When you buy through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.
Embark is a dog DNA test that determines your dog’s breed and checks for over 170 genetic health conditions and 20 traits among other fun facts.
Staff veterinarians and customer service representatives are also available to answer questions from pet owners.
We used the test to learn more about our rescue dog, Nellie. You can read more about our experience below.
Even if you picked up your puppy from the pound with no information – and you’ve been guessing or making up breeds to satisfy strangers’ curiosity ever since – there is a way to actually know the precise origins of your furry best friend.
Enter the Embark Breed and Health dog DNA test. The test uses 200,000 genetic markers and 100 times more genetic information than its competitors. It checks for over 350 different breed types and 170-plus genetic health conditions – and it has partnered with Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine (the leading veterinary school in the country) and a pioneer in consumer genetics – Spencer Wells – to combine cutting-edge science and pet care. They’re the people who are ecstatic to tell you they recently discovered why some dogs have blue eyes.
Knowing your dog’s genetic history is great for the shallow interest of curiosity and dog park small talk, but it can also help you navigate potential health risks, avoid medications they could be sensitive too, and even help you decide how big of a home you’re going to need in the future.
I tried the Embark dog DNA test on our rescue dog, Nellie, to see how it worked in real life. If you keep scrolling down to the bottom of this article, you can see the exact steps we went through in greater detail. But what I liked best was how digestible the information was for non-scientists, and how many resources were provided if you’d like to do further research. I also loved how obviously passionate about dogs the Embark team seemed to be.
On the site, you can engage as little or as much as you want. It was as succinct as “she’s mostly a German Shepherd” and “she’s clear of all the health risks we check for” and as granular as links to learn how the process is done and breakdowns of what each genetic condition is as well as which breeds it’s commonly found in. There are even linked citations in some sections where research was referred to.
The Embark dog DNA test is not cheap, but it’s information that could improve or extend the life of your dog – and for most owners, that’s not a bad price to pay.
All in all, it’s a great tool – and something most dog owners will probably be excited to learn about. Pets are the slobbery, warm-bodied, loving beings that occasionally care more for you than they do for themselves. Figuring out a bit more about how to responsibly return that love and care is an exciting new opportunity.
If you have multiple dogs and get tests for them, you can “add a dog” to your “my dogs” section in your account to keep your family all in one place.
Keep reading to see our experience and our dog’s results below.
Embark’s main point of interest is probably the breed breakdown. You’ll see breeds and percentages, as well as other fun tools at the top.
Embark breaks down dog breeds by percentages. If you keep scrolling, Embark highlights the main characteristics of each breed present.
Embark tests your pup for over 170 genetic health conditions and 20 traits.
We took the Embark DNA test probably just as much for the health results as to satisfy our curiosity, if not more so. Embark screens for over 170 genetic conditions looking for the mutations that can cause them, and Nellie showed up negative for everything. Being able to rule out these mutations also makes it easier for your chosen vet to determine what’s wrong quickly and accurately if your dog becomes sick in the future, and to avoid prescribing medications your dog may be sensitive to. To easily share with your vet, click “Vet Report” to input your vet’s name and email address. They’ll get a copy.
Embark makes the results easy for non-scientists to understand. It showed that she was cleared for the 135 genetic conditions common for Nellie’s breed (which the test already provided for us and the lab) and then broke down what those conditions are exactly. You can also view the full disease test in more detail if you wish.
Embark also breaks your dog’s DNA down to make a family tree that goes back to great-grandparents.
Embark’s algorithm generates the most likely family tree for your pup, though it’s not the only possible one for your dog’s mix.
You can also check out other dogs who have Embark accounts that have similar breed mixes for comparison via the Mix Matches tool.
The DNA test also tests your dog’s traits, making it possible to predict coat color, coat traits (shedding, curly, straight) and body size among other things.
You’ll be able to see the genes that make your dog’s coat the color, texture, and shedding-heavy mess that it is, as well as your dog’s projected body size, along with links to deeper wells of information if you’re interested in learning more.
You can also see your dog’s genetic diversity (was there inbreeding?) as well as performance. For instance, we discovered that Nellie has an adaptation that makes her more tolerant of high altitudes.
Staff veterinarians and customer service reps are also available to answer questions from owners.
The service also encourages users to email email@example.com if they have a particular health issue or area they’re interested in.
You can also take “Health and Wellness” quizzes to get personalized feedback and contribute to research, making the Embark test even more accurate and extensive for you and others in the future.
These quizzes and feedback mean the service can get smarter and better over time — benefiting both old users and new with more features and ever-more accurate results, just like human DNA tests. If you choose to participate, you could help scientists make new discoveries.
The paper sheets are easy to fold up and put in your pocket before heading out on a walk with your dog.
I’ve found one sheet is enough to pick up the waste from both of my dogs on a single walk.
It takes a few days to get used to the paper, but they’re worth it if you’re looking for ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
My two hounds enjoy their walks, and we go on about three a day. I always clean up their waste and then dispose of it in the garbage bin in our garage. After a week, the trash gets hauled away and I feel good that the waste wasn’t left on my neighbor’s lawn or my own.
Yet I use plastic bags to pick up their waste. According to a waste calculator from Doody Calls, my two dogs produce 8 pounds of waste each week. What’s more alarming than that is that’s 416 pounds of waste each year. I don’t want to think about the number of plastic bags that I use in a week.
