Everywhere you look these days, you see dogs dressed up in cutesy jackets, sweaters, boots, and other fashion accessories. Reactions range from "Aw, how cute!" to "That's ridiculous - it's a dog, not a fashion accessory!"

Is the current craze of buying cheap dog clothes and dressing up our dogs simply a sign of how spoiled our pets are, or is there a reason beyond looking fashionable for the popularity of dog fashions?

The truth is, dogs can feel the cold much as humans can. Small dogs are especially prone to feeling cold. That's why you see so many chihuahuas sporting sweaters, coats and other clothing items. But what about larger breeds? Aren't they made for living outside in all climates?

Dogs who feel the cold

Not all dogs. It's true, many large-breed dogs have a healthy layer of fat and thick fur to keep them warm in colder weather. Huskies, retrievers, and many types of herding dogs fall into this category. However there are large dogs who are not built for surviving the cold and would benefit from a stylish coat or sweater. Sighthounds like greyhounds, whippets and salukis are examples of lean dogs with thin fur that can definitely feel the cold. They have neither the insulating layer of fat nor the thick fur that keeps other canines from frigid temperatures. Dogs that are old or sick can also feel the cold and feel better when dressed in a warm coat or sweater.

When are fashions necessary for dogs?

But where do you draw the line? Winter coats, sweaters, pajamas, raincoats. They are all available for both large and small breeds of dogs. The question is, are they really necessary? The answer is, it depends.

Do you have a greyhound that will be going on long walks in the depths of winter? If so, the dog will likely need a warm coat. A water or weather-proof one will help for when it's wet and snowy. The dog may benefit from boots as well, to keep his paw pads from freezing and to protect against the damaging effects of salt and other de-icers. Is your house old and drafty, or do you keep the temperature low at night? If so, your dog may like to wear a sweater or pajamas inside as well.

How can you tell if your dog is cold?

Still, wondering whether dog fashions are necessary? Take your cue from your dog! If you are chilly, a small or lean dog is likely chilly too. Check their ears and paws - if they are cold, the dog is probably feeling the cold as well. Other signs of a cold pup who might like a nice warm coat or sweater are curling up into a tight ball, whining, nesting into a dog bed or blankets, and being restless at night. Try a coat or sweater if you see these behaviors. It might make a big difference to your dog.

So the next time you see a dog dressed in clothing, consider this: it might not be just the owner's fashion sense that led to this example of the canine fashion craze!

Author's Bio: 

Kendrick Moss has written frequently on pregnancy and parenting issues, and is a mom of three (including one set of twins). She is an open-minded free spirit, always ready for new adventures. Faith, family and finances are the core of her value system.