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Dog Coats - Finding the Perfect Fit

Dog Coats - Finding the Perfect Fit

If you haven’t noticed already, it’s getting chilly again… It’s that time of year when bundling up becomes essential for some pups.  However, finding a coat that fits your pup can be a challenging affair.  Especially if your pet doesn’t fit into that “one size fits all” category of dog coat.  It’s extremely important to choose the correct-sized coat for your dog.  The majority of coats and sweaters are measured based on the back length of your pup.  Unfortunately, though, this isn’t the only dimension that matters.  Dogs come in so many different shapes and sizes & finding the right fit can be next to impossible when all you know is the back length.  That’s why we recommend heading in-store so that you can try on your pet’s coat before purchasing.  

When considering what size to get, there are a few key places to check.  First, check your pup’s chest.  A lot of sweaters have not taken into account deep-chested breeds. If the sweater is starting to stretch, or you can’t get 2 fingers between the chest and the sweater, you may need a bigger size.  Certain brands, such as Canada Pooch, offer “Plus” sizes which have a deeper chest and belly.  If you can’t find the right chest fit for your pet, consider trying a “plus” size.  It’s also important to ensure that the coat or sweater is not too loose on your pup’s chest.  If the sweater is too loose, your pup will lose precious body heat.  Plus it might dangle on the ground or get caught in their legs.  A perfect-sized coat will sit against your pet’s chest, but allow you to comfortably put two fingers in between the chest and coat.

A great sweater option that includes plus sizing is the Canada Pooch Cool Factor Hoodie

Next, you should look at your dog's legs.  When a coat stretches too much, the first movement lost is the front legs.  With sizing that’s too small your pet will not be able to walk properly and could start “hobbling” around. Long-term use of a sweater that’s too small can cause movement problems and muscle issues.  So it’s extremely important to check whether your dog’s legs are able to move properly.  

The easiest way to ensure proper movement is to let your dog walk around with the sweater on.  They should be able to move the exact same way they would without the sweater on.  If you notice them “hopping” or moving their front legs less, then the sweater is most likely too tight for their body.  You can also start to tell if the sweater is too small in the legs when putting it on.  Your pup's legs should be able to lift up and into both arm holes with very little force.  Some sweater models require a small stretch when putting legs through, but should never require lots of force.  If you feel yourself pulling on the sweater aggressively as you’re putting it on, it’s most likely too small.

A very forgiving option when it comes to leg sizing is the GF Pet Super Puff Parka

The last size that should be considered is the length of the jacket.  Funny that this is the last part that we consider, given it’s the first dimension available.  The length of your pet’s jacket is important to an extent, but it’s also one of the first dimensions we would sacrifice when it comes to finding a great fit.  A perfectly fitted dog jacket would match the two criteria listed above & also reach the base of your pet’s tail.  This will give maximum coverage for your pet’s back and belly, without impeding their movement.

That being said, if the jacket that fits perfectly in the back length is way too large on the chest, we recommend going down a size.  It’s more important to have a snug fit on the chest, where your pet’s vital organs are, than it is to have full back coverage.  Keeping your dog’s vital organs warm will help them stay warmer than covering their back.  On the other hand, if the coat with a perfect back length is too tight on your pet, we recommend going up a size.  As we’ve mentioned, coats that impair your pet’s movement can cause long-term mobility issues down the road.  So having a proper fit on the chest, that does not impair mobility, is definitely more important.  Having a coat that’s too long, but fits well on the dog’s chest will help a lot more than a coat that impairs their mobility.  

With this in mind, having a coat hang more than 3 inches past your pet's tail can cause a mess when they need to go to the bathroom. So be sure to keep this in mind when choosing the proper size.  Slightly too long is okay, way too long gets messy.

To summarize, finding the right fit for your pup takes three checks.  First, check their chest and ensure it’s fitting snuggly against their fur, with the ability to put at least two fingers between.  Next, check their front legs.  Are they able to move properly or is their movement impaired by the coat?  Finally, check the back length.  Ensure that the back is not so short that the coat is ineffective but not so long that it will cause a mess during bathroom breaks.  Finding a perfectly fitted coat for your dog can definitely be challenging so feel free to stop in store for more advice and to try on a few models.  We’re also always happy to order in new models or sizes for your pet to try out.