Each Pooch Paper sheet is made of recycled non-chlorine-bleached paper and measures 12 inches by 12 inches. The sheets are manufactured using renewable energy and are 100 percent biodegradable and compostable.
“Our paper is made with recycled, unbleached, uncoated softwood pulp using a machine-finished, sustainable manufacturing process,” said Tracy Rosensteel, the founder of Pooch Paper. She explained that the unbleached fiber produces a higher pulping yield, which in turn lessens the overall environmental footprint.
Sustainability is the company’s top priority. Its goal is to reduce our plastic footprint and its destructive impact on our environment. Plastics are toxic to most species and can result in the creation of dangerous greenhouse gasses when disposed of in a landfill.
A sheet of Pooch Paper is easy to use. A single sheet holds the waste produced by both of my dogs on a single walk. The texture of the paper took a few days to get used to, but the grease-resistant coating made from corn helps get the waste up into the sheet in just one try.
The instructions say to twist the corners around the waste to contain it before you toss it into the garbage bin. Twisting the corners take a little practice and how much waste is in the center of the sheet will determine how much paper is left to twist.
Ideally, after you’ve picked up waste, there will be a space at the top to twist together either the edges or the four corners. The sheet will stay closed, but you do have to carry the used paper with one hand unless you have a carrying pouch attached to your waistband. I highly recommend having a pouch for used sheets. If you do have to carry it with your hands, it’s not inconvenient when on a short walk.
The used waste sheets can go directly into the garbage bin. The FTC’s Green Guide explains that all earth-friendly products must completely break down and return to nature within a reasonably short period of time. I now toss the paper sheets into the garbage can without any guilt.
I attach the 5-inch-by-5-inch zippered Pooch Pouch to my leash, and it fits about 10 sheets and my house key. You can also attach the pouch to your wrist or belt loop. It is not only practical but also really cute.
If the waste I’m picking up isn’t solid and firm, it’s a little messy to get it into the Pooch Paper and twist the corners without a lot of fuss.
The paper could also be a bit challenging if you have a large breed dog. When I’m dealing with a large amount of waste, it can be difficult to pick up all of it. My recommendation is to use two sheets, and you’ll definitely want to have a pouch to put your sheets into after they’re full.
The bottom line
Pooch Paper is the best eco-friendly option I’ve found for cleaning up after my dogs on walks. After I pick up the waste, it easily fits in a waist pouch, and one sheet is typically enough for both of my dogs. While they aren’t as easy to use as plastic bags, their reduced carbon footprint make them a worthy alternative.
Pros: Manufactured using renewable energy, biodegradable alternative to plastic poop bags, easy to pick up firm waste, one-step process to twist shut
Cons: Can be difficult to clean up loose or large amount of waste, requires a separate pouch to carry used sheets on longer walks
The best dog harnesses are ones that make walks and other adventures with your dog easy while keeping them comfortable, secure, and pain-free.
As a professional dog trainer who has tested harnesses on hundreds of dogs, I’ve found different harnesses work best for dogs of different sizes, needs, and abilities.
For leash pulling, for example, a no-pull harness with a front clip is likely your best bet, whereas small dogs often benefit from a vest-style harness.
Our pick for the best dog harness overall is the Petsafe 3-in-1 Harness. It’s a versatile, affordable harness that fits well without restricting movement.
Of all the commitments you made to your dog when you agreed to be their guardian, daily walks are among the most important. Walks aren’t just essential to your dog’s physical and mental health; for most, it’s the only opportunity they have to explore their world.
For us humans, though, walks can be among the more complicated tasks our dogs require of us. Just figuring out what equipment to use is a challenge. Harnesses, as opposed to collars, are the best option for walking a dog safely and comfortably. Walking a dog on even the softest collar can cause choking and poses even greater risks.
“As a general rule, I don’t like anything that puts too much pressure on the neck,” Dr. Carlo Siracusa, DVM, associate professor of clinical animal behavior and welfare at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, told Insider Picks. “Pressure to the neck can cause problems to the trachea and to the bone structure of the neck, itself.” Studies even suggest that too much pressure on the neck can cause eye problems, including glaucoma.
Selecting which harness to use isn’t simple, though. A style that works well on a 4-pound apple-headed Chihuahua may be a terrible fit for a long-legged, barrel-chested Great Dane. Nor does finding the right harness depend solely on fit. The best harness for your dog is the one that makes walks and other adventures easy while keeping them comfortable, secure, and pain-free. Dogs that pull on leash, for example, need something different than older or injured dogs with limited mobility. Dog harnesses generally fall into three major categories: front clip, back clip, and front and back clip. Read more about types of harnesses and what’s best for your dog at the end of this guide.
As a certified professional dog trainer, I have 10 years of experience testing harnesses on hundreds of dogs of all types – from tiny floofs to big bruisers, from the most reserved to the overly friendly. After consulting with other dog professionals, including Erika Slovikoski, a certified professional dog trainer with more than a decade of experience, and Michelle Sanchez, a pet care provider, rescue maven, and member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, I’ve narrowed down a crowded field of more than two dozen options to find the six best harnesses for dogs of different sizes, needs, and abilities.
Prices and links are current as of 12/18/2020. We added a slide that explains how to select the best harness for your dog.
