Can You Put A Harness Over A Dog Coat? [9 Useful Answers And Why Not To]

Whether it is the cold time of the year again or just another rainy day: Dog coats are helpful to shield your pooch from the elements. Dog harnesses are mainstream now, and your dog is still required to wear his jacket outside, but new questions come up whether it is more reasonable to wear a harness over or under a dog coat. In this article, we answer why it is better to own a dog coat, what gives it its protective function, what type is suitable for your dog – and more.

Can You Put A Harness Over A Dog Coat?

Answered: Can You Put A Harness Over A Dog Coat?

No, you should put a harness under a dog coat to guarantee safety when your dog is pulling. A harness that is worn over a coat can contributes to hair loss depending on the inside coat material. Your dog’s body temperature will rise faster when the coat is not worn over his harness, especially around the straps of the harness. Because the harness is worn over the sleek surface that most dog coats have, it might even slip in such a case, causing a malposition of your dog’s gait and potential for injuries.

What Is A Dog Coat?

A dog coat (or dog jacket) is a snugly-fitted extra layer of protection that will keep your pooch warm, especially during the winter. Some dogs do not have a sufficient amount of body fat to stay warm or lack a thick coat that could withstand the coldness out there. A second layer of polyester, fleece, cotton, or faux fur will add more protection to your pup’s core and allow him to stay outdoors for a little longer.

Why Wearing A Dog Coat?

There are some good reasons how dog coats protect your dog. Its is a convenient kind of cloth that wraps around your dog’s mid body. Usually, dog coats adapt a little to your dog’s proportions. The result is a pleasantly warm jacket that keeps your dog protected.

  • Provides additional heat. Dog coats save your dog from frostbite in the winter. For toy-sized or small breed dogs, dogs with short legs and lightweight dogs, it is recommended to wear a dog coat.
  • Works in bad weather. Most dog coats are even water-resistant, in a way that the majority of your dog’s body is protected from the elements. This definitely helps in getting rid faster of that smell your dog has once it has been out in the rain.
  • Increases visibility. Some dog coats have reflectors on them, which dramatically increases their visibility in the dark. Have you seen dogs wearing reflectors around their legs? That is not necessary anymore when your dog has its coat on.
  • Has a soothing effect. The snug fit of a dog coat can have a calming effect on your pooch. Most dog harnesses consist of just straps. While this might have not have a big effect on your dog in terms of feeling less anxious, dog coats can contribute to feeling at ease. Just like humans, dog like to feel subtle pressure around their chest and mid-body to feel at ease. Here, a snugly dog coat can help to increase anxiety in the outside world.
Can You Put A Harness Over A Dog Coat?

Do You Put A Dog Coat Over Or Under A Harness?

The reason why this question is often asked is because we often do not have a compatible dog coat at home to connect your dog leash to. Hence, you might ask yourself to put a dog coat over or under a harness. A dog coat should have a little notch at the top of your dog’s back area, allowing you to reach the underlying harness to which you then connect your leash.

Needless to say, a dog coat is always worn above a harness because your dog’s pulling force might cause the harness to shift. For that reason, over-harness dog coats do not exist. Rather, there are dog jackets that have built-in harnesses.

Good to know: Dog coats are compatible with back-clip harnesses. Do not use a front-clip harness with your dog coat. Your dog would have to wear the harness over its coat, which defies the sense of using a dog harness if it is not a safe fit. Most dog coats come with an integrated opening on the back to wear with your favorite harness. Usually it is a zipper or a snap that unveils access to your dog’s back-clip harness.

What Types Of Dog Jackets Are There?

