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Dog Shirts

Dog Shirts

Dogs in shirts have become a common sight as more and more people choose to dress their pets, as well as themselves, in a variety of stylish and often practical clothing. You might choose to purchase a shirt, or even a whole wardrobe or shirts for your dog for several reasons. First, they’re just plain fun. Dressing your dog can let you make a political statement, show support for your favorite team, enter best-dressed dog contests, show the world your taste in food or music, or simply indulge your creativity. But dog shirts can also be practical attire. They can help keep your dog warm if it’s a little chilly but not cold enough for a coat or sweater. They can help keep your dog’s coat clean, keep him from shedding all over your house, keep his belly clean when out walking or playing in the yard, or even protect him from sunburn. And they can give you a place to store keys or other small items conveniently when on an outing.

Many styles of dog shirts are available ready-made. You just pick and buy and that’s that. But there are also sellers who will custom make a shirt just for your dog. Some will let you select from various combinations of choices to personalize a shirt to your liking. Some will design a shirt to your specifications. And if you sew, though not as common as patterns for dog sweaters, you can nevertheless purchase patterns to make your own dog shirts, meaning your choice of fabrics and design variations are limited only by your imagination.

Dog shirts can be purchased anywhere you buy other dog supplies, such as your local pet store or large chain pet stores, department stores, wholesale pet outlets, doggy boutiques, private individuals, and the internet. The internet especially is a good source of specialty and hard-to-find items, as you can literally shop the world from the comfort of your home.

Costs for dog shirts vary, just as they do for your own clothes. You’ll find some simple little shirts that go for just a few dollars, while fancy designer shirts can cost a hundred dollars or more – yes, just for a shirt! But the vast majority of dog shirts fall within the ten to twenty dollar range, and if your budget can stand that, you will have plenty from which to choose.

Dog shirts come in as many fabrics as other shirts do. Fabrics include natural ones, such as cotton, silk, linen, and ramie. Heavier shirts can be made of wool. Synthetic fabrics include Lycra, nylon, polyester and rayon. Many shirts are blends of natural and synthetic, such as cotton/polyester, or rayon/linen. Others blend two natural fibers together, like cotton/ramie or wool/acrylic, or two synthetics, like nylon/lyrca. Blends can take advantage of the attributes of the different fibers, like the coolness of cotton or the warmth of wool, combined with the easy care of a synthetic fiber.

Fabrics for dog shirts come in both knit and woven. The knit fabrics have the advantage of allowing a better fit, as they have more ‘give.’ But many of the woven fabrics are very attractive, with their own advantages, depending on the type of shirt you want. Some fabrics are very lightweight, such as thin tricot knits, or mesh or gauzy type cottons, while others can be fairly heavy fleece or thick cotton flannel.

There are several different types of dog shirts. Basically, a dog shirt is a garment that encircles your dog’s back, chest and stomach, encasing his torso, with sleeves or openings for his front legs and an opening for his head. The sleeves can be either short or long. The shirt may be a tube of fabric that you put on over his head, smoothing it down his back and stomach after fitting his legs through the sleeves or armholes. It might be just a ring or strip of fabric for the neck that goes over the head, with the rest fastening around his body by means of buttons, Velcro, zippers or a strap that wraps around the stomach. Or it could be a garment that opens up entirely, and just slips on, fastening on the back or stomach without having to be put over the head.


Within these basic types of dog shirts are several style variations on which most designs are based. These include such variations as:

– Round neck styles have a plain circular opening for the head.
– Crew neck is a round neck style, with a ribbed band to keep it closer to the neck. Most t-shirts are in this category.
– Jewel necks or keyhole necklines are dressier versions of the round neck, usually with a slit for ease of putting on, and a button or hook closure.
– V-necks are either plain, or have a bit of ribbing sewn on to help hold the shape.
– Turtlenecks have an extended tube that encloses the neck, usually folded over for extra thickness and warmth.
– Collared styles add a collar, or extra piece of fabric to the neck, usually seen with either a placket-front or button-down style of shirt, though some t-shirts also have collars.
– Hooded styles have a round neck to which a hood has been attached.
– Pullovers do just that: pull over the head and torso.
– Button downs pull on rather than over, and are fastened with buttons. Variations can include zipper, hook or Velcro fastening.