The best dog harness overall
The affordable Petsafe 3-in-1 Harness fits dogs of all sizes well, and with two places to clip the leash, it functions as both a traditional and no-pull dog harness.
Pros: Affordable, easy to fit, works for dogs of all sizes, good for dogs that pull, good for dogs that walk well on leash, allows freedom of movement, accommodates double-ended leash, reflective stitching for use after dark
Cons: Only four sizes and three colors, can be confusing to put on correctly
For the cost, the Petsafe 3-in-1 is the most versatile harness out there, working well for both dogs that pull on leash and those that are confident loose-leash walkers. The additional strap on the back is made for car rides — most seatbelts will fit snugly through the loop, keeping your dog safely restrained.
In my decade as a professional dog trainer, I haven’t found a dog or human yet that the Petsafe 3-in-1 doesn’t have some positive function for. Dogs that pull on leash benefit from the V-strap design that doesn’t restrict the movement of the front legs when the leash is clipped to the D-ring at the chest. When the leash is attached to the D-ring on the back, the harness is great for walking or jogging with dogs that do not pull on leash. It’s also the ideal place to connect a long-line for safely teaching a dog recall. This harness serves those who prefer double-ended leashes as well.
Even if the only thing you ever use this harness for is car rides, it doesn’t require any additional equipment to ensure your dog’s safety as you drive (although it’s worth noting that these harnesses have not been crash-tested and traveling with your dog in a secured crate is always the safest option). With your dog in the backseat, just slip a seat belt through the strap on the back of the harness and buckle it.
Although the PetSafe only comes in four sizes (extra-small to large), it has five points of adjustment around the neck and chest. The martingale at the front D-ring also tightens slightly to keep the harness snug when walking a puller. Three buckles on the harness — one on the neck strap and two on the chest strap — mean you never have to slip a loop over your dog’s head or lift their feet to put it on, a welcome feature for those with shy or handling-sensitive pups. All those buckles, though, can also make the harness somewhat confusing. I’ve caught myself putting it on upside-down more than once.
While it may not be as comfortable as a vest-style harness, the straps of the harness are lined with a light neoprene padding for extra comfort, and the whole thing is stitched together with reflective thread for better visibility at night.
The Petsafe 3-in-1 Harness is only available in three colors — black, teal, and plum — but for the price, this versatile harness is a steal.
Pros: Soft, breathable, flexible, affordable, easy to adjust for size, easy to clean, comes in nine colors
Cons: Only four sizes, dogs may be able to wiggle out of the harness
For small dogs that don’t pull on leash, I like to use a soft vest-style harness. Puppia harnesses have been a comfortable, affordable option for years, and now the company has improved on its original design with the RiteFit, a more adjustable model that makes it easier to get an appropriate fit.
Puppia’s Rite Fit is made from cushiony polyester covered in tiny pinholes for breathability. It’s a handsome harness that comes in nine different colors, and while it’s only offered in four sizes, it has three points of adjustment, two around the neck and one around the chest. The leash clips two metal D-rings together at the back for added peace of mind. The whole thing washes easily in the laundry if your dog, like many I know, thinks rolling in stinky stuff is the best thing in the world.
Although I’ve never seen it happen, students in my dog training classes have occasionally reported their dog slipping out of a Puppia RiteFit Harness. Whether these outliers can be chalked up to human error or design failure is hard to say. Either way, it suggests that the harness isn’t 100% secure. If you have a dog that tends to dart on leash or is a known escape artist, you would do better with the more secure Gooby Escape Free Sport Harness, included in the list of other harnesses we considered.
For most small dogs, though, the Puppia Rite Fit Harness is a secure, comfortable, budget-friendly solution for walks.
Pros: High-quality materials, four points of adjustability, two places to connect the leash, comes with a seatbelt for car travel, padded, five sizes, fits dogs up to 110 pounds
Cons: Only four colors, no reflective accents, vest may ride up when leashing to front D-ring
My biggest concern when it comes to choosing a harness for a large breed dog is whether I can trust its strength and durability. Lightweight harnesses that work well for 10-pound dogs could prove dangerous when an 80-pounder gets to pulling. The last thing I want to worry about on a walk is whether my harness will withstand the journey.
Kurgo approaches this problem right, constructing their Tru-Fit Smart Dog Harness with ripstop fabric, heavy-duty stitching, and strong D-rings at the chest and back for connecting the leash. It even comes with a lifetime warranty.
This vest-style harness has a padded chest plate that can be fit snugly using four points of adjustment, two at the neck and two at the chest. Kurgo also added a loop at the spine for connecting a seatbelt. The harness even comes with its own 10-inch strap with a carabiner at one end and a loop to slip over a backseat belt on the other.
The Kurgo Tru-Fit is easy to put on and requires only slipping the front loop over the head then clipping either side of the chest loop to the strap along the spine. No leg-lifting needed (though pulling material over the head may be frightening for shy or handling-sensitive dogs). It’s offered in five sizes and four basic colors. Unfortunately, neither reflective patterns nor stitching is included.
