Introduction: Felted Hair of the Dog Coat

Picture of Felted Hair of the Dog Coat

Every winter we have a dilemma with our indoor Cocker Spaniel: if we leave him hairy, he's too hot for indoor life and walks around panting and drinking water incessantly. If we shave him, he's too cold when he goes outside. 
This winter I solved the dilemma: I shaved the hair off his back and belly and part of his legs, then used his own hair to make a coat for him. His hair was needle-felted into a tailored wool coat that he can wear outdoors and be toasty warm, then take off when he comes back inside. Problem solved!

How to felt a dog hair coat.

You will need:

Water and soap
Grooming shears
A piece of wool or craft felting fabric
Hook and loop fastening tape
Straight pins
Needle and thread
A felting brush
A felting needle (preferably a multi-needle gadget)

Step 1: Get Some Hair of the Dog

Picture of Get Some Hair of the Dog
Almost any animal fur is good for felting. Using your own dog's hair to make a felted coat for him is ideal. You can't get a better color match!
However, getting your dogs hair can be tricky. Dog's don't naturally take to being groomed. My main tips for DIY dog grooming are:
  • Wash your dog with soap or shampoo before grooming and dry him completely.
  • Let your dog get used to the grooming shears over a couple days. Show him the shears, turn them on, and give him a treat. Repeat this until he allows you "access" to his fur. 
  • Always shave in the direction of hair growth
  • Hold your dog with one arm if necessary while shaving with the other
I found the best felting hair was from my dog's legs and belly. It was silkier and finer than anywhere else. Focus on those parts.
Put the hair in a bag and save for later.

Step 2: Measure and Cut the Undercoat

Picture of Measure and Cut the Undercoat

Measure and cut a piece of wool or felt fabric. You can use a tape measure or just hold the fabric up to your dog and measure the length of his body and the width around his chest (the biggest circumference). 
Cut two holes for the dog's front legs about four fingers apart (on a medium sized dog). Make the holes bigger than the dog's legs to allow room for movement.
Put the coat on the dog and pin the top together, overlapping an inch. Trim the rear half of the dog coat beginning at the belly. Be sure to clear all plumbing equipment. Leave a nice rear flap to keep the dog's rump toasty.

Step 3: Tailor the Dog Coat

Picture of Tailor the Dog Coat

With the basic shape still pinned together on the dog, pin darts wherever you want a more tailored fit using straight pins. Take the coat off the dog and cut the darts open, flattening them so you don't have bulky nobs everywhere.
Stitch the darts with a needle and heavy-duty thread.
Cut a couple pieces of hook and loop tape and stitch them to the two sides of the top of the coat using a needle and thread. DO NOT use adhesive hook and loop tape. No needle will get through the gummy glue.
(I wanted to use sugru and magnets as fasteners like these dish towels, but I'm still waiting for my packet of sugru to arrive).

Step 4: Needle Felting Dog Hair

Picture of Needle Felting Dog Hair

There are different felting techniques, but the easiest technique for felting a dog hair coat is needle felting (I tried nuno felting into a piece of lace and found that my dog's hair was too short, and I'm not about to spin his hair into yarn to knit & felt).
Needle felting is very easy. All you need is a felting needle (or a gadget that comes with five needles) and a felting brush (or a thick piece of foam).
Place the brush or foam under the fabric that is going to be felted into, spread the dog hair on top of the fabric (spreading the fibers in different directions), and punch, punch, punch with the felting needles.
Until the whole coat is felted.
The hair is woven into the wool fabric, creating a perfect dog hair coat. Needle felting leaves the underside of the fabric with an extra layer of fuzz. That's a good thing in this case because it will keep your dog extra warm in the cold outdoors.


animals rock (author)2016-02-06

creative!! :)

i_luvcanada (author)2012-01-19

What a wonderful idea. Where do you buy the felting gadget? How long did it take to acquire enough fur to do this coat? Thank you.

mrlunna13 (author)i_luvcanada2012-10-28

Did you get a response for the felting needle? If not, you can buy them on eBay :

They are like $7.00 USD and up.

flyingpuppy (author)mrlunna132012-10-29

Thanks for answering that, Lunna. I found my needle at a fabric store (though not all fabric stores carry them). As for the fur, I used less than one shaving's worth for this coat. Probably should have let the fur grow some more. It's easier to work with longer fur.
Good luck!

mrlunna13 (author)2012-10-28

Awsome idea! Thank you for sharing it with us. You gave me an idea for a beannie.

jrichell (author)2012-07-03

Well then, it would be good to have quality dog clippers for shearing, so you can get amazingly beautiful fur from specified parts.

Hippymike96 (author)2012-01-28

Brilliantly embarrassing
Brilliant because who else would have thought of this
Embarrassing for the dog because think about how he/she feels if fort of his/hers doggy friends

flyingpuppy (author)Hippymike962012-01-28

Ha ha. If this dog isn't embarrassed sniffing other dogs' butts, he won't be embarrassed about his extra layer of skin. : )

AlexandriaEisenhower (author)2012-01-20

People! It's just yarn!

