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8 Dog Clothes That Are Actually Practical

By Colleen Williams
published: July 14, 2015 - updated: September 7, 2022 • 3 min. read

Key Takeaways

  • Many people think of dog clothes as fashionable and fun, but some items actually have a purpose.
  • Doggles protect sensitive eyes, while paw booties protect the feet.
  • Sun-protection shirts, cooling vests, reflective vests, and life jackets are useful for dogs.
  • Winter sweaters and down coats help dogs stay warm in the winter.

When we think of clothes on a dog, torturous getups like Halloween costumes and Santa Paws hats come to mind. Believe it or not, there are actually some dog clothes that serve a purpose, like keeping chilly Chihuahuas cozy or keeping Corgis afloat. If you’re worried about your dog’s willingness to actually wear the clothes, most pups are pretty laid back about it – especially when treats are involved.

doggles dog clothes

1. Doggles

These sunglasses for dogs are great for protecting pups’ sensitive eyes from not only physical debris, but harmful UV rays. The shatterproof lenses can stand up to even the most furious diggers’ debris, all while looking incredibly stylish in over 12 different colors and patterns. If your pet is recovering from surgery or has a chronic eye disease, Doggles are recommended by vets. Even dogs with weirdly-shaped heads – we’re looking at you, adorably awkward Boxers – can wear Doggles, which come in sizes XS to XL.

2. Paw Booties

Protect your pet’s deceptively delicate paws with a set of booties. While at first the canine footwear can feel awkward to pups – we highly recommend watching the above video, “Dogs vs Boots” – it’s a must-have for the following situations:

  • Salted roads in winter
  • Hiking off-trail
  • Walking in snow or ice
  • A cut or scraped paw pad
  • Concealing a bandaged paw
  • Walking on hot asphalt, concrete or sand
Depending on their intended use, dog boots have varying degrees of sole traction and warmth. The shoes are sold in sets of four; it’s important to carefully measure your dog’s paws according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
dog clothes sun shirt

3. Sun Protection Shirt

UPF-infused shirts protect against cancer-causing UV rays. Outdoorsy pups and those with thin or white fur should wear a protective shirt designed for dogs. Skin cancer in dogs is very common – the most frequent cause is sun exposure. Often designed like a rash guard, dog sun protection shirts are perfect for a day at the beach; the sun reflects off the waves and sand, which can lead to sunburn in dogs. For pets with extensive fur loss or a history of skin cancer, head-to-tail bodysuits are also available.

dog clothes cooling vest
(“Swamp Cooler,”

4. Cooling Vest

Originally designed for military and law enforcement dogs, a cooling vest prevents heat stroke in hot summer months. Some work through evaporation, like the Ruffwear Swamp Cooler vest – soak it in cold water, wring out, and fasten to your pup! Others have ice pack inserts, like the ChillyDog cooling vest. Heat stroke in dogs is a serious danger, especially in areas where the temp can reach triple digits. Even in the shade a dog can easily overheat; a cooling vest keeps core temperature down.

5. Life Jacket

If you sail the open seas – or the lake, river, even pool – outfit your pet with a life jacket.


Select a dog life jacket made of ripstop material with a handle for easy canine transportation. Although your dog may be a seaworthy swimmer, if the water is deeper than paws can touch, a life jacket is a must-have. Rivers and oceans can have unpredictable currents, or your pet could become entangled in seaweed or debris. Even at the beach a tide or large wave can easily sweep pets under the waves. Small dogs and puppies especially need a life jacket, even if they don’t plan to take a dip – curious pets can slip overboard accidentally or otherwise.

dog clothes sweater

6. Winter Sweater

Before you knock dogs in sweaters, these pups are being practical, not stylish! While some pets may be unwilling models, many gladly curl up in a cozy knit during winter months. If you notice your dog is shivering or is constantly curled in a ball, a sweater may be the answer. A variety of sizes and styles are available, from ironic Christmas jumpers to athletic fleeces. They even make stylish zip-up hoodies, if your pup is the hipster type.

dog reflective vest

7. Reflective Vest

If you walk your dog at night, dusk or dawn, a reflective vest increases visibility. For less flashy pets, a reflective dog collar, leash, or clip-on light is another way to make sure you’re seen. No matter what you’re wearing, avoid walking your dog on busy roads when it’s dark, especially if there’s no sidewalk. Keep your dog on a short leash with a firm grip and position him on the inside of the sidewalk, away from traffic. A high visibility dog vest may also be used by pet parents who take their pups hunting, similar to humans’ bright orange gear.

dog clothes winter coat

8. Down Coat

A seasonal essential in frigid temps, a down coat can keep a dog toasty warm and dry during winter walks. Pair your dog’s winter coat with protective booties and a sweater for the ultimate in cold weather gear, or layer as needed. If your pup loves the wintry wonderland, pick a coat that’s insulated and covers his belly to prevent hypothermia. Even in a winter coat, it’s important to limit your pet’s outdoors time.

(Featured image via

colleen williams
By Colleen Williams

Over the past decade, Colleen has written about health, wellness, beauty, and even pets for The New York Times, The Cut, Refinery29, xoVain, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, and Seattle Met Magazine, as well as many beauty brands. She has a BFA in Art History from the University of New Mexico and an AAS in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design in New York.

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