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Stop Dog Nudity: Should Dogs Wear Clothes?

By: Renae Hamrick, RVT

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Some dogs are lucky enough to be valued as a true member of the family. Some are even regarded and treated as children. They sleep upon fancy beds which are inscribed with their names, they have a toy box overflowing with expensive toys, their professionally shot photos decorate the walls of their home, and... they're wearing clothes?? Should there be a limit to this personification? Is dog nudity still appropriate for these cherished canine children?

Reasons to Clothe Fido

The most common reasons that dog owners choose to clothe their dogs are protection, warmth, and fun. Protection and warmth are fairly solid reasons to adorn your pooch with duds; clothing dogs for fun can be debatable.

Working dogs, especially those in search and rescue, often wear protective clothing, such as boots or reflective vests. Dogs who spend time near and in the water may wear life jackets to prevent drowning. Goggles designed for dogs are another type of protective canine wear. These protect the eyes from debris and UV rays, and they can also be used in sight correction.
Some dogs are particularly prone to the cold, in which case a sweater, boots, or even a hat can be quite helpful. Small breed dogs, dogs with minimal body fat (such as Greyhounds), and geriatric dogs are the most common chilly canines.

From Halloween costumes to pooch pajamas, there are also dog duds available that are just plain fun. Dress your Pug up like a reindeer for Christmas, adorn your Sheepdog with a robe after his bath, or clothe your Labrador-groomsmen in a tux on your wedding day. Care must be taken when dressing your dog in silly clothes –use an appropriate fit, and only clothe a dog who is comfortable wearing clothes.

Be Careful When Clothing Dogs

Do NOT be forceful when introducing clothes to your dog. Doing so could result in a bite and a terrified dog. Allow the dog to sniff the clothing and become accustomed to it before dressing him. Give him abundant praise and encouragement.

Be sure the clothing fits appropriately. Clothes that are too big could easily become caught on something, or the dog could become entangled in them if he tries to undress. Clothes that are too small can be restrictive and cause injury.

Always supervise a dressed dog to prevent him from chewing the clothes or getting snagged on something.
A nude dog is usually best when he is engaged in physical activity, such as running, rough-housing, or any play. This will help prevent injury and overheating.

Is it Right?

The ethics of clothing pets is a debatable topic. On one extreme, some feel that dogs are dogs and should not be regarded as people or that it is inhumane to make an animal wear clothes. Others are comfortable dressing their dogs for every life occasion, a different outfit each day.

When deciding if fashion is appropriate for your pet, consider his likes and dislikes, his personality, and his needs. Do not force any dog to wear clothing, especially a nervous or timid dog. If your dog seems to be indifferent about clothes or he enjoys wearing them, it may be reasonable to dress him up from time to time. If your dog needs to wear some type of protective or warmth-providing clothing, be sure to introduce him to it in a calm and reassuring manner.

Though wearing clothing is not natural to a dog and some want nothing to do with it, many dogs do adjust the idea. Some just tolerate it. Some appear completely indifferent. Others seem to soak up and thrive on all the attention their outfit brings them. The answer to "Is it right?" really depends on the dog and the situation.



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