dog coats

Dog coats, explained. Don’t they have coats?

dog coats

Do dogs need dog coats?

You might wonder about whether dog coats are necessary for your dogs. You’ve probably seen the cute little pampered pooches with their fancy clothes on YouTube or Instagram, right? Their outfits look pretty, but not very functional. And sometimes they’re downright frivolous.

But did you know there is another side to the whole dog coat thing? As any dog owner knows, dogs have their own fur, with only a few exceptions. They certainly shed enough. However, sometimes the coat they were born with isn’t enough for their living conditions.

History of dogs and people

Centuries ago, when early dog relatives were in the wild, they were suited for the environment they lived in. If they were near the equator, they didn’t need thick coats and so didn’t have them. Likewise, if they lived nearer to the poles, insulation would help them survive, so they had nice thick coats. Their own dog coats were well suited to their homes.

Then they started hanging around people. People decided dogs could help them with their work, so they started “developing” dogs for those various jobs by selective breeding; choosing parents specifically to pass on the traits that were desirable. The more dogs were bred selectively, the less they resembled their ancestors.

The result has been that, while dogs are generally very skilled at their assigned jobs, they aren’t really suited to live in the wild. They might have traits from their ancestors that lived in the tropics while actually living in the northern reaches, or vice versa. For that reason, they need us to help them by providing gear that helps them exist comfortably in the places we have them living.

Why your dog needs a coat?

Not all dogs need a coat. Some of them are very comfortable just as they are based on where they live. For example, a Newfoundland that lives in Canada has the perfect coat for staying warm in those bitter winters. Likewise, a whippet with its very lean build and smooth coat is suited for the deserts it is from. Try moving a whippet to Minnesota and see how that works.

But how about your dog? How can you tell if your dog is comfortable? Just observation and common sense will tell you a lot. Dogs feel cold like we do. Ways you can tell that you need to buy a dog coat:

  • Your dog is shivering
  • They don’t want to go outside
  • Your dog may be all huddled up or curled up, trying to stay warm
  • Natural coat is smooth
  • Their build is lean, with little fat
  • Temperatures are cool enough that you feel chilly or even cold, meaning they will.

If you’re seeing any of these, it’s time to consider a dog coat.

Finding the right dog coat

Fortunately, many people have noticed that dogs need help staying warm sometimes and have designed coats to help them. And the choices are almost limitless. Big stores like Walmart, pet specialty stores like Petco and smaller boutique stores all carry versions of dog coats. You can even get them custom made for your dog or make your own if you’re handy.

No one option is always best. To get the best coat for your dog, consider

  • Does your dog need to stay warm, dry, or both?
  • Is your dog going to spend long periods of time outside or just go for potty breaks?
  • What activities is your dog going to perform in that coat?
  • Does your dog have special health needs or are they elderly?

Once you’ve figured out what specific needs that new dog coat should fulfill, you can search for an option that’s suitable. The main point is that, if your dog has need of a dog coat, they’ll be much more comfortable if you get them one.

Your dog might also need help staying cool in the heat. Read Get a Cool Coat! to find out more.

You can find out more about pets and giving them a better life.

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