While there are a lot of different dog coats out there, some coat styles stick out. Most dog coats are (more or less) water-resistant, and only some keep your dog warm. Some dog coats even have more features, such as upper leg protection, an opening for your dog leash, possibility to reverse the fabric, and number of reflectors. The main types of dog jackets are:

  • Raincoat. Dog raincoats are made of a thin, protective layer that protects your dog from rain and snow. Raincoats for dogs are usually wind and waterproof, and should be used in fall.
  • Parka. A dog parka is a hooded pullover usually consisting of a heat-insulating layer that often features a synthetic fur hood. Useful during shorter outside walks with precipitation.
  • Sweater. Similar to a parka, dog sweaters are pullovers without cap made of wool, cotton, polyester, or faux fur. Dog sweaters are good for inside use, as well as shorter outside walks.
  • Winter Coat. A winter coat for dogs is a multi-layered dog coat with heat-insulating outside layer, and comfy inside layer. This will be your go-to during frostbite.
  • Puffer Jacket. A puffer jacket for dogs is a quilted dog coat that provides synthetic insulation through air gaps, keeping your pooch warm during winter.
  • Plaid. A dog plaid is usually shaped like a dog cape, protecting your dog’s top. No insulating effect, but can be worn throughout warmer seasons.

What Is A Dog Walking Vest?

A dog walking vest is not the same as a dog coat. Instead, dog vests are basically harnesses which do not cover your dog’s mid body as a whole. The main difference between a dog vest and a dog harness lies in the surface material. Dog vests are mostly padded around the chest, while dog harnesses feature more strap overall. Compared to a dog jacket, a walking vest has one thin layer that is often made of polyester.

The main functions of a dog walking vest are visibility and safety: Your pooch will be way more visible thanks to reflective material. There are also other dog vests that even help your pooch up the stairs if needed: a dog vest with handle that sits on your pup’s back is a good idea if your pooch reaches his senior years, or if you simply need to hold him back.

Can You Put A Harness Over A Dog Coat?

What Material Is A Dog Coat Made Of?

A dog coat has three functions: keeping your pooch warm, protecting him from the elements, while being comfy at the same time. A dog coat usually has two layers. The inside layer provides the comfort and keeps sustains body heat, while the outside shell is wind and waterproof.

Mosten often, the inside layer of a dog coat is made of fleece, wool, or jersey. Jersey is a blend of wool, cotton, and synthetic fiber. While jersey is not remarkably insulating or durable, it is a great comfy layer for your dog to have.

The heat-insulating function comes with fleece or wool. Fleece is a synthetic fiber that is made of polyester that imitates the natural functions of wool. While both keep your pooch toasty, wool proves to insulate better due to natural air pockets.

Wool will also act as natural windbreaker. However, wool will shrink when washed too hot, while fleece remains its size. Fleece is lighter than wool and does not itch compared to wool.

The outside shell usually consists of polyester, polyurethane (PU), nylon, cotton duck, or a similar water-resistant fabric. Polyester is a synthetic wrinkle-resistant, and stain-free fiber.

Can You Ruin A Dog’s Coat?

While you cannot easily ruin your dog’s natural coat, dog jackets and dog coats can get ruined depending on what they’re made from. Here’s how to keep your dog’s new coat clean (or how to restore it to its former beauty).

While your pooch gets his paws dirty and rolls around in the mud, cleaning a dog coat made of polyester can be cleaned easily. Polyester is quite a water-resistant fabric that allows your dog’s skin to breathe more when compared to other synthetic fabrics. Just make sure to keep the dog coat clean and wash it regularly.

Most dog coats are easy to clean by hand or machine. Refer to the care label to find out if you can put a dog coat in the washing machine. Because a harness has many edges, zippers, and rough surfaces, consider using a mesh bag. Use hypoallergenic detergent if possible to avoid possible skin irritation. Air dry the dog coat and wait til it is fully dry before putting it on your dog again.

Polyester and polyurethane (PU) share many similarities, but the most distinct feature between the two is elasticity. PU is more elastic. Polyester and PU are unable to isolate warmth. That is why some dog coats incorporate nylon as usually softer, warmer, and stretchy fabric into the mix.

Acrylic makes sure your pooch stay warm and is predominantly used in low temperatures. Cotton duck is known to have a tight, firm structure that is durable and water resistant.

How Do I Put On A Dog Coat?

Can You Put A Harness Over A Dog Coat?

Putting on a dog coat is very easy. Once you get the hang of it, it will only take you a minute to get ready for the cold outdoors.

Prerequisite: Your dog already wears his harness before you attempt to put on the dog coat.

How long it will take: 2 minutes

Step 1: Wrap It

Get the dog coat close to your pup. Don’t bend over your dog as you’re putting it on. Put the dog jacket/dog coat on top of your dog’s back, or around your dog’s mid body.

