A Brief History of Pet Clothing


A lot of people think that popular dog clothes are something very much of this millennium. In reality, however, it has been around for a much longer time. Let’s take a look at what archeology and other records have been able to tell us.


History of Dog Clothing

When King Arthur was the ruler of Great Britain in 520 AD, dogs were fitted with protective clothing if used by law enforcement the military. This protected them from the elements and attacks.


The first dog collar ever found dates to 3100BC, and this was likely the first kind of dog accessory. One dog, interred in pre-dynastic China between 323 and 309 BC with King Cuo of Zhongshan, had a gold, turquoise, and silver collar. This means it wasn’t just about identification or training, but that it was very much a fashion accessory. This has been confirmed in other archeological finds, with collars being made as true works of art.

Next time you are in a museum, take a look at paintings or tapestries that depict dogs. You will quickly see that many of Europe’s richest people would have coats and collars on their dogs with beautiful jewels. Even Louis XI of France, who owned a beautiful greyhound, had a collar made for his dog from scarlet velvet. The collar also held 11 rubies and 20 pearls.

When the middle class started to grow around the 16th century, dogs were domesticated as pets, no longer exclusive to nobility. At that point, more affordable collars, such as those made from leather, also became available.

Some 100 years later, there were brass, silver, and gold collars. These would be engraved with the dog’s or owner’s name. Any leather collars would have sparkling embellishments on them. Louis XV of France owned a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. This dog was fitted with a diamond-encrusted gold collar. And Princess Victoria of England had a spaniel with blue trousers and a scarlet jacket.

Clearly, dog clothing is not something new. The likes of Paris Hilton and other socialites may have popularized it again, but they certainly did not come up with it. What is interesting, however, is the development of why people made their dogs wear coats.

History and the Reason for Dog Clothes

One main reason for people to purchase or make dog clothes is to show off. When we look at the historical digs, we see jewels, engravings, and expensive materials. This was very clearly a status symbol. And this still rings true today. However, these aren’t the only reasons for dogs to wear clothes.

Another reason is that animals no longer have the natural protection they need from the elements because of designer dog breeding. Chihuahuas, for instance, or pugs, aren’t equipped to deal with rain, snow, or other such temperatures. Hence, they need coats.

Then, there are the service dogs. Dogs in the military and law enforcement have long been protected with clothes. And then, there are the see-and-eye dogs, the stroke dogs, and other therapy dogs, who all need clothes to be easily recognizable.