Current fashion trends for dogs on the larger end of the spectrum are much like those of any dog, with a few exceptions. The activities in which dogs take part largely determine their clothing needs. Likewise, the role they play as companions to their people, the weather where they live, and their own physical characteristics, such as size, having a heavy coat, thin skin, and other individual traits determine their needs.
True fashion for big dogs has to be functional. Quality canine clothing serves a purpose (even showing an owner’s taste is a purpose) and fits correctly. In doing these things it also makes a statement. A tux and tales lends a certain elegance to an event, does it not? Try thinking about a dog’s clothing needs the same way as a person’s. Most dogs need clothing that falls within the following functional categories.
Rainwear–Whether it is a lined rubberized raincoat for the monsoon season, or a lighter rainproof cape in the spring, large dogs need something to protect them from the elements when the weather is nasty. Big dogs get wet in a big way. Rainwear keeps the dog dry, and it prevents a wet dog from drying himself on one’s furniture and rugs. Nobody likes the smell of a wet dog, or wants to have a wet dog shake its coat on them.
As a result, providing big dogs with rainwear for those wet days may do more for dogs and their people than keeping the furry one dry. Rainwear has kept many a dog–owner relationship from dissolving. Comfortable rain attire equals cooperative dogs that don’t mind going outside to take care of doggy business. Everybody is happy, and this is always a good thing. Thousands of dogs go to the shelter each year because they don’t want to go to the bathroom outside when it is raining, and all they needed was a raincoat.
Rainwear for dogs includes fleece-lined winter raincoats with and without detachable hoods, rain boots, and in warmer weather, lightweight, waterproof ponchos. Look for ease of use features such as leash and harness access, and easy to fasten belly straps. Also look for doggie umbrellas that operate opposite the design for those made for humans. They produce inverted bells that the owner carries over the dog, providing the dog protection from the rain.
Cold Weather Essentials–What qualifies as cold weather wear for one dog might differ for another. Needs vary not only from dog to dog but also from one region of the country to another. Dogs in the temperate south might not require much more to get through the winter than a sweater or two, but dogs in New England might freeze to death if they are not more appropriately outfitted.
When determining a dog’s winter clothing needs, it is important to take into consideration not just the coat the dog has, but also his weight. A double coated dog in the prime of life with a healthy layer of fat under his skin might not want or need anything more than foot protection in snowy conditions. However, that same dog when very young, or old, ill, or injured might very much need and appreciate an extra layer of warmth. Dogs depend on their humans to use common sense and logical reasoning when determining their clothing requirements.
To illustrate, a Saint Bernard doesn’t need the same cold-weather protection as a thin-skinned, sleekly coated Whippet. However, a Saint Bernard is far more apt to find painful balls of fur forming between the pads of his feet. Whippets shiver without outwear, but suffer little from ice balls. Instead, the chemicals and salt used to melt snow burn their feet. Both dogs need footwear to protect their feet, albeit for entirely different reasons.
Sun Protection–Dogs that go outside with their owners during the daytime need protection from the sun just as their owners do. Dog owners wear sunglasses to protect their eyes from the ultraviolet rays of the sun, and dogs need eye protection, too. Dog owners wear hats. Dogs likewise appreciate a brim to shield them when the sun is blazing down. It truly is a continuous revelation that dogs need the same things as humans, only designed for dogs.
Some people shave their dogs’ coats in the hot weather, mistakenly thinking it makes them more comfortable. It does not. Instead, it makes them vulnerable to sunburn and heatstroke. Dogs are not like humans and do not sweat through their pores. They depend upon their undercoats to protect them from the sun. Instead of shaving, thoughtful owners should purchase their dogs a reflective, lightweight, cooling coat to wear on warm days. Cooling coats reflect the sun away from the dog and permit cooling airflow. Some coats have an inner cloth mesh lining. When this lining is wet with water, it has an even greater cooling effect. Cooling coats provide reliable cooling for dogs on hot summer days.
It is easy for people to forget how hot pavement becomes on warm days because they protect their feet with shoes. While dogs’ feet are more impervious to rough surfaces and temperature extremes than those of humans, they are not immune to injury and need protection when walking on hot pavement. The darker the pavement, the more heat it holds. Dogs that walk on pavement need foot protection to keep the pads of their paws from injury.
Comfort Clothes–Just about everybody enjoys getting into their most comfortable “off duty” clothes at the day’s end. They’ve completed their day’s work and are ready to rest. Now all they need is a cozy spot on the sofa along with a snack and the remote control. Similarly, many canines enjoy getting comfortable as they wind down at night just as their humans do. This even extends to their having a favorite spot and favorite flannel jammies to wear to ward off the chill and promote well-being.
Something else to understand with canine fashion trends, particularly those intended for use by plus-sized dogs, is comfortable canine clothing is always appropriate. Regardless of where a person or pet goes, or what they wear, the desire for comfort is always present. Because unlike people, dogs have no personal sense of fashion, their appreciation of clothing is strictly for the comfort it gives them. This means that well-constructed dog clothing from sustainably sourced materials is a must-have consideration.
Dogs have their favorite places to sleep, favorite toys, places, and people. It only makes sense that they’d have their favorite things to wear. Dogs prone to separation anxiety often respond well to wearing clothes during the day that fit snugly, providing some anxiety-soothing benefits associated with compression wear for dogs. For such dogs, putting on clothing that soothes them becomes part of a comforting ritual, something that anyone who ever saw a toddler with a favorite blanket understands.
Accessories, Extras and Just for Fun–Many people enjoy using their dogs as personal accessories. Why not? It’s great fun to take the motif a step further by accessorizing their dog’s clothing. Examples of fun and functional accessories range from the simple bandana that someone knots around their dog’s neck to the bow tie that accompanies the formally dressed dog’s tuxedo.
Perhaps one of the most appreciated fashion trends taking place today would be the matching outfits worn by some dogs and owners. Even when the matching outfits are mere raincoats, the impact is undeniable. It isn’t something that the average person sees on an average day. Costume parties where the owner plays Clyde to his dog’s Bonnie, or Sherlock and Watson are truly a blast, and more common all the time.
Perhaps the primary factor that drives today’s canine fashion trends is the ever-increasing importance of the position that dogs occupy in the lives of human beings. Aware dog owners are in a continuous and ever-broadening process of realizing that what they once thought they knew about their adored canine companions was but a tiny fraction of what there is to learn. This bodes well for the future, which will test and explore the limits of the bonds that link dogs and people.
Formerly, people had dogs to hunt, herd, and guard. They were mankind’s helpers. Any companionship they provided was incidental to the job they performed. Today, that situation has largely changed, as people primarily have dogs for their companionship. People don’t need hunting companions, per se, but they need companions. Studies show that the act of stroking a dog lowers a person’s blood pressure. This evolution of utility and purpose over the generations has shifted, and today, people recognize the need for dogs to wear clothes. It is logical to expect a variety of fashion trends to arise.
In just decades, people have overcome generations of incorrect and sometimes harmful attitudes towards dogs, such as the one that says big dogs are “tough.” It is high time to shed the misconception that dogs don’t need clothes, right along with the ones that say dogs belong outside, tied up to trees. People have every right to enjoy every moment of buying clothing for their big girls and boys.