When the weather outside is frightful, a winter coat is so delightful — and that goes for your dog, too!
Yes, most doggos already have a full-body suit of fur, but that doesn’t mean every pooch is well-equipped for cold temperatures, particularly small breeds. Not only can the cold be uncomfortable for these pups, but it can also be dangerous.
Let’s run through what to look for in a canine coat, and browse a few of our favorite small dog coats together so your fur friend can be better protected when the cold comes knocking!
Best Coats For Small Dogs: Quick Picks
- #1 Kurgo Loft Jacket [Best Overall Coat for Small Dogs] — Featuring a sleeveless design, plenty of thick insulation, and a water-resistant polyester shell, this cozy coat is the best option for most small dogs battling the cold.
- #2 Lovelonglong 4-Legged Raincoat [Best Full-Coverage, Waterproof Coat for Small Dogs] — If you and your pooch have to brave rain or snow during winter walks, you may want to check out this waterproof coat, which provides full-body coverage and comes with an attached hood.
- #3 Kuoser Cozy Winter Coat [Best Budget-Friendly Coat for Small Dogs] — The Kuoser Cozy Winter Coat is a sleeveless, reversible vest that won’t break the bank and features Velcro closures to make it easy to put on.
Small Dogs and Cold Weather: Chilly Canine Challenges
As we have discussed before, some dogs can suffer in winter weather (though there are breeds that are very well-suited for cold temperatures).
The cold is especially unforgiving to small dogs, whose bodies have more surface area relative to their volume than big dogs. This leads to rapid body heat loss and feeling chilled much faster than their larger fur friends.
But cold temperatures aren’t only a problem for small floofs, either. If your pooch is a senior canine, has a short coat, or a thin build, he’ll also be pretty susceptible to the cold.
Factors like wind and precipitation can also make your pooch lose body heat even faster. Even your pup’s color can affect how quickly he gets cold, as darker colored dogs absorb sunlight (and heat) more readily than their light-colored counterparts.
Fortunately, the right coat can lead to safer, more comfortable outdoor time for your pup.
Not only does this make regular potty breaks more pleasant, but your dog will enjoy his daily walks more when he’s not chilly. This makes it hard to get your pooch enough exercise in the winter (though there are a bunch of great ways to let your dog exercise indoors).
Signs That Your Dog Is Cold
Your four-legged friend might not be able to explain with words that he’s cold, but he can tell you with his actions. Some are more obvious than others, but signs that your dog is cold include:
- Hunched posture
- Clinging to you for warmth
- Reluctance to go outside to potty
Not only should you watch for your dog acting cold during the winter, but also monitor his paws.
Frostbite can sneak up if your dog spends a lot of time outdoors in low temperatures. Ice-melting material can also lead to skin irritation, especially between his toes.
If you can’t or don’t want to fit your four-footer with some booties, be sure to use dog-safe ice melting products and rinse his feet after walks to remove any unsafe ice-melting chemicals your neighbors may have used.
Stocking up on dog paw balm is also a good idea.
Picking a Coat: Things to Think About
Selecting the right coat for your small dog isn’t as simple as picking a color that brings out his eyes. I mean, you’re more than welcome to consider these types of things, but you risk purchasing something that may not work for your pup’s needs.
Instead, when browsing canine coats, you’ll want to keep a few key things in mind to ensure you get the best coat for your canine:
- Sizing: Take all of the necessary measurements before shopping to make sure your dog will be comfortable in his new attire. The width of his neck, shoulders, arms, and chest are important, as is the length of his back. Some brands list suggested breeds next to their sizes, but always go by your dog’s measurements to be safe as these breed lists can be inaccurate.
- Style: Canine “coats” come in an assortment of cuts, including dog sweaters, vests, ponchos, and more. Each has its own set of pros and cons. Ponchos are an attractive option for small dogs with hard-to-fit builds, like pugs or Frenchies, for example. Other styles, like full-body cuts or thick sweaters, offer more protection against the cold with snug fits.