Sleeve styles have quite a range too, and include:
– Long sleeve, which come ribbed, banded, cuffed, tight or loosely flowing.
– Short sleeve include everything from just a basic cap sleeve to poufy sleeves, ribbed edges, and banded types.
– Sleeveless shirts include tank tops and sports jerseys.
– Spaghetti strap styles really have no sleeves at all, but merely straps that have the appearance of holding ‘up’ the shirt.

Size and Measurements

By far the greatest majority of dog shirts are made for toy to small breed dogs. Within this size range is an almost limitless array of designs and styles. However, with a little effort and persistence, it is also possible to find shirts for very large dogs, as well as some of the harder to fit breeds like Pugs, Bulldogs, Dachshunds, or Whippets.

The key to getting a good fit for your dog is to take good measurements. You’ll need to measure his back, from the base of his neck to the top of his tail, as well as the circumference of his neck, and around the deepest part of his chest. In addition, if you’re interested in a long-sleeved style of shirt, you might want to think twice if you have a Bassett Hound, for instance, with exceptionally short legs, or a Greyhound with very long ones.

Measuring your dog correctly is vital to ensuring their comfort when wearing clothes and accessories. Before you begin, make sure your pet is in a standing position. You will not get the correct measurements if he is sitting, slouching, or laying down. Use a soft measuring tape to take the measurements. If you haven’t got one, you can also use a non-stretchable piece of string (such as twine) and then measure the results against a flat ruler.

For proper fit, measure from the base of the neck to the base of the tail. Measure your dog’s legs and then check the dimensions of the shirt to be sure of a good fit. When in doubt, go to the next larger size. You can always take a nip or tuck here or there, but if it’s too small, you’re going to be out of luck. And if your Bassett simply has to have that gorgeous long-sleeved pullover, well you can always roll them up. Allow for shrinkage, unless the shirt is labeled pre-shrunk.


Now that you are equipped with knowledge of fabrics, types and your dog’s size, the fun part is to choose a design. You’ll be absolutely amazed at the variety you’ll find. Here is a sampling of what’s available:

T-Shirts are the most common and most basic design of dog shirt. But, as common though they are, you’ll be astonished to see the amazing variety of t-shirts you can find.

They include:
– Basic plain t-shirts in lightweight cotton knits in every color of the rainbow.
– Personalized t-shirts that include silk-screened names or initials, your dog’s name or breed in silk screening or embroidery, or ribbon or rhinestoned initials or names.
– Shirts with sayings include funny sayings, like “I love legs” or “I love cats,” or “bad to da bone.”, I “heart” (love) my mommy, my daddy, my people. You can even find “adult” sayings or jokes, or even shirts with racy pictures.
– Biker or “tough guy” t-shirts, with pictures of flames or dragons or Maltese crosses.
– Fancy t-shirts include striped or shiny knits that can be fur-trimmed, feather trimmed, bejeweled and ornamented with everything from buttons to leather strips to pompoms and sequins.
– Novelty t-shirts come printed with such things as NYPD, Army, Navy or FBI; place names like Huntington Beach or Fort Lauderdale; products like Nike or Coca-Cola.
– Printed shirts include tie dye dog shirts a la “The Grateful Dead”, camouflage shirts in a variety of colors, including the familiar forest green and brown, blues, pinks and multi-colored, patriotic red, white and blue designs, etc.
– Polo shirts are pullover knit shirts with a 2-or-3-button placket in front and a collar, nearly as plentiful and popular as t-shirts, in nearly as wide a range of colors and designs, such as rugby style stripes, golf-style polo shirts have little embroidered emblems, and some have contrasting ribbed collar, sleeve and waist bands.
– Turtleneck shirts are usually a little plainer, as they are made more for comfort than show. But even within this practical category, you can find embroidered initials, either in a crest or on the neck, stripes and other patterns.
– Specialty fabrics like ribbed knits, cable designs or sparkly stretch knits
– Sweatshirts range from the practical to designer styles, and include both regular and hooded styles and “hoodies.” Some designs such as the familiar fleece sweatshirt, hooded or crewneck, is warm, sturdy, and practical. Many are made of Polartec´┐Ż fleece, which is very warm and lightweight. Some sweatshirt styles are made of thick, soft terry cloth, or soft and warm velour that’s a bit dressier in appearance. Team logos are a popular design for dog sweatshirts, and include professional and college teams, with football being especially popular. Some sweatshirts are made of waffle weave or other thick thermal fabric.

