How to Crochet a Sweater for a Dog

by Karen Curley

Some short-haired dogs, toy breeds and miniature breeds lack the insulating double coats that protect wolves and most working dog breeds, from Siberian huskies to Labrador retrievers, against cold, rain and the sun. Dressing your small or short-haired dog in a sweater can help him stay warm in cold weather. You can crochet a sweater for a dog using a basic single crochet stitch that is also suitable for beginner crocheters. The sweater design is for any size or breed of dog; just adjust it to your dog’s measurements. The pattern does not require a specific yarn weight or crochet hook size, making it great for using crochet hooks and yarn left from other crocheting projects.

Measurements

Step 1

Using the tape measure, determine your dog’s neck circumference by measuring from the front of his neck at the top of his chest and around to the back of his neck where it meets the top of his shoulders. The sweater collar should fit comfortably here. Make a note of your dog’s neck circumference size.

Step 2

Measure your dog’s chest circumference by wrapping the tape measure around your dog at the bottom center of his ribcage. This part of his ribcage is the longest area from his back to under the ribs. Bring the tape measure up both sides of your dog, meeting at the spine. Make a note of the chest circumference measurement.

Step 3

Measure the length of your dog’s chest by holding one end of the tape measure at the bottom, at the front of your dog’s neck, above the chest bone. Bring the other end of the tape measure down to just underneath your dog’s chest, centered between the tops of his front legs. Jot down the fore-chest measurement.

Step 4

Measure the length of your dog’s back by holding one end of the tape measure at the base of his neck where it meets his shoulders. Run the other end of the tape measure across your dog’s back to the base of his tail, not the tail itself. Make a note of your dog’s back length.

Yarn

Step 1

Calculate the amount of yarn you will need after you have measured your dog. If you use worsted-weight yarn, multiply your dog’s chest circumference times the back length. Divide the product by 50 for the number of ounces you will need. For example, if your dog’s chest is 18 inches and his back length is 14 inches, you would multiply 18 times 14 for a product of 252. Divide 252 by 50, which equals 5.04. You would need about 6 ounces of worsted-weight yarn for the project.

Step 2

For sport-weight yarn, follow the same method as the previous step, but divide the product by 30 for the correct number of ounces of yarn needed. If you calculate the same measurements as step one for sport-weight yarn and divide by 30, you get 8.4, so you would need about 9 ounces of sport-weight yarn.

Step 3

Always add extra yarn to your calculations, because everyone crochets using different thread tension, which affects the amount of yarn needed.

Crocheting

Step 1

Begin the sweater by crocheting the collar. Crochet six chain stitches, then single crochet in the second chain stitch. Continue single crocheting in each chain stitch across the row. Chain one, and turn your work. Begin row 2 with a single crochet in the previous row’s single crochet stitch and in the remaining single crochet stitches across the row. Chain one, and turn your work. Repeat row two until the crocheted piece equals the length of your dog’s neck circumference. End the collar on an even row, and chain one. With right sides facing, fold the collar in half, bringing the ends together. Slip stitch the two sides together, matching the stitches on each side. Chain one, and then turn the collar so the seam is on the inside.

Step 2

Begin the first round of the body with a single crochet stitch in the next row of the collar. The chain stitch you crocheted previously counts as one single crochet. Continue to single-crochet in each previous row's stitches of the collar. Join the last single crochet stitch to the chain one with a slip stitch. Chain one, and do not turn the work. Lay the piece flat on a table with the seam in the center. Attach a place marker at the top of each outside edge to indicate where you will increase the stitches later. Begin round 2, continuing with the single crochet stitch. When you reach each marker, increase one stitch. At the end of round two, do not join the stitches together. Crochet round three using the single crochet stitch all the way around. Do not increase in round three. Follow the pattern for rounds 2 and 3 until the dog sweater is the same as your dog’s chest measurement, measuring from the bottom of the collar. You can try this on your dog as you work, and adjust with more or fewer increases if it seems too tight or loose for your dog. End the piece by joining the bottom round with a slip stitch.

Step 3

Measure where the leg openings will go by putting the crocheted piece on your dog with the seam centered over his chest. The bottom of the piece should fall to the bottom of his chest. Place stitch markers at the bottom of the piece at the outside of your dog’s legs on each side of his body. Place two more stitch markers at the inside of each leg. This is where the sleeves will go. Remove the sweater from your dog, and double-check the place markers, making sure each sleeve has the same number of stitches.

Step 4

Begin row 1 by crocheting one chain, then single crochet in each previous stitch up to the first sleeve marker. Chain the same number of stitches as between the leg opening markers to form the sleeve opening. Continue crocheting with the single crochet stitch in the first stitch after the marker and around to the next set of markers for the other sleeve. Chain the same number of stitches as between the markers, then single crochet to the center seam. At the top of the chain one, join the stitches together using a slip stitch. Chain one.

Step 5

Calculate the length of the next section by subtracting your dog’s back measurement from his chest measurement, then dividing the result by 2. This is the length of the piece before decreasing begins. Continue working with the single crochet stitch for round 2 and all subsequent rounds until the sweater measures your length calculation when measured from the sleeve openings. Join the last single crochet stitch to the first stitch of the final round, using a slip stitch. Cut the yarn, leaving 2 inches, and pull it through the slip stitch loop. Weave the end of the yarn into the crocheted piece with a yarn needle.

Step 6

Start the underbelly decreases by chaining one for the first row, decrease with one single crochet in the next two stitches together. Single crochet around until you reach the last two stitches of the round, then make one single crochet through the last two stitches together. Chain one, and turn your work. Continue crocheting, following the first row instructions until the sweater measures the length of your dog's back, measuring from the bottom of the collar to the end of the work.

Step 7

Begin the sleeve by attaching the yarn to the inside edge of the armhole. Chain one, and then single crochet in each armhole stitch, adding two single crochet stitches in each side stitch of the sleeve opening. Single crochet around the sleeve opening until the sleeve is the proper length for your dog’s leg. Slip stitch the final single crochet stitch into the top of the first single crochet stitch of the round. Cut the yarn, leaving about 2 inches, and weave the end into the sleeve. Repeat this procedure for the second sleeve.

Items You Will Need

  • Tape measure
  • Crochet hook
  • Yarn
  • Stitch markers
  • Yarn needle
  • Scissors

Tips

  • If you want a turtleneck sweater, chain a few more stitches for extra collar length when you begin the collar.
  • Add ruffles to the sweater collar, sleeves and edges by using a shell stitch or picot stitch. You can also finish off the edges of the sweater with the single crochet stitch.

Warning

  • Double-check your dog's measurements for crocheting the sweater to ensure it will not be too tight or too loose for your dog, especially around the collar and sleeves. If the sleeves are too tight, they will restrict his movement.

About the Author

Karen Curley has more than 18 years experience in health and nutrition, specializing in healthy food choices for families. She received USDA certification in food components, nutrient sources, food groups and infant/child nutrition, and holds a B.A. in English from the University of Massachusetts. Curley is also an avid gardener, home renovator, Collie breeder, dog groomer and dog trainer.