- Waterproof/Water-Resistant: Waterproof or water-resistant shells aren’t a must, but if your pooch will spend time in the snow, slush, or rain, dog raincoats and other water-resistant garments can be game-changers in keeping most of your pup dry and comfortable. Being cold is unpleasant; being cold and wet can be downright dangerous.
- Ease of wear: Not every coat is easy to slip on or off. Some may slide over the head, while others may require your dog to step into it, similar to a harness. They can also include zippers, buttons, or other fasteners. These closures can ensure a snug fit, but they can also be tricky to wrangle and be tempting for chew-happy canines.
- Leash/Collar/Harness Access: Some small dog sweaters and coats feature precut holes that allow you to easily access your pup’s collar or harness for attaching his leash. These aren’t always a must, but if you walk your dog frequently, they are super convenient. Other coats feature built-in rings, which essentially allow them to double as small dog harnesses, eliminating the need entirely.
- Color: The sky’s the limit here, but bright colors are great for spotting your pooch easily in the snow. On the flip side, darker colors are ideal for hiding dirt and absorbing the sun’s rays. You can also take your pooch’s fur shade into account to select which works best for him. For example, a lemon-colored beagle will fare better with a lighter color since the hair he sheds will be less noticeable than on a black sweater.
- Reflective: Reflective designs are excellent if you spend a lot of time walking your dog in low-light conditions, such as early morning or at night.
- Reversible: While it isn’t a must, a reversible design can lengthen the lifespan of your pup’s coat. Not only can you switch up Fido’s fashion in a flash, but you can also still get some wear out of it if one side fades, stains, or frays.
- Level of Insulation: Not every dog needs a thick layer of stuffing to stay warm. Some may overheat from too much padding, such as fluffier dog breeds who may be comfy in pretty low temperatures, but still need a layer of protection from wet snow. Others, like short-coated Chihuahuas may need more insulation in colder climates.
- Easy to Wash: Like any other canine garment, you’ll need to wash your woofer’s coat regularly. So, pay close attention to the care instructions of prospective coats. Machine washable pieces are the easiest to maintain. Others may require hand-washing, which can be time-consuming.
- Durability: To get the most bang for your buck, you want a coat that is well made. Check the craftsmanship of the coat, particularly the stitching and quality of the fasteners, like buttons. Nothing’s worse than something that falls apart after a wear or two.
The Best Coats for Small Dogs
Now that you understand the importance of coats for canines and some of the things to consider when shopping, we can share a few of our favorites. Check ‘em out!
1. Kurgo Loft Jacket
Kurgo Loft Jacket
Stylish, lightweight, reversible, & water-resistant
About: The Kurgo Loft Jacket is a lightweight, versatile garment that protects your pooch from the cold without impacting your pup’s fun by weighing him down. Made with a water-resistant nylon material, it’s a great pick for hiking adventures.
Although it probably isn’t the best option for dogs running through thick brush, this is a great choice for owners seeking a coat that satisfies almost every major criteria.
- Can be worn over your pup’s harness with a convenient zipper feature for easy collar/harness access
- Reversible design allows you to to change things up if needed
- Machine washable on a gentle setting
- Reflective trim for improved visibility
Options: Available in eight colors and five sizes, ranging from X-Small to X-Large.
This jacket has just about everything you could want, including an armless design that won’t impede your pup’s movement. The lightweight nature is also a major bonus for small dogs that can be easily overwhelmed by heavy fabric.
This doesn’t provide any limb coverage, which can be a problem if you have a lankier small breed who may need some insulation on his legs. Also, this material isn’t suited for walks through brush, as it can tear.
2. Lovelonglong 4-Legged Raincoat
About: Lovelonglong’s 4-Legged Raincoat has your pup covered from head to toe—literally! With full-length sleeves, this waterproof rain coat insulates your pup from the elements with ease.
On its own, this coat may not be warm enough for canines living in especially cold climates. However, it’ll work well for thick-coated canines who need to stay dry and owners who fit their dog with an insulating base layer (such as the Kurgo Base Layer, discussed below).