Although the Kurgo Tru-Fit Harness has the front leash clip, this isn’t my first choice as an anti-pull harness, as the vest is prone to shifting and riding up on some dogs. If you’re looking for an anti-pull harness for a large breed, stick with the Blue-9 Balance Harness or the Petsafe 3-in-1 recommended in our best no-pull harness and best overall harness categories. But if your dog already walks on a loose leash and you’ll be using the back D-ring, the Kurgo Tru-Fit is a comfortable, reliable harness for everyday walks with big dogs.
Pros: Curbs pulling in most dogs, available in five sizes and eight colors, accommodates double-ended leash, sturdy hardware, easy to fit to a wide variety of body shapes, allows freedom of movement
Cons: Not padded, may ride up on very small dogs
The new generation of no-pull harnesses has evolved beyond the standard three-strap style to include more comfortable, secure versions that don’t restrict a dog’s movement. There are several good options (including our pick for best overall harness, the Petsafe 3-in-1), but the Blue-9 Pet Products Balance Harness is my favorite, and I’m not alone: Whole Dog Journal voted the Balance Harness the best front-clip harness on the market.
Front-clip, anti-pull harnesses like the Balance Harness work because they put your leash ahead of your dog instead of at the strongest part of their body. When your dog tries to pull ahead, the tension on the leash causes them to turn. In order to continue straight, your dog has to slow down.
The magic of the Balance Harness, specifically, comes down to fit. Straps around the neck and chest are connected by straight straps that run along the spine and chest. With five sizes and six places to adjust the length of the straps, I’ve had no trouble getting the fit right on everything from a Boston Terrier to a Boxer — although the webbing might ride up on the smallest of dogs. Thanks to a buckle on the strap that encircles the neck, the harness doesn’t need to be pulled over the head, a feature that shy or handling-sensitive dogs will appreciate.
One of the reasons the Balance Harness is my favorite is its contrasting colors. I frequently field complaints about how webbed harnesses like this one can be confusing to put on. But with the Balance, the spine strap is always a different color than the others, making it easy to figure out which side is up with just a quick glance.
The Balance Harness is well-made and durable with sturdy rings at both the chest and the spine to accommodate a double-ended leash. Because it has no padding, however, it’s always best to remove this harness when your walk is over.
Pros: Ultra-durable, padded, five sizes, eight colors and eco-friendly versions available, strong hardware, easy to clean, good for intensive activity, reflective material
If you’re doing a lot of strenuous outdoor activities with your pup, you need a harness that won’t fall apart with repeated rock scrambling and ocean swims. But a strong harness made of resilient material is only half the battle. An active dog also requires a harness that fits comfortably on all-day adventures without restricting their movement at high speeds or on uneven terrain.
Enter the Hurtta Weekend Warrior, an extremely durable harness that is also built for comfort. Unlike most harnesses which are sized with the subjective terms “small,” “medium,” and “large,” the Finnish team behind the Hurtta measured the chest circumference of more than 200 dogs to inform this product’s five sizes — from a tiny 16 to 18 inches to a hefty 39 to 47 inches.
The soft, padded straps have four points of adjustment, two on the neck strap and two on the chest strap, to help you get a snug fit on a wide range of body types. Two buckles on the chest strap mean that you don’t have to lift your dog’s legs to get them into the harness. It is necessary, though, to slip the Hurtta over your dog’s head, which can be a challenge for shy or handling-sensitive dogs.
The brand is a favorite of certified professional dog trainer Erika Slovikoski, owner of Stardog in San Francisco, California. “I like Hurtta harnesses because they are extremely well made [with] durable material and buckles that look like new for years,” she said. The design “allows for full range of motion of forelimbs, too, which is so important to me.”
Made for dogs that can’t get enough of the outdoors, the Hurtta Weekend Warrior is fashioned out of soft, lightweight polyester and covered with a weatherproof material sturdy enough to keep the harness from soaking through in low to moderate rain. Each of the harness’s eight colors, including two “ECO” versions made from 100% recycled polyester, is accented with reflective prints and piping for safety in low light. At the back, a sturdy stainless steel ring connects to the leash and a handle allows people to lend their dog a hand on steep trails without compromising their own balance.
The Hurtta Weekend Warrior is pricier than your average harness, but your money is well spent on both quality and design. Plus, the harness will last for years without looking shabby. “Even if dogs roll in mud and swim in saltwater, these materials just rinse and dry and look like new again,” Slovikoski said.
Pros: Padded handle for easy lifting, comfortable, fits well and comes in five sizes, durable material and hardware, reflective trim
Cons: Only comes in three colors, pricey
It’s never more obvious that not all dog harnesses are created equal than when you have an injured or aging pet. Regular activities like going up the stairs or climbing into the car may require an enormous effort. If your dog needs a little extra support to live their best life, Ruffwear’s Web Master Harness can make all the difference.
The Ruffwear Web Master is made for comfortable everyday wear for dogs of all abilities with foam padding sewn into the panel that rests on your dog’s spine, as well as on two of the three adjustable straps. Reflective material lines the edges of the harness, and the leash clips to a sturdy aluminum ring on top.
Flexible and lightweight, the harness can be easily adjusted in five places to accommodate all ranges of mobility. But it’s the reinforced, padded handle at the top that really makes a difference for pups with special needs. “It’s an excellent harness for rehab from injuries,” according to Slovikoski. “It fits so well and has that great support handle on the back.”
