It seems that many manufacturers of luxury dog beds are turning to children’s fairy tales for their inspiration, creating beds that Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella, once she had the pair of glass slippers and nabbed her prince, would sleep in happily every after.
It is indeed a Cinderella Story: In three short decades, the majority of American dogs have gone from sleeping outside in the yard or from being relegated to an old blanket in the kitchen, to having their own designer beds and personal comfort zones.
According to the 2005 – 2006 National Pet Survey published by the American Pet Products Manufacturers, the number of dogs of all sizes sleeping in their own special beds has doubled in the last six years.
Current trends are dominated by two words: design and comfort, giving manufacturers the opportunity to allow their imagination to run rife.
“These days, a dog bed is considered only one item within the new concept of pet home décor,” says April Chalfin, CEO of Duke and Duchess Pet Luxuries, based in Davie, Florida. “It’s all about miniature versions of human designs. Our pet products are manufactured in a children’s furniture factory in order to give pets the same replica and quality considerations.”
Apart from attention to the actual construction of the pieces, the availability of a huge selection of high quality coverings is very important to the pet bed-buying consumer.
Consequently, designers are sitting up, obeying these demands and are combining fantasy with functional and quality with comfort and catering to all sizes, from teacup canines to Great Danes.
The range of styles is in fact mind-boggling: From leopard-print fainting sofas, romantic bed sets with matching bed skirt, duvet and pillows, roll-up sleeping bags, funky loveseats, huge curvaceous lips and simulated leather arm chairs to miniature mission beds, four-posters, wrought iron designs, futons, circus tents and bejeweled fantasy slumber zones. Today’s yuppie puppy definitely has it all.
“It’s no longer a matter of coming in to a store and selecting from the range of beds available,” says Jody Goldman of Dog and Friends in Orlando Florida. “Discerning customers shop according to what they have in mind and its up to the retailer to have it in stock or know what’s out there and where to get it.”
“There is a great demand for customized beds too,” says Kirsten Buckner who, together with her partner Birgitt Steinberg, is the team behind the Los Angeles, California based Catnap (Wild Things for Pets) label.
“We focus on fun colors and styles that will blend with many home interiors and yet people still ask for a bed to be made up in the same fabric that they’ve used for their own furniture.”
“Price is not always a consideration,” says Buckner. “When it comes to adding those final touches in home decoration, many pet owners are happy to pay accordingly.”
“Pets like to be where their people are,” says Andrew Matus of Howling’ Pet Productions in El Paso, Texas. “And this determines style choice for a particular room.
“Typically, our wrought iron designs are for a bedroom. We use a bland cream-colored fabric that blends well with any color scheme. This gives owners the opportunity of buying a king size sham in the same fabric used on their own bed and making their own matching covers.”
More formal designs and fabrics like imitation leather and washable suede are usually bought for living areas and some manufacturers are using genuine Kelims and other woolen rugs to make huge over-stuffed “scatter cushions” to add an ethnic touch to the home.
“Apart from any necessary training, dogs are very clever,” says Chalfin. “They instinctively know where an item of furniture is theirs and will automatically go there. I believe that more pet owners are considering pet beds because its one way of preserving their own sofas and chairs and keeping them fur-free.”
So it follows that savvy manufacturers ensure that cushion covers and even cushions are washable. Some are even considering additional slip covers to take the hassle out of the up keep.
“Fitting in with the design of the home is only one aspect of buying the right bed,” explains Goldman. “In fact, the dog’s needs should come first. I always quiz my customers about their pet, taking age into account and how they like to sleep – stretched out or curled up with its head on a pillow. Some pets like privacy and a dark hiding place. Often pets like to sleep together.”
Designers are also lifting the covers on specialized products, taking into account the orthopedic well-being of elderly pets and post surgical comfort too. Many are beginning to use space age memory foam.
“This type of foam contours to the dog’s body for superior support, providing a real cushion for joints and bones,” says Brian O’Donnell, company spokesman for Snoozer Pet Products in Greenville South Carolina.
Special heat and cooling pads that slot inside bed pillow mattresses are another popular option. Fido can also have his own wave-less waterbed to stay cool during the long hot summer.
From simply providing a place to sleep, many pet bed manufacturers are now looking to design actual items of furniture that incorporate a snooze zone for the pet.
According to Denise Hamm of ZoeDog Design, manufacturers of the Doggie Condo, the idea is to provide “living space” for the pet that includes cupboards, drawers, and shelves to store pet paraphernalia. Some of the designs even include clothing rods, hangers and a pivoting mirror.
Pet owners concerned about their pet’s comfort, often purchase more than one pet bed for around the home and are now also looking to adding an item of outdoor furniture to the patio or garden.
There’s definitely a trend developing here that gives new definition to the word doghouse. Today’s kennel has been transformed into a log cabin and designs on the market even include steps leading up to a rooftop sundeck.
Washable, mildew-resistant outdoor cushions designed to compliment current trends in patio furniture are becoming very popular and to top it all, dogs can now enjoy fresh air while snoozing on their own canopied canvas bed.
Ah! It is indeed a dog’s life.