Dog with pink flower on the head

Ultimate Guide to Accessorizing Your Dog

Dog Accessories – Have We Gone Too Far?

There are two types of dog owners – those who like to accessorize their dogs, and those who rather stick to the basics and have the dog wear a collar and a leash. Pet stores all over the world have picked up on this trend and you can now buy fancy outfits, funky costumes, footwear (paw wear?) and more for your four-legged companion.

You can dress them up for a wedding or let them wear a pair of puppy sunglasses to the beach! The question is – are we taking this too far? Is it okay to dress up our dogs as if they were our children, and do they enjoy it as much as we do?

Having a dog is different today than it was a hundred years ago, and it has gradually changed the way we treat them and the types of dog accessories we choose to buy.

Accessories & Clothes for Dogs

Big and small dogs with accessories

There was a time when people owned dogs for the sole purpose of work; dogs were kept to herd sheep at farms, to patrol the land and keep intruders out, they were used for hunting and more, and it wasn’t until later that people started owning dogs just for fun. Having dogs has grown in popularity in recent years, and studies show that many young people are now opting for getting a dog together with their partners first, before considering having kids.

This new interest taken in dog ownership and dog care has resulted in a blooming dog accessory business, and you can now buy almost anything for your dog. Pet stores and online shops are full of coats, t-shirts, fancy hair bows, dresses, Halloween costumes, shoes & booties, hats, earmuffs (yes, that too) and necklaces – all made to fit our canine friends. Many dog owners confess to buying more accessories for their dogs than for themselves, and it is easy to get carried away.

Before many years ago, all you could expect to find for your dogs were necessities like collars, harnesses, and leashes, but now you can get your dog its own (and surprisingly varied) closet! The internet has an absurd selection of dog products that you almost have to see to believe it, and no matter what you’ve dreamt of putting on your dog – we bet you could find it somewhere.

Dresses and Costumes

Dog with superman costume

Having a dog wear a dress or a silly Halloween costume might sound like a fun idea because after all, it makes them look adorable! However, there has been a lot of discussions lately, regarding whether it is correct to dress our up our pups for our own entertainment, and if it is something they can learn to enjoy. If not, and if they are only tolerating it because they have to, can we really defend the practice of dressing our dogs up in clothes they don’t need?

We see on TV how people in wealthy neighborhoods in California dress up their pooches even on sunny days, and it is hard to believe that these dogs would choose this themselves if they had a choice.

Dogs are animals and they were not originally bred to wear clothes, making it a strange practice if you look at it objectively. Many experts recommend only putting costumes and cute dresses on pets for the purpose of taking a photo, and to then take it off and let the dog run freely.

Many Halloween costumes and silly outfits are straight-out impractical for dogs to wear, as they often include collars, dog hats, stuffed figures attached to the back of the costumes and more, which isn’t exactly to the liking of every dog, and for good reason.

Yet, thousands of people buy extravagant outfits for their pets every year, raising the question of who those costumes are really for – the dog, or their owner? The answer is clear.

When to Use Clothing for Dogs

While it is a valid argument that dogs were not bred to wear clothes, the truth is that the pet dog has come a long way from the wolf it originates from. Small dogs today tend to get cold during the winter months, and they can’t withstand low temperatures the way breeds like the Siberian Husky, the Samoyed, and the Newfoundland can. For these dogs, it is probably necessary to buy a warm winter jacket, coat or a sweater, or they could be forced to stay inside.

Now, the question is, who draws the line? How do you draw the line between the dog clothing and accessories that are justified and those that are not? What it comes down to is whether the clothes benefit the dog, or if the only one getting something out of it is you.

If the dog feels better with clothes on – such as when it is freezing outside, bundling up your fur friend should be defendable. If, however, the outfit only serves to get a few ‘aww’ sounds out of people you meet on the street, then perhaps it is time to stop and think if it really is what is best for the dog.

Dogs don’t care about compliments or envious looks from other dog owners, and for them, it is all about being comfortable and having fun.

There is a big difference between having your dog wear a dress and sunglasses as you walk down Sunset Boulevard in the middle of the summer, and a thin-haired dog wearing a thick winter jacket in the middle of the winter in Alaska.

The two cannot be compared, so the next time you plan to shop for your pooch – perhaps you will want to stop and ask yourself if the item will make your dog’s life better, easier or more comfortable, and if not, then maybe it’s better to keep browsing.

Hairless Dog Breeds

The same rules may not apply to breeds like the Chinese Crested and the Mexican Hairless, as these have extremely sensitive skin that will often need to be covered up during the winter, even when the degrees are mild.

They have no hair to protect them from the outside elements, and it is not unusual to see one of these dogs come strutting down the road in colorful dog pajamas with long sleeves. In summer, people will usually opt for applying sunscreen to their sensitive skin, but some also choose to go with a thin overall to protect from sunburn.

Unless your dog is a hairless breed, it is highly unlikely that they should need clothing in summer, and only the smallest breeds tend to require clothing during winter (unless, of course, you live somewhere where it gets really cold, or if your pup gets cold easily).

Using Common Sense

You know your dog best, and you probably know what is right for him or her, and what isn’t. It is, however, very easy to get carried away and to get things and accessories that do not serve much of a purpose.

There are great ways to accessorize your dog without causing discomfort, and you can stick to purchasing fun and trendy collars and harnesses – things you can use in your everyday lives together – and leave those canine dresses, skirts and tutus on the hanger where you first found them.

Make it your own rule to stop and think if the planned purchase will benefit you or the dog, and if the answer is anything other than the dog – put it back. Don’t get it.

In the end, the dog is yours and you do as you please, but a little bit of consideration is always a good thing. You wouldn’t want someone to dress you up in clothing that restricted your movements or that made you warmer than you needed to be in summer, so let’s just agree to treat our dogs with the respect they deserve, and to try to limit our accessory purchases to what benefits our dogs instead of ourselves.

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