The backstory goes like this; It got cold, it being winter, and I bought Mandela the dog a sweater to keep her warm. This got me thinking about dog clothing in general and protective dog clothing in particular — like warm sweaters or dog boots at the Isentod. This is in contrast to “dressing Phideau up as Santa’s Elf” dog clothing.
I asked myself, “Did they put sweaters on their dogs in Regency times?” and the answer was pretty much “If they did they didn’t talk about it and they didn’t paint pictures of it.” The British were, in fact, just getting used to the idea of men using umbrellas and women were running around nekkid halfway down from their shoulders so putting a dog in a comfy tweed cape probably didn’t occur to them.
Dogs, like sheep and cats and cows, were expected to deal with the climate on their own.
What dogs did wear, however, was collars. So I will talk about collars.
Specifically the first dog collars.
Collars and leads are so very useful in jerking the dog out of the path of oncoming recycling trucks or restraining them from biting the UPS person, I have to figure my distant skin-clad ancestors pretty early on used leash and collar to keep their wolfish dog from equivalent paleohazards.
This rock painting in the desert of Saudi Arabia to the right might be our first representation of dogs on leashes. One estimate is that it's 9000 years old. These are the first dogs that went from being comfy at the human campfires to the first dogs who held still to be collared. Collars and leashes had arrived.
We don't know much about this first six or seven millenia of fragile history. Certainly collars of leather or twisted wool, and leashes of plaited vines and reeds were created. Some of them must have been beautiful. But they've vanished, leaving not a rack behind.
When we do start finding hard examples, they're so cool. Look at the delightful collars of Babylon.
Look at Egypt a few centuries onward. Here on the right we have a collar, one of two, from Maiherpri's tomb. It's finely worked, dyed leather with paintings of a hunt. 1440 BCE.
We all remember the tomb paintings of Pharaohs hunting in the marshes of the Nile with their throwing sticks and their cheetahs. The cheetahs are wearing collars.
This Anubis-looking dog is such an elegant fellow, so proud of what he's wearing.
In China they've been making robust dog collar progress all along. Here we get to the high artistry of the Han Dynasty. Just look at this cheerful fellow on the left with some sort of fancy breastplate.
They're wearing harnesses. You can see the leather straps on their backs.
Don't they look benign?
I think my dog looks pretty cute in her little warm sweater.
I don't know about this business of dressing dogs up in costumes though …
What do you think?