The Doggie Dress Code

My friend Debbie talks about Bob a lot. On our early morning runs, she’ll ponder what he might be doing at any given moment. Is he sleeping in? Is he watching TV? Is he eating? Or she’ll talk about taking him sailing. Or she’ll mention that she needs to get him new shoes.


It took me a while to realize that Bob is a miniature Italian Greyhound.

Once I did, I could absorb the sailing and the sleeping, but the shoes? That was a new one for me. Then again, I grew up with cats, and I know from firsthand experience that trying to put shoes (or doll dresses as the case may be) on a cat would result in five perfectly spaced scratches raked down the side of my face

So, to get a crash course in the doggie dress code, I took a field trip to Fit + Frisky in Evanston (1016 Davis St.). Turns out that fashion for your pooch is actually more than a little practical.

Take the shoes, for example. They protect the dog’s tender paws not only from extreme cold and heat but also from glass and other sharp objects careless humans break and leave lying around. Plus, salt and snow can wreak havoc between a dog’s toes if not protected.

There are a wide range of paw protectors ranging from disposable, reusable waterproof rubber Pawz ($12.95 – $16.95) that keep finicky feet dry in rain to Bark ‘n Boots griptex hiking shoes ($59.95) that keep paws warm and dry in winter.

For Bob, who likes to sail, another imperative piece of clothing is the float coat (around $50), aka life preserver. Should the boat tip or Bob decide to take an impromptu swim, there’s no risk of a doggie drowning. I’ve also recently seen Bulldogs and other pooches with short legs wearing a float coat at the dog beach so that they can frolic with the big dogs in deeper water.

Duffy, another dog friend, is a Dachshund/Chihuahua mix with short legs and even shorter fur. His needs expand into things that will keep him warm once the weather turns cold. So, though the dog sweatshirts by Millie Sweat ($44.95 – $49.95) and the Urban Hund hand-embroidered sweaters ($30 – $34) are adorable, they’re also quite necessary.

OK. So, the shoes, sweaters and float coats I get. Stylish yet practical. Next time I’ll have to explore the psyche of those who actually put their pooches in real outfits, regardless of weather conditions.

I was so enamored with the store and the practical doggie outerwear, that I actually left Fit + Frisky $70 poorer. And I don’t even own a pet.

At least I know people who do. And Duffy needed a sleek, manly green Teckelklub slicker ($48) that perfectly accents his dark brown fur.

Do you dress your dog for the elements? What’s your favorite clothing item? Let us know in the comments field below. Got pictures? Send them to [email protected].