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Debate: Is it right or wrong to dress up pets?

Debate: Is it right or wrong to dress up pets?

Alison Jones, owner of pet clothing company Prince & Princess Petwear, explains why she thinks dressing up your pet is just a bit of harmless fun. In response, Lyn Williams, founder of dog charity Happy Dogs, reveals why she’s opposed to terriers in tutus.


‘We started off selling collars on eBay and it snowballed from there. Business is really booming and we’ve had our best year yet. We ship pet clothes to Japan, Scandinavia and Estonia – but the UK market has really taken off.

‘Our biggest seller is a dog parka, which retails at £15. We do a range of clothes for cats and dogs but we don’t sell things like shoes or wigs. That’s a step too far. We also stock vest tops for cats that have fine coats or skin complaints. Our range of pet clothes wouldn’t restrict a pet in their day-to-day life. Except for a hood and a design, our coats are just like traditional animal ones.

‘The trend is definitely down to owners making a fashion statement. People see celebrities like Paris Hilton with her Chihuahua and aspire to it. It’s just harmless fun. Plus women are waiting until they’re older to have children, so a pet becomes their baby.

‘People like to pamper pets. Even in times of hardship, most genuine animal lovers wouldn’t scrimp on their pets. If an animal doesn’t want to wear clothes it will let you know. My sister tried to put a coat on her dog and he ran a mile, so she didn’t try again.

‘As far as provoking aggression in other animals is concerned – well, I’m yet to be convinced. I’ve been in the business for a few years and have never had any complaints on that score. You read sad stories all the time about animals being abandoned. If I hear that a dog has its own wardrobe, I know it’s being well looked after.’

You can see Alison's range of products at princeprincesspetwear.co.uk.


‘Dogs shouldn’t wear clothes unless it’s for a medical or professional reason. Only Chihuahuas and other dogs with a fine coat need a protective layer in winter while rescue dogs such as Border Collies wear their jackets with pride for the important jobs they do.

‘I’ve seen dogs in clothes and little boots – it’s ridiculous. The animals have no say in the matter. If their owners decide to dress them up in knickers and paint their toe nails pink, what can they do about it? By nature, dogs will do whatever we ask of them out of a desire to please, but that doesn’t mean to say they enjoy it.

‘How can a clothed dog possibly do all the things it loves – gambolling across fields, rolling around with other dogs – when it’s trussed up in a tracksuit? Dogs and cats were born with their own beautiful coats, so why cover these up with frills and sequins? I think it’s verging on animal cruelty.

‘I believe the owners are more concerned about their own image than the happiness of their pets. Their dog or cat becomes a mere fashion accessory. Either that or they’re so unhappy, they’re trying to fulfill a need in themselves. Have they ever considered the reaction their pet may be sending out to other dogs? It can lead to confusion and aggression.

There are plenty of ways to show your love, but dressing a pet up in miniature versions of human clothes is unnatural, unnecessary and unkind.’

You can find out more about Lyn's charity at happydogsrescue.co.uk.


Clothing for pets is a booming market with spending expected to break the £30m mark in the UK this year. What's your opinion? Do dogs and cats enjoy the attention, or does the clothing craze say more about their owners’ needs? Please let us know what you think by commenting in the box below.