I have a year-round shedder and have been brushing and saving my pup's fur for many years but never knew what to do with it. I have thought of spinning and making into a hat/scarf for me, needlework for the wall, or a crocheted likeness of him. The canine coat was one of my ideas, but with the same problem of a hot long-haired dog. However, I do like the idea of a coat for the other dog -- a short-haired lab mix.

I wish others would share their creative thoughts on this fun and abundant freebie!

Kiteman (author)2012-01-17

Oh, my goodness.

That is both creepy* and awesome.

* Shades of that guy from the Hannibal Lecter stories. The one that skinned his victims and turned them into a suit...

jfearnside (author)Kiteman2012-01-20

LOL - I was just about to comment "It puts the lotion on its skin" when I spotted you had beat me to it! It really does remind me of that movie!

brewhead (author)Kiteman2012-01-19

I thought the same....

brilliant, but a little creepy. lol

flyingpuppy (author)Kiteman2012-01-18

And if he sits any closer to the wood stove while napping, I may have to eat a hot dog.

susanrm (author)2012-01-19

*snort* Too much.

Should I be thankful that my dog has hair that's too short for something like this? And somehow manages to stay quite warm in the winter without a coat?

Nice job, anyway.

MsJaxFla (author)2012-01-19

Oh my this is fantastic. I have been putting my babies fur in the yard in a special bird place for them to get what they need for nesting..... there is enough to do both with my three fur pups and hey I might incorporate my kitty kats in this too.

flyingpuppy (author)MsJaxFla2012-01-19

I love the idea! In fact, I think I'll add some of the dog hair to the birds' nests I'm knitting and felting. 

NatureGeek24 (author)2012-01-19

Great project; but I don't think I'll do it. ;) My dog takes long enough to find the right blade of grass to water... I don't want him any warmer and more comfortable while he makes up his mind.

flyingpuppy (author)NatureGeek242012-01-19

Actually, the original idea in grooming our dog smack in the middle of winter was to entice him to stay home and not run off like he does. Didn't work. So now it's a leash and a coat.

marcward86 (author)2012-01-19

Nice, I finally know how to make this happen: I have a long haired orangish colored dog and a short haired black dog. The black dog gets cold in the winter and orange dog sheds more than I thought possible. So I thought...why not make a coat for one dog out of the other dog's fur?

Alas, my wife said NOOOOOO thats gross and weird. I didn't think it weird at all, keeping in mind the other bizarre things that dogs do.

Now I know how to make it happen on my own!!!

flyingpuppy (author)marcward862012-01-19

You all are too funny! Seems we all thought this was a weird idea to start with, but once you see a dog hair dog coat, it seems logical.
I'm surprised by my dog's reaction to this coat. I thought he'd go into his usual "rejection mode" when I put it on--you know, freezing in place and shaking like a leaf. But once I got it on him, he scampered about like he was in his own skin. Probably because he was in his own skin. : )

rafari (author)2012-01-19

Congratulations on such a good job and great idea. The dog looks very stylish!

danorama723 (author)2012-01-19

Fabulous and funny. Great job!

MyMenagerie (author)2012-01-19

What a great idea! It is a lot cheeper than t-shirts and more natural looking! My border collie is elderly and would love such a coat! Thanks for the instructions!

manintveld_nl (author)2012-01-19

That is brilliant! Such a humane idea for our 4 legged family members!

CatTrampoline (author)2012-01-17

Now I know what to do with all those pellets of cat hair felt I brush out of the kittehs. Anyone want to buy a cat-hair felt vest?

mezcraft (author)CatTrampoline2012-01-18

I have seen a woman who knits with cat hair and makes purses for people out of their old .. deceased... cats. People can get weird.

flyingpuppy (author)mezcraft2012-01-18

Well, I've heard of people who pay to get their ex-pets taxidermied. Very weird indeed.

It sounds odd until you are overcome with grief at losing a friend who has been with you for 15+ years. I can understand it.
I actually considered having a cat freeze-dried, but it was WAY over my budget. In hindsight (now that the grief has mellowed), I'm glad I was forced to go with the more traditional pictures and flower patch. I was 1 cat over the legal limit at the time so I couldn't go out and adopt another which made it harder to move on.

There is a new show on TV - American Stuffers - that features a family of taxidermists that specialize in pet taxidermy. I feel for the clients, but I think in the long run a new pet to love is healthier and equally respectful of the bond they shared with their deceased pet.

Sorry for hhijacking the "pet coat" thread into a "pet grief" thread.

CatTrampoline (author)mezcraft2012-01-18

Okaaaay.... I guess anything that helps them move through their grief and deal with the loss is good. I settled for a backyard pet funeral and leaving Bertie's pictures up on the fridge as a rememberance.

wilgubeast (author)2012-01-18

Dressing up one's pets always seems a little, well, unseemly. Not so when you're using the animal's own hair. Excellent work.

Kiteman is right, it does have a certain canine Buffalo Bill creepiness to it. But a cocker spaniel is the breed least likely to serially murder anyone. It was on an unaired episode of Dogs 101. The most likely breed? Bloodhound, obviously.

jessyratfink (author)2012-01-17

I love this so much. Such a fantastic solution. :D

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Bio: My favorite quotation is: “All you need in order to accomplish something great is a good idea and not quite enough money.” – Anon I live ... More »
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