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How we dressed our pets in the past...

23.10.2020

It may seem that pets, or even, animals clothing is a very contemporary innovation. However pets, and especially dogs, were dressed up very eagerly already in antiquity. It was not the exact same as what we have now but close enough to draw certain similarities between the two customs.

This is due to the fact that animals have always played a significant role in human culture and have always been close to human in many ways.

How it all started…

In most cultures that we know, animals are somehow related to the divine order, certain species are thought to be incarnations of various gods.

Anubis sculpture

This relation was often highlighted with animals’ clothes and ornaments, not to mention some special ways of treating them. Among different animals dogs seem to have a special place in human culture; domesticated over 12 thousand years ago they have ever since accompanied men.

The main evidence in historical artifacts for dogs being dressed since the most distant times are bas-reliefs from Mesopotamia as well as Greek vases depicting dogs wearing, sometimes very sophisticated, outfits. Usually the custom of canine dressing was typical for monarchs.

The habit of dressing up dogs was also quite common among rich petty bourgeois of ancient Italy. Roman ancient chroniclers mention also adorned horses and fighting dogs of Celts, Germans and Nordics. This suggests that animal fashion is not as new as it may seem.

Practical and aesthetic means

French bulldog wearing snow shoes

People dressed animals for different reasons. Sometimes because it was practical and allowed the animal to serve better, sometimes because they were a part of family and deserved to be treated the same way as any other member, and sometimes for purely exhibitory reasons to empathize one’s own financial status (where animal was simply a decoration).

One of the first garments of dogs outfits were… shoes made by Inuits for their sled dogs. Shoes were meant to protect the animals’ paws from cold and wet. Thanks to that the dogs could go on greater distances.

I other parts of the world short coated or hairless dogs worn blankets for protection from cold and rain.

Also dogs living in towns and walking on pavements of ancient towns often had shoes, not only for protection from chill, dirt and harmful salt but also for purely aesthetic reasons.

Collars - the most important part of dogs garment

In general, in the history course collars had two main functions: the first was ornamental, like in the example above and the second – battle.

hunting mosaic

Since antiquity dogs accompanied people in battles and the most vulnerable part of the animal’s body was… its neck.

For this reason dogs were equipped with stud collars to protect them from other animals' attack and to inflict wounds at the same time. The collars made for that purpose sometimes were a weapon itself...

In the middle ages some of the fighting dogs wore full protective suits, although it was a lot less common.

Also in XVI century during the reign of Henry VIII dogs of rich landowners were adorned in silver, golden, silk and velvet collars presenting fights and battles which the animal assisted.

Kangal dog with spikey collar

Collars seem the most obvious, when thinking about dogs garment. And this is true: ornamental collars, often extremely expensive, were worn by dogs as far back as in the ancient Egypt and China.

There is one profound discovery in a tomb of King Cuo of Zhongshan of dogs with gems studded collars buried with the ruler. The interpretations say that the king loved their animals so much that he wanted them to accompany him in his afterlife...

Another well established habit, especially among the royalties and nobility of almost all ages was that of dressing dogs in human garments replicas. There was no dog fashion in today's sense but people wanted to express how much care and affection they had to their pets by resembling them to humans.

Photo source: Wikipedia (license).

Today

The situation persisted in the following ages until the beginning of XX century when, well after the industrial revolution, new means emerged allowing to give some freshness to the dog fashion itself.

French bulldog wearing  Poopil Waterproof Jacket
In poopil.com we create unique clothes for every dog. Check them out.

People dressed animals for different reasons. Sometimes because it was practical and allowed the animal to serve better, sometimes because they were a part of family and deserved to be treated the same way as any other member, and sometimes for purely exhibitory reasons to empathize one’s own financial status (where animal was simply a decoration).

One of the first garments of dogs outfits were… shoes made by Inuits for their sled dogs. Shoes were meant to protect the animals’ paws from cold and wet. Thanks to that the dogs could go on greater distances.

I other parts of the world short coated or hairless dogs worn blankets for protection from cold and rain.

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