Coats and vests for dogs are not only adorable, they can help keep your canine safe and comfortable too. But many of these garments have one big problem: They are impossible (or at the least impractical) to use in conjunction with a harness and leash.
However, a few coats and vests either come with a built-in harness or feature a hole (typically called a portal) you can thread a leash through. We’ll talk about five of the best options, as well as the pros and cons of these types of garments, below.
Quick Picks: Best Coats and Vests with Harnesses or Harness Holes
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The Benefits of Coats and Vests
Whether they are designed to accommodate harnesses and leashes or not, coats and vests can provide a number of benefits for your dog. Some of the most important include:
Coats and vests help keep your canine warm. Even though they’re covered in a thick layer of fur, dogs can still get chilly when the temperatures drop. This is especially true of small or thinly built breeds, who have relatively high surface-to-volume ratios.
Coats and vests can also help your dog keep his cool. Some vests are designed to help keep your dog cool while enjoying the great outdoors. You’ll just need to wet the vest before putting it on your dog. As the water evaporates, it creates a cooling effect, which will lower your dog’s body temperature.
Coats and vests can help improve your dog’s visibility. Many coats and vests feature reflective stitching, reflectors, or fluorescent colors to make it easier for motorists to see your dog.
Coats and vests can protect your dog’s coat from dirt and rain. Coats and vests won’t keep your dog’s head or paws clean, but they can help keep the bulk of his fur cleaner and drier, particularly when walking or playing in inclement weather.
Coats and vests are adorable. They may not suit the tastes of every dog or owner, but it is pretty hard to argue that many pups look too cute for words when wearing a coat or vest.
The Pros and Cons of Coats with Harnesses or Harness Holes
As mentioned above, some coats and vests are designed to be easy-to-use with a harness, or they come with some type of built-in clips you can use to attach a leash.
But while these types of garments can provide considerable convenience, this simple design change can alter the way the vest or coat works.
Accordingly, there are a few things you’ll want to understand before purchasing one. For example:
- Coats and vests with leash portals may allow your dog’s fur to get wet. This isn’t a problem with all coats and vests that include portals, as some come with flaps or zipper closures to help keep the opening as small as possible.
- You can’t use a coat with a built-in harness at all times. Unless you live in a very cold place or have a very small dog who is always in need of a coat, you won’t want to use the coat or vest every time you take your dog for a walk. This means that you’ll still need a stand-alone harness, rather than a coat with a harness built into it.
- The holes may fray and suffer damage over time. Any opening in a coat or vest is susceptible to fraying, and this may cause garments with portals to fall apart prematurely. Portals are usually subjected to more friction than any other part of the coat or vest, so they are especially vulnerable to this kind of damage.
- Sewn-on leash rings may not be as strong as a standard harness. If the stitching rips free of the coat, you may find yourself watching your dog run down the street untethered. Given this possibility, most manufacturers don’t recommend using these types of vests and coats for dogs who are strong pullers.
Things to Look for When Purchasing a Harness-Compatible Vest of Coat
As when purchasing any pet product, you’ll want to be sure to select a high-quality vest or coat. This means looking for a vest, sweater, or coat that exhibits as many of the following features and characteristics as possible:
Most owners would like to save as much money as possible when purchasing a vest or coat to use in conjunction with a harness, but you don’t want to select a garment made from substandard fabrics in the process.
Ideally, the liners should be made of a comfortable material, such as fleece, and the outside should be made from a durable material, such as nylon or polyester.
Leash Portals Should Have Sewn Edges
As mentioned above, leash portals can fray easily, so be sure to avoid models with leash portals that do not include stitching around the edges. Stitching doesn’t guarantee that the portal won’t ever fray, but it will certainly help ensure it lasts longer.
You always want your dog to be as visible as possible, especially while going on walks after dark. You can do so in a number of ways, but selecting a garment with reflective or high-visibility trim is probably the easiest way to keep your pooch safe.
Even the daintiest of dogs will dirty their garments over time, and to keep the vest or coat looking its best, you’ll want to wash it regularly.
Most vests and coats can be hand-washed in cold water and allowed to drip dry, but the best products can be machine washed and dried without too much sweat and tear as a result.
The Five Best Coats and Vests with Harnesses or Harness Holes
The five coats and vests detailed below are among the best options for owners seeking garments that are easy to use with a leash.
