The era of a "hot" dog costume consisting of a dachshund wrapped up in a bun is over. Welcome to an age in which people dress up their pets in sexy Halloween costumes.
For Pumpkin, a Labradoodle, his risqué 2013 ensemble came complete with fake human cleavage.
A Snooki costume might seem blasé for a person, but the tightly fitted leopard print top secured Pumpkin the first place prize for "most creative costume" at a local London pub, according to owner Michelle Husserl. "I didn't think about it being sexy, more funny if anything, but I guess sexy costumes [for dogs] are the way forward!" she says. "He's used to being dressed up since he was a puppy, but the cleavage he kept clawing at. He was very confused about it."
According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend $350 million on their pets' Halloween costumes in 2014, which is up from $220 million in 2010. Unfortunately the NRF doesn't calculate how many of those pet costumes show a little extra leg.
"I don' think we have any plans to go that specific," says NRF senior director Kathy Grannis. "I'll be honest, I had no idea that that existed in this world. I was shocked."
But, as Grannis notes, there is a person-to-pet consumer trickle-down effect, providing pups with blueberry facials and other human-only luxuries. So, considering the sexy Halloween costume complex has mostly jumped the shark — there are actual sexy shark, crustacean and even whale costumes — maybe it was only a matter of time until dogs got their sexy Halloween costumes, too.
"[Our sexy] pet costumes are just an extension of what the consumer was already doing on social networks, we saw that gap, and we jumped on it," says Alicia Brockwell of California Costume, the manufacturer of Pumpkin the Labradoodle's Snooki outfit.
"The costume is actually called 'The Lady is a Tramp,' and people really love putting that on a pitbull," she says. "One thing about the sexy costumes, is that people love putting them on the most rugged, tough dogs."
California Costume's Pup-A-Razzi line has other sexy offerings, including a gold-cone bra called the"Pop Queen" (just think Madonna) and a "Silver Screen Siren" (Marilyn Monroe).
"It's no secret that sex sells and Hollywood is the capital of plastic surgery so it made sense to include those features where we could," vice president of marketing and design Christopher Guzman says. "Why not give your pet what he or she has secretly been craving, at least temporarily, fake boobies!"
Costumes that feature fake cleavage come in four different sizes, ranging from extra small to large.
"The hardest part about the breastplate is maintaining the integrity of it when shipping," Brockewell says. "So we have little tutorials and give product training where if you take a warm hairdryer, it can actually warm it up and get it to the right roundness and buoyancy as needed. Because it is a soft material so it can sit comfortably on the dog."
Brockwell believes that the company manages to be ridiculous without crossing the line to insulting: "No one looks at it and says 'oh I can’t believe you’re degrading this dog’s honor!'"
Grannis, of the National Retail Federation, agrees.
"Halloween is a holiday based on discretionary fun," she says. "If there are a lot of creative people out there who think that Fido and Fluffy would look great as a sexy maid, you know, God bless 'em for it."
And they do:
Even Walmart stocks French Maid costumes for dogs.
Garrett Rosso, founder of New York City's 24-year-old Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade, has seen the full evolution of the sexy dog costume. The 1990's were a simpler time. "It was all about the three M's: Marilyn, Marlene and Madonna — oh and maybe a Chip 'n Dale," he says. In the last decade, however, people have upped their game.
"We had a bull dog dressed up as Katy Perry with boobs and a wig — it was a little startling," says Rosso, who was a TIME design director before opening dog obedience training facilities. "Last year, I saw a Great Dane as Lady Gaga doing the twerking dance and a whole convention of 50 Shades of Grey."
Matching owner/pet companion costumes are a big hit. He has seen dressed dogs in thousands of dollars worth of leather clothing, made to match their owner.
"Dogs have kind of become our giant companions, our best friends, our entrée into a healthier lifestyle," Rosso says. "And I think Halloween is just a day when you can show off your best friend."
And who doesn’t love a best friend who knows how to show some leg? All four of them.