When it comes to apparel that can benefit your favorite pup in brisk or inclement weather, you usually can’t go wrong with a well-made and comfortable dog sweater.
While large breed dogs and dogs with long hair don’t typically need sweaters to stay warm, there are many dogs that can benefit from an extra layer of insulation. Hairless or short-coated breeds lose more heat than dogs with an undercoat. A sweater can also help smaller dogs, like Chihuahuas or dachshunds, retain body heat.
Also, dogs look adorable in a sweater.
We spoke to experts and scoured the catalogs of beloved dog apparel brands to find the most exemplary sweaters for your pooch. A great dog sweater is fashionable, comfortable, fits well, and will keep your dog from shivering on cold days.
Our favorite is the Chilly Dog Hand Knit Wool Boyfriend Dog Sweater, which is 100 percent fair trade wool and comes in a wide range of sizes, suitable for any dog. However, there are a lot of other excellent sweaters out there, which may help your dog look even more like a miniature professor or tiny crab boat captain.
Chilly Dog Boyfriend Dog Sweater
100% organic, including vegetable dyes
Fair Trade sourcing
Warm and breathable
Suitable for dogs of all sizes
Only one design option
Philadelphia-based pet apparel brand Chilly Dog is an excellent go-to brand for dog sweaters, sweatshirts, and pullovers. Sweaters are the center of its product line; its owners began the business with the primary goal of manufacturing ethically made sweaters with a fair price tag. For 10 years, all of Chilly Dog’s wool sweaters have been hand-knit by highly skilled and fairly compensated artisans in the Northern highlands of South America. The wool used is 100 percent organic and uses natural dyes, with sourcing that embraces Fair Trade guidelines.
While there are numerous attractive wool sweater designs from Chilly Dog, the Boyfriend Sweater has a versatile design that will look great on any dog. It is only available in one color and pattern, but the look couldn’t be more classic, with white and red stripes on the rear, a classic gray and brown body, and V-neck cut.
Outside of its stylishness and ethical manufacturing, we also selected the Boyfriend Sweater because of its durability. The high-quality materials provide a lot of value, and this sweater is designed to be a doggy wardrobe staple for years. It is also easy to slip over your dog’s head without discomfort and can be paired with a leash or harness.
Another perk of the Boyfriend is that, unlike many pet sweater products, it comes in a wide range of fits that have been proven to comfortably fit dogs of a variety of breeds and sizes. The sweater runs long, and there is adequate give in the materials to fit dogs with various more substantial physiques, all the way up to oversize pit bulls, boxers, and more. The Boyfriend Sweater and the Chilly Dog brand generally stand out in a crowded market of dog sweater options thanks to their accessible prices, top-notch and classic materials, and their ethical manufacturing practices and sustainability.
The Chilly Dog Hand Knit Wool Boyfriend Sweater is machine washable.
Price at time of publish: $28
Sizes: XX small, X small, small, medium, large, X large, XX large, 3X large | Materials: 100% wool | Color: Gray, white, red
Jecikelon Knitwear Dog Sweater
Soft and comfortable
Many color options
Stretchy enough for cozy fitting
Will only fit small dogs
Not machine washable
Jecikelon’s Dog Sweater is available in a whopping 12 different colors, so given its super-low cost, there’s plenty of incentive for you to invest in more than one for different occasions and moods. But perhaps the most important aspect of Jecikelon’s sweater is its super-soft “woolen” acrylic fabric, which has the right amount of stretch to fit any dog. Providing generous body coverage, the sweater’s fleece lining is warm without feeling suffocating.
The main drawback to this exceptionally cost-effective item is that it’s not a fit for larger pups. The largest size for this sweater is 15 inches long, so it’s not suitable for larger breeds.
Price at time of publish: $10
Sizes: XX small, X small, small, medium, large, X large | Materials: Acrylic | Colors: Brown, dark blue, green, gray, khaki, light blue, navy blue, pink, purple, red, rose red, wine red
Canada Pooch Soho Sweater
Attractive turtleneck design
Comfortable stretch fit
Wide range of available sizes
Easy to put on
Limited availability in smaller sizes
This cozy sweater from the dog apparel experts at Canada Pooch has an attractive turtleneck cut and is made from space dyed yarn, which creates a unique multi-color pattern. It’s made from polyester chenille yarn, which is extra fuzzy and stretchy enough to don easily. The Soho Sweater has sizes ranging from 8 to 28, making it a great choice for dogs of most breeds and sizes (though we’ve found that a handful of sizes are often out of stock).
