It’s FREEZING in Maine this week. The only people walking around these days are the dog walkers and the postal carriers. Half the dogs I walk are disgusted by this weather and demand to be taken inside right away, the other half are oblivious to the cold, no matter how many times I tell them that I can’t feel my legs anymore.
Since it’s 5 degrees out, I figured this might be a good time to talk dog coats. If you have dogs that are shaped like triangles, like I do, it can be hard to find coats that fit them. Both of my dogs are very broad in the chest but have narrow waists and I had to try a million coats before I found ones that were big enough up front, without being super long and huge all over.
In Birdie’s case, she’s got so much junk in the front that she has a tendency to bust her coats open at the chest. So she starts off fine, but then she takes one breath and the front strap explodes open. Next thing you know, she’s running around with her coat “unzipped”, trailing from around her waist, like some sort of streaker. It’s embarrassing.
So, if you have a top-heavy public exhibitionist of your own, there are a few brands that I’ve found worked well for my dogs. Of course, they might not fit your pups. That’s the thing about dog coats: usually your dogs have to try a few until they find the right one. And there’s no universal sizing system. If you’re in the market for a coat, I recommend visiting a pet store that offers a range of brands to try on. If your dog can’t handle doing a fashion show in a pet store, buy a bunch to take home and then return the ones that didn’t fit (let the store know what you’re up to and find out if they have a good return policy first!). Same goes with ordering online: buy a couple of sizes/styles and return what doesn’t work.
Here are the coats that I like for my dogs (for reference, Boogie is 50 pounds with a very narrow waist and Birdie is 40 pounds and shaped like a hot potato.)
Chilly Dog Sweaters: I know a lot of dogs with big chests that really rock these affordable sweaters. In fact, they’re a wardrobe staple among those of us with bull dogs (any kind of bull). They almost always run long, covering their tushies a bit, but the sweaters stretch and fit their chests really nicely. Plus they have adorable designs, like this monkey. The sweaters run small: so usually you need to go up a size larger than normal for the right fit. I think Boogie is an XL or XXL.
Teckelklub Trench Coats: This was the first coat I found that could contain Birdie’s bust line with ease. No Velcro busting to be found with this baby. Both of my dogs have the fleece-lined Trench style coats. On really cold days, Boogie will wear his Chilly Dog sweater underneath and this coat on top. But most of the time, the coat alone does the trick for him when he’s out making sweet love to his big red ball in the snow. Boogie is a size 6, Birdie is a size 5 in this coat.
Apache River Dog Coats: The next time I have to buy a coat for a dog, this is what I’m going to get. I used to work in a pet store that sold Apache River and on the coldest days these simple coats would fly off the shelves. Made by folks who also make horse blankets, these fully lined fleece coats are very warm and they fit dogs so well. I highly recommend them for any shaped dog. Like sweaters, they slip over the head, so there’s no Velcro strap across their chest to bust open. And the extra coverage up front is good for cold climates where every exposed inch counts. There’s a ton of stretch in these snug coats (think Spanx for dogs), so what fits in the front, will also fit in the waist. Plus, they make x-long versions for wiener dogs. What up!
There are tons of other options out there: Ruff Wear, LL Bean, RC Pets…but if you’re looking for coats that fit dogs with junk up front, those are my top 3 picks. Oh, and here’s one more, just for fun:
We won this cheap-ish dog coat in a raffle years ago. It fits Birdie perfectly and she’s taking a nap in it right now. She told me the faux sheepskin shearling coat makes her feel rugged – like a rancher or a cowboy. Hey, as long as Birdie isn’t flashing anyone, it works for me.
Do you have an odd ball dog that doesn’t fit into regular stuff? Tell me about your favorite coats and sweaters in the comments section!
2014 update: My friends at Fit For a Pit carry an amazing collection of dog coats and clothes that fit pit bulls and other chesty dogs. I love their products so much that, yes, this is an affiliate link.