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I think it's the most outrageous idea to dress your pets, I have a Border Terrier whom we rescued when he was 1 year old because he had been thrown out of his home for nipping one of the children in the household. It transpires that they had dressed him up then proceeded to pick him up and he was so stressed that he had no other way of warning the child but to nip - as i understand it he was beaten by the male adult for doing this to the child. I can't think of any good reason why anyone would think that dressing an animal would be acceptable. My little boy certainly won't be dressed up again.
If you want to dress a living being up only do so if you can ask them first and they are able to agree to it in the language in which you asked them. Not fighting you when you're doing it is not the same as agreeing to it or being happy about it. Pets are not toys, buy a doll if you really need to put clothes on someone other than yourself.
Sally Collins
I feel if the dog is comfortable and happy to be dressed up then there is no harm done.My two little Jacks love being dressed up, and run to me when I get their outfits out.
It is undignified. They are animals not children. Big difference
Dreadful idea. Good idea for some dogs to wear a coat outside, especially those with very little fur. But other than that, no way, and especially not cats.
Thomas Gordon
I would never submit my dog or any other pet to dressing up. It makes me sick when I see these so called celebrities with their animals dolled up like dolls in hand bags. I respect my dog he has a waterproof coat for really bad weather which if in any way did not want it to be put on then it won't.
val harrison
Do these stupid people realise how daft they and thier poor dogs look How would they feel wearing a fur coat at the same time thier animals are dressed up yes I do think it cruel just as bad is these showbiz bimbos walking around with a dog in a bag Children see this and think its ok to do this cruel thing to animals why have an animal if all they want is to treat like it is human ANIMALS ARE ANIMALS RESPECT THEM
I have a coat and jumper for our dog but he does have a short coat so he feels the cold.I actually have trouble taking his jumper off after a walk!
I love dogs and i would never do something ours hated. I only have 2 items of clothing for him and he doesn't protest. Some doggies feel the cold and it would be more cruel to let then face the harsh winters
I have 4 dogs who all que up to have their nice warm jumpers put on. They also have rain coats and boots. Where I live there is a massive danger in the summer from desposable BBQ being left or buried so the boots are the same the fire brigade use to protect their feet if they accidently step on one of these disgarded fire hazareds.
Judith MacBeth
I think its a ridiculous idea to dress up any dog. Why change what nature has provided - or aren't people who do this satisfied enough with their animal's appearance, that they think THEY can improve on it?All the dogs I have ever owned have each been unique and beautiful, both inside and out. Only one wore a waterproof reflecting coat as he became older and easily seen in the dark.
i guess until a real life Dr Dolittle who can speak dog and can actually ask the dog what they think, or until we find a dog that can speak english, we'll never really know what the dog thinks about it and it'll only ever be a matter of opinion. Personally i don't like to see these small dogs "blinged up" but if the owners like it and shower the dog with affection as a result, who are we to say no. i have a Great Dane who was 1 yr old last week and we threw a party for him and he sat there quite happily in his birthday hat. Last Xmas we took some cure photos of him with reindeer antlers on. Not really dressing up in my opinion, but would antlers and, say a santa cloak, be dressing up?
I have a chihuahua and he wears clothes all the time, unless its a very warm day (not many of these in the UK!!) on the odd occasion he is undressed he will scrach at his clothes drawer until i get him some clothes out, he even chooses what he wants to wear, each day i get him a selection of outfits out and lay them on the floor and he sniffs at them all then presses his nose against one and thats what he wears for that day.
Margaret Wylie
I have a Staffie cross and she has a thin coat, in the very cold weather she visibly shakes. I then put on a dogs coat that she wears in the really bad weather, which also acts as a warmer for her damaged back leg as we wait about for public transport. She wears a Thundershirt when we go to training classes, this in itself is NOT a coat but a training aid (relaxation). I have been asked during the summer months 'why has your dog got a coat on'. I reply 'it is not a coat but a training aid for her training classes'. I would definitely not dress her up like a human child, after all she is a dog and a dog is a dog.
Did anyone watch 'For the love of dogs'? Paul O'Grady filmed a series at Battersea Dogs Home - there was a great example of an woman treating her dog as her baby, dressing it up in human style clothes, carrying it in a handbag etc...the poor dog didn't know how to behave like a dog and became so aggressive that she wanted rid and took it to Battersea. The dog received intensive therapies but nothing worked and the decision was taken to put it down.....thankfully a staff member stepped in at the eleventh hour and took it to an animal sanctuary where the dog learned how to be a dog in a pack and now enjoys the structure and security that brings.Of course I'm not saying all dressed dogs are the same but it seems to me that we should spend more time understanding dogs and less time making them into mini furry humans complete with their own wardrobe.I have 2 rescue Lurchers from the Dogs Trust - during the adoption meetings we were advised how to be good responsible owners and at no point did that include buying them the latest slogan t-shirt, parka, hat or Jimmy Choo's....!Dressing up dogs and cats is a human endeavour for human gratification and profit...if you want to show how much you love your pets earn street cred by spending your money supporting your local animal rescue centre - DOGGY CHEWS NOT JIMMY CHOO'S!