The loose fit has its upsides, including the ability to fit over a harness or work easily with other clothing items or dog accessories. It’s also easy to get on a reluctant dog. But this also makes it a little less insulating, and wouldn’t be the best pick in windy conditions.
The Soho Sweater can be turned inside out and machine washed on a cold water gentle cycle, then air dried.
Price at time of publish: $60 (Size 18)
Sizes: 8-28 | Materials: Polyester yarn | Colors: Navy mix, magenta
Chilly Dogs Fleece Sweater
Soft and breathable
Non-absorbent and quick to dry
Effective against harsh weather
Layers easily under jackets and other protective wear
Comprehensive sizing options
Plastic buckle makes washing a little trickier
Canadian dog sweater manufacturer Chilly Dogs isn’t the same as Chilly Dog (maker of our Best Overall pick), and their excellent fleece sweater fulfills a very different purpose. The Chilly Dogs Fleece Sweater stands out because of its commitment to a snug fit, ensuring your dog gets the maximum insulation out of its polar fleece—a soft-napped and highly insulating fabrice made from polyester. Fleece is non-absorbent and dries quickly, making this a good pick for snow days.
There’s no need to fit the Chilly Dogs sweater over your dog’s head. Instead, the fleece includes a wrap around fleece strap that feeds through a belt loop and closes with a plastic snap buckle. The fit is designed to adhere closely to your dog’s skin, which is why Chilly Dogs offers a whopping 22 different sizes, including sizes tailored to “Long & Lean” and “Broad & Burly” dogs. They even have an online tool that helps you get the size just right.
As a more technical piece of equipment than most dog sweaters—designed for outdoor and winter adventure use—the Fleece Sweater pairs well with dog jackets or rain shells, making it exceptionally useful for layering. It also comes in a wide range of colors. It’s even machine washable, on a cold water, gentle cycle.
Price at time of publish: $40-$75 (depending on size)
Sizes: Standard 10-36, long & lean 18-30, broad & burly 13-28 | Materials: Polar fleece, plastic snap buckle | Colors: Arctic blue, red, blue jay, black, raspberry, imperial purple, blaze orange, navy
Best for Small Dogs
Pendleton Pet Classics Dog Sweater
Classic and distinctive look
Tick and well-insulated
Made in the United States
Most retailers only offer sizes for small dogs
The time-tested Pendleton sweater design is a classic for a reason (one of their patterns inspired The Dude’s look in The Big Lebowski), with timeless patterns. Its acrylic knit is soft and insulating, with a pullover design. It’s also machine washable.
Price at time of publish: $32
Sizes: X small, small, medium, large, X large | Materials: Acrylic knit | Colors: Westerley pattern
Lingua Franca Cashmere Dog Sweater
Made from sustainably sourced, ethically produced cashmere
Can be customized with embroidery of your choice
Available in five colors: Peony, Red, Navy, Smoke, Black
Sewn-in opening for d-ring connection to leash
Hand wash and hang to dry
More expensive than other dog sweaters on our list but cashmere can be mended
The Lingua Franca Cashmere Dog Sweater will keep your dog warm for many winters to come. It's made of sustainably sourced cashmere and available in five colors, peony, red, navy, smoke, and black. It has a high neck that can be folded down and a sewn-in opening at the nape to allow for a leash to be attached to a collar or harness. The belly is cut high to keep your furry friend clean and the armholes allow for unrestricted movement.
Female-founded NYC-based Lingua Franca is best known for their hand-embroidered cashmere sweaters often worn by well-known, dog-loving humans in the spotlight, like actress Connie Britton and weatherman Al Roker. This sweater for canines is available without or with embroidery. You can select from phrases like "In Dog We Trust" or you can have the wording of your choice, like your dog's nickname, added in their signature cursive lettering.
It's available in a wide range of sizes and can easily be washed by hand.
Price at time of publish: $150
Sizes: X small, small, medium, large, X large, XX large | Materials: Cashmere | Colors: Peony, red, navy, smoke, black
Gooby Fleece Vest
Leash attachment removes the need for harness
Available in lots of colors
Sizing runs small
The Gooby Fleece Vest is a sleeveless pullover-style sweater with a high neck. The soft polyester top offers a little bit of stretch and features a built-in leash attachment between the shoulders. The lightweight D-ring is reinforced with stitching and designed to be used in place of a harness for walks. The fleece comes in a variety of colors and five sizes.
