Short answer: No, but they can be.
I know that’s confusing and vague but there’s a reason for the answer, which I’ll explain more in length in this post.
Generally speaking, dog clothes are not a necessary item for your dog. For business I wish I could say they were but we’re honest—they’re not essential. Yes, there’s booties to protect dogs’ feet in the snow, which you will need if you’re running the Iditarod race in Alaska, and you could maybe claim a rain coat is necessary when you’re hiking the Pacific Crest Trail with your dog but generally speaking dog clothes are not essential. So why buy them? Why put your dog in clothes? The answer to that is two-fold: 1) because it’s adorable and 2) some dogs really like it. The first part is entirely selfish. Some dogs are just so dang cute in certain outfits that you can’t help yourself. And who doesn’t love to have an outfit for the occasion? Maybe a red, white, and blue dress for the 4th of July… But that cuteness is really just us dressing them up because we love it. Yes, babies need clothes but why do I have a closet full of dresses and new outfits for my baby girl? It’s because I can’t help it. She’s obviously the cutest baby on earth and I like to show everyone. The second part is a little trickier. Some dogs really love to wear clothes. My sister’s dog sits and whines, even begs, until she gets out an outfit for him in the morning. He’s even picky about which one. She’ll lay out a few options, he will run up to one and bark until she puts it on him. It’s adorable and, while I can’t ask him to know for sure, you can just tell he feels awesome when he puts it on. How do you feel when you put on a new outfit? You probably strut around a little, maybe walk a little taller, keep your head up higher. It just feels good and some dogs do the same thing. Does that make dog clothes essential? No, but I bet you’ve got a lot of non-essential items in your house right now.
So if dog clothes aren’t essential but they are fun, are they bad for dogs?
This is where the maybe comes in because there are circumstances in which they can be bad. Should you put your dog in a hoodie in July when you live in Phoenix and it’s 120 degrees outside? Probably not. The hoodie is warm and unless you have amazing air conditioning your dog is probably going to be too hot. Temperature is the number one issue that you just need to be smart about. In cold weather, a hoodie or pajamas can be a benefit to you dog. Is it essential? Not really, your dog can handle much colder weather than you think, but your dog will stay warmer. But in the summer months dog clothes can cause overheating.
The other issue is rubbing. I’ve seen dogs with sores and rubbed of fur because their clothes were either the wrong size or made of bad fabric. Not all clothes are created equal. Imagine wearing a burlap shirt around all day. You’d probably have a rash by the evening. And not just fabric but fit. Some clothes are too big or too small. Too small tends to be the bigger issue. Dogs will chafe under their legs from the shirt pulling in too much.
Lastly, some dogs just don’t like to wear clothes. While my sister’s dog loves to put on a shirt each day, others do not. It’s important to be respectful of your dog’s personality and desires. Some people might say “yeah, but how do you know?” Come on, you know. Dogs, like people, show their emotions and you can tell pretty quickly whether they’re enjoying the experience or not. I will say give it a chance before you say no. Some dogs get annoyed when you’re putting a harness or shirt or hoodie on but after an hour they’re like a new dog. But be respectful of their wants.
Here comes the shameless plug…
We are a dog clothing brand so of course we’re bias but we love dog clothes and so do our pups. At Collaroy, we are thoughtful and thorough when we design our new clothes each season. We look for materials that are soft, stretchy and wont rub or cause chafing. We standardized our sizing to make it easier to find the right fit and avoid size issues. In the spring and summer months, we always go with breathable fabrics and designs that help keep your dog cool. We also try not to overdo it. You want see a bedazzled dress flying two feet above your dog with bows and glitter at Collaroy. We stay up-to-date with styles and design but in what we think is in a tasteful way. And to top it off, because we know dog clothes aren’t essential, we keep the price point low. We want this to be fun and we want you to come back. We don’t make cheap clothes, we just find ways to make really great clothes affordable.
In summary, I don’t know who said it first but there’s a saying “can’t help stupid.” That’s the answer to the question ‘are dog clothes bad for dogs?’ So, don’t be a stupid pet owner (and I say that in the nicest way possible but you know what I mean).