dog apparel

Stop Putting Clothes On Dogs

dog clothes

I am the woman whose dog has been fitted for custom couture, fancy clothing, and whose dog wears one-of-a-kind creations to events while I wear “off the rack.”

My dog walks the runway.

I rent it.

It is on this 14th day of January, that someone, somewhere had the notion to dub these 24 hours, “National Dress Up Your Pet” Day.

Some dogs should not partake in this national unobserved-by-most-employers-but-a-day-of-rejoice for those who believe that Bark is the New Black.

And then some dogs should partake.

When is clothing and dress up fun versus when is it over the top versus when is it harming a dog? Keep putting clothes on dogs if that’s your thing, like it is mine.

If you are looking for advice or to commiserate with someone to bash on canine fashion, you won’t get it with me. Here’s a Fi-dose of reality as it pertains to people who put clothing on dogs.

Dogs Are Not Wolves

Dogs are not as close kin to wolves as previously believed. People in the know, like scientist people who do this for a living, say so, as evidenced by this article on the Discovery website. I wouldn’t put a dress on a wolf unless he was a character disguising himself in children’s book. I would put a tux on a dog who didn’t mind doing so and whose personality didn’t suffer for it.

dog apparel
Dexter is dapper in his duds.

Photo Contest Naysayers

Every time I run a photo contest for dogs, there are a few folks who chime in how unnatural it is for dogs to wear clothing. “These dogs aren’t happy doing this,” one dog parent wrote to me. Of all the people I’ve met my career in the pet industry, the majority of dog parents who put clothes on their pets are super loving, kind, and dog lovers to the max. So give us a break.

Being a Dog

For every time my dog wears a sweater, has a tux on, allows me to button his designer vest, he gets 10 runs in the park, romps in the mud, play sessions galore, walks around the neighborhood, trips to the treat store, and one-on-one time with me having fun. Many dog parents whose dogs wear clothing are the same way.

Okay, so I’m muddy, but I’m healthy, too!

Dogs Are the New Kids

But they aren’t human children. I know my dog isn’t a human being: He has all the qualities I wish in people and all the goodness of a, well, saint. Some say I am anthropomorphizing (ascribing human qualities) to my dog. “Just a dog,” some say. “He’s not a kid, you know,” I’ve been told.


If the fates honor me with my dog-sharing life for a solid 15 years or more, unlike a teenager at age 15, my dog isn’t asking for the car keys, won’t enter the dating world, and will never become a source of gray hair as I worry because he is out 10 minutes past curfew. His time is getting limited, at this ripe old age.

The lifespan of a dog is short — a flicker, if you will, compared with a human’s. He will pass from this world and leave behind a hole in my heart where it used to be, well, “whole.” I’ve been down this road, and I will again and again. Being in a room when the needles to stop pain are injected into a dog is a surreal and life altering experience.

I live a bit more vicariously and in the moment since becoming a dog mom: And after all, aren’t dogs always living in the moment? They’ve taught me well, these creatures kids called dogs. I’ve yet to see my dog worry about what just happened, or panic at something that’s going down tomorrow. Dogs have taught me to live life to its fullest because at any time, it can end.


What Not to Do to a Dog

Dogs don’t like being chained up outside, made to live in a kennel, forced to be a puppy miller’s means to income, abused, hit, screamed at, starved, neglected, or forgotten. Many dogs are genuinely okay with wearing clothes. It’s not a form of abuse unless….

Dogs are not suffering by wearing clothing unless the dog is in pain, doesn’t get to do normal “dog” things, and has no quality of life because of it.

Bonus Points

When my dog injured his leg (twice) and ruptured his ACL, I opted for a “onesie” for dogs of sorts – from the folks at Tulane’s Closet. Well, my dog was so accustomed to apparel, he never blinked an eyelash at wearing a one piece “cover me” outfit during his postop period. He never bothered the wound. Thank you, clothing that is useful and functional as well as attractive.

tulane closet

We Have Fun

For those who do dress their dogs up, whether once a year at Halloween with a bandana or throughout the year and strut their dog down a runway with super models, the majority of us are having fun. Our dogs are well socialized, they have full, active, healthy, lives. We don’t have to explain why we fancy being a dog fashion fancier yet we feel on the defense time and again and face being verbally attacked on blogs, message boards, social media, and at events.

dog clothes
Dexter and Coco rock their summer wear.

