Why do dogs need clothes?
The key reason is us
The dog has naturally inherited from the wolf the need to actively move outside, regardless of the season. The ultimate purpose of dog clothes is to improve a dog’s quality of life, enable an active life outdoors with the dog owner, and to make sure that the dog is safe and comfortable in every season’s weather. Knowing that, it’s easier to understand a dog’s species-specific need to go outside and its need for apparel.
Still, dressing a dog in clothes might sound like an amusing idea to many people. It is often thought that if dogs have fur, then they are naturally protected in all seasons. The dog is often compared to its ancestor, the wolf, which survives freezing temperatures and warm summer days in its fur. However, unlike the wolf, we have to remember that dogs are the product of human breeding. Their fur has changed and so too have their weather protection needs.
From wolf to dog
In order to understand why a domestic pet might need dog clothes, it’s worth exploring the overlapping history of the wolf and the dog. The wolf has developed over millions of years of evolution. Coexistence with humans began only tens of thousands of years ago, when humans settled down and started farming. The tamed wolf was useful in various tasks and it began to be bred for various needs, such as draft dogs, yard guards, hunting, herding, and companion dogs. Thus dogs are a result of human breeding and from an evolutionary standpoint they are still quite young.
The other kind of climate change
Breeding aimed to develop traits and characteristics suitable for the dog's purpose and living conditions, such as size, body proportions, coat quality, and character. With industrialization came more wealth and free time and keeping dogs as pets became more common. Dog breeds spread from one country to another and soon also from one climate to another. Suddenly a dog breed’s original purpose may have changed as well as the environment for which it was bred, even from the southern to northern hemisphere or vice versa.
The special characteristics typical of the breed either corresponded to the new living conditions or they did not. Kennels, kennel associations, and international organizations were formed to guide and supervise the work of dog breeders and to preserve traits characteristic of breeds from one dog generation to another.
Dog clothing helps dogs adapt to their lives with people
With urbanization, dogs faced many new challenges, such as traffic, cramped city apartments, and limited movement in and out. Adapting to new circumstances depends on an individual's ability to adapt. In the case of dogs, that ability was driven by a need to please, which developed with domestication, and the breeding work of kennels, which aimed to breed an easy-to-handle, cooperative pet.
Efforts were made to maintain a breed’s original or typical characteristics, such as body structure and fur quality and thickness, regardless of the dog’s place of residence and living conditions. The Greyhound is still a fast-built, muscular, and slender runner, whose fur was developed for the Mediterranean climate. The Chihuahua from Peru is still a small breed with no undercoat, which cools down and gets cold quicker than bigger and shaggier dogs, especially here in the north. And the Husky remains an active, large breed with weather-resistant fur, despite its urbanized living environment.
It is worth knowing, and sharing, that dog clothing and gear were originally created to facilitate a dog's ability to adapt to habitats and conditions for which the dog was not bred. Next came the everyday needs and wishes of dog owners and breeders. The good news is that dog apparel is helping dogs stay better protected in a variety of weather conditions – and helping dogs, dog owners, trainers, and breeders do more together outdoors.
Top 5 reasons why the modern dog benefits from apparel:
1. Protection - Namely from frost, rain, mud, sand, and sun. Dog clothes can protect your pet in a variety of weather conditions, depending on the dog's size, coat quality, and cold tolerance:
- Frost protection for puppies, small breeds, and those without an undercoat
- Wind, rain, and mud protection for long-hair and soft-fur breeds
- Extreme-heat protection for active movers and breeds with thick fur
2. Safety - Dog apparel increases safety, especially when active in a busy urban environment, thanks to colorful, reflective dog vests, jackets, and overalls that help a dog be seen even in the dark.
3. Health - An active life runs more smoothly with the right dog apparel and gear. Dog clothing can keep the dog warm or cool during activities or before and after performances. Extra warming promotes muscle recovery and can also ease an ageing dog's aches and pains.
4. Convenience - Caring for your dog's fur becomes easier, as does caring for your home and car, when you protect your dog with the right apparel. Your dog's skin and coat will remain cleaner, and you will not have to bathe him or her as often.
5. Style - Last but not least, dressing up your dog is also a great way to show off its unique personality.