Custom Printed Shirts for Dogs

U.S. pet owners spent about $12 billion on pet supplies in 2012.
i Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Despite fluctuations in the economy, pet owners are spending more money than ever on their pets. Their extravagance includes making their dogs fashion-forward in their own duds. A custom-printed doggie shirt is an attention-getter, whether you're promoting a cause, marketing a brand or making a personal statement.


Screen-printers use an emulsion process to create fine-screen stencils through which ink is transferred to fabric. Each color requires a different custom screen. Because this process requires a lot of setup, screen-printing is suited to bulk orders only. For pet apparel there are usually only a couple of T-shirt styles available for screen-printing. Screen-printed dog shirts are affordable promotional items for pet business and are popular collectibles at special events. Dog clubs, obedience classes, and charity events may also find it useful to order customized screen-printed pet apparel for their four-legged participants. You can find screen-printers online or locally.

Print on Demand

Thanks to advances in print technology, it is now easier than ever for specialized print companies to make one-off prints on a range of products including dog shirts. Unlike screen-printing that requires a great deal of set-up and is only cost-effective when making a batch of products, print-on-demand technology uses heat transfers that are printed individually. Many print-on-demand websites offer pet clothes in their range of products. Pet shirt styles and colors are limited; however the designs that can be printed on them are not. You can personalize someone else’s design with your pet’s name or you can create your own design completely. You can open your own shop on such websites and sell your own designs without any of the hassles of taking customer orders or shipping products.

Custom Embroidery

Although custom embroidery is generally more expensive than screen printing or heat transfers, it is usually a more durable and elegant option that gives the print design a three-dimensional effect. Embroidery is an excellent choice if you are adding only a few lines of text, such as your pet's name or a funny phrase. Many online stores that offer screen-printing also offer embroidery, but again pet apparel is usually limited to T-shirts. If you want to customize dog apparel other than T-shirts, you can find local businesses that offer embroidery services and take your items to them. Check out local sewing centers, many of which can refer you to seamstresses who own embroidery sewing machines and would be willing to customize your pet's clothes for a fee. Also, check out pet clothes boutiques; they often offer embroidery print customization on the pet garments they sell.

DIY Customization

You can custom-print any style of shirt yourself for Fido. The easiest method would be to use your computer and printer to design and print an iron-on transfer. Iron-on transfer paper is available in the crafts section of most stores and where printing supplies are sold. Be sure you reverse the image before printing so your words will not be backwards when you transfer them to the shirt. If you are a crafty pet owner, you can use fabric paints to design a custom printed shirt for your pet. Fabric paints come in a range of textures and colors. You can even add flair to the design with rhinestones, sequins and beads. Airbrushing is another option for the do-it-yourself pet-clothes designer. This option is cost-effective only if you have airbrushing equipment and use them often. As a last resort, use stencils or stamps with acrylic paints to create a one-of-a-kind shirt for your one-of-a-kind pal.

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