I agree not buying into trends, but every dog is different. One of my dogs is a beagle cross and gets very cold so I knitted him a jumper and made it a bit more him with a design. It is a dog jumper pattern with a bit of flair. When he sees his jumper now he gets soo excited he goes to get his lead and sits by the door. I do not like the little trainers that are on sale now, but you can get cainine paw protecters that protect the paws from harmful situations and prevents frost bite. I have some of these after my dog got 1st and 2nd degree burns on his paws from a buried disposable BBQ.
jan mitchell
Lyn Williams - a question for you. Do you also disagree with horses wearing rugs in the winter??I have boerboels, a mastiff breed, when training my dogs we are out sometimes 4-5 hours, rain, snow, whatever.If the weather is atrocious my dogs have waterproof coats, this keeps them from getting soaked and uncomfortable during their training days, and stops my car stinking so bad of wet dog, as I can take their coats off and shake the water off them.
Interesting that horse rugs have been brought up. Of course horses need rugs in the winter when they have been clipped, but it's totally unnecessary to put a rug on a native breed that is unclipped. My Welsh pony cross spent his winters out, unclipped, and thrived without a rug in his fluffy coat. He lived well into his thirties, at which point I brought him in at night. It particularly upsets me to see horses trussed up in rugs in the summer, which has become more and more common. Often you see them looking very uncomfortable where the rug has slipped and the straps are digging into their legs. This is usually not for the horses' benefit but to keep them clean so that their owners don't have to do all that boring grooming :-/. Some horses do have a fly allergy that could warrant summer rugs, but they are a tiny minority. The majority of dogs that aren't clipped or very thin skinned like whippets do not require rugs either. Their own coats are designed to be warm and waterproof. They are much-loved animals, not child substitutes.
I think it's reasonable to put a dog coat on in winter if your dog has a fine coat. As far as dressing up your dog for any other reason, I thinks it's quite cruel. I watched a veterinary programme a couple of years ago which said that if we continue to keep dressing up our dogs, eventually their natural coats will not be able to do the job they were designed for ie, to protect them and keep them warm.
Helen Newman
II think dressing up dogs is cruel. They look ridiculous, it;s very undignified and of no benefit to the dog. Dogs have wonderful coats of their own, they don't need to wear fashion outfits. My pet hate is fancy dress competiitons for dogs, which some people think is such fun. It isn't. It's sick.The only exception I would make is for medical reasons. I have put a T-shirt on a dog to prevent her pulling stitches out of a wound, as an alternative to an elizabethan collar, which would have freaked her out. She spent most of her time trying to remove it.Appreciate dogs as nature made them!
Francesca - The Petplan Team
Many thanks for all your comments on our 'Nine bad-news foods' blog post. It seems what we feed our pets is a divisive issue, and it's great to hear what everybody has to say. Remember that you can read more about the Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (BARF) diet in Part 1 and Part 2 of our debate on the subject. If you have any comments, we'd love to read them in the boxes below these pages.
I did dress my two dogs for a quick photo for halloween, which they did not mind. One collie likes wearing a pink hoodie, when there are fireworks, she appears to relax more when it is on. While I don't think dogs should wear clothes that make them look like people, I have used doggie t-shirts to cover wounds that were healing after an operation and did away with the need to keep dressing it. I also put the odd doggie coat, or rain coat if it is very cold or wet, as we take dogs from a heated house into the wintery weather and like us, they feel the difference.
Susie and Izzy
Some dogs need to wear a little coat to keep warm and dry on walks in winter. Dressing a dog up to look pretty as a fashion accessory is not to be advised. No wonder some dogs take it out on their owners.
Caroline Macmillan
I think that it is absolutely ridiculous to dress up animals. For a fancy dress party - a bit of fun maybe - and if you take your dogs to the lakes and it rains and rains and rains - frozen - so need a coat to help them keep dry and warm.I think it is incredibly cruel - dogs should be running around in the woods and the fields not being carried around dressed up in clothes!!!!!!!
Let dogs be dogs. A standard dog coat, in which the dog can gallop, jump and play unhindered, is great in bad weather for fine coated breeds. Dressing up little dogs in silly outfits and carrying them everywhere is trying to make them something they are not. If you want accessories then stick to collecting handbags.
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I think that acssecories like boots to stop their little paws getting hurt and coats for dogs with with very littlefur can feel the wether so those to will be reasonable.The only human accessorie I can think of will be ahat because you just simply place it on the pet's head which is quite harmless.
Sorry for my horrible spelling I was kind of rushing this.....:(
Joel Perry
I think, dress up a pet is a right thing, it makes them attractive, dashing and cute. It also provides them cute protection from all seasons, i.e. summer, winter and rainy. I have little Chihuahua puppy and I like to commit that my pet has more than clothes as I have. I’ll always try to keep my pet trendy and fashionable with chihuahua puppy clothes for all occasions.

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