History of Dog Fashion – 5 Surprising Facts About Dog Collars

history of dog collar

1. Dog Collars Were Used as Early as Over 3,000 Years Ago

Dogs have been our companions for as long as 32,000 years, and archaeological evidence shows that humans started using decorative collars to adorn their dogs a very long time ago. Take a look at this hunting scene from the tomb of Maiharpiri, the ancient Egyptian nobleman, dated 1440 BC. (Maspero, G (1902). "Guide du Visiteur au Musée du Caire". Le Caire, Imprimerie de L'Institut Français d'Archéologie Orientale.)

ancient egyptian dog collar

As you can see, some 3,000 years ago dog collars and leashes were a part of the routine dog training process. In accordance with the ancient Egyptian tradition, Maiharpiri’s beloved dog was buried with the owner in order to follow him into the afterlife. Thus, the archaeologists were able to discover the collar with the dog's name, Tantanouit, inside the tomb. Egyptians were also not the only ones to use collars: King Cuo of Zhongshan who ruled in pre-dynastic China, 323-309 BC, also had his dog buried with him, wearing a collar of gold, silver, and turquoise.

history of dog collar

2. The Ancient Roman Collars Told Stories 

Apparently, ancient Romans were so into their canines, that around 46-44 BC, Julius Caesar reportedly had to publicly rebuke fellow citizens for taking more interest in their dogs than their children. An astounding archaeological discovery serves as a proof of Romans’ devotion to dogs - the “Pompeii Dog”, the poor creature who was buried alive in ash during the notorious Mount Vesuvius eruption. Upon an infrared examination, archaeologists discovered that not only the dog was “frozen in time” but also its bronze-studded collar, inscribed with the story of the dog’s heroic rescue of his human from a wolf attack in 79 AD. The collar suggested that the dog was once chained and protected his owner’s property. No wonder that we, humans, were so fond of dogs even some 2,000 years ago!

dog collar

3. Spiked Collars Originated in Ancient Rome and Were Used on War Dogs

The Molussus, the ancient Roman ancestor of our mastiffs, was often used as a war dog, and the best-trained war dogs were equipped with armor matching their owners’. This is reportedly how the spiked collar originated, however, unlike the modern collars, it was sharp and deadly, sometimes covering the whole armor set. Military dogs nowadays also wear special protective clothing, like bulletproof vests, gas masks and protective footwear, but these all seem friendlier than the ancient spikes, don’t they?

dog collar

4. Louis XI’s Greyhound Had a Collar Embellished with 20 Pearls and 11 Rubies

How would you like a solid gold collar adorned with pearls and rubies? Well, Louis XI of France (1423-1483) reportedly had his royal Greyhound canine pack graced with diamond collars, while his favorite dog, Cher Ami (Dear Friend), boasted the very collar with pearls and rubies. Makes modern dog fashion look less excessive, doesn’t it? 

dog collar

5. Dog Fashion Collar Boutiques Existed in Paris as Early as the 19th Century

Yes, the dog boutiques are not a recent development either. Can you guess what the dog fashion capital of the world used to be? That is right, Paris, there you could find dozens of shops specifically for canines in the 19th century. The spaniel of young Princess Victoria of Britain, Dash, whom she dressed in a scarlet jacket and blue trousers, was an example of the 19th century fashion icon, just take a look at the portrait of the young Princess and her favorite pooch by George Hayter.

dog collar

[Public domaine], via Wikimedia Commons

Dog fashion has become so popular around the world that in 2011 New York hosted the first Pet Fashion Week, with designers like Alexander Wang presenting their outfits at the runway. Some major global retailers like Ralph Lauren, Swarovski and Louis Vuitton started offering their own dog fashion lines. As a result, the dog fashion industry turned into a multi-billion-dollar business with expenditures in the US reaching $66.75 billion in 2016 alone.  So kudos to the ancient Egyptians for creating such a booming industry!

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