Skip to main content Skip to main menu

Guide Dogs Dress to Impress

Two guide dogs, a yellow lab and a German shepherd, sit side by side while wearing their harnesses.

Guide dogs are used to having to dress to impress, but that doesn’t mean their outfits are always the same. In addition to the harnesses they wear, guide dogs’ handlers can add something extra to their companion’s attire, as long as it’s done responsibly. Here are some wonderful ways guide dogs can dress to the nines during work time and playtime!

 

Harnesses

A yellow lab in a guide dog harness and a pumpkin costume seated on the floor.

Every guide dog will work with a different harness. The harness they wear depends on which school they graduated from. Most schools use a leather harness with a detachable handle. Some schools also offer their graduates the option to use a UniFly harness which can come in different colors, uses a metal extendable handle, and a has body that hugs the dog’s chest. Handlers can choose to add different items to their dog’s harness, such as signs that identify their dog as a guide dog and remind others that the dog cannot be pet. These signs typically include a version of: “working dog, please ignore.”

 

Footwear

A female German Shepherd with black and tan coloring lays on a grey floor. She is wearing a purple tank top that covers most of her torso. On top of the tank top, she is wearing a neon yellow Uni-Fly harness without the handle attached that reads "Guide Dog." She is also wearing red booties on all her paws.

A guide dog’s wardrobe goes deeper than just the business casual harness. Some dogs work in areas with harsh weather, which can make it dangerous for bare paws to walk on pavement. Whether the weather is icy or boiling, a handler can put their furry companion in boots that will protect their paw pads from getting burned or frostbitten.

 

Collars

A female German Shepherd lays down at a young white girl's feet. The black and tan shepherd has on a light purple shirt under her leather harness.

An important part of any dog’s outfit is a collar, and working dogs are no different! Most guide dogs will wear a type of training collar, which differs depending on the school they graduated from, but these collars can come in many different patterns, colors, and styles. Some dogs might have themed collars that match the nearest holiday or their handler’s mood. A dog’s collar is the most customizable part of their outerwear.

 

Coats

A female German Shepherd lays at the foot of her owner. The black and tan shepherd has her tonuge out and appears to be smiling at the camera. She is wearing a clear raincoat that still allows someone to see the color of her coat beneath.

There are some other practical garments guide dogs can use. For example, if a dog is a breed with thinner fur, they might need a coat to wear in colder weather. Other dogs might not like getting wet, so a raincoat will help them work more efficiently. Dogs have opinions and personalities just like people, making each one unique.

 

Accessories

A yellow lab wearing a pink bandana cocks her head as a ball is offered to her.

While there are many essential parts to a guide dog’s style, there are also many accessories handlers can add as they see fit. Bandanas are a favorite for many as they are a small, lightweight, and affordable way to add some color to any dog’s usual look. Bandanas will not get in the way of a working dog’s job, and most dogs don’t mind having one tied comfortably around their neck.

There are other dogs who don’t mind wearing more elaborate ensembles under their harness; from t-shirts, to holiday sweaters, to costumes—they will work in it all! As long as there is nothing restricting the dog’s movement or sight, handlers can adorn their furry guide in whatever the dog will tolerate. This will look different for each team—some dogs will not want to work at all if they are wearing anything—but each handler will know their dog and know what their guide is comfortable with.

 

Guide dogs are always stylish, whether they’re ready to work or play. Their options for attire are extensive, but it’s always best to be aware of the dog’s comfort level.

Share this article.