Some "warm-weather" dogs just aren't suited to colder climates, and for many of these breeds, outerwear is essential when the bitter chill of winter sets in and your buddy starts to dread his evening walk. A sweater can keep him warm, but it's important to make sure it fits properly so he can enjoy the winter wonderland in both comfort and style.
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Save some time and take a few measurements before you take your pup shopping. Using a measuring tape, have him stand straight and measure from the base of his neck (where the shoulder blades start) to the base of his tail. Once you have his body length measurement, measure around the widest part of his chest for the girth measurement. Lastly, loosely measure around the largest part of his neck. Jot down his length, chest and neck measurements and take them with you when you shop.
The absolute best way to ensure proper fit is to bring your dog with you to try on sweaters; many pet stores allow him to try before you buy. Use his measurements and the size chart on the packaging as a guide. While you slip him in, take note to make sure the sweater fits easily over his head and neck. Check that the leg openings don't constrict him in any way. You want your buddy's sweater to be snug but not tight, and leave his lower belly free to allow for easy urination. Finally, watch him walk around in his new sweater to make sure it doesn't hang, drag or otherwise impede his movements.
Some sweaters are cape style with open bellies, while others fully encompass your buddy's torso. While all breeds can benefit from warm tummies, smaller breeds that are lower to the ground, such as yorkies and dachshunds, especially need full sweaters that cover and protect their bellies from rubbing on the frozen ground. Consider turtleneck styles for greyhounds and borzois, lest their elongated necks get left out in the cold.
Material is important in terms of comfort, fit and care. Wool is toasty but can be itchy and uncomfortable. A washable wool blend, cotton and acrylic are some of the best bets for canine sweaters. Keep in mind most material will stretch over time, so it's important to find a sweater in a washable material; no dry-clean-only cowichans for this pooch.
Some breeds, despite all your careful measuring and try on sessions, just have a difficult time fitting into universal sizes. Alterations may be necessary to ensure a comfortable fit. The bulldog, for example, has a wider neck that makes sizing tough. If you're crafty, consider fitting the sweater to the rest of his body and making a simple snip cut to the front to allow for a better fit. A V-neck sweater is a dapper addition to any bulldog's winter wardrobe.
By Christina Stephens
About the Author
Christina Stephens is a writer from Portland, Ore. whose main areas of focus are pets and animals, travel and literature. A veterinary assistant, she taught English in South Korea and holds a BA in English with cum laude honors from Portland State University.