Our dogs tried on 13 popular Halloween costumes—here's what happened
The results of our "test"—the good, the bad, and the freakin' adorable
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Before I got a dog, I thought people who dressed theirs up in clothes had questionable priorities. Then I adopted Gus, a Caribbean-born, 18-pound mutt who could not handle NYC’s chilly winters. And once you’ve committed to a doggy wardrobe of sweaters and jackets—no kidding, Gus has his own drawer—Halloween costumes are the next natural progression. But, as with such dress-up clothes for humans, the quality and sizing can vary tremendously.
We at Reviewed take product testing very seriously. For this most serious of tests, I hunted through popular retailers’ websites for the most popular—and, if I’m being honest, cutest-to-me—doggie costumes. For sizing (and adorableness) purposes, Gus and I recruited the more petite Penny, staff writer Jessica Kasparian’s Yorkshire terrier, as a co-model. Behold, our favorites, in descending order of quality—and squee-worthiness.
UPS delivery driver dog costume by California Costumes
Call us biased because delivery people are our favorite visitors to the office, but this costume drew raves from everyone who saw Penny tool around while wearing it. And it’s well made, too, considering its lower-than-many price. “I was impressed at how well the UPS box stayed velcroed to the hands even when she was walking,” Jess says. “I think it was probably a little uncomfortable for her to walk in, but it didn't drag on the ground or droop so she was fine.”
The size x-small fit well on Penny, who weighs 10 pounds and has a chest measurement of 15 inches, neck measurement of 9 inches, and back measurement from collar to base of tail of 15 inches. This is on par with the size chart, which suggests x-small would fit a dog with a neck of 10 to 12 inches, a chest of 12 to 16 inches, and a back length of 8 inches. As the costume attaches around the neck and chest (and over the front legs, for which no measurement is given), you should choose your dog’s size by those two measurements. It comes in sizes x-small to large.
One negative: The hat, which is really more of a headband that fastens under the chin, can be finicky to adjust and keep in place… and will probably only last for a quick photo before it shifts or the pup shakes it off.
Where's Waldo pet costume by Rubie's Costume Company
By far this was the office favorite on Gus, and not just because most of us grew up hunting for that red-stripe-shirted, hide-and-seek master. (OK, maybe a little.) The glasses are just too much!
But they were also too much for Gus, who was polite enough to let us snap this photo. As the felt frames kept slipping out of place and into his eyes, I took them off soon after. The hat is a little floppy as well, but can be cinched snuggly with a drawstring to keep it mostly in the right place.
The fit of the shirt in size medium worked out well on our long skinny model, who weighs 18 pounds, and measures 13 inches around the collar, 18 inches around his chest, and a disproportionately long 19 inches from collar to base of tail. (The joy of mutts.) For context, this costume is designed for a chest girth of 20 inches and a back length of 15 inches—for this one, the chest girth measurement matters most. It comes in sizes small to x-large.
The t-shirt is on the sheerer side, which is good for pets who have a lot of fur and might overheat in a thicker material. And, while the quality could be better for the price (no doubt inflated because of the licensing), we think the cuteness factor alone makes it worth it.
Pumpkin dog and cat costume by Frisco
We were floored—squashed, even—by the quality of this Halloween classic. It’s well sewn from a soft velvety material, with an appliqued (not screen-printed) jack-o-lantern face. The costume also couldn’t be simpler to put on, with just two velcro straps, one around the neck, and one around the chest behind the front legs.
As with any costume with a hat, it was hard to keep the pumpkin top in place, though the cincher on the chin string worked better than most at keeping the string secure. Then again, the hat doesn’t make or break the costume in terms of the look, so if you just left it at home, no one would be the wiser.
The size small, designed for dogs measuring 12 inches long, with an 11-inch neck and a 16-inch chest, fit Penny perfectly (15 inches long, 9-inch neck, 15-inch chest), thanks to those easy-to-adjust velcro straps. Here, chest girth is the most important measurement, but if you have a very long dog, it could look a little silly, like a crop-top pumpkin. It comes in sizes x-small to xx-large.
This one is also nicely priced for a costume that we bet would last more than one year.
Classic Superman dog and cat costume by Rubie's Costume Company
Full disclosure: This is Gus’s costume from two years ago. The reasons I think it’s super: The costume is designed in three parts—the chest plate, the belt, and the cape—all of which you tie into place around the dog. (The best order of operations is to attach the chest plate first, then cape, then align the belt over the cape’s string and tie with cape flipped up, so you can hide belt string under it.)
Even though the tie-on style makes choosing the size less fussy than costumes that fit like a shirt, you still should eyeball the size chart. I went with medium for Gus. The cape is arguably a bit long, despite the chart saying its best for a dog 15 inches long; Gus is 19 inches from collar to base of tail. The chest plate fits great, designed for 17 inches, though Gus is an inch more around than that. It comes in sizes small to x-large.
Like other Rubie’s costumes we bought, it’s not the best quality: The foam backing of the chest and belt has yellowed over the last two years and there are loose threads along the strap seams, plus the cape is made of that chintzy Halloween costume material. But it still looks pretty good on, and I’ve definitely gotten good use out of it for its reasonable price.
Pirate dog and cat costume by Pet Krewe
If you’ve ever dreamed of anthropomorphizing your dog into Jack Sparrow (who hasn't?), this is the costume for you! The pirate body fits over the dog's front legs like pants, and fastens via velcro strap around the neck. The hat stays in place better than most, with a velcro strap rather than a stretchy string and because it has ear holes—which, seriously, should be a thing on all dog costumes’ headwear, no?
