If you are thinking about buying clothes for your pooch, you are probably wondering is that something that he really needs. It depends on the dog – breed, size, age, health. Small dogs often need clothes to provide an additional layer of protection from cold temperatures or elements.

Why Small Dogs Need Clothes?

Top 6 Types of Small Dog Clothes That Your Pooch NeedsPutting the appearance aside, there are a few other reasons related to your dog’s comfort and safety that speak in favor of small dog clothes. Here are some of the reasons to consider a specific type of clothing for your tiny pup.

1. Weather

Protection from extreme temperatures and elements like snow or rain is the main reason why your dog may need clothes. It provides an additional cover for a small pooch to make him feel warm in cold weather and keep him as dry as possible when it’s raining outside.

Small breeds usually have only one layer of hair and even that one layer is often not very thick, so they are in real need of additional protection against the climate. Some dogs suffer from health conditions that affect their coats, like Cushing’s disease.

2. Allergies

Not your dog's allergies, but yours (of your family members). Some pet owners, their roommates, family members, or friends are allergic to dog dander. This leads to a lot of sneezing when your pup's loose hair starts to fly around your home, landing on your floor, furniture, and yourself. While clothing can’t eliminate shedding and dander, it can decrease the amount of your dog’s loose hair and contain the dander.

3. Insects

Your canine companion is not immune to insect bites. In fact, small dogs can suffer life-threatening consequences if they get bitten by bees, hornets, or wasps. Ticks and fleas are also a real danger to dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors.

Clothing can help your dog by providing an additional layer of protection. Insects and parasites will have a harder time biting through a layer of clothing.

4. Age

Senior dogs often have different health problems which may lower their body heat. Diseases like arthritis, inflammation or joint-related problems can be more painful in cold weather, which makes clothes for your geriatric friend a necessity.

How to Choose the Right Clothing for Small Dogs

How to Choose the Right Clothing for Small Dogs

Choosing the right type of pet clothes for your pupper may sound easy on the surface but there are a few factors you must take into account before you make that decision. Do not buy any clothing before researching and preparing in advance.

Dog's Size

Clothes should never limit your dog’s movement and proper fitting is important for your dog’s comfort and safety. Different breeds have different sizes and weights, and many dog clothes come with labels that promise a proper fit for specific breeds.

How To Measure A Dog For Clothing

However, measurements among dogs of the same breed can also vary greatly, so always measure your dog for clothes before you purchase any piece of clothing. Here's how to do it properly. If you are buying clothes for a puppy, you might want to consider adjustable, durable clothing that will fit your Fido when he grows up.


Look for clothing that will not only be comfortable and cute but also practical and functional. For example, your pet's clothing should never impede urination or defecation. For male dogs, look for clothing with a higher cutout around his stomach and groin.

Choose clothes that are easy to put on and off and avoid clothing that has zippers, stripes, and other choking hazards. Pay attention to any loose buttons, bows, or snaps as well. All of these are at risk of getting caught on things and becoming a choking hazard.


Choose stretchy materials that will allow your dog to walk or run freely and make his movement easier. Materials like cotton, mesh, and spandex are always a good choice for pups.

Pay special attention to wool because real wool can sometimes make your dog itchy and uncomfortable. You will also have to wash any wool clothing by hand. Perhaps the better option is to choose a mixture of washable wool and cotton or some synthetic fabric.

6 Types of Small Dog Clothes Your Pup Needs

Now that you know how to choose the perfect clothes for small dogs, let’s take a look at 6 pieces of most popular clothing your dog actually may need at different types of the year or for specific situations.

Lightweight doggie T-shirts or dresses


To protect your house and your family from excessive shedding and dander, choose a lightweight T-shirt or dress. This is the most comfortable choice for your pup to wear indoors if you want to minimize the number of hairs he leaves around the house.

These simply small dog clothes types are also a good choice for summertime because they can protect your pooch from the sun without increasing his body heat further.

Our suggestions:


Cooling vests


Another piece of clothing that is perfect for your Fido when temperatures are too high in the summertime is a cooling vest. Unlike previously mentioned summer shirts and dresses, cooling vests actively work on preventing your small dog from overheating.

Our suggestions:


Warm sweaters Dog Clothes - Handmade Dog Poncho from Authentic Mexican Blanket (Blue, XXS)

Sweaters can be great for both autumn and winter. Depending on their material, they can be a bit warmer if you want a winter sweater, or a bit more lightweight if you are looking for something to keep your small pet warm in the fall. You can even go with a poncho that provides enough breathing room for your dog’s skin because it doesn’t cover his belly area.

Our suggestions:


Winter coats or jackets Kurgo Loft Dog Jacket, Reversible Dog Coat, Wear with Harness or Sweater, Water Resistant, Reflective, Winter Coat For Medium Dogs (Coastal Blue, M)

For really cold weather the best small dog clothes are specifically designed winter coats or jackets. They will provide the necessary warmth to let your pooch roam freely in the snow and low temperatures. Make sure that you choose a water-resistant coat or a jacket.

Our suggestions:


Raincoats or jackets Yellow Zip Up Dog Raincoat with Reflective Buttons, Pockets, Rain/Water Resistant, Adjustable Drawstring, & Removable Hood - Size XS to XXL Available - Stylish Premium Dog Raincoats by Ellie (XS)

Similar to dog winter coats, raincoats, jackets, and ponchos can protect your dog from the elements like rain or snow but they are a bit lighter and suitable for any weather, not just the winter colds. They are all, of course, waterproof.

Our suggestions:


Anxiety vests Thundershirt dogs clothing Thundershirt Dog Anxiety Jacket, Fuchsia, Small US

This type of vest is not necessary for all small dogs but it can be very helpful for particularly anxious small dogs. Anxiety vests use compression to calm down your pet in time of stress or in an unfamiliar and uncomfortable environment and situations.

Our suggestions:

In Conclusion

Small dogs need clothes to keep them warm, protect them from the elements and insects, and keep their shedding around the house to a minimum. Some of the small dog clothes your pet may actually need to include summer shirts and dresses, sweaters, winter coats, and jackets, cooling vests, and anxiety vests.

Before you buy any clothes for your pupper, consider factors like the dog's size and health condition, clothing materials, safety, and practicality, with the design and color being last on your priority list. Always measure your small dog so you can find clothing that fits him perfectly.

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Rachael is a writer living in Los Angeles and an alum of UNC Chapel Hill. She has been a pet owner since the age of three and began dog-walking in 2015. Her nine-year-old Pug and best pal, Ellie, is the queen of sassy faces, marathon naps, and begging.