The Ultimate Fall/Winter Fashion Guide to Dressing Your Dog

Once upon a time in America, people thought the idea of a dog wearing clothes a funny one. At that time, families with a dog usually let it run loose if they lived in the country, or tied to a tree in the backyard in the suburbs. City people typically had fewer dogs overall. It was a fortunate pup indeed that had a doghouse filled with straw in which to keep warm in winter. Dogs that wore clothes belonged to movie stars and lived in exotic, far-away places pictured in the pages of glossy magazines. 

Not Your Grandmother’s Canine Clothing

The needs of the average pet have changed greatly over the past few decades. What they need today may bear little resemblance to what they may have needed in the past. Most dogs today have almost as many options for clothing and toys as do children. Today’s aware dog owners want the purchases they make for their pets to be responsible ones. Consider the following points when considering your dog’s next wardrobe.

Many Clothing Options for Dogs Exist

It’s been a few decades, and attitudes towards pets have changed radically. Today’s dogs are bonafide members of the family, with rights under the law. People who once might have had children have opted out of parenthood and consider themselves dog parents, instead.  As a result, retail pet sales have exploded into a $70 billion marketplace that continues to increase each year. Parents of pups today fortunately have a number of different options when it comes to clothing their pets. Indeed, they’re currently able to ponder their dogs’ upcoming fashion needs in a number of ways that include both retail and online shopping experiences. 

Like People, Dogs Require Clothing in Polite Society

When humans join together in polite society, otherwise known as the public, it is generally expected that they will clothe their bodies for the sake of human decency. Dogs don’t care much for decency, but they do need to wear clothes in public for different reasons. Dogs that socialize in public need clothing that not only helps them regulate their body temperature, but which also identifies their purpose. Take the average short-haired dog of unknown parentage. In the past this dog required a well-fitted collar and a healthy layer of fat to help it withstand the rigors of an unheated doghouse. That same dog today is as likely as not a contributing member of society with vastly different apparel requirements.

More Dog Breeds Means More Dog Needs

In 1920 the American Kennel Club recognized just 74 different breeds of dog. By 2018, that number had climbed to 211, a number likely to end up going higher still. Not only does each breed look different from the others, but they have unique strengths and weaknesses. Wise dog owners consider their dogs’ unique needs when making clothing choices. Most choices are an attempt to increase the dog’s comfort in some way. The choices for each dog’s clothing must be based not only upon his physical needs and activities, but they also must be suitably sized, which means you must take your dog’s measurements in order to get the correct size. Measurements commonly requested include the dog’s neck, girth, and length.

Each Season Requires Different Clothing Choices

Nearly all short-haired dogs appreciate having a cozy, protective barrier between them and the cold wind gusts of winter. Heavily coated breeds need clothing too, but of a different type. A heavily coated and dark-colored breed, for example, that works or plays out in the hot sun is far more likely to benefit from a reflective cooling jacket in the summer than a sweater in the winter. Yet any dog that walks outside in the snow is apt to profit greatly from a well-fitted set of doggie boots to protect him from the balls of ice that otherwise will form between the pads of his feet. Likewise, every dog benefits from being outfitted with adequate rain protection.

Canine Health Care Concerns May Influence Clothing Choices

Every dog has its own health care concerns. Some of these can be influenced by the positive with clothing choices. For example, dogs with white paws are often affected by a fungus when walking in wet grass. Contact with the wet grass is easily avoided with simple, slip-on shoes. Elderly dogs sometimes have a more difficult time maintaining body warmth, and they are well-served in the cold weather months with the addition of a sweater or wearable rug. Dogs that mark, that are in season, or that are incontinent often require belly bands or panties to protect one’s home’s rugs and furnishings.

Fashion Follows Form and Function

The dog in view may be a therapy dog that visits the forgotten elderly in nursing homes, one that requires boots to keep his foot pads safe from accidentally stepping on contaminated or sharp items. He could be a police tracking dog, one in need of the ability to work even in heavy rain. He may be a reading therapy dog that visits schools where struggling readers compete for the opportunity to read him a story. These dogs have credentials to display. He could be a highly regarded agility competitor, one that time and again has proven to perform at a higher level when given the opportunity to wear warm-up wear prior to the competition. 

Clothing Communicates Purpose

Does your dog’s purpose need to be defined for the public? In addition to providing functionality and warmth, canine clothing helps to identify the animal’s purpose in the world, and can even inform the public not to approach. Trained assistance dogs, wear clothing for various reasons, one of the most important of which is identification. Canine clothing today identifies and communicates much about both a dog’s form and his function. Assistance dogs are not always required to wear identifying clothing, but doing so generally makes the life of their owners far easier. 

How Long is Your Dog Outside Each Day?

Artificially heated and cooled home interiors have assured the ability of both people and pets to live wherever they wish without having to consider the outside temperatures overly much. However, people and pets vary considerably in the amount of time they spend outside, and those that are apt to spend larger amounts of time outside may need special consideration depending upon temperature extremes at the time and the length of time they are to be outside. Dogs apt to be affected by current weather conditions should be appropriately clothed when they go outside.

Canine Clothing Essentials for Every Breed

The modern dog, while just as loving as his ancestors, is definitely a more sophisticated version of his pioneer pup counterparts. He goes to school, has hobbies, and may be on a team. He’s without a doubt been more places, knows more words, and likely has had far more experiences than did the average dog in the past. Therefore, clothing essentials for canines include not only the common-sense items they need for cold-weather temperature regulation, such as winter coats, sweaters, and blankets, but also the cooling and reflective items of clothing that protect dogs that work and play in the heat of the sun. In addition, all dogs need access to properly fitted rainwear that includes a hood, as well as doggy sunglasses to protect their eyes from insects, dust, and ultra-violet light. 

Think for Your Dog

Dogs live in the moment, love unconditionally, and offer unconditional acceptance all the time. That’s a life purpose that all dogs share. People are the thinking, planning, goal-oriented members of their respective canine-human teams. As such, it is up to dog owners to think through various circumstances and situations and to develop innovative ways and means to get their dogs’ needs met. An overly rambunctious young adult might make a far better hiking companion if he were able to help carry the load in your backpack. 

Does the Dog’s Native Habitat Match the One Where He Lives?

International travel has altered the face of the earth to the point that species no longer match their native locations. Today, nearly any species can be found in nearly any location. This adds to the interest and diversity of the world, but it presents special problems for dogs who are native to one climate and end up relocating to another. Therefore, if you live where it is cold much of the year and own a dog that originated in the desert, you might want to consider special clothing to help keep canine companion warm. 

Dogs Have Always Needed Clothes

Sure, there have always been exceptions – the cute little Weiner dog whose owner managed to outfit him with a body-warming outfit made from an embroidered athletic sock. However, some people wrongly assume that because dogs have fur covering their bodies that they don’t need a source of additional warmth. This is an illogical assumption, as pets frequently do need additional warmth, despite their fur, just as humans with hair need hats in winter. Dogs have differing clothing needs that depend both upon their physical characteristics and the jobs they perform.

Today, many dog experts are of the opinion that dogs have always needed clothing, but in previous generations, they simply did without, largely because of human ignorance. Dogs are such great companions largely for their lack of complaint, and because of their loving, nonjudgmental acceptance of whatever it is we offer them in terms of food, shelter, love, and affection. Here’s your chance to show your dog your love in return by properly evaluating and supplying his clothing needs.