About: The Gooby Every Day Fleece Dog Vest is a comfortable and attractive garment that’ll keep your pup warm and looking great when the winter winds are howling.
- Soft Fleece to Keep Your Small Dog Warm All Winter Long - When the cold weather hits, make sure your...
- Pullover Design for Easy On and Easy Off - Imagine this - Outside it’s snowing and freezing and...
- Leash Attachment - Style Meets Functionality, this isn’t your typical small dog sweater or small...
- Machine Washable - During the winter, the cold weather means your dog winter clothes are exposed to...
Features: The Gooby Dog Vest features a pull-over design and comes with an attached O-ring. This ring provides an easy place for you to attach your dog’s leash when taking him for a walk, but the manufacturer does caution that the vest is not designed for strong pullers.
This 100% polyester vest is machine washable, and it comes in 17 different colors.
- Extra-small (Length: 7”)
- Small (Length: 9”)
- Medium (Length: 10.5”)
- Large (Length: 12”)
- Extra-Large (Length: 14”)
PROS: These vests are very easy to slip on your pup, and they are sure to keep him warm. They look fantastic and are available in a variety of colors. These vests are also machine-washable, which makes it easy to keep them looking brand new.
CONS: The O-ring included with this vest does not appear to be very sturdy, and a few owners reported that it broke. Accordingly, this is not a good option for dogs who are likely to run away if they slip the leash. Sizing problems were also quite common, so be sure to measure your dog carefully before making a purchase.
About: The SGODA Cooling Vest is designed to keep your dog cool during summer walks, and it is ready to work with your dog’s leash right out of the box.
- SIZE SUGGESTION:Please measure your dog's chest and neck following the size chart before ordering....
- PERFORMANCE: soft and lightweight material for all range movements, the dog cooling vest also helps...
Features: The SGODA Cooling Vest uses a three-layer system to keep your dog cool. The nylon-based outer layer stores water, while the middle layer prevents your dog from becoming wet.
Meanwhile, the polyester inner layer provides a comfortable fit against your dog’s skin. The outer layer also works as a shield, and it protects your dog’s body from the sun’s rays.
Two zinc-alloy D-rings are attached to the back of the vest and serve as an attachment point for the leash. Reflective trim helps make your dog easier for motorists to see.
The vest also comes with zipper and Velcro attachments that allow you to make adjustments to the size of the vest, making it easy to achieve a snug fit.
It’s also great that this jacket has so many sizing options, with several various small sizes, making this one of the best coats for small dogs.
- Extra-Extra Small (Chest Circumference: 12” – 14”)
- Extra-Small (Chest Circumference: 14.5” – 17.5”)
- Small (Chest Circumference: 17.5” – 20”)
- Medium (Chest Circumference: 20.5” – 24”)
- Large (Chest Circumference: 24.5” – 28”)
- Extra-Large (Chest Circumference: 28” – 32”)
- Extra-Extra-Large (Chest Circumference: 32.5” – 39.5”)
PROS: Most owners reported that this vest helped keep their dog much cooler during walks and that the vest was easy to use and “recharge” as necessary by simply pouring more water on the outer layer. The D-rings provided appear very well-made and unlikely to tear free of the vest. The high-visibility trim is also a nice bonus.
CONS: You must hand-wash and hang-dry the SGODA Cooling Vest, but this is the case for most garments that feature evaporative-cooling technology. It is also a bit expensive compared to some other options, but given the positive user reviews, it appears to offer good value.
About: The Ruffwear Swamp Cooler Vest also relies on evaporative cooling to keep your dog comfortable when the temperatures soar. It is specifically designed to go over the Front Range or Webmaster Harness, but it will likely work with other types of back-clipping harnesses too.
- Cooling vest: A vest that provides sun protection and evaporative cooling, keeping your dog cool;...
- Three layer cooling: Outer layer reflects heat and facilitates evaporation; Middle layer absorbs and...
Features: The Ruffwear Swamp Cooler Vest is a two-layer garment, which consists of an outer layer that stores water and an inner layer that keeps your dog dry and comfortable while wearing it. It also helps to protect your dog’s body from the sun’s rays, keeping your dog cool in two different ways.
A small portal is provided near the middle of the back, which makes it easy to clip your leash to the D-ring on the back of your dog’s regular harness.