Dogs Need Sweaters

Sometimes, dogs do need a sweater and there are health reasons for this. Click to read our article about dog sweater myths and facts.

Fashion Has Gone to the Dogs

Did you know that New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology, heralded as one of the world’s leading higher educational facilities for fashion design, has been offering a certificate program in Pet Product Design and Marketing? One of the stars of dog fashion’s spotlight is Anthony Rubio. The award-winning pet couturier Anthony Rubio, has designed several pieces for my dog and countless others. Take glam and common sense for dogs donning couture, and this is Anthony Rubio.

Rubio and his dogs, Bogie and Kimba

Rubio is not alone: From the runways of New York to the stages of L.A., dogs are reflecting today’s fashion trends.

If my dog hated wearing clothes and put up a fuss against it, I’d stop. I’d still want him to be warm and protected from the elements, so we’d face that hurdle. So far in my life, this has never been the case with my dogs.

If you have a dog who has zero passion for fashion, a bandana or fashionable leash/collar will do the trick.

Couture Conclusion

People who dress their pets up have long been a source of mockery and humor. Whatever. If you are happy and the dog’s quality of life are strengthened and enhanced for wearing clothes, go for it. Let no one stop you.

Do you put clothes on your dog? Are you pro or con canine apparel?

No doubt, some of these bloggers put clothes on their pets:

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  1. Agreed! It’s ok to have a little bit of fun. Anytime the boys are wearing clothing that is not serving a functional purpose, they are doing so for a short amount of time, getting lots of treats, and enjoying life the way they typically do! It makes us really happy and then we shower them with lots of love and attention (which they don’t seem to mind)!

  2. When you look as good as Dexter in clothes, of course you have to wear them! I love to put clothes on Bentley and he seems to be quite proud of wearing them. I need to find more for the conference! Any ideas where a Basset can get a tux?

  3. Cute pictures! If dog needs clothes, i would put them on dog. For some cute photoshoots i would try them. But naturally, i think that dogs do not need clothes.

  4. I’ve never put Mauja and Atka in clothes – it’s just not my thing. Plus, finding clothes big enough for them is not easy! I do love seeing other pets in clothes though. It can be pretty darn adorable 😉

  5. We wear clothes on occasion for a photo shoot, but we never wear clothes in every day life. My sisters and I have good furs and don’t need coats or sweaters or stuff like that. Some dogs do need something to keep warm as they weren’t blessed with good furs. Others are more the types to wear stuff when they go out and that is okay with us as long as the pup doesn’t mind.

  6. I love seeing Dexter all dressed up :).Yes,I do put clothes on Beauregard too…he is just so darned cute in them and he doesn’t mind a bit.My husband thought it wasn’t possible that Beau likes being dressed until he found a pair of pj’s that had been folded up and brought them to me…of course I put them on and he pranced around showing daddy how much he enjoyed having them on.Today he is wearing his Eagles jersey.

  7. I enjoy seeing other people dressing up their pets; I know it’s because they love them. As for my dogs (and cats!), they’re the old fashioned kind. They wear nothing but their collars. When you’re putting human kids through college, there’s not a lot of money left over to dress up a pet, unless it’s something functional. Sometimes we need boots. And every once in awhile, we’ve used a raincoat. And once — I’ll admit it — I bought a moose antler headband for Jasper –because his nickname is Moose, and it made a fun photo prop. (It’s since been chewed up.)

    You go, Dexter. Rock that runway. I’ll be on the sidelines cheering!

    –Wags (and purrs) from Life with Dogs and Cats.

  8. I do dress Haley up for Halloween as long as she’s comfortable with it. The onesies or clothes for post surgery are a fantastic idea! Some dogs don’t seem to mind wearing clothes but I think most of them prefer to romp around in their birthday suits. 🙂

  9. Dexter & Coco do look cute in their outfits ~ as long as they don’t mind it, I am not opposed to dogs wearing clothes! Our pups don’t have insulating undercoats, so they’re used to wearing practical doggie clothing during wintertime.

