Faux Fur: The Battle of K9 Couture

Text Size: 



Every war begins with a single act. This one is no different. Perhaps the first blow was struck when Paris Hilton introduced the world to her fully clothed pampered pup on the hit series, “The Simple Life.” Maybe people took sides when national retailers such as PetSmart began selling cat costumes. To be honest, I’m not sure when the battle began. But my house became a home divided when I walked through the door in December 2009 to find my buddy dressed in a Santa suit, fit for a puppy.

That day, the proverbial line in the sand was drawn and my lovely wife stood squarely on the other side. So I pose this question: is it okay to dress up your pets? 

The success of pet clothing sales in retailers across the country has given great strength to what I like to call the faux fur movement. I’ll admit that my aversion to Terriers in t-shirts stems from traditional sensibilities, which dictate that grandma makes the best pies and kittens are cute enough without a princess costume. Aside from my own opinion, however, there are actually excellent reasons to let the fur flow freely.

Unlike people, animals don’t necessarily place vocal cues at the root of their communication. Body language is an important communication tool for our pets. While I may disagree with my wife as to whether or not the neighbor’s cat looks adorable dressed as a pumpkin, the fact is that clothing can obstruct communication signals such as fur standing on end, a rigid body stance or a tucked tail. Then there’s the faux pas of strutting your mutt in a designer dress in the heat of summer. Please, people—no amount of ruffles are going to be cute when your dog is in the throws of a massive heatstroke.

Of course, there are times when it can be appropriate to dress your pooch, such as sweaters in the winter for Chihuahuas and Greyhounds who need help regulating body warmth, or booties to provide traction for dogs with arthritis. And even I can see the fun in dressing your dog for a worthy cause. Nashville Paw’s own Barktoberfest is a prime example of an ideal time to get out the canine costumes for a chance to win great prizes as well as to support local animal welfare efforts. It raises awareness in the community, helps spay and neuter pets and allows you to get the “he’s so cute in that bumblebee costume!” out of your system until next year.

But please, don’t make Bowser also wear that thing to your kid’s birthday party, to the pet store and for a jog at the dog park. Because, despite those occasionally opportune times for doggy couture, I still stand by the idea that animals are best dressed in the skin and fur nature gave them. 

As the battle rages on, there is only one question remaining: which side are you on?

Graham Curry lives in Nashville with his wife Lovette and their sometimes-dressed dog, Dodger. It’s a Doggone World is an opinion column on four-legged culture specifically written for Nashville Paw magazine.

Join our Email List