This machine-washable style runs small so we recommend the fleece-harness combo for very small to medium-sized dogs. It will also work well for small dogs with short arms and long torsos, like Daushaunds.
Price at time of publish: $18 (large)
Sizes: X small, small, medium, large, X large | Materials: Polyester | Colors: Red, Pink, Blue, Navy, Green, Gray, Lavender, Brown, Fuchsia, Clay, Deep Blue, Honey Mustard, Lime, Peach, Pumpkin, Turquoize, Black
The Chilly Dog Boyfriend Sweater is our favorite, because it combines eco-friendly wool with a wide range of sizes and a classic look. If you’re looking for a sweater for outdoor adventuring, check out the Chilly Dog’s Fleece Sweater instead, which offers an exceptional fit and the insulating power of polar fleece.
What to Look for in Dog Sweaters
Dog Sweaters tend to come in four different fabrics, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
- Polyester: This synthetic fabric comes in a wide variety of forms, but they share in common durability, water resistance, and breathability.
- Acrylic: Similar to polyester, acrylic is derived from petroleum and can come in a variety of styles, but is best known for its warmth. Acrylic dog sweaters will generally insulate better than polyester but will be less breathable. Acrylic also tends to be less durable. However, it’s often stretchier, for more accommodating sizing.
- Fleece: Fleece is a particular type of polyester fabric that has exceptional insulating properties. Combined with its water resistance and breathability, fleece is often used in outdoor apparel.
- Wool: Wool is derived from sheep, which can make it a more eco-friendly pick (though it depends on sourcing).
In order to determine which size of sweater is best for your dog, start by measuring their neck, chest, waist, and body length, respectively. Knowing arm and shoulder width are also helpful for certain items. If you are the owner of a growing dog, it may be prudent to take into account what size your dog will likely grow into in the near future before making a purchase.
As with human clothes, dog apparel can run a little below or above what the size chart indicates. Also, many machine-washable products can shrink when washed. Look for products made of soft and comfortable materials that also have a little natural stretch or elasticity built in. If you need to tighten the fit, products that have buttons that can be adjusted once the garment is already on is much better for not upsetting your pup when dressing them.
Certain dog breeds can benefit from sweaters more than others. Consider whether your pup falls into the “need” category or whether you’re dressing them up more for cosmetic reasons. Breeds with short or no fur are one of the major target groups for sweaters and other overwear, since they struggle to generate and retain body heat. These breeds include American hairless terriers, Chinese crested dogs, and Mexican hairless dogs, among others. Chihuahuas, dachshunds, and other small breeds are also targets for well-insulated sweaters, along with low-rider dogs and thin and muscular pup breeds.
With larger dogs or dogs with thicker coats, make sure you don’t invest in sweaters that are too heavy or not sufficiently breathable. Failure to choose a comfortable and sufficiently thin sweater can result in overheating if the garment is a poor fit for the dog’s natural constitution.
Machine washable products are common in the dog sweater world, and vastly preferable for ease and comprehensiveness of cleaning. We don’t need to tell you, as dog owners, this, but pups get dirty and smelly, and having the power of a washing machine to counteract this is important. Garments that are hand washable can be acceptable, and there are many high-quality products that require it. Consider what cleaning method is most convenient for you, the owner, before investing in a sweater. Remember that if machine-washing or other methods aren’t fully tackling odor issues, a long baking soda and cold-water soak can be an effective next step.
Do dogs need sweaters?
As noted above, certain breeds of dog can directly benefit from wearing sweaters, including hairless or short-coated breeds, as well as small dogs. There are also dogs with explicit health problems for which a sweater can be an important protective tool, such as dogs who are particularly at risk for hypothermia, dogs with arthritis, and older dogs with compromised immune systems.
How do you wash dog sweaters?
The answer to the question depends on the product, which will have individual instructions for washing and drying. Most of the highest-quality dog sweaters available are machine washable, with air drying encouraged to prevent shrinkage. For dirty sweaters covered in your dog’s hair for smaller dogs, it can be helpful to encourage them in a mesh bag to prevent damage to the garment and hair from spreading around the washing machine. For more information about washing techniques for dog garments, accessories and bedding, read our handy guide here.
Why Trust The Spruce Pets?
This article was written by Winston Cook-Wilson, a freelance writer and reporter for The Spruce Pets. For this article, he researched a wide range of dog sweater favorites, looking for eco-conscious textiles, warmth, and accurate sizing. His picks reflect not only choices made off-the-beaten path, but also tried-and-true favorites.