- Made with waterproof polyester
- Pre-cut hole makes it easy to hook a leash to your pup’s collar or harness
- Hooded design can keep your pup’s head dry
- Comfortable fit with an adjustable belt and collar
Options: Available in 16 sizes from X-Small to X-Large, including various special fits, like beefy for bulldogs. There are four two-tone colors to choose from.
We love that this coat is not only waterproof, but very lightweight and form-fitting too. This is always a win for active dogs who also need protection from the elements. Additionally, the 30-day money-back guarantee gives this coat a paw up on the competition, since it’s always nice to see a company putting their money where their muzzle is.
There’s no bones about it: Sleeves aren’t every dog’s favorite. The hood isn’t usable for (or liked by) every pooch, either. Some feel the coat runs small, and the lack of insulation might be a problem in extreme cold.
3. Kuoser Cozy Winter Coat
Kuoser Cozy Winter Coat
Affordable, reversible coat with Velcro fasteners
About: The Kouser Cozy Winter Coat protects your doggo from the cold without busting your budget — and it does so while being pretty stylish too. Featuring a full-body fit, this coat keeps your pupper warm from shoulder to tail while his legs remain free for fun and adventure.
Because it’s so affordable, you’ll have to forego some of the durability and fancy features more expensive coats provide. However, this coat will get the job done without costing you an arm and a leg.
- Made from polyester fabric and water-resistant on one side
- Reversible style features a solid color design and a playful plaid
- Fastens with Velcro for quick dressing and removal
- Easy access to your pup’s leash hookup through the pre-cut slot
Options: This coat comes in eight color combinations and eight sizes from X-Small to 4XL.
Despite being so affordable, most owners raved about the coat’s quality. Meanwhile, the coat’s fit won over pups and their parents, as it fit well and allowed dogs to move their arms about freely. It also appears to allow doggos to answer nature’s call without issue.
Pups with large chests or shoulders like bulldogs may struggle to find a good fit with this coat. A few owners felt that the quality deteriorated after washing, so pay close attention to the care instructions. Also, note that many owners reported that it runs small.
4. Hurrta Summit Parka
Hurrta Summit Parka
Durable, water-resistant jacket with reflective trim
About: Hurrta’s Summit Parka is a hiking hound’s best friend. Made with a no-fuss design that’s easy to slip on and off, it lets your doggo run and romp as he pleases with no pesky restrictions.
Designed to keep your canine warm while standing up to the wear-and-tear the great outdoors can dish out, this coat is built to last. And while it would certainly work for city-dwelling canines, it may be overkill for dogs whose walks and adventures are limited to the backyard or city streets.
- Crafted with lightly lined water-resistant fabric to keep your pooch warm and dry without overheating
- Features reflective striping for better visibility at night
- Fitted by length rather than traditional sizing, making for easier shopping
- Adjustable back, collar, and waist belt lead to a better fit
Options: Offered in 13 sizes ranging by back length, from 8 inches to 35 inches. There are four color options: red, black, orange, and green camo.
This trail-ready coat’s durability and water-resistant finish get tail wags from pups and parents alike. The ease of slipping it on and off is another favorite feature, as you only need to worry about fastening the waist belt rather than fussing with Velcro patches or snaps.
By and large, owners loved this coat. However, a few felt it lacked insulation, and a handful of owners complained that it actually collected snow when their doggo was running through deep drifts..
5. Ruffwear Dog Jacket
About: The RUFFWEAR Dog Jacket is a durable pick that keeps your pooch warm in a number of settings. The outer material is sleek, avoiding the pesky snags that often happen with knitted sweaters. It’s also water-resistant to help keep your canine’s coat dry in rain or snow.
While this isn’t the warmest option of the market, thanks to its minimalist design, this is a great coat for dogs who have unusual body shapes. It’s also a good option for rough-and-tumble pups, who will quickly destroy lesser garments.
- Vest cut is ideal for hard-to-fit pooches (bulldogs, pugs, etc.)
- Water-resistant finish helps your pup stay dry
- Can be worn over your dog’s harness and allows for easy access to his harness loops
- Has reflective trim for safer walks in low-light areas
Options: Available in six sizes from XX-Small to X-Large and three colors: red, blue, and gray.
