Dogs In Festive Costumes

December 3rd, 2021

Many of my friends like to dress up their dogs or other pets into Christmas costumes, wedding costumes; you name it. I must admit that I quite like it.
My friend said: “If I dress like an elf, what harm does it do to dress my dog as a cute elf too? “
But do our pets actually like to be dressed up in festive costumes?

When I asked Jitka, she had a different opinion than I.
Then I asked her: but don’t you dress your dogs in warm outfits when it’s cold or raining? And don’t you put cooling bandanas and cooling outfits on them when it’s too hot? How is it different?
Jitka: Yes, but it’s for their welfare, to keep them warm or cooler, not for my or others’ entertainment. I think they know when we are laughing at them, and I don’t think they like it. I don’t mind a little hat or a costume just for a photoshoot, but wearing it, it’s a different issue.


For me, an outfit is an outfit till it is not restrictive, and the animal is not in distress or unhappy.

But do we always see if dogs are unhappy?

So we asked the expert Adam Dunn ISCP.Adv.Dip.Canine.Prac, canine behaviorist, for his opinion:
“There are approximately 700 million dogs on the planet. 525 million of who are free-roaming, who don’t wear fancy dress costumes and can make choices and show species-specific behaviours. 175 million dogs live as pets in our homes. Most of them do not have many choices in their lives and rarely get the opportunity to show species-specific behaviours without human objection.
Throughout the evolution of dogs, there has been no need for them to dress up as cartoon characters or vegetables. By choice, I would not wear fancy dress, and I’m sure there are many others like me, but I have a choice and can control my own outcomes. When considering whether it is morally and ethically appropriate to dress up dogs, we should consider, for whose benefit are we doing this, how your dog’s welfare will benefit from this, and how it may affect your dog’s behaviour.


Many costumes will cover up areas such as your dog’s ears, body, and tails which will hinder their ability to communicate, increasing the probability of confusion and escalation of behaviours. Dogs are sentient beings and, and just like humans, they have emotions. They express their inner emotions by using their ears, bodies, and tails. There is a plethora of images of dogs dressed in clothing across social media platforms, but for whose benefit is this, certainly not the dogs.”

What RSPCA thinks about it:

RSPCA advises pet owners against dressing up their pets for Christmas.

“There can be clear benefits from animals wearing some forms of clothing such as for warmth and waterproofing,” says the RSPCA. “However, the functionality must always come before fashion, and the clothing must have a clear welfare benefit when dressing animals.”

Clothing should benefit your pet. When making decisions about your pet’s clothing, their happiness should always be the top priority. Nobody wants to do anything that could make their pet unhappy-but many owners may not be aware that wearing clothing or the process of having clothing put on them can be stressful for some pets.

What is your opinion about dogs in festive costumes?  

Bea xx

8 thoughts on "Dogs In Festive Costumes"

  1. Carole Lee ( 14th January 2022 at 9:13 am )

    I cannot think of anything more degrading to a dog than dressing it up in fancy dress. I have seen this at various shows etc etc and encouraged by adults for children to dress up their pet and the expressions on the unfortunate animals face. Glitter collars and bling are another awful moneymaker. As for a national dress up your dog day – really !! I completely agree with the comments about dogs being sentient beings, much of their natural behaviour is rarely understood and often objected to by humans who fail to understand that their dog thinks like a dog and is a dog and works very hard to supress natural instincts to please their human parents ! What happened to mutual respect. I have two beautiful litter brother & sister Spaniels now 8 years old. They wear towelling wraps to help them dry off quickly, have worn a t shirt after surgery from injury to avoid a collar. From my perspective dressing up dogs should be banned and/or actively discouraged. I feel the same way about dressing up horses and painting them for fancy dress – don’t get me started !

    Reply
    • jitka ( 15th January 2022 at 9:00 am )

      Well said, Carole! Thank you 🙂

      Reply
  2. Kate ( 13th January 2022 at 11:06 am )

    I wouldn’t dream of doing anything that made my Scottie’s feel uncomfortable , I would definitely get the Scottie look if they were dressed in an outfit !! Our dogs are so sensitive and vulnerable and have such little choices in their lives so we have a huge responsibility as their guardians to put their feelings and welfare at the top of our priority list !! They communicate verbally as well as non verbally it’s is our responsibility to listen to them !!

    Reply
    • jitka ( 13th January 2022 at 3:11 pm )

      Absolutely! I know that look very well!! 🙂

      Reply
  3. Lyn Cooke ( 13th January 2022 at 8:42 am )

    Definitely not appropriate.
    As the blog says, dogs are sentient beings and extremely sensitive and intelligent ones at that, so do not like being laughed AT.
    When they are playing normally and making us laugh that is fine as they are laughing WITH us and us laughing encourages them and makes them happy. But laughing AT them is rude and unkind the same as if people laugh AT us.
    My dogs are not keen on warm / rain proof or cooling coats but as they live in a warm centrally heated house i feel they need some protectionagainst the change. Otherwise clothes are definitely a no go for my dogs and cats.

    Reply
    • jitka ( 13th January 2022 at 9:03 am )

      Some of my dogs wouldn’t even wear warm or cooling coats, and I respect that. I just adjust our walking and outdoor playing time, or swap them for some different activities 🙂

      Reply
  4. Amy ( 13th January 2022 at 7:21 am )

    I agree!

    I have two small dogs so sometimes a hoody or something is required, especially during winter months or chilly mornings. Occasionally we do silly outfits for an amusing photo or card for someone but even then it is never anything restrictive. I don’t like seeing dogs in dresses or anything that is distressing for them – that is not what it’s all about!

    Reply
    • jitka ( 13th January 2022 at 9:08 am )

      We can always tell by dog’s expression if he / she is stressed or not. I know why my dogs would do if I dressed them up… they would give me that look: I’ll go upstairs and pee in your bed as my revenge lol

      Reply

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