How freaking adorable is this fleece sweater? Back in late spring, I got the sweetest email from Pawtagonia saying that she’d been inspired by Robin’s ridiculous purple disco coat (pictured here) to create her own line of custom fit dog jackets! Of course I said yes to trying one.
Price: $37.99 – 53.99 depending on liner choice and jacket size
Sizing and colors: Custom fit, in your choice of a ton of different patterns.
Robin is cold if it’s under 65. Coat-wise, he was dealt a bad genetic hand- he totally lacks the warm undercoat of his Pomeranian parent, yet his long guard hairs don’t seem to vent heat well on hot days. I generally keep a fleece on him in the wintertime (previously the Ruffwear Climate Changer, which often leads to broken hairs on his upper legs and shoulders), and I usually like for him to start early hikes with a jacket.
The Pawtagonia Sleeveless Dog Sweater is a pullover polar fleece sweater with full belly coverage and medium hip coverage. It’s cut similarly to the Ruffwear Climate Changer (our previous favorite fleece), but we skipped the sleeves – Robin gets chafing from all sleeved jackets. You can choose to add a lining for structure and comfort (we did). The whole sweater is edged in a soft, stretch bias tape that’s gentle on Robin’s chafe-prone fur, and there’s a reflective strip low down on each side and one on each shoulder. The reflectors are made of flat, rather than corded, piping, which makes them more flexible and comfortable but does seem to subject them to slightly more wear.
Foot and head-shy dogs might fuss about a pullover style, but I really the simplicity – the armholes are generously sized so it’s faster to put on that a zippered coat, and it’s quick to pull off over his head by standing him up on his hind legs. The fleece patterns are what catches everyone’s attention, but the real gem is the mesh liner- it adds structure for the jacket and so far has completely protected Robin’s fur from breakage and chafing. Unlike fleece, it’s slick, so the jacket moves during activity without rubbing his fur. I’d recommend a lining for medium- to long-haired dogs and any dogs prone to matting.
I’m less nitpicky with detail finishing on handmade items than with factory-made products, especially when the fit is this perfect. The finishing on the outside of the coat is excellent- even the pattern is almost perfectly centered down the back, and the lining is well finished, with the seams turned away from the dog’s body for a smoother fit. My only improvement would be the exposed edge of the stretch trim on the inside of the jacket, but because the fabric is so soft, it’s not a chafe risk, and it doesn’t fray or come apart.
Well, it WAS made just for him, so of course it fits! But that’s easy to say, and much harder to do. I’ve tried to make clothes for several dogs while they were present for fittings, and they’ve come out mediocre to terrible, so hats off to Pawtagonia for such a professional, clean fit.
Dogs vary in size and shape so much that it’s often hard to find full coverage sweaters and jackets that fit well. Robin happens to be a great fit for Ruffwear’s XS fleece, but from what we’ve seen, they really only fit well on dogs right in the middle of the size ranges. And every other pullover or zip-up jacket we’ve tried (and we’ve tried a lot, including Hurtta and other Ruffwear) has been baggy in the belly, too short in the back, too tight in the neck, or uncomfortably wide in the chest. That’s why custom fit is so special -provide 4 measurements and Pawtagonia will make you a coat that fits your dog like a glove.
We received Robin’s sweater at the beginning of summer, just when it was starting to warm up, so we haven’t had the chance to pit it against true cold yet. So far, it’s seemed to add around an extra 20 degrees of temperature tolerance for Robin during low and mild activity, and he overheats when he’s running or it’s sunny out. I’d estimate that the Pawtagonia sweater would be good for him for dry weather hikes down to about 35-40 degrees, and in camp for 50-55 and up. (I don’t prefer fleece for snow, as it picks up snowballs). The snug fit also seems to be soothing for him and improves his confidence indoors (where he tends to be meeker) which is an unexpected side benefit.
Because of the snug fit, I’m also excited to try the Pawtagonia sweater inside Robin’s heavy winter coat (Hurtta Extreme Warmer), which is great for insulation but doesn’t seal out air as well as a sweater does. Robin feels overstuffed with a sleeved coat underneath so I’m hoping the active cut of this sweater will work better.
I’ve washed the sweater once, and it still looks new. Polar fleece does tend to pill up eventually no matter how much they call it “no pill”, but so far it’s not showing any wear, even on the belly. Due to the mesh lining, it also doesn’t collect hair as much as Robin’s other fleece-lined coats. I can’t tell whether the hairs go through the mesh and stick to the inside of the fleece, or fall right off, but either way it still looks nice and clean.
Honestly I think these are a great deal for the price. Depending on your dog’s size, you get a perfect fit coat for less than or just about what a Ruffwear Climate Changer costs – the most similar commercial coat – yet you get a lining too, for extra durability and fur protection, and it comes in the bright, interesting pattern of your choice. I also find this coat to be more versatile, pattern-wise, than a solid colored fleece, which tend to start looking scruffy and not suitable for dinners out with the pup.
This is the only coat we’ve used in the lightweight category we’ve since receiving it. It’s bright, cheerful, a perfect fit, and totally chafe free. Highly recommended.
Good for: Comfortable, active fit layer for dogs of all body types.
Not ideal for: Extreme temperatures as a standalone.