Comfort and fit also make this harness an ideal one for dogs that, due to pain or handling sensitivity, can’t tolerate being touched frequently to put on and remove a harness. With five sizes (xx-small to large/x-large), the harness fits a wide range of bodies and can be worn throughout the day without chafing or shifting around. “I love these harnesses for shy dogs, especially my sighthounds,” said Michelle Sanchez, who is a key volunteer in rescuing the endangered sighthound known as the Spanish Galgo.
While this is the most expensive harness on our list and the color options are limited to red, blue, and grey, the Ruffwear Web Master can help you maintain your dog’s quality of life, no matter what stage they are in.
What else we considered
2 Hounds Design Freedom Harness: This anti-pull harness connects to a single-ended leash at the chest or a double-ended leash at the chest and back. It also comes in a whopping 19 colors, more than any of the harnesses that made our list. The absence of a full neck strap and a connection along the spine, however, makes this product a little less sturdy than the Balance Harness. The Freedom also has fewer places to adjust fit and does not have a buckle on the neck strap.
Ruffwear Front Range: This is another good harness for active dogs at a slightly lower price point. The Ruffwear Front Range is padded, reflective, and easy to adjust on most dogs. On small, thin-bodied dogs, though, I’ve had trouble getting a snug fit from the Front Range. It’s also missing the handle for helping a dog over obstacles. The Ruffwear Front Range is durable and comfy, but not quite as secure as the superior Hurtta.
Gooby Escape Free Sport Harness: This is a good option for little dogs that have the tendency to slip out of their harness. Made specifically for small pups, it is a padded neoprene harness with four points of adjustability and a martingale at the back where the leash connects, which tightens up if your dog tries to back out of the vest. The Gooby Escape Free comes in three small-dog sizes and five vivid colors plus black.
What style of harness is best for your dog?
Not all dog harnesses are created equal. While a traditional harness that clips to a leash at the spine is a great option for dogs who stick close when they walk, it’ll make your job harder if you’ve got a dog who pulls. And if you’ve got a dog that already walks nicely on leash, a harness that clips at the chest may not be the ideal fit for your outdoor adventures. Choosing the right harness can make life a whole lot easier for both you and your dog.
Dog harnesses generally fall into three major categories:
Harnesses that clip to a leash at the front of the chest are best for dogs that pull. Unlike a traditional harness that attaches to a leash at a dog’s powerful back, a front-clip harness puts the walker ahead of the dog. When the dog tries to pull, they feel the pressure from the leash leading them in a different direction. In order to continue forward, they must slow down. While some dogs are still able to pull through a front-clip harness, it should, at the very least, decrease their force, making walks more enjoyable for you both. And while this harness can vastly improve your everyday walks with almost no effort, it’s not actually teaching your dog what you want. For that, you’ll need to use tried-and-tested positive reinforcement training methods rooted in science.
These harnesses traditionally clip at the back, either close to the shoulders or farther down the spine, and this is what you’ll find with the majority of harnesses on the market. Walking a dog in a back-clip harness doesn’t just remove pressure from around the neck, it distributes it more evenly around the dog’s body for a more comfortable walk. If you have a dog that pulls, though, you want to avoid using a back-clip harness. It’s likely to cause discomfort for both you and your dog because the pressure on the leash activates their opposition reflex, causing them to pull harder instead of slow down.
Harnesses in the back-clip category come in a wider variety of design options than front-clip harnesses. What works best for your dog will depend on their individual body type and the adventures they prefer. A dog that participates in a lot of hiking and backpacking, for example, will appreciate a comfortable, padded harness that doesn’t chafe whereas a slow-moving senior may do better in a lightweight vest that’s easy to slip on and off.
In recent years, manufacturers have begun offering more versatile harnesses that can clip to a leash at both the chest and the back. These dual-option harnesses are ideal for guardians who may need more control in some environments or who are actively training their dog to walk without pulling on leash. A high-quality front-and-back clip harness should be able to keep up with your dog from adolescence through old age without skipping a beat.
Whether your dog has short or long fur, a slender or thick build, a warm, water-resistant dog coat is a winter necessity to keep them comfortable and protected during daily walks and outdoor play.
Dog snow jackets come in all shapes and sizes, so we evaluated the many options to help you make the best choice for your dog.
With a waterproof but breathable outer shell and thick fleece inner lining, the Hurtta Summit Parka is our favorite dog coat for winter. It fits snugly for warmth but doesn’t impede freedom of movement.
Some dogs were bred for cold weather and would be perfectly happy if every day were a snow day. For other dogs, winter is a time to stay curled up on the couch, ideally snuggled under a blanket with their favorite human. Either way, if your dog doesn’t have a winter coat to keep them warm while outdoors, you’ll want to buy one for cold, snowy days.
When shopping for dog snow coats, there is a variety of factors to consider. Some coats offer full-body coverage, including sleeves for the legs while others are designed more simply to keep the trunk of the body warm and protected. Breeds with short hair or slim builds may require extra insulation while long-haired breeds need a little extra space inside the jacket for comfort. You’ll also find that there are differences in the quality of materials used for dog snow jackets and a variety of add-ons like adjustable straps, reflective striping, and pockets.
Snow jackets for dogs are not a one-size-fits-all solution. The best winter coat for a slender breed like the greyhound might be significantly different from the ideal jacket for a miniature breed like the chihuahua. We’ve researched dog coats to determine the best choices for the full range of dog breeds and sizes. Below are our top picks.
