pet owners can look for dog sweaters that are made of wool and fit over all four legs. Construction quality is as important as price, and shoppers should look for soft and sturdy materials. They should check any zippers or other fastener attachments to ensure that they will not get caught in the pet's fur.

Some dog sweaters feature hoods or turtlenecks, and many are decorated with bows, attached necklaces, or printed logos.  Other varieties resemble a shirt/vest combo and some include matching hats. They may be hand or machine washable, so consumers should check the manufacturer's label before buying.

Custom designed dog sweaters are often hand knitted or crocheted.  Seasonal and holiday sweaters are available, as well as ones made in lighter weight fabrics, such as cotton, for spring temperatures.  Some even convert from a sweater to a raincoat for extra functionality. They come in a variety of price ranges, from economical to haute couture. More choices are available for toy and miniature breed dogs, but several online pet businesses also feature pet apparel for large breeds.

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Discuss this Article

JackWhack
Post 7

Around the holidays, it gets easier to find large dog sweaters with holiday themes. I found a Christmas sweater for my Weimaraner to wear to the family gathering.

She even got to be in the extended family photo. We were all wearing Christmas sweaters, and she fit right in. When my friends looked at the photo, they did a double take, because the sweater made her look almost human!

lighth0se33
Post 6

Pet supply stores are the best places to find dog sweaters and coats. If you just go to a regular department store that sells lots of human items, you won't be nearly as likely to find what you are looking for.

I went to a pet supply store, and I found my dog an orange wool sweater with pumpkins on it. I put it on her before the Halloween party, and she was a hit!

I also found her a little raincoat. She hates getting wet on our walks, so this is just great for her. It even has a little hood with a drawstring.

healthy4life
Post 5

@cloudel – It does seem that dog sweaters for small dogs are a lot more common than the ones for big dogs. I think this is because people feel some strange need to dress up their little Yorkies and Chihuahuas like dolls.

I see the value of a dog sweater if you are taking your short-haired dog for a walk on a cold day, but I don't believe it would need to wear one indoors. I don't think it's very good to make your dog wear clothing when it doesn't really need the warmth. It just isn't natural.

cloudel
Post 4

Extra large dog sweaters can be hard to find. I was looking for one for my Doberman when I came across something that sounded like it was made just for her.

It's a dog shirt that is supposed to relieve anxiety and fear by applying slight pressure constantly. You strap it on, and though it doesn't look like a sweater, it does keep the dog warm.

She has always been afraid of thunder and other loud noises, but when she is wearing this, she acts as if nothing is wrong. I think that part of her shivering was just anxiety instead of chills from the temperature.

andee
Post 3

You can find some of the cutest sweaters at specialized dog boutiques. Sometimes you feel like you are looking at clothes that are made for children because they are so detailed.

Many of them are decorated with all kinds of bows and cute embellishments! Some of them look almost too pretty to even put on. I would just make sure and buy one that was washable and would hold up well after several washings.

honeybees
Post 2

I was looking at buying a small dog sweater for my dog and saw a lot of different styles. I settled on one that had a Velcro opening which made it very easy to put on and take off.

Some of the sweaters I looked at seemed like they would be a little bit of a hassle every time you wanted to put it on. This is so quick and easy to do, and I don't have to worry about trying to get her legs through the holes.

She gets excited every time I get the sweater out, because she knows she gets to go outside for a walk.

SarahSon
Post 1

I have hand knit some dog sweaters using a round knitting loom. There are so many beautiful colors and styles of yarn available that there is no end to the possibilities. I have seen many sweaters and dog apparel at craft shows that are in the colors of favorite football teams.

If you have a small dog, or one that does not have much hair, they really can make a difference in the winter helping them stay warm outside.

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