The Dog Clothes Debate: Awkward or Awesome?

If you’re in a room with a handful of people and the topic of clothing for dogs gets brought up, there’s a good chance that one person might immediately squeal about how cute the little outfits can be. There’s a good chance there’s someone else who is biting their tongue, who just can’t stand small dog clothes.

It’s a polarizing topic. Love it or hate it, we’re going to talk about dog clothes, how to tell whether you should put clothing on your dog or not, we’ll go over a very important loophole, and we’ll also look at some of the best clothes for dogs – if you decide to go down that route.

Star Wars Dog Costume

Why People Love Dog Clothes

There’s just something about the way we anthropomorphize dogs, and all animals for that matter, that people love. Whether it’s in art and pop culture like the Dogs Playing Poker series of paintings, or a Golden Retriever wearing an Adidas Tracksuit, people can’t get enough.

Let’s face it, dog owners are always looking for things to get for their dogs. You can only buy so many chew toys and treats until you need to start getting more creative. With so many different outfits and styles to choose from, it’s no wonder that people can get a bit obsessed. Have you ever met someone who seems to put more effort into their dog’s grooming and clothing than their own? To each their own, and it doesn’t seem like clothing for dogs is going anywhere, at least not anytime soon.


Why People Hate Clothing on Dogs

Then there’s the other camp, who deserve to be noticed as well. These are not people who just dislike dogs in general, many dog owners themselves are completely put-off by the idea of dressing up a dog.

Some people joke about how awkward it must be for the dog, getting all dressed up in clothing they didn’t pick. Beyond just looks or a funny gag, some dogs seem genuinely uncomfortable when people  try to put clothes on them, and that’s a good time to just pass. Putting a silly shirt on a puppy for photos is one thing, but if you have to really push the issue, it’s probably best to just let it go.

Here is Dog Trainer Fred Zorn’s take on it (source): “I always give my dog a choice as to what he wears and whether or not he puts it on. I hold out the open neck hole and Rowdy puts his head through. Then he lifts his legs to put them through the leg holes. If at any time he puts up a fuss and he has, I will pull back and reassess the situation maybe the fit is wrong, in which case, I don’t attempt to make him wear whatever that article of clothing is. However, I have been walking with him on a cold day while carrying his hoodie in my hand. When, unprompted, he started nudging my hand and the hoodie in it, indicating that he wanted the hoodie on. So I always consider Rowdy’s input on this.”

So, at the end of the day, leave it up to your dog. Buy them some clothes, give them the opportunity to put it on, if they don’t know what to do you could try nudging them a little bit, but it should be their choice to put it on.


The Halloween Loophole: Dog Costumes

Spider Pup Costume Large
  • Size: Large
  • 100% polyester fabric; 55% acrylic, 45% polyester faux fur
  • Costume body fastens w/ Velcro around dog's chest
  • 8 foam legs are sewn to sides of body
  • Stuffed hood has Velcro chin strap

Even some of the staunchest opponents of clothes on dogs can get behind the idea of dog costumes once a year for Halloween. While not for everyone, there are some super clever costumes for dogs out there, especially when they get paired up with their owners costumes. Most pups will enjoy the attention, but once again, even though it’s just for a couple of hours on one day out of the year, if your dog is resistant to the costume at all, don’t force it.


The Best-Rated Dog Clothes and Costumes

Looking for some cute outfits for your pet dog? We’ve curated some of the highest-rated options out there, with a priority on comfort and how likely we think your dog will be to even want to put it on in the first place. It doesn’t matter how cute, funny, or unique an outfit is if it’s uncomfortable and they hate it, right? We might force ourselves to dress up in uncomfortable clothes to impress, but we can’t put that onto our pets.


Best Dog Hoodies and Sweaters

Blueberry Pet Spring Scent Inspired Rose Flower Pullover Dog Hooded...
  • 【 AWARD WINNING BRAND 】- America's Best Petcare Brands 2022 & 2021 Award by Newsweek Magazine...
  • 【 SIZE 】Back Length 14", Chest girth 17.5"- 21", Neck 13"; Measure your dog's back length from...
  • 【 MATERIAL 】 Light-weight 65% polyester and 35% cotton french terry knitted fabric
  • 【 CARE 】To keep the hoodie looking its best, machine wash it in cold water on the gentle cycle,...

This style of hoodie is a great choice for small dogs because all of the openings are large enough that they can easily slip in and out with a bit of help from you. It’s also available in slightly larger sizes as well.