Prices and links are current as of 12/15/20. We are currently working on an update to this guide and are considering a variety of new brands and styles.
The best dog snow jacket overall
With a waterproof but breathable outer shell and thick fleece inner lining, the Hurtta Summit Parka fits snugly to retain heat but doesn’t impede freedom of movement.
The Hurtta Summit Parka is built to last, well-insulated, and designed with comfort in mind. It is fleece-lined, and the outer shell is coated with Hurtta’s Houndtex, which is designed to be waterproof and dirt-repelling but breathable.
The jacket covers the hindquarters more than most coats, and the back, belt, and collar are adjustable to ensure a snug and secure fit for any breed without sacrificing freedom of movement. This snow jacket is easy to put on and take off, and it features reflective safety stripes to ensure nighttime visibility. It is available in four color options and lengths from 8 inches to 32 inches.
Named their top pick for winter hiking jackets for dogs, Outdoor Dog World said the Hurtta Summit Parka is an “excellent coat for extreme cold temperatures.” They added that the full-coverage design protects all of the major muscle groups while keeping the chest and abdomen warm as well. Whole Dog Journal also reviewed this jacket favorably, highlighting its lightweight design, soft fleece lining, and high-neck collar for added warmth.
Pros: Withstands extreme conditions, waterproof outer shell, soft fleece lining, adjusts for a snug and secure fit
Cons: Significantly more expensive than some brands, measurements required for optimal fit
The parka’s outer shell is made from a durable 300 denier material (the middle range of fiber thickness) that provides waterproofing but is lightweight. While many dog jackets are lined with with fleece for warmth, these plush materials tend to absorb water. In lieu of a fleece lining, this jacket has a polyester fiberfill and polyester inner lining to keep it dry even in heavy snow.
The coat is available in orange or yellow, and they offer 10 sizes, so you can choose the one that best fits your dog. It also has an adjustable belly strap to achieve a fit that provides additional warmth and coverage.
Pros: Lightweight, waterproof design; made from durable 300 denier materials; reflective stripes for nighttime visibility; adjustable belly strap adds extra coverage and protection
Cons: Not as thickly insulated as some jackets, closures can get dirty and may stick to other materials, sizing can be tricky for some breeds
The best dog snow jacket for slim breeds
With a full-coverage style designed specifically for slim and slender breeds, the Hurtta Quilted Overall Dog Coat is water-repellant, insulated, and adjustable.
It can be difficult to find a well-fitting coat for dogs with slim builds. Even if the jacket has adjustable closures, it may not fit tightly enough to protect the dog from the elements and keep them warm. Breeds like greyhounds and Chinese crested not only require a dog jacket that is designed to conform to slender body types, they also need extra protection from the cold because they typically don’t carry a lot of body fat.
It features a full-coverage design constructed from soft, comfortable materials for protection from wind, water, and harsh weather. This jacket comes in nine different sizes and is highly adjustable to ensure a snug and secure fit for every dog. It is insulated for warmth, water- and dirt-repellent, and has reflective stripes for visibility.
Pros: Designed specifically for slim and slender breeds, full-coverage for maximum warmth and protection, water-repellant and insulated, available in partial-coverage as well
Cons: Some dogs take time to adjust to the full-coverage design, measurements required to find the right size, not completely waterproof
The Ruffwear Vert Waterproof Dog Jacket is made of a breathable nylon shell that is waterproof and protects against the wind. It has a fold-up oversized storm collar for an added degree of weather protection with leg loops for a snug and secure fit. This jacket comes with a fleece lining that also has a water-resistant finish to extend the life of the jacket.
Overall, the Ruffwear Vert offers good coverage with a slightly roomier fit ideal for hard-to-fit and active dogs but still has convenient features like side-release buckles and a leash portal. It’s available in red or blue and six sizes ranging from XXS to XL. Because the side-release buckles are tucked into the lining, they can be tricky to use in some cases.
Pros: Breathable nylon shell, waterproof and windproof, fold-up oversized storm collar for extra protection, leg loops for a snug and secure fit, six sizing options
Cons: Side release buckles are tucked into the lining, fairly pricey compared to other brands
When it comes to dog clothes and accessories, finding the right fit for small dogs can be a challenge. If you’re looking for a snow jacket specifically designed to fit miniature and small breeds up to 25 pounds, we recommend the Gooby Padded Cold Weather Vest.
The vest features a lightweight, padded design that keeps your dog warm in cold weather and dry in the snow. It comes in five different sizes with chest measurement up to 23 inches and has a convenient zipper closure located on the back so you don’t have to worry about getting your dog’s fur caught while putting it on or taking it off. The jacket is cut to enable your dog to do its business without getting the material dirty, and it is comfortable enough that most dogs don’t find it a struggle to wear.
Pros: Lightweight, padded design; zipper on the back protects fur; water-resistant, machine washable; designed for dogs up to 25 pounds
To a dog lover, the best gift of all is, well, a dog. But second best? Anything made for or reminiscent of the canine companion that stole their heart.
Whether you’re looking for an affordable yet meaningful token of appreciation like custom dog stickers, a sweatshirt they both can share, or a mind-blowing gift they’ll never forget like a GPS dog tracker, custom pet portrait cufflinks, or a matching bandana and face mask set, you’ll find what you’re looking for with this list of unique gifts for dogs and their humans.