This is a top-shelf pick if your dog needs a coat for a variety of uses, including extra warmth on walks or hikes. The inner fleece lining provides enough warmth to keep him comfortable while the legless design prevents him from overheating. Also, as noted, this is a great option for pooches with unusual builds.
This jacket doesn’t have enough insulation for extreme cold (but you could always pair it with the Kurgo Base Layer, discussed below). The lack of leg coverage is also a drawback for thin-legged dogs who need it, like Italian greyhounds.
6. Gooby Padded Vest
About: Gooby’s Padded Vest is a sleeveless garment that allows your pooch to stay warm without the restriction of sleeves. Made with small dogs in mind, its proportions line up great for little guys and gals needing more warmth and the ability to potty comfortably.
In addition to just being a really warm vest specifically designed for little doggos, this vest functions like a harness too. This will make it easier to take your pup on winter walks, as you can forego a traditional harness and just use this vest instead.
- Nylon outer layer is water-resistant while the inner fleece layer provides much-needed core warmth
- Zipper closure is more secure than Velcro and has an inner guard to prevent skin pinching and other accidental zipping ouches
- Machine washable for easy cleaning
- Outer D-rings mean you can use this in lieu of a harness
Options: There are five small dog sizes, ranging from an X-Small chest to an X-Large chest. Choose from 12 colors, including black, pink, and blue.
The step-in design gets a thumb’s up from owners who find it easy to put on and take off. The built-in harness is great for avoiding too much hardware or bulk during walks, leaving the worry of fitting over your pup’s harness in the dust.
Some owners found the zipper to be problematic, which is a bummer. Washing by hand might mitigate these problems. Others found sizing to be a problem, so measure your pooch and review the size chart carefully before plopping down your credit card.
7. Xiaoyu Puppy Dog Hoodie
About: The Xiaoyu Puppy Dog Hoodie is an adorable sweatshirt that features a dog caricature on the hood. With a fuzzy fabric finish and cuffed limbs, it keeps your pup cozy and cute.
Although this coat isn’t the best option for romping around at your local park or forest, it should hold up perfectly well for short walks. It would also make a fantastic set of pajamas for little pups who need some extra warmth at night.
- Has a tail hole so your pooch can wag freely
- Provides full-body coverage
- Provides easy bathroom access for male or female dogs
- Made in China
Options: Offered in six sizes from X-Small to XX-Large and three colors: brown, gray, and rose.
The soft material is cozy, and the sweater’s design allows doggos to wear it during potty breaks without issue. It offers warmth without too much insulation, though you should keep an eye on your pooch wearing the coat around the house so he doesn’t overheat.
Sizing runs small, so you will need to size up at least one size (and likely two, according to other owners) for a comfortable fit. And while this puppy hoodie is certainly adorable, not every dog will tolerate a hood or legged design.
8. Kurgo Base Layer
About: Kurgo’s Base Layer provides much-needed warmth beneath other coats, such as water-wicking ponchos. It can also be used as a post-surgery coverall or a set of pup PJs if your pooch needs a little more coverage at night.
And even though this garment makes a great underlayer, it features a leash-access port and an open bottom area, meaning that it’ll also work for cold-weather walks and potty breaks.
- Made of a breathable polyester/spandex blend
- Zippered portions for easy access to collar or harness rings
- Snug fit and belly band can help reduce anxiety, similar to a Thundershirt
- Reflective stitching for safe wear at night
Options: Available in one heather gray/black two-tone pattern and in three sizes: small, medium, and large.
We love that this unique garment can work in a variety of scenarios. We also like that the stretchy fabric provides a comfortable, breathable fit, and the coat comes with a lifetime guarantee against manufacturing defects. It’s an excellent choice for short-coated breeds that need a little more coverage under existing coats.
This fit will be a challenge for big-chested breeds like pugs or those with short legs, like dachshunds. The high collar cut isn’t suitable for all breeds, either. We’d also like it if more color options were available.
9. RC Pet Products
About: RC Pet Products’ Dog Poncho protects your pooch against precipitation. It’s ideal for dogs needing a little extra coverage during walks without too much insulation, such as those living in the south during winter.
