We have all seen the poodles decked out with dresses, shoes, bows and shoes. To foreigners it’s an unusual sight, but to our Chinese friends it’s something that’s so common it seems it’s not even worth mentioning. If you do enquire into this seemingly strange phenomenon, it seems the responses are generally something along the lines of, “Of course people dress up their dogs in China, they don’t do that in your home country?” This response is not really helpful to us wanting to understand more about the thought process of the Chinese people and the reasons behind many of the seemingly weird things that they do. So in order to shed a little light on the subject of these Chinese pimped out poodles, we have put together some reasons to better explain this seemingly weird phenomenon.
The first, and most practical, reason behind the doggie clothing is for the dog’s protection. During the winter months Chinese people are generally very conscious of the cold, (just look at the way in which children are bundled up when the weather starts to get a little chilly). It is therefore no surprise that doggie owners in China also worry about their little companions getting cold and therefore deck them out in thick sweaters and the occasional hat. It doesn’t always look very stylish, but at the very least I’m sure the dog is appreciative for the extra layer of warmth. On the other hand, we all know how hot it can get in Shanghai during the summer months. The heat often seems unbearable and it is literally possible to cook an egg on the sidewalk. So keep this in mind when thinking about the feet of our fellow canine companions. Protection from the scorching sidewalk is the main reason for doggie shoes in the summer heat wave, and while it may look more than a little silly, this is compassionate doggie consideration at its best. Another reason is a sanitary reason. We have all experienced the less than hygienic qualities of Shanghai and understand why it’s necessary to remove your shoes before walking around in your house. The same idea applies to the dogs. Dogs don’t really care about what they are walking in, and who wants their dog to drag in the filth of Shanghai streets into their house? So, why not dress your dog up and give their feet and bodies that extra sanitary protection?
These are some of the more practical reasons for the doggie clothing, but after careful consideration regarding the matter we came up with a few more possible explanations: In general, dogs in China are viewed by their owners in a slightly different light to the dogs in the West. In the West we own a dog, which is just that- a dog- and we enjoy allowing our canine companion the joys of being a dog (namely, running freely in a huge park and perhaps even swimming with the ducks) the environment of Shanghai doesn’t really allow for dogs to be raised as our Western image of a dog. Dogs in China live in very close quarters with their Chinese family and become a member of the family. This does not mean that in the West we don’t consider our dogs as part of our family-they most certainly are- they are just viewed more in light of the family dog and not the family ‘cute thing’. In China it seems the idea of owning a dog is more around having a cute animal around (thus allowing for it to be dressed up) where as in the West if we want a ‘cute’ animal for a pet, generally a dog is the last animal we would consider.
Finally a reason for the pimping out of the poodle is perhaps that the Chinese owner’s children are grown up and can now dress themselves. Chinese dog owners take great pride in showing off how much they love their dogs and one of the best ways to do so is by dressing them up in what they believe to be really cute attire. The dog is wont say no to an outfit and perhaps is happier for the attention. The owner thinks the dog looks great and is proud of how much s/he cares for his/her little fluffy friend. Win-win situation.
So next time you see a pimped out poodle rocking that weird dress, try to remember that the owner is dressing the dog up not to make it look stupid, but rather to make the dog feel more comfortable and to show the dog (and everyone else around) how much the dog is loved. We Westerners may still think it’s weird but at least you know is coming from a place of love.
Do you agree or not? Write a comment or something interesting you find in China. We prepare some gifts for the most interesting comment !
About the Blogger
Having grown up in South Africa, attended College in the US and now living in China, has allowed Stephanie to experience a multitude of differing cultural perceptions of the world. She's learning Mandarin AT Mandarin Inn and is studying for her HSK-LEVEL 5 certificate.