Shop the 41 best gifts for dogs and dog owners below:
A food puzzle to work the canine brain
Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Dog Twister Dog Puzzle, available at Chewy and Amazon, $17.27
For smarty pants dogs that need a job to do, these food puzzles are a great way to both entertain and work the brain. Pop treats or kibble into the compartments and tap into their dog’s under-utilized scavenging instincts.
A book that takes them inside the inner workings of their dog’s brain
For those who can’t stand to be away from their dog, it’s the Furbo dog camera to the rescue. With the free Furbo app, they can monitor their pet from afar with a 160-degree wide-angle view, speak to them through voice chat, and toss them a treat anytime they want.
A way to finally remember if the dog actually got fed
The Original “Did You Feed The Dog?” available at Chewy and Amazon, $9.95
Did you feed the dog? Can’t quite remember, can you? But this simple little device, it knows. Just move the button at feeding time and they’ll never get taken by their pup’s second-dinner-desiring hungry eyes again.
Sweet long johns for a winter full of pajama parties
Dress up their pup for the world’s cutest pajama party in this festive holiday top by Hanna Andersson. Made from a soft organic cotton rib knit, the outfit comes in eight patterns and six sizes so that even the big boys can let their snuggle flag fly.
Treat your favorite chef to a pup-approved kitchen addition. Fill the waffle iron-like Dash with one of the recipes from the included cookbook (think: peanut butter pumpkin or cheddar bacon) for fresh bone-shaped treats hot out of the oven.
A squeezable dog water bottle for instant hydration
Offer the dog a drink single-handedly with this unique dog water bottle. Just squeeze the leak-proof canister to fill the attached dish with water. When they’ve had their fill, the leftover liquid drains back into the bottle for the next time they’re thirsty.
A hoodie with a kangaroo pouch to keep their pup close
Cuddly pups and the humans who love them never have to be apart with this soft cotton-polyester hoodie. The zip-up 14-inch by 9-inch by 4-inch pocket supports pets up to 15 pounds and comes in six colors.
It’s almost impossible to tire out a fetch-loving high-energy dog before tiring out your throwing arm, that is, unless you have the Chuckit! With just a flick of the wrist, this simple plastic launcher sends the ball farther than puny human muscles alone and is guaranteed not to quit halfway through the game.
A matching bandana and face mask for twinning with their dog
They’ll wear their heart on their sleeve with these pet portrait cufflinks by designer Erin Harris. The engraved sterling silver accessories arrive with a bonus gift, too: a rubber stamp of their dog to use on anything that needs a bit of puppy love.
A collar for tracking their dog’s location and activity
Like a FitBit for the canine set, this smart collar will not only help them keep tabs on their dog’s daily activity (and compare it to other pups in the neighborhood) but on their location, too. Using GPS tracking technology, this little device sends alerts anytime a door-dashing escape artist is on the move.
Wrap their barking dogs in puppy love with a pair of customizable socks. Chewy will pattern a pair with the face of their furry friend using just a photo. Choose from four styles: holiday, tie-dye, mosaic, and dog paw.
Whether they’ve got a puppy who’s learning the ropes, an adult dog who loves a good game, or a slow-moving senior, the Kong Classic is a must for busting boredom and tapping into a dog’s scavenging instincts. Just pack the heavy-duty rubber cone with treats, kibble, or peanut butter (among other things) and that big, slobbery tongue will do the rest.
An elevated bed to keep their dog cool in the heat
Make the dog days of summer a little more bearable for their pooch with this elevated cot. Made from waterproof nylon with a mesh center, the raised design promotes airflow that helps keep dogs from overheating when the mercury rises.
A sleepy puppy hamper to snuggle their dirty clothes
Add a dose of cute to laundry day with this dog hamper. The folding, pop-up basket made of waterproof-coated cotton fabric with handles for ears also makes a great storage bin for toys, whether they belong to a dog or to a dog-loving kid.
A dog sticker that’s (almost) as cute as the real thing
Give the gift of sticky immortality with these customizable pet stickers. Just send in a photo of their dog and they will create a spot-on illustrated version made from premium waterproof paper they can affix to anything that needs a puppy pick-me-up.
A dog DNA test
Embark Breed Identification Dog DNA Kit, available at Chewy and Embark, $115
Embark Breed and Health Dog DNA Kit, available at Chewy and Embark, $149
The Embark Dog DNA test is for any rescue parent who’s ever struggled to answer the question “What kind of dog is that?” From a simple cheek swab, this kit designed in partnership with Cornell University scientists can identify a dog’s breed heritage and even locate their living relatives. The breed and health kit also provides information about genetic health conditions and traits.
A fresh meal delivery service to fill their dog’s belly
Forget canned food and kibble. The Farmer’s Dog uses fresh whole meat and veggies to produce nutritious canine meals just like grandma used to. The preportioned, customizable food is delivered right to their door ready to serve.
A bucket list activity journal for dog lovers and their canine compatriots
Drawing from 20 years of experience, certified trick dog trainer and doggy writer extraordinaire Sassafras Lowrey’s “Chew This Journal” is jam-packed with fun activities for both dog and human. From urban agility and tips on setting training goals to dog-friendly crafts like DIY treat puzzles and tug-toy-making, this book will encourage them to never stop seeking out new adventures.
