As our four-legged friends take over our lives, Arabella Youens charts the unstoppable rise of the luxury dog bed.
Sleeping arrangements for our four-legged companions were once limited to a basket in a boot room. No more – there’s now a dizzying range, offering levels of luxury that surpass anything most humans sleep on: day beds upholstered in felt and cashmere, slumber beds covered in a pretty Liberty print, ageing-labrador-friendly orthopaedic beds in duck-egg tweed, Louis XVI-style beds with curved solid-oak frames (and a solid price tag, too), doughnut-shaped beds in duck feather and others in cowhide denoted ‘the ideal alternative to sharing your sofa’. The list goes on.
‘The recent evolution of dog beds goes hand in hand with a change in our relationship with our pets.’
Cynics (and, possibly, cat lovers) would be forgiven for thinking that the concept of a pampered pooch has reached new heights, but, according to Christine Chau, founder of Charley Chau, a specialist dog-bed firm, there’s some sound logic involved.
‘The recent evolution of dog beds goes hand in hand with a change in our relationship with our pets,’ says Christine, who gave up her career in the City to set up the business with her sister, Jenny, after struggling to find the right bed for her Italian greyhound, Charley.
‘There are more dogs in the UK today than there are children under the age of 10. I think that speaks volumes about how we value dogs as companions. They’re now treated as full members of the family, with nearly all the care and attention that a child might have.’
‘Pets are becoming a replacement for children. They’re less expensive. ‘
In 2016, The Washington Post published a report revealing that millennial Americans – those born between 1980 and 2000 – are less likely to be homeowners, car owners or parents than the previous generation, but are more likely to own pets. In the report, Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University, said: ‘Pets are becoming a replacement for children. They’re less expensive. You can get one even if you’re not ready to live with someone or get married and they can still provide companionship.’
Another influence is an increased awareness of animal rights and welfare. For working dogs, sleeping arrangements have always been different from their owners, but those treated as members of the family claim more and more of the house as their own.
‘You might think that buying a memory-foam bed for a dog is a step too far, but vets will readily recommend them for dogs with ageing or aching joints,’ advises Christine. ‘Just as it does for humans, as the mattress warms up through body heat, it moulds to the dog and provides orthopaedic support without creating pressure points.’
As the dog’s right to roam across the house increases, there’s a greater need to find it a bed that’s more sympathetic to its surroundings – a fact that was astutely spotted by established furniture brands, which quickly released a range of dog beds (some of which can be customised to the appro-priate shade of Farrow & Ball paint). These include Oka, which produces the throne-like Mowbray dog bed in weathered acacia (£710 or £825 with faux-fur liner) and Ralph Lauren Home: faux-suede Pendleton Ombre Plaid (from £220).
‘Mini Chesterfield sofas in leather and four-poster beds covered in Swarovski crystals.’
Not to be outdone, there are more outré, kitschier options available, too, including mini Chesterfield sofas in leather and four-poster beds covered in Swarovski crystals. ‘I don’t think it’s because we’ve become more houseproud – it’s more about how we express our personality,’ believes Christine. ‘As a dog bed is usually in the kitchen or sitting room, it’s a considered part of the soft-furnishing scheme just like a scatter cushion or a throw on an armchair.’
However, it’s not only about good looks – Charley Chau’s snuggle bed was inspired by Charley’s burrowing habits. It cleverly combines a fleece-covered floor cushion with a sewn-in duvet. ‘Don’t forget, dogs sleep for 18 hours a day,’ adds Christine, ‘so, although aesthetics are important these days, comfort really should come first.’
Fatboy Stonewashed Doggielounge bed, from £79.95, Houseology www.houseology.com
Letto dog bed, £800, Hugo & Otto
Classic dog beds, from £164.50 each, Mungo & Maud
The Boneo dog beds, from £110 each, Ivy & Duke
Blue Louis XVI-style dog bed, £438, Joanna Wood
Mowbray dog-bed frame and faux-fur liner, £710, OKA
Field Collection memory-foam bolster dog bed, from £199, Orvis
Yorkshire Dales dog bed in Bruciato leather and Oatmeal tweed, from £450, Pink Whiskers
Pendleton Ombre Plaid dog bed, from £220, Ralph Lauren
Navy Signature Print slumber bed, from £87.99, Teddy Maximus