How Fashionable is Your Dog This Season?

Canine Christmas sweaters
By Karen B. London PhD, December 2018, Updated June 2021
dog wearing sweater

Whether you love or hate Christmas sweaters, you are bound to see a lot of them this season on people and dogs alike. There are ugly ones and attractive ones, and some that can lead to awkward moments when you’re unsure which category they are in. Adding to the confusion is that even Christmas sweaters that are clearly ugly can look adorable on a dog.

There is great controversy about whether dressing dogs up in festive clothing is sweet, unkind, stupid or all in good fun. My opinion is that many dogs don’t like to be dressed up and there is often no reason to do so. If a dog objects to it in any way, whether the objection takes the form of aggression, avoidance, fearfulness or stress, we should pay attention to the dog’s feelings. If a dog doesn’t like it, a good choice is to cease and desist immediately.

For those rare dogs who take to clothes and enjoy dressing up because of the attention or the physical contact, seasonal attire is not a problem. A little holiday cheer in the form of a sweater can be quite dear. Additionally, for some small, short-haired or old dogs, the warmth is welcome. If they need an extra layer, why not make it a festive one?

Do you ever dress your dog in Christmas sweaters—ugly or otherwise?

Karen B. London, Ph.D. is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral issues, including aggression. Karen writes the animal column for the Arizona Daily Sun and is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University. She is the author of six books about canine training and behavior, including her most recent, Treat Everyone Like a Dog: How a Dog Trainer’s World View Can Improve Your Life