Additionally, because this poncho is very affordable and easy to store in a small space, it makes a great “emergency” option. Just toss it in your glove compartment or dog-gear bag and it’ll be ready when you need it.
- Constructed with water-resistant taffeta
- Velcro waistband for easy wear
- Pre-cut hole for leash or harness access
- Poncho design is non restrictive and great for hard-to-fit pooches
There are seven size options from XX-Small to XX-Large and 17 coat patterns, including rubber ducks, solid yellow, and nautical anchors.
Pups needing a little coverage during a mild winter day (think 50s to 60s) will enjoy this coat. It gives them protection but won’t lead to overheating, making it an excellent pick for long-coated cuties, like Pomeranians. We also think it’d be great to simply have on hand for emergency use.
This coat just won’t work for extreme cold as it lacks insulation. It also flips up relatively easily with wind from behind [/MarilynMonroe.jpg], and the hood isn’t always functional with every dog’s build or tolerance level.
Small Dog Coat FAQs
Canine coats might seem straightforward, but there are still plenty of questions floating around about them. Let’s tackle some of the most common ones together.
Do dogs really need jackets/sweaters/coats?
Some pups absolutely do, like small dogs, puppies, seniors, thin dogs, and breeds with short fur like pit bulls and Chihuahuas. In extreme cold, almost all breeds benefit from some form of cold-weather protection, including coats and paw booties.
How do I choose a coat for my dog?
Consider your dog’s needs. Is he going to be wearing his coat around the yard or will he be accompanying you on hikes?
A suburban backyard is more forgiving than the forest, so you likely won’t need as heavy-duty of a fabric if he’s only having yard adventures. You also want a coat that fits your climate.
For instance, a dog in Florida will need far less insulation in his coat than a pup in Maine.
Using your dog’s custom measurements, you want to find a coat that fits him comfortably and won’t rub painfully over any areas. This means playing close attention to leg holes that can chafe delicate skin in the armpits. If he is broad-shouldered, keep this in mind with cuts, as a poncho will likely be your best bet.
Another aspect is your dog’s personality. If he is squirmy, you’ll benefit from picking a coat that’s easy to put on and off, like a slip-on style. Similarly, if he’s a fan of rolling in messes, you definitely should invest in something machine washable.
How cold does it have to be before my dog needs a coat?
Most dogs are comfortable until the temperature hits about 45℉, but this varies significantly by dog.
Small dogs get cold faster, and those that are old, young, thin, or short-haired are more susceptible to the cold. Wind or precipitation will also hasten how quickly your pup gets cold.
Once the temperature hits 32℉ and below, most dogs will need a coat. Some small dogs such as Alaskan klee kais or schipperkes may fare better with their thick, double coats, but you should still monitor them for signs of being cold.
How do you get a coat that fits your dog?
You need to measure your dog’s width in several areas: his chest, neck, belly, and shoulders. You also need to note the length of his back.
Take these numbers and consult the manufacturer’s sizing charts. It’s always a good idea to consult customer reviews, too, as these often note if a product should be sized up or down.
How can my dog safely wear a coat?
In addition to selecting the proper size to avoid skin irritation, keep an eye on your dog when he wears a coat. The material can snag, trapping or potentially choking your dog.
Always monitor your coat-wearing pooch for signs of overheating, such as heavy panting or noisy breathing. If he’s showing signs, take the coat off immediately.
What time of year should small dogs start wearing a coat?
This varies by your climate and the temperature outside. In northern areas of the U.S., this can be as early as September. Other pooches might be fine year round without a coat in the south.
Consult the forecast and read the signs your pooch is showing you. Is he reluctant to head outdoors for a potty break as it gets colder? Then it might be time to purchase a coat.
If your doggo only seems to shiver or have issues inside at night, investing in a winter-weather dog bed might be an alternative, as floors can get cold during winter. Not all beds provide proper insulation against this.
Does your small dog rock a coat on the regular? Does he own any of the ones we discussed above, or does he have another he’s crazy about? Let us know in the comments!