Gender norms and pets

This past week a couple of seemingly unrelated things happened to make me wonder how everyone genders (or doesn’t gender) their pets.  One of my friends is trying to adopt a puppy and my section of the power grid decided to take an extended vacation.  Normally I wouldn’t bother mentioning either of these, but because I was bored and had nothing to do except try not to set my apartment on fire with an over-abundance of emergency candles I decided to head out and explore my new neighbourhood (just moved, for those of you who don’t read the Tumblog).

One of the stores I found was one of those trendy, posh dog stores.  The kind that caters to fashionable types with lap dogs in purses.  I like dogs (who doesn’t like cuddly animals?) and thought I’d stop in to see if there was anything I could get for my friend’s potential pup.  Not like a new puppy owner can ever have too many chew toys or balls to chase.

I was absolutely floored by how much of what was sold was gendered.  Pink, furry dog collars with “Diva” and “Princess” written on them in script.  Red plaid collars with “Butch” or “Killer” in block capitals.  Now, I suppose you could make a case for a pink, furry “Diva” collar being for gay men and the red plaid “Butch” ones for lesbians, but I don’t think that’s really what the manufacturers had in mind.

I hit up Target later to stock up on more candles and a camp stove and decided to see what their pet section looked like.  More gendered collars, toys, beds, clothes, etc.  Maybe it’s just me, but when I had dogs I never really put them in gender specific things.  Hell, they didn’t even have gender specific names.  So is this a new trend or is it something that’s been going on forever and I just didn’t notice?  Do you guys get gender specific accessories for your pets?  Anyone out there with a boy dog and Diva collar?

18 Replies to “Gender norms and pets”

  1. My neutered female cat’s name is Boudicca after the ginger haired Iceni warrior Queen. Her toys are a gender vague rat, a generic moose, the bluetooth earbud she swiped off of my desk, and assorted twist ties she grabs out of the waste basket.

    Prior to that my neutered male Chesapeake Bay Retriever Zeb played with tennis balls and tree branches.

    I don’t think I’ve ever played “dress up” with any of my pets.

    I don’t think it is a particularly new thing though – look at what they’ve been doing to French Poodles for years.

    • Oh god, the poor French Poodles. I’d forgotten about that, never had one myself. Never knew anyone who did have one either, I lived in a strictly lab and golden retriever kind of place. Maybe a pit bull or border collie if your family wanted to seem special.

  2. Watch what you say about “french poodles” (German is much more true) I am shocked that on this blog you are STEREOTYPING an entire breed of dog. I own a standard poodle (who owns zero gender specific clothing) and she is just as real and intense as any other dog. Poodles were (and still are) used as duck retrievers in icy water in Germany. My poodle, Lola, plays with tennis balls just like GC’s Chessie. Why do people choose to target one (awesome) breed of dog to think about in this way?

  3. If you would please indicate what you are speaking of I would be glad to clarify. I am most certainly not joking. Do you see anything funny about stereotyping? I certainly do not. Rather towards me or my dog.

  4. I do not wish to upset you in any way. You stated your opinion and I corrected a blatantly wrong fact and then stated my opinion.I am not sure how this makes you “screwed” I am not upset, I do not get angry but I am confused as to why my attempt to educate has been brushed off completely. I enjoy your blog, and will continue to read it. I am sorry if you feel that I am in some way harming you for that is most certainly not what I intended.

    • Y’know, I’m sorry. I still have a bit of lingering shell-shock from the days when I actively tried to participate in trans* circles and got yelled at for everything. I’m working on it, but in the meantime I get automatically defensive any time someone responds with an offended tone and block caps. Back then that was code for “I believe that my view is the only correct one to have and the rest of you are just backwards and stupid.” They weren’t the most pleasant people in the world to converse with.

      I did actually know that poodles were originally bred to be duck hunting dogs. Standard poodles are also used as service dogs pretty often in the US because of their temperament, size, easy maintenance, and intelligence. Some organisations are even phasing out the traditional labs and golden retrievers in favour of standard poodles because they’re less likely to cause allergic reactions. Pretty cool, if you ask me.

  5. Whenever I misgender someone’s dog its really fun to watch who gets upset about it. Some people get really upset especially if you continue to do this after they’ve corrected you. I knew this one guy who couldn’t switch pronouns for me but when I repeatedly misgendered his dog on purpose for a few days, he would get really upset and tell me to stop. After a while he finally got the hint about me (I was sick of putting up with his bullshit inability to change pronouns). People take their dogs quite seriously, don’tcha know?

    • I do love when people get all bent out of shape about their dog’s gender when they can’t be bothered to get a transperson’s right. I tend to misgender everything just because the words mean so little to me at this point, but man do people get upset. I’ve had dog owners get more irritated when I misgender their pet than when I misgender them!

      • That’s never happened to me, but that’s kinda funny. Dogs don’t really like me and I don’t like them very much either. Give me cute furry cuddly cats instead.

        • I like them both about the same. Rather, I like them for different things. I like that cats are so low maintenance, sometimes having a dog can be a bit exhausting (especially with the higher energy breeds). On the other hand, being ignored by an aloof cat can get frustrating pretty quickly. Really I think I’d be happiest with one of each.

      • I just get annoyed when people misgender my pets, because it’s obvious that they just looked at the animal in question and picked the gender that seemed to “fit” the best. Doggone it (no pun intended), just because my dog has delicate features and is owned by a female-bodied person does not mean he’s a girl. If they would just ASK, the whole thing would be settled, but no, they have to try to be “smart” about it. And that’s what annoys me the most: the whole “Look how cool I am! I figured out which it was without having to bother you with those pesky questions!” thing. Then when I correct them and they go on misgendering the animal in question, it’s super-annoying because it’s not like they’ve known my dog for years as a girl or whatever. They’re just not paying attention. It may not seem like a big deal, but, see, it’s not about the dog. It’s more about how likely they are to accept my correcting them on facts of reality, and if they can’t get the animal’s gender right I don’t hold out much ability for their openmindedness in other arenas.

        • I default to calling all dogs ‘girl’ and all cats ‘boy’. Couldn’t tell you why except that all of my dogs have been female, but it’s not like I’ve not been around male dogs. It’s just something that I tend to do.

  6. Like with human beings, I distinctly remember a time when it was not so, like, the last century?
    People are obsessed with gendering everything from their babies to their towels since the late 1990s. The dog gendering craze hasn’t quite reached this backward EU country yet, but I’m sure I saw one of those shops you decribe, Not Aiden. I also noticed that it went bankrupt about three months ago.
    More power to poodles btw 😀

    (about the shell shock, I have it too. I instinctively duck and cover every time, it’s pretty nasty)

    • I don’t really mind the shops themselves — they tend to stock awesome pet food and home made treats — it’s the obsession with strict gender rules for dogs that kind of baffles me. The dog is colour blind, it doesn’t care if it’s wearing pink or blue!

  7. My cousin had a male cat named Julio who wore a pink collar that I believe said Diva. 🙂 He was a really cool little guy who gave a new meaning to the phrase “curiosity killed the cat”.

    My cat is male and just wears a black collar. I’ve talked my mom out of silly patterned ones many times.

  8. My dog (a male German Shepherd) doesn’t really give a shit what you call him. I could put him in a pink, sparkling collar and he’d still go roll around on the lawn and show off how handsome he knows he is. I have a feeling most dogs are the same way, they seem pretty secure in their gender identity.

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