    My mom made a pretty purple sweater for our girl Missy to cover her post-op incision on her neck, and she didn’t mind it a bit. Our boy Buzz has worn his lightweight Ruffwear Cloud Chaser Jacket after having had a small mass removed on his chest as well ~ I thought it was a better option than having him wear a cone of shame. He also didn’t mind it at all.

  10. Haters gonna hate!
    My dogs love their clothes because they are warm! Granted they mostly just wear sweaters and coats, but we also do the occasional t-shirt or tutu on Ziva. I also have a bow tie that Dante dons for special occasions.
    Dante and Ziva get really excited when they see their coats come out, it means we’re going outside! I also love that it can help to soften the image of a scary “pit bull”. People can’t help but say, “Awwww…” when they see Ziva in her hot pink sweatshirt. 🙂


  11. We dress the dogs up on occasion, for holidays etc. Scooter our pom really likes to dress up- he feels fancy! Bear, our border collie mix doesn’t enjoy wearing hats/headwear, but he doesn’t mind clothing one bit! We have also had to have him wear cover up due to injury and it was very nice that it wasn’t an adjustment for him to make at that time when he was already in pain.

  12. OMD! This is so adorable!!! I didn’t know it was dress up your dog day!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  13. Mom doesn’t usually put clothes on me ‘just because’. The only times that happens is if it’s super cold outside, or sometimes if it’s a holiday. Thankfully, mom did not know about this ‘National Dress Up Your Pet Day’ or else I’m sure I’d be made to wear something! Not that I really truly mind…but still!

  14. Oh, we are all about that here! Some of these costumes they have me wearing are a little silly and cumbersome, but I appreciate the sweaters to stay warm out on our winter walks, and I’m ALL about my fashionable collars and ties! *wags* – Gilligan from

  15. I would love to participate in the National Dress Up Your Pet Day, but as we live in Australia, January 14th is the hottest part of the year. I suggest that the Southern Hemisphere should have their own National Dress Up Your Pet Day… maybe on the 14th of August.

  16. I’m totally pro Canine apparel. My little dog Phoebe loves to get dressed up! As soon as I hold up one of her many articles of clothing she gets super excited! She pushes her head & paws through the openings to get it on right away. I think she loves the attention she gets when she’s dressed, and of course the treats she gets when I photograph her. My Husky is really good about wearing clothing too. I agree that there are so many awful things people due to their pets, dressing them up isn’t one of them. If your dog hates clothing don’t force them to wear it. If they like it then go ahead & have fun! I don’t need a National day to dress up my dogs, we do it all the time. Nice to see FIT has a course in doggie product design & marketing. What a fun course that must be!

  17. I read where you substituted a onsie for the the “cone of shame” my little one just got a small mole removed on the side of his stomach and has a couple staples and absolutely HATES this cone (and its not my favorite either.) Did you have any issues with the clothing and the healing process? He’s used to the onsie and it covers the spot, with a loose fit!

    1. It depends on where the injury is located. The cloth is Peruvian cotton and didnt stick to the wound of my dog at all. Healing was fantastic. We had staples for the leg surgery both times. Hope your baby is okay and on the road to healing!

  18. I dress my Bella up every day except most days in the summer. I actually make most of her winter clothes. She broke her leg when she was 14 weeks old and the vet told me when it is cold out it might hurt her. Sure enough she will limp in the winter so I started buying outfits that covered her legs and then I started making them. She loves her clothes and people always stop me and comment on how adorable she is. In the winter she wears a coay over her outfit. I love my baby.

  19. Same stupid arguments I always see. Stop putting clothes on your pets for your own a
    amusement. Dogs deserve our respect. No, your dog doesn’t “like it”. Also, it teaches children that animals dogs are like toys or part of a fashion statement. If you want to dress something so badly: buy a doll or have a kid. Leave the dogs alone.

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