A bag of delicious treats with a minimal carbon paw print
Jiminy’s Chewy Cricket Treats, available at Chewy and Amazon, $9.95
Maybe dog treats can’t save the world, but Jiminy’s cricket treats are doing their part to help our pups live more sustainably. These tasty morsels are hypoallergenic, probiotic, and produce 740% fewer greenhouse gasses than those made with beef. Choose from two chewy flavors, sweet potato and peas or pumpkin and carrot, or crunchy peanut butter and blueberry cookies.
Mattress company Casper takes dog bed comfort next level with a memory foam model that rivals those they make for humans. The result of 110 prototypes and 460 hours of lab testing, with this dog bed they’ll rest assured their best friend will be getting a good night’s sleep.
Anyone who’s ever loved a dog knows the best people are the fluffy, four-legged kind. And this canine-covered tea towel, it’s not afraid to speak the truth. Short-haired, curly-haired, little-legged, and big, they’ll be ready to go anytime a dish needs drying.
A custom cookie cutter for making edible puppy portraits
If they think their dog couldn’t get any sweeter, Bakers Street Cutters begs to differ. Send in a photo and they’ll 3D print a custom cookie cutter that makes a perfect impression of their pup every time.
A blueprint of their favorite breed’s best qualities
These vintage-inspired blueprints by canine architects Wet Nose Wiggly Butts break down the characteristics that make different dog breeds unique. Each 16-by-20-inch print features picture-perfect representations of 54 of the most popular pups, from chihuahuas to Newfoundlands. Choose to add their dog’s name to the drawing for a personalized touch.
For anyone with lingering doubts about where a dog parent’s disposable income goes, this fully customizable mug spells it out in plain English. No one needs to know that dogs work hard to keep us happy, too. Sloppy kisses and dog hair may not pay the bills but they’re worth their weight in gold.
Licking a flavor-filled surface doesn’t just release calming endorphins in a dog’s brain, it gives them something to focus on when their stress levels become elevated. Spread these dishwasher-safe rubber mats with a soft-and-creamy favorite like yogurt, pumpkin, or peanut butter for a snack that will last and last.
A flirt pole for tough tugging thrills
Outward Hound Tail Teaser, available at Chewy and Amazon, $14.89
Release the hounds — or their energy, at least — with a doggy flirt pole. Like a beefed-up cat wand, this canine version features a squeaking, rattling faux-fur tail strung with durable nylon cord to a long, flexible pole that can be swung around for a high-speed game of chase, jump, and tug.
A collar from a company that supports and empowers Kenyan artisans
Yes, this fashion-forward collar produced by Maasai women in Kenya’s Ngong Hills looks good, but it does good, too. Ubuntu Life is a public benefit corporation that provides sustainable employment, education, and healthcare to its workers and artisans, as well as pediatric health and special needs education throughout the region. The carefully crafted, highly resilient collar is made from leather and glass beads and comes in three sizes and four colors.
A playful seat cover to brighten up the car
Molly Mutt Multi-Use Seat Cover, available at Chewy and Amazon, $59
Protect their car from doggy dirt and slobber with a fun toile-like dog patterned seat cover. The versatile cotton canvas can be draped over the back seat (the design features seatbelt slots, nonskid backing and adjustable headrest straps), converted into a car hammock or layered over the cargo hold.
This durable ball will put a maniacal grin on their pup’s face. Bounce it on the ground, float it in the water, or fill it with treats or kibble for extended play. It comes in four bright, impossible to lose colors and three sizes.
Cocktails get the canine treatment with this set of four old-fashioned glasses, each with a different portrait of a handsome hunting dog and a hand-painted gold rim. At 9.75 oz., they’re the perfect size for their next Salty Dog, Greyhound, or Regal Beagle.
Encourage the little animal lover in your life with a play set that lets them practice pet care and the empathy and compassion that comes along with it. This kit comes packed with all they’ll need to make a house call, including a stethoscope, syringe, bandages, and a cone of shame, as well as two plush pets to practice on.
Add a touch of canine couture to their bathroom with a dog print shower curtain patterned in artistically arranged black-and-white pups. The polyester, water-repellent coated 71-by-74-inch curtain comes with 12 buttonholes for easy hanging.
A combination backpack and airline approved carrier for versatile adventures
Up in the air or on the trail, their dog can go anywhere they do with Sherpa’s 2-in-1 travel backpack. The cozy, well-ventilated go bag has removable straps that convert it from a backpack to a traditional airline approved pet carrier that fits under the seat in the cabin.
Upgrade their naps with a mud-cloth inspired, upholstery-grade cotton bed cover. The durable, zip-up doggy duvet can be fitted over an old bed, pillow, or pile of blankets, or you can purchase a new memory foam or “Sustainafill” insert for maximum comfort. It’s machine washable and sold in three colors.
A book for youngsters about a dog’s most valuable superpower
“What the Dog Knows Young Readers Edition” by Cat Warren, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, $7.99
In the young readers edition of the New York Times bestseller “What the Dog Knows,” Cat Warren uncovers the science behind the amazing canine nose. If you know a kiddo with a love of dogs, this book full of photos and illustrations is sure to intrigue, surprise, and delight.