Dog haircuts and clothes for winter: How to keep your pooch warm and cozy

Conscientious dog owners will consider their pet's needs as the frosts set in, whether it's wearing a winter coat for walks or not trimming their fur short in the cold months.

Does your pooch need warm winter clothing when you go out for a walk in the freezing cold?
Does your pooch need warm winter clothing when you go out for a walk in the freezing cold?  © Unsplash/tadekl

A haircut adjustment will generally do the trick if the dog isn't smooth coated, according to veterinarian Astrid Behr. But brush your pet's coat regularly or it will get knotted and you'll have to shear it all the way down. And then your dog is likely to freeze.

So when do you have to cut more often and brush more thoroughly? When your breed doesn't have an undercoat (that soft, downy fur closest to the skin of some dogs), Behr said.

Take the poodle, which should preferably be clipped every two to three months – but not too short if you don't want your pooch to shiver. "Just leave a little more there," she advised.

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The situation is similar with the Havanese, the sociable silky-haired national dog of Cuba, which also doesn't have an undercoat but rather a long coat. Owners should also cut the hair ends in winter, otherwise the coat can grow down to the ground.

But the same rule applies – don't over-trim, as the top coat has a protective effect against rain and wind.

How and when do a dog's paws need to be trimmed?

Dogs that don't have an undercoat should have their fur trimmed more often and brushed more thoroughly in winter.
Dogs that don't have an undercoat should have their fur trimmed more often and brushed more thoroughly in winter.  © Unsplash/boney

Dogs with longer hair and an undercoat, such as the retriever or Bernese Mountain Dog, should be brushed properly. "And especially regularly when it changes its coat," Behr insisted.

Owners should only use scissors and not trimmers for their paws: "If there is snow, clumps of ice can get caught on the paws if the hair there is too long." And that hurts the dog, so you should also cut away the tufts of fur between the pads.

You don't have to go to the dog groomer for that, but take care not to cut into the skin between the toes. If you're hesitant to try this, your vet can show you the right technique.

Do dogs need their own winter clothes?

Keeping your pooch's coat groomed properly in winter is essential.
Keeping your pooch's coat groomed properly in winter is essential.  © Unsplash/J. Balla Photography

Dogs don't generally have to wear coverings on cold days, with some exceptions.

"Short-haired dogs that have no undercoat and are neither shorn nor cut can actually freeze," Behr said.

If your four-legged friend is shivering, then a rain-repellent winter coat can help. You're better off avoiding dog sweaters because they can get soaked with moisture.

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Take the dog with you when you go shopping for a winter coat at the pet store. It has to fit properly and shouldn't bother your dog when walking. And definitely cover a small dog's stomach because its torso is lower slung. Otherwise it can quickly get ill.

When out for a walk, most canines do not freeze because they are constantly on the move. But don't leave your dog outside for hours on cold days.

The poor thing will eventually freeze, regardless of its coat type.

Cover photo: Unsplash/tadekl

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