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If you watched the Tokyo Olympics this summer, you may have caught a glimpse of British diver Tom Daley knitting sweaters for dogs in his downtime between competitions. Viral photos of the Olympic champion knitting dog sweaters garnered almost as much attention as his gold medal win. (Daley later posted a few of his amazing knitted pet sweater creations on Instagram, and we’d personally award him gold for his knitting skills, too.)
If the Olympian’s handiwork has you inspired, or you’ve been wanting to learn how to knit a dog sweater for your furry BFF, read on for some tips and resources. We’ve also rounded up few adorable ready-to-wear dog sweaters you can buy online, too.
How To Knit a Dog Sweater: Measurements and Patterns
The first and most important step before embarking on any knitting project is to make sure you have the precise measurements you need. For a dog sweater, this means you’ll want to measure your pet’s topline, neck, and chest with a tape measure and keep the “two-finger rule” in mind to ensure that a sweater won’t be too tight or too loose for your pet to comfortably wear. Watch the video below for some helpful tips on how to measure your dog correctly.
Once you have your measurements, you’ll want to pick out a pattern. There is no shortage of free dog sweater patterns online, but we’ve also included some links to several excellent dog sweater knitting books below.
If you’re relatively new to knitting, you may want to look for a basic pattern that’s already close in size to your pet’s measurements. A top-down pattern will also allow you to try the sweater on your dog as you go along.
Make sure to compare your dog’s measurements to the pattern and make any necessary adjustments to achieve a perfect, custom fit. For male dogs, you may also need to shorten the length to avoid it interfering with their ability to pee while wearing the sweater.
If you’re knitting a sweater for a puppy, consider intentionally sizing the pattern up to allow room for the dog to grow into it. Also, take note: If you want your dog to wear the sweater while out on walks, it’s necessary to add a small opening to the back of the piece to make the design compatible with a leash.
The Best Material for Dog Sweaters
You’ll want to keep your dog’s needs in mind when picking out materials for a dog sweater. While wool is a popular fabric choice for a sweater, if your dog is likely to wear the sweater outdoors and loves a good roll in the mud, you may want to consider acrylic yarn instead.
Acrylic is typically machine-washable, water-resistant, and much more durable (i.e., chew- and rip-proof) than wool or cotton yarn. It’s also relatively affordable. That’s why so many commercially made dog sweaters are made with acrylic yarn.
When knitting for your dog, you’ll want to check your gauge or knit a gauge swatch to ensure that you don’t end up with a sweater that’s significantly bigger or smaller than you intended it to be.
It’s also important to make sure that the stitches have some give to them and can withstand an active dog moving around and running while in the sweater.
Last, if you opt for fastenings, make sure they’re dog-friendly! A hook-and-loop closure is a popular option for pups that allows for adjustability if needed—but you can also avoid the issue entirely by selecting a stretchy pullover style, as many patterns and ready-to-wear options do.
Dog Sweater Patterns and Knitting Tutorials
New to knitting? Take a look at the following books that offer both patterns and helpful instructions.
With everything from cable-knit to chunky and ribbed patterns, this knitting book contains a variety of dog sweater options to keep your pet cozy all winter long. Each pattern is accompanied by step-by-step instructions and notes from the author. And bonus: there’s a pattern for a dog blanket, too.Find on Amazon
With this handy guide, you can learn how to knit a dog sweater and finish your first project in a weekend. The guide contains 36 beginner-friendly sweater patterns and advice on how to customize the pattern to fit your dog’s measurements.Find on Amazon
If you own a medium or large-sized dog, you can’t go wrong with this knitting guide. It contains 12 patterns designed with bigger breeds in mind, as well as patterns for a dog blanket and puppy bed, too.Find on Amazon
Dog Sweaters You Can Buy
Rather buy a dog sweater instead? Take a look at these high-quality options.
Available in 17 different colors, including the pictured dark pink, this Blueberry Pet classic dog sweater is made with a blend of soft wool and acrylic fabric. It is also compatible with leashes, thanks to a slot on the back of the sweater, so your dog can wear it out on walks.Find on Amazon
Who can resist a red and black buffalo plaid pattern? Whether worn for the holiday season or all winter long, this machine-washable dog sweater is both eye-catching and festive.Find on Amazon
This machine-washable acrylic knit dog sweater comes in a range of colors, and its long length makes it a great choice for Dachshunds and other breeds with longer backs.Find on Amazon
Made of a knitted cotton blend material, this fleece dog sweater is ideal for keeping smaller-sized breeds cozy and warm.Find on Amazon
We love the soft color options that are available in this Stinky G dog sweater. (Choices include mint, lavender, violet, and camel.) Dog parents will also appreciate the built-in leash hole in the back of the sweater, as well as its machine-washable 100% acrylic material.Find on Amazon