Step 2: Front Legs First

Grab either your dog’s left or right front leg. Let your dog step in the dog coat with his front legs first by putting the front legs through the holes of the dog coat.

Step 3: The Waist

Close the dog coat around your dogs waist with a velcro fastener, if applicable. This will give your dog a snug fit and a positive association with his coat.

Step 4: The Front

Close the dog jacket at the front, if applicable. You usually do this by closing the Hook & Loop tape around your dog’s chest.

Step 5: The Zipper

Close the zipper of the dog coat located on top your dog’s back, if applicable. Some models don’t come with a zipper, instead closing the front is sufficient.

Step 6: Connect The Leash

Connect the leash. Look for a small opening through which you can put your leash. Done!

Special Note

If your furry pal wears a collar and a coat, consider taking off the collar if: the material or velcro fastener apply additional pressure to your dog’s neck and you got your ID tags on the harness.

When Should Dogs Start Wearing A Coat?

Dogs that need additional warmth should wear their dog coat from late October to early March. Depending on where you live, you might not need a dog coat all. The temperature at which your dog needs a coat is 32°F (7°C). Around fall, temperatures typically drop below this threshold for the first time. If you live in the Midwest, Northeast, or Pacific Northwest, you should consider getting a dog coat.

Do Dogs Really Need A Coat in Winter?

Yes, smaller dogs need a coat that preserves their body heat. One reason for this is dog breeding. Dog breeds were created to reinforce desirable traits, such as specific appearances or behavioral manners. Although dogs descend from wolves, breeding led to a variety of different dog sizes and proportions.

Not only do smaller dogs need dog coats. Puppies, lean breeds, and senior dogs have sensitive bodies and need special protection from the cold as well.

Especially on the shorter end, toy-sized and small dog breeds with thin and short legs are in close proximity to the cold ground and prone to suffer from hypothermia. Another reason why dogs need a coat in winter is their thin or short dog coat. A thin coat does not insulate as well as a harsher coat. It only goes south if you imagine taking your small dog out for a walk after it snowed.

Which Breeds Need A Dog Coat?

Generally, there are four types of dog breeds that will need to wear a dog coat, jacket or sweater in winter.

  • Short-coated dogs. Dog breeds that either have very short hair or no coat at all. Body size isn’t really a factor here.
  • Small and toy-sized breeds. Dog breeds that are tiny overall. As a result, they are closer to the ground, and have smaller amounts of protective coat or body fat.
  • Chondrodystrophic dogs. These breeds are known for their short legs. While they may have a thick coat, their weakness is the short legs.
  • Lean dogs. Dog breeds that are thin and/or muscular. Lean dogs have a very low fat mass that would normally protect them from the cold. Similarly, muscular dogs may have a high muscle mass and a low proportion of fat.

Uncommon as well as common dog breeds that will definitely benefit from a coat or jacket in the colder season are whippets, French bulldogs, chihuahuas, pugs, bull terriers, corgis, dachshunds, small and miniature terriers.

How do I Know If My Dog Is Cold?

You can tell that a dog is cold if he starts shaking, his body feels cold appears stiff or sluggish, and he appears to be perplexed when you communicate with him. For example, although he is out, he might seem hesitant to pee. Hypothermia in dogs can be a severe issue if you don’t know your pup’s limits.

Fortunately, dog coats and jackets will help increasing the time you can spent together in winter and drastically decrease the chances of your dog getting cold outside.

Final Thoughts

Dog coats come in many shapes and colors. In any case, they are a useful addition to your dog’s wardrobe that have the practical function of heat insulation and rain protection.

While you can wear both harness and coat together, the answer to whether you can put a harness over a dog coat is no. It is better to wear a harness below a dog coat due to chafing and heat accumulation. When putting on a dog harness and a coat altogether, the harness must be worn under the coat to minimize your dog’s risk of getting injured when pulling. Make sure that the opening of the dog coat lines up with the one of the dog harness and you’re good to go.

Not only when it gets cold outside, a dog coat is recommended. A dog coat can be soothing to your pup. If you own a small dog, a senior dog, a thin-coated breed or a dog with short legs, you will protect him from frostbite with a dog coat.


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