November 20, 2007 / 12:49 PM / 12 years ago

Dog owners go barking mad for fancy dress

LONDON (Reuters) - Darth Labrador. Dogzilla. Elvis the hound dog. No outfit is too outrageous for man’s best friend.

A dog wears a witch costume in this undated photograph released in London November 20, 2007. The British do love a party animal - they have gone crazy dressing up their dogs for costume parties. REUTERS/Angels Fancy Dress/Handout

The British do love a party animal — they have gone crazy dressing up their dogs for costume parties.

Sales soared by 300 percent over Halloween. Now costumiers have lined up a festive big seller — the one-size-fits-all Santa pet hat for the dog determined to have a great Christmas.

“Some cynics would say the British love their dogs more than they do other people,” said Benjamin Webb, spokesman for Angels Fancy Dress who have been supplying costumes for humans since 1840 and are now on a canine winning streak.

“It’s an American tradition that the British have made their own. In Britain, the quiet man in accounts comes to a party dressed as Superman whereas the Americans go for crazy costumes.

“The British are so quiet and reserved. That is why it’s more like wishful thinking,” he told Reuters.

The costumes range in price from 10 to 20 pounds. Humans can hire outfits, canines are not allowed to. “Dogs can’t put down a deposit,” Webb explained.

At the Angels Fancy Dress shop in Shaftesbury Avenue, situated in the heart of London theaterland, proud pet owners bring in their dogs to pick a suitable outfit.

If the demand keeps soaring, the shop may consider putting in a special fitting room complete with mirrors.

Webb said “They use dressing up as an extension of their own personality. We have clients who have identical costumes for themselves and their dogs. It’s the whole situation of — Love me, love my dog.”

Appalling puns are clearly compulsory in the canine costume business — as well as Dogzilla, owners can dress their dogs as football “Howligans” to celebrate “Happy Howloween.”

One of the biggest sellers is the rock superstar dog — for anyone who fancies bedecking their immaculately bred golden retriever in a diamante Elvis-style cape, collar and flared trousers.

Webb is as bemused as anyone that the British have lifted silliness to new heights.

“Nobody would have seen this coming. They really have taken this to their hearts. We love our animals and we have these secret desires we want to fulfill.”

But he said felines do draw the line at dressing up.

“This is a canine fashion. Cats are far too single-minded and refuse to follow fashion,” he said.

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