Button down shirts run the gamut from plain to fancy, including such designs as:
– Shirt and tie combinations include plain, striped and other patterned fabrics, in both casual and dressy styles. Some of these have the “front” of the shirt on the back of the dog, presumably so you can see it better, but they do look a little odd with the tie going down the back!
– Tuxedo shirts are another choice and, as above, some have the tie in front, others in the back. They come in different colors, like white, pale blue, black and pink.
– Bow tie shirts, and shirt/vest combinations with bow ties are another choice – most of these do have the tie in front.
– Cowboy or Western style shirts with pearl buttons and fancy stitching
– Bowling shirts
– 50s style “sock hop” shirts
– Hawaiian print or “Aloha” shirts of colorful cotton or rayon in island designs will give your dog a tropical aura.
– Chinese-style fancy silk brocade shirts and blouses
– Lumberjack-style plaid flannel shirts

Miscellaneous shirt designs include:
– Famous name designer shirts, like Tommy Hilfiger or Gucci
– Sailor shirts
– Ruffled, frilly or lace shirts
– Peasant blouses, some with embroidery or lace trim
– Argyle shirts
– Tank tops in male and female designs.
– Spaghetti strap tanks

Sports themed shirts or jerseys, often including team logos, are another popular choice:
– Football jerseys, either satin knit or mesh
– Basketball jerseys
– Baseball shirts
– NASCAR-style racing shirts
– Soccer shirts

Costumes. Many costumes for your dog are just decorated shirts. Some examples are:
– Superdog shirt w/cape
– Batdog shirt w/cape
– Pirate shirt, with a bandanna to match
– Top Dog shirt with an aeronautical flair
– Dogzilla, with scales down the spine.
– Angel shirt, with little wings sewn on the back.
– Jailhouse striped shirt

Specialty shirts include some ingenious and practical designs, as well as fun designs such as:
– Combination shirt and doggy backpack
– Combination shirt and harness that you can use for walking your dog.
– T-shirt with sewn-on pouch
– Sweatshirts and t-shirts with large pockets.
– Matching doggy/human shirts, or “Mommy’n’me” shirts come in a set – one for your dog and a matching one for you.
– Solar protective t-shirts can help prevent your dog from getting sunburned.

Putting It On and Taking it Off

If your dog isn’t accustomed to wearing clothes, it might be a challenge the first time you try to put a shirt on him. In that case, it’s probably best to start with a style that doesn’t have to go over his head, just to get him accustomed to the idea. After that, try a plain t-shirt of a very stretchy fabric. Just scrunch it up and get it over his head very fast, as dogs, just like you don’t like having things on their heads, and especially covering their eyes. After that, gently grasp his legs by the “forearms” one at a time and ease them into the sleeves, or arm openings. Finally, just smooth the rest of it down over his back and stomach. Take your time, introduce it slowly, be gentle and quick, and you should have no trouble. Try not to laugh and embarrass him!

When removing dog clothing, take it over your dog’s head first and over his legs last.


You’ll need to take proper care of your dog’s shirt if you want it to continue to look good. Machine or hand wash according to the label instructions, and either hang or tumble dry or dry flat. If you’re careful, your dog’s shirts should last a good long time.

Make your own dog shirts! You can buy new fabric, modify baby clothes, or use an old sweatshirt. Check out the patterns for doggie clothes at your local fabric store, or in pattern books. You might be astonished at the variety available! Check out the patterns for doggie clothes at your local fabric store.

How to make a sweatshirt for your pooch from one of your sweatshirts:

1. Make sure the old sweatshirt will fit your dog.
2. Measure your dog from the base of the neck to midway to his tail.
3. Cut the sweatshirt to the correct length.
4. Either sew the hem or use fabric webbing.
5. Cut the sleeves so the length is where you want them to be on your dog’s front legs.
6. Hem the sleeves as well, if you prefer the tailored look.
7. Place your dog’s legs in the shirt first and then stretch the neck opening over his head.

Dog Shirts – the bottom line

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