The vest can be machine washed in cold water on the gentle cycle, but you’ll want to let it hang dry. Buckles are situated on each side of the vest to make it easy to put on or take off.
- Extra-Extra-Small (Chest Circumference: 13” – 17”)
- Extra-Small (Chest Circumference: 17” – 22”)
- Small (Chest Circumference: 22” – 27”)
- Medium (Chest Circumference: 27” – 32”)
- Large (Chest Circumference: 32” – 36”)
- Extra-Large (Chest Circumference: 36” – 42”)
PROS: Most Ruffwear products are very well-made and receive great reviews from owners, and the Swamp Cooler Vest is no exception. Most owners reported that it helped keep their dog much cooler, and, because it is designed to be used with a separate harness, it is likely more secure than many vests with built-in leash attachments.
CONS: While this vest will likely work with most back-clipping harnesses, you won’t have any way of knowing it will work with your dog’s specific harness until you try it.
About: The Kurgo Loft Dog Jacket is a stylish, reversible, and adjustable coat that will keep your dog warm during fall and winter walks.
- REVERSIBLE, REFLECTIVE, & ADJUSTABLE: Stylish reversible dog vest is perfect to keep your dog cozy...
- WATER RESISTANT & LIGHTWEIGHT: Loft dog jacket is just the right amount of coverage to keep your...
Features: The Kurgo Loft Jacket is made from quilted Microtomic and 140 GSM Polytech filler material.
The outer surface is water-resistant, and it features reflective piping to help keep your dog visible to motorists during nighttime walks.
Two Velcro patches are included on each side to ensure a good fit, and the jacket features a zippered portal through which you can attach your dog’s leash to her harness.
The Kurgo Loft Dog Jacket is machine-washable and available in five different color combinations. And like most other Kurgo products, the Loft Jacket is backed by a lifetime warranty.
- Extra-Small (Chest Circumference: 15” – 20”)
- Small (Chest Circumference: 19” – 26”)
- Medium (Chest Circumference: 25” – 33”)
- Large (Chest Circumference: 30” – 38”)
- Extra-Large (Chest Circumference: 35” – 45”)
PROS: The combination of a water-resistant shell, reflective piping, and zippered harness portal make the Kurgo Loft Jacket a very attractive choice for many owners. The quilted design will help keep your pup warm when the weather is cool, and, because it’s reversible, you’re really getting two coats for the price of one.
CONS: The Kurgo Loft Dog Jacket doesn’t present many problems, and it’s hard to find any shortcomings in the design. However, a few owners complained of durability problems, so it may not be ideal for rough-and-tumble dogs. Nevertheless, it is backed by a lifetime warranty, which should offset these concerns somewhat.
About: The Onemore Choice Outdoor Dog Coat is an affordable, no-frills jacket that will work with your pup’s existing harness or collar.
- Outdoor & Travel Friendly – Keep your dog warm, cozy, and comfortable with our wind and waterproof...
- Leash & Harness Accessible – On the back of the dog’s jacket you’ll find an easy-to-access...
Features: The Onemore Choice Outdoor Dog Coat is a form-fitting garment, designed to keep your dog’s body covered from neck to haunches. The fabric used in the coat’s construction is wind- and water-proof, to ensure your dog remains comfortable during inclement weather.
Each size is fully adjustable via the included Velcro straps, and all models feature a portal that provides access to your dog’s harness.
The coat comes in four different colors and features a reflective brim to help make your dog more visible at night.
- X-Small (14”-16”, 9.5”, 10”)
- Small (16.5”-19”, 11.5”, 12”)
- Medium (19”-22”, 13”, 15.5”)
- Large (22”-28”, 15”, 15.5”)
- X-Large (24.5”-28”, 17”, 17”)
- XX-Large (26.7″-31.4″,18.9″,18.5″)
- XXX-Large (32.2″-39.3″,20.8″,23.2″)
PROS: The Onemore Choice Outdoor Dog Coat is a great option for owners who value simple garments without many unnecessary features. Most owners reported that it was very easy to put on and take off, and it is one of the most affordable options on the market.
CONS: Sizing problems were quite common, so be sure to measure your dog carefully before making your purchase. A few owners also reported durability concerns, but such complaints were not especially common.
Do you use a coat or vest to keep your pooch comfortable on walks? Have you found a good model that works with your pup’s harness? Tell us all about it in the comments below.