Expert Tips for Finding Coats to Fit Your Dog

Photo courtesy of Cool Blue Dog Apparel

Cold winter weather means you've probably got your winter coat out and ready for action. But what about your dog?

Not all dogs require coats for chilly temperatures, but for those who do need the extra warmth, finding the right fit can be a real challenge, especially when it comes to hard-to-fit breeds with large chests (like Bulldogs and Pugs). To get the scoop on how to find warm winter gear for these dogs, we turned to an expert: Angela Cuce, who, along with her husband, launched Cool Blue Dog Apparel, a company specializing in clothes for broad-chested breeds.

Q: What part of a dog is the most difficult to accommodate?

A: Angela Cuce, Cool Blue Dog Apparel: "By far, the chest (girth measurement)! That’s the main reason many dog manufacturers make jackets that close under the neck and under the belly, leaving the chest exposed. Meanwhile, it’s the chest and underbelly that require the most coverage in cold, wet weather. Most dogs’ coats are very sparse on the underbelly. That is also the body part closest to the cold, icy ground."

Photo courtesy of Cool Blue Dog Apparel
Angela Cuce and her husband, Jair, pose with Bruiser the Bulldog.

Q: What are the common problems arising from a poor fit?

A: "When shopping for dog clothes, most manufacturers’ size charts guide the shopper by weight and length. That’s fine if you have a dog with 'perfect' proportions, but how many of us do? ... [A] 32-inch chest would equate to a length of about 22 to 23 inches, sometimes more. My dog, Bruiser, a 60-pound English Bulldog, is 16 inches long!

"Owners of Dachshunds have similar issues with length. Their weight and length are relatively disproportionate. Many owners of these dogs find a fit in the neck and chest, but as much as half of the dog’s body can be exposed as the coat is too short.

"Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, just like people. There needs to be more selection in the market."

Q: What's the solution? Should people go up a size, or is that a problem in and of itself?

A: "Sometimes you can work around the issue. If you need to go up a size to accommodate a larger neck or chest, you may need to alter the length. It becomes more difficult, if the body of the garment overall is too big, to accommodate length. If you know how to sew, that’s great. We once spent $45 to hem a sweater for Bruiser that already cost $100! It can get expensive.

"One of [our solutions] is the use of a 'belly belt.' On the underside of our jackets and raincoats, we have a belt with Velcro that helps to cinch the garment for a more snug fit, if your dog has a smaller waistline, or leave it looser if the dog has a fuller figure. After all, you want the coat to fit underneath to keep out cold, wind and water.

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