Animal attire: fashion trendor functional apparel?

Tim Skelly, owner of a business called Muddy Mutts, has had a surge in sales since an online debate questioned whether dogs should wear pants.

People were torn between a two-legged pant covering the hindquarters and a four-legged pant covering the under belly.

Skelly has been in the four-legged pant business for years, and satisfied customers joined in the debate by posting photos of their dogs wearing Skelly’s design.

The nylon waders are meant to keep dogs warm and dry when the weather could compromise their clean coats. Owners no longer have to clean and dry their dog after a walk in wet conditions.

The Ottawa-based company sells most of its products online. The recent frenzy resulted in news stations across the United States picking up the story, and Skelly sold more Muddy Mutts in a few weeks than he did during the three years he’s owned the company.

The dog pants come in six sizes and two colours. The website explains how to size the dog and offers customer assistance for those in-between sizes. The waders sell for around $70 a pair.

Animal clothing is a niche business, and Skelly is happy for the influx in sales.

An animal clothing market is emerging, and Muddy Mutts isn’t the only trend seen on the farm these days.

Betty Wyatt is the owner of Cozy Caps for Calves, another Canadian animal clothing company based near Carlyle, Sask.

Her son urged her more than 15 years ago to help frozen calves on the farm that were losing their ears to Jack Frost.

Wyatt put together a few test models before finally having a practical prototype that would do the job. The cap had to be functional, breathable, washable and affordable.

She made a few out of polar fleece material and put them to the test. The calves’ ears were staying warm and dry and completely protected from frostbite. The success has saved many ears and eased her son’s concerns.

Wyatt sells her creations online at $14 apiece and offers bundle deals. She has sold hundreds across Canada and the U.S. and to a few European countries.

The caps can be ordered in three sizes. The feedback has been positive, and the business has grown because of customer reorders and referrals.

Wyatt advises farmers to rub the cap on the calf before putting it on so that the scent isn’t disrupted for the mother.

She continues her small business from home with help from family and is always welcome to more orders.

On a grander scale, a company from Wiltshire, England, is supplying Snuggy Hoods to the Queen of England.

The company makes and designs attire for horses but is expanding the line. It’s a family business that began with Marilyn Harford more than 25 years ago.

Her daughter, Becky Godfrey-Faussett, now runs the worldwide company that began in the attic of her childhood home. Her mother realized there was a demand for quality products at more affordable prices and developed the product herself.

The company creates bibs, rugs and hoods in 10 sizes. They use synthetic and mixed fibres from Lycra to fleece, depending on the garment’s purpose.

Showing professionals appreciate the design of the hoods because they look good but also keep plaits in place before a big show. They can also help train the mane and keep off flies off.

The company has supplied Buckingham Palace with its products for more than 10 years and received a royal warrant from the Queen for its services in 2012.

Dana Niver didn’t receive a royal warrant, but her goats do receive royal treatment. She is the owner of the Goat Coat Shop, which creates custom coats for dogs, pigs, ponies and, of course, goats.

She discovered the need to keep animals warm while working for an animal shelter in New York.

She searched the market and found designs she considered impractical, so she made her own pattern and went to work.

Niver said she has found her flock to be healthier since she started using her goat coats. They recover faster after surgery or an ailment, she added.

The coats come in 14 colours, and each garment is hand stitched and made from lightweight, windproof and waterproof material.

Niver sells 800 coats a season, and prices vary, depending on the sizes that are ordered.

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