Dog Pirate Costume: Patches the Service Dog Goes Aaarrh!
(Bryceville, Florida, USA)
The pirate costume was fun to make...cut out some paper into a pirate
hat shape...use a can about the size of the top of your dog's head.
(save the paper shape for later when you add the pirate emblem on). Use
the can for the rounded top to the pirate hat and add "wings" to the
bottom...of course, facing down ward. Just an arch really...
Next you will need to cut yourself some black fabric. I used an old pair
of those nasty stretch pants that don't let you know you are gaining
weight (I much prefer jeans now...they are like a girlfriend when they
come out of the dryer saying loudly "Girlfriend! You need to stay away
from those buffet places for awhile!!" ) and cut out the shape of the
hat...two pieces for front and back, and a football shape to be the
bottom ...(I hand sew everything but if you sew with a fancy machine,
you need to put the skull and long bones on at this time...so read all
instructions on finding, copying your image and thickening the paper
first). Sew front to back and partially sew the football shape to the
bottom...with a couple of plastic grocery bags for stuffing (or you
could go fancy with pillow stuffing...the idea is less weight on your
dog's head) you finish up the sewing on the bottom.
I took a cord of white with a bit of silver through it and sewed it into
the shape of the hat, about a 1/2 inch from the outside of the hat and
following its outline.
That part is easy. The next part is easy enough too...just time
consuming. I searched the web for a pirate hat that I liked (skull and
long bones in a cross) and right clicking onto the image, I photo
shopped the image to fit the size of the hat but with space enough on
the hat to leave a border of black between the cord and image. It has
been several years since I made this hat but it looks like I used about
a 1/2 size or so for the printed part. Once I had the pirate image the
size I wanted I printed out my pirate and cross of long bones on
paper...you can print it in black and white and then color in the scarf
with a red sharpie to save on using your color ink on your
printer...just be sure to color it before the glue goes on. Then I
used about 5 coats of Elmer's glue (you can use decoupage glue too) on
the image to stiffen it and water proof it. Make sure each coat dries
thoroughly. You can take your pooch for a quick walk or play a game of
fetch between coats...(you want your dog to think fondly of you before
you turn it into a pirate...smiles!!!)
When all the coats are on, and all is dry, you cut your paper into the
shape of the pirate hat (this is why you save the paper you cut the
pirate hat out with)...making sure it is the correct size. You want the
cross bones to line up with the part of the hat that widens at the
bottom. When you are sure, cut around the image of the skull and cross
bones, leaving about a 1/4 of the paper to sew the paper on with. The
border lets the image stand out better. Then you just sew the image to
I added a hood and scarf to the bottom of the hat -- made from the
sleeve, shoulder and armpit of a silk prom dress that I found at a
thrift store for $5.00. I have the luxury of taking my dog everywhere
since she is a service dog, so I was able to "measure" her in the store.
But you can measure your dog at home too. The sleeve will be the
"scarf" portion of the costume, and all you will do with it is sew it
into a long triangle. But the shoulder and arm pit will be the part
that is slipped over the dog's head and will need to be the part you
measure. Since you want the hat to fit on top of the head, just behind
the ears (so they don't shake their heads all the time) measure right
behind the ears and around the throat. That will be the size you will
need for the part that goes over their head. Also. measure down the neck
to the collar for this will tell you how much of the shoulder you will
need. When you cut out the shoulder Just figure out how wide a band you
want around the neck...I cut mine so the band goes to the top of the
area for the collar. Just cut the shoulder straight down and BELOW the
armpit by the size of your dogs head. You will have a rectangle made by
the shoulder and armpit area with a sleeve attached. Cut the seam of
the armpit from the sleeve down to the bottom of your rectangle. Glue
or sew the ends of the fabric on the front and back of the part that
goes over the head. Holding the sleeve out straight make as long of a
triangle as you can (the longer the better!) using the top of the sleeve
folded so that it "doubles" your triangle. Glue or sew the seam before
sewing the two triangles together...this leaves a nice top that
resembles a scarf. Now you sew the top of the shoulder piece to the hat,
leaving a good size border under the hat as if the scarf was put on
before the hat.
If, even after measuring the dogs neck for size, you end up with a hat
that flips over onto the neck of the dog (making a nasty looking goiter)
you can add a shoelace or strapping sewed on to the middle of the
football shaped bottom of the hat and hanging down on both sides of the
dogs neck, which you can tie onto them to hold the hat on...tuck the
knot and left over into the band around the neck.
This year I also found a cute pirate bandanna to add to the other side
of the neck from where the red scarf lays. That way the costume is
double sided! I didn't use it this year, because I left the parrot at
home, but I found a wooden parrot and cut it to fit Patches harness
which really was fun...every pirate should have a parrot after all.
Since Patches has one black eye (looks like a pirate patch!) this is a
fun costume on her and has been used for FOUR years now.
Most of all, enjoy experimenting with ideas like this or other costumes
for your dog. If your dog is a service dog you have the pleasure of
taking your dog out in costume for an entire month. If you have a
therapy dog, think of the pleasure you will take with you and leave
behind when you dress your dog up and take it to whatever facility you
go too. If you have a R.E.A.D. dog (you can find information at the
Delta Society's web page) you can even make up costumes like the lead
caricature in the books your dog will have the child read to them that
week. But if you have a dog that enjoys snoozing on the couch you can
still bring cheer to neighbors when you go for a walk!! All dogs are
important and all will bring smiles to others...an important job in and
of itself these days of so much toil and trouble in the world.
And don't forget all the other holidays of the year!