Yes, I Put Clothes on My Dog, and No, I’m Not Ashamed

Babe has a whole wardrobe of outfits. That makes her a fashionable pup, but it also keeps her safe and comfortable.

Here’s Babe as a little ram. Photos by: Allison Gray

I never thought I would be the type of person to dress my dog up like a little furry fashion model and parade her around town.

And I still don’t think I’ll ever be that type of person. But I do put clothes on my dog. She has a whole wardrobe to cover her from head to tail, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

The reasons I put clothing on Babe, though, aren’t strictly for fashion.

Keeping My Dog Comfortable

Some breeds are built for winter. Babe, on the other hand, was built for snoring under piles of blankets and eating food that’s been softened with warm water.

She is a very short-haired dog. Her belly is just as hairless, and the fur on her back isn’t thick enough to compensate. When we go outside in the cold, she alternates lifting her paws so they don’t touch the snow and hunches over against the wind.

Dogs who may be especially susceptible to colder temperatures include:

No dog should be outside for an extended time when the weather is extremely cold, but dogs who are more susceptible to the cold should be outside only for brief periods. But even then they may be more comfortable with the added protection of winter clothing. For that reason, Babe has 2 sweatshirts we use regularly when the weather gets frigid.

Babe is a fierce lioness, isn’t she?

Clothing as Protection

If you walk your dog regularly on a sidewalk or an area maintained during the winter months, check to see what ice-remover is used on the surfaces.

Although some options are pet-friendly, there are chemical ice-removers that can burn your dog’s paws. That is something I discovered the hard way, and now my dogs wear booties when they go out in the winter.

Other clothing options provide great safety features, like canine life jackets for the beachgoers and reflective vests for evening walks.

Showing off her winter wear.

Softening My Dog’s Image

Babe is a pit bull. Personally, I think she’s adorable, snuggly, squishy and lazy. But, after having her for 8 years, I’ve come to realize that most people don’t think of her that way.

People hesitate around my dog. They look nervously at her, cross the road to avoid passing her and make inflammatory remarks about the breed.

I don’t like it, but I’m more or less used to it. I rarely have the opportunity to engage the people who flee my squishy dog, but when I do, I encourage them to touch Babe — give her an ounce of attention and watch her bloom into a happy, wiggly goofball.

Although this doesn’t always work, I’ve found that Babe gets an extraordinary amount of attention when she’s wearing clothing. Once I slip a pink hoodie on her, she’s practically swarming with strangers wanting to pet her.

A lot of people don’t treat their pit bulls well, don’t train them or socialize them, cut their dogs’ ears and strap spikes around their necks to make them look ferocious. I battle that image by using Babe as an ambassador of her breed, softening her look with pink hoodies, tank tops that say “I Heart NY” and bandanas that say “Adopt.”

Babe in her finest and ready for some greetings from adoring fans.

Clothing Just for Fun

Babe has a small wardrobe of functional clothing and a few crowd-pleasing pieces. She also has a couple of items she never wears out of the house, simply because they have no utility except for amusement.

Yes, I admit, I have a couple hats, costumes and (ahem) a wig for Babe that are used strictly for fun. Mostly, I put them on Babe so I can take a few photos and share those pictures on social media. Again, it’s partially meant to contrast the negative stereotype around pit bulls, but it’s also just silly fun.

Before you get too upset with my admission, I should also point out that Babe gets very excited when it’s time to play dress-up because she knows that she gets a lot of treats when the costumes and the camera come out. If Babe ever displays any signs of discomfort, the silliness is over and we stop. Fortunately for me, Babe seems to enjoy her time in front of the camera.

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Clothing isn’t for every dog. Some dogs don’t need the weather protection, and others won’t tolerate clothing. But for those pups who don’t mind the clothes and would benefit from a small wardrobe, you might consider some canine clothing options.

Allison Gray

View posts by Allison Gray
Allison Gray gained a wealth of knowledge about animal welfare issues and responsible pet care during her nearly 5 years of work for an animal shelter. She is a writer, photographer, artist, runner and tattooed remedial knitter. Allison also has been researching, testing out and perfecting nutritious pet treat recipes in her kitchen for Petful since spring 2017.

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