Kuoser Warm Dog Coat, Reversible Dog Jacket Waterproof Dog Winter Coat...
54,193 Reviews
Kuoser Warm Dog Coat, Reversible Dog Jacket Waterproof Dog Winter Coat...
  • 7 SIZES AVAILABLE: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL dog winter coat fits small medium large dogs. Such as...
  • WINDPROOF, WATERPROOF & WARM DOG COAT: All of Kuoser dog coats outside are made of waterproof &...
  • REVERSIBLE & ADJUSTABLE: The dog winter jackets can be double-sided worn, with the magic sticker...
  • LEASH HOLE DESIGN DOG WINTER JACKET: Leash hole on back easy to access the collar or harness,safe...
  • CLASSIC PLAID PATTERN: Vintage British style plaid dog coat. Our dog winter jacket Comes in 8...

These sweaters don’t have an adorable hood, but they do have Velcro to make them easier to get into, and to take off. Your dog might not enjoy climbing through a “tunnel” to put a shirt on, but when you can just strap it easily from underneath them, it’s an easier process. We have to keep stressing this: Even if it’s easy to just slip this sweater on, still  be mindful of whether or not your puppy even enjoys wearing it. Remember the quote above from the dog trainer who carries around a hoodie, but waits until the dog prods him to put it on.


Dog Clothes - Handmade Dog Poncho from Authentic Mexican Blanket by Baja...
5,188 Reviews
Dog Clothes - Handmade Dog Poncho from Authentic Mexican Blanket by Baja...
  • ONE OF A KIND – Every one of our handmade dog ponchos are unique, as they are hand-cut from an...
  • SIZE – Our sweater is designed to fit all puppies and dogs. Our 7 sizes will fit teacup and small...
  • QUALITY – Our custom handwoven serape blankets are created in Tlaxcala, Mexico. Velcro straps...
  • SO MANY USES – Does your pet get anxiety during thunder storms? Our poncho wraps around the body...

This poncho for dogs is just about perfect. It comes in all sizes from XXS all the way up to XXL, so it won’t be hard to find an easy fit. Speaking of easy fit, it’s really easy to get on, you just place it over the top of your dog’s back and then do up the little strap in front. As far as dog clothing is concerned, it doesn’t get much easier than this.


Boyfriend Dog Sweater (XXX-Large)
5,603 Reviews
Boyfriend Dog Sweater (XXX-Large)
  • Natural fibers
  • Made in 8 sizes to fit all breeds
  • Best selling dog sweater for the last 15 years
  • Fits barrel chested breeds
  • 100% wool

This style of sweater just screams cabin life in the fall. Canadians will recognize it as looking very familiar to some of the classic looks from the brand Roots. To put it on, your dog will have to step through, but there aren’t long sleeves to wrestle with, so that’s always a plus.


Awkward? Or Awesome!

Here are some other opinions when it comes to dogs wearing clothing, and some more considerations to keep in mind. Whether you’re looking at small or large dog clothes, just for fun, or to help them with colder weather, or even a raincoat for when the weather isn’t very nice, dog shoes to protect their feet – whatever the case may be – just make sure you know as much as possible!

Fidose of Reality offers some useful advice (source): “Not all dogs are into fashion. Not all dogs like wearing clothes. If this is the case and your dog is truly upset or stressed by it, don’t do it. However, many dogs just need a little coaxing and positive reinforcement. This means no yelling, getting frustrated, forcing a dog to wear clothes, or in any way getting upset. This means starting with a bandana and if the dog allows this and walks around with it for a minute or two, reward him and praise him like he just won a dog show.” 

Starting off with a bandanna is a good tip, however it’s not really the same as putting a shirt on your dog, so even if they accept the bandanna that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be okay with a shirt, and vice-versa. Your dog might hate having something on their head, but be perfectly okay with other clothing.

Here’s a take from a Quora user named John (source): “I am planning on moving back to Canada within the next year, and the weather can be bitterly cold much of the year. My Jack Russell Terrier, Liam, is going to wear ugly sweaters and like ‘em, because his thin coat won’t be enough protection. If he won’t tolerate clothing, then I will have to get a chest carrier harness and carry him under my own clothing!”


Have Your Say!

Where do you stand on the topic of dogs wearing clothes and dog costumes?

Do you fall into the camp that doesn’t really mind one way or the other, as long as the dog is happy?

Or do you think that putting outfits on puppies is a trend that just needs go to away?

If you’re against it, how do you feel about costumes? Do we get a free pass for one day a year, again, as long as the dog enjoys it?

At the end of the day, if you like it, and your dog likes it as much as being groomed, what’s the harm? But you still need to be mindful of things like overheating, especially on hot days. Dogs can manage fairly well in the cold, but overheating is a real problem, especially in certain types of clothing that wrap all the way around the dog, with all of their fur it doesn’t take much for them to seriously start to heat up when you have sweaters and other pieces of clothing on them.

You should be around and paying attention to your dog whenever they have clothing on, don’t leave to run errands, or go to sleep, while  they’re still dressed up. Some dog clothing will come off fairly easily, but for the ones that wrap around their necks and that they won’t be able to get off on their own, it’s a good idea to monitor them so there aren’t any dangerous accidents or bad situations.


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