The sizing is much smaller for this than other brands we tried. Here, the medium fit Penny the Yorkie well, but I could only get one of Gus’s legs into a pant leg. The size chart indicates it should fit a neck of 13.5 inches and a “height” of 13 inches, for which no explanation on how to measure is given. Penny’s neck is 9 inches and Gus’s is 13 inches, so definitely size up if you choose this one. It comes in sizes medium, large, and x-large.
The quality of the materials and the fabrication is on par with most Halloween costumes, which is to say, so-so. It comes with a black cape that’s just a patch of shoddily hemmed polyester—we left that in the package.
Red gumball dog costume by Rubie's Costume Company
This one was on the bubble to appear higher on the list. The style is cute and the quality is decent, but others just got a more popping reception from our staffers.
We ordered a size small for Penny, whose measurements fell just outside those listed for that size. But as the size medium is designed for a chest girth of a full 3 inches larger, I worried it would be way too big—and on what planet is a Yorkshire terrier a size medium? Still, the site instructed to size up “for a more comfortable fit” if between sizes. It was right: The dress was on the snug side, but we maintain that the medium would’ve been huge.
On the other hand, the hat is enormous and has only a flimsy elastic strap to cinch it—and the clip designed to pull it shorter didn’t work, so we had to tie a knot. Another costume hat bites the dust. This costume comes in sizes small to x-large.
Taco 'Bout It dog costume by Bootique
Dressing your pet as a hot dog? So cliche. A taco costume is mas caliente—and makes it far less weird when other people gush about wanting to just eat your dog up. This costume was among the simplest to put on, fitting like an oversized saddle over the dog’s back and attaching with a velcro strap beneath the belly.
The not-so-unique problem we had was the sizing. The medium, which we’d ordered for Gus based on his 18-inch chest (the size should fit 16 to 19 inches), was too large around even with the strap pulled to the smallest size possible, and the strap ends flapped awkwardly underneath him. And it was too short for his 18-inch back (no shocker, as it’s designed for 15- to 17-inch backs). We tried it on Penny, too, and found it far too large all around.
The taco comes in a wide range of sizes, from xx-small to xxx-large, and is pretty good quality (as you’d hope, with its higher-than-many price). So if you find a fit that works for your pet, go ahead and put tacos on your menu this Halloween.
Lion mane by Pet Krewe
This costume drew raves for its simplicity—and roars of laughter in the room when Penny had it on. No sleeves, no back, just a wide collar-like headdress that wraps around the neck and ears and fastens securely with velcro at the back.
The mane, er, main issue: It is tiny. While it fit Penny the Yorkie well, I couldn’t close it over Gus’s head. Pet Krewe makes a larger and more elaborate mane for bigger dogs, which goes around the head and down the chest. From its photos and description—fits necks 13 inches to 32 inches—it appeared far too large for 18-pound Gus, so we didn’t order it. But if it would work for your bigger dog, he may wear it with pride.
Shark pet costume by Gimilife
A not-so-ferocious pup in shark’s clothing—now that’s a Halloween oxymoron that we think works swimmingly. Gus wore this costume last year, to which I added a stuffed seal toy for dramatic effect.
It comes in sizes ranging from small to xxxx-large (not a typo), but the Amazon listing includes two size charts containing slightly different measurements, provided in centimeters and—incorrectly, in some cases—converted to inches. Because of the confusion, I ordered it in two sizes, the xx-large (either a 21-inch and 23-inch chest, depending on which chart you follow, and 15-inch back length) and the xxx-large (supposedly a 27-inch chest and 17-inch back)—for my 18-pound dog with an 18-inch chest and 19-inch back length. Both were too large around, but I kept the larger size: The length of the costume is most important, for keeping the hood on the head and the fish tail ended at the base of the back. In xxx-large, it’s very sloppy around the middle (so was the xx-large), but it stays in place thanks to the elasticized arm holes and, frankly, gravity.
Gravity isn’t a friend to the dorsifin, however, which lolls to one side or the other. Overall, though, I was impressed by the quality of the material and fabrication, considering how little I paid.
LaurDIY unicorn onesie by Pets First
If dressing your pet as another animal isn’t meta enough, how about dressing him or her as one that technically doesn’t exist? (Or so they say…)
This well-made unicorn costume, a licensed product from crafty YouTuber LaurDIY, is styled after a baby romper, with arm sleeves, leg sleeves, and a hoodie, plus a cutout to allow pups to go potty without a mess. Because of 18-pound Gus’s atypical body proportions—he’d need an x-large, designed for a 60-pound dog, based on his back measurement, which is most important for a full-length costume like this—we ordered it in size small for Penny the Yorkie, whose measurements are more in line with the size chart. She fell between sizes, and we erred smaller. The costume was a touch short, with the hood receding off Penny’s head when she moved, but manageable—or at least as manageable as anything that encompasses a dog’s entire body could be. Penny was a good sport, though Jess wondered if all that fleece material might cause her dog to overheat after a while.
It comes in sizes x-small to x-large, so if your dog’s body fits the size chart—and he or she is tolerant of both heat and clothing—this onesie will bring whimsy to your Halloween festivities.
Donald Duck pet accessory kit by Rubie's Costume Company
We loved that this set of hat, collar, and feet looks like a full Donald Duck costume, yet didn’t strap a dog into a hot or uncomfortable full ensemble. And while Gus models it becomingly, it took a lot of adjusting—and some quick camerawork—to get this photo. Aw, phooey!
It’s also not the best quality. There’s a large manufacturer tag on every piece in the set that you have to remove. It only comes in two sizes, so we ordered it in small/medium for 18-pound Gus. The straps to hold the feet around the ankles are elasticized but were far too large—Gus stepped right out of them—with no way to make them smaller, despite the size chart indicating that this set should fit petite breeds such as chihuahuas and Yorkies (we didn’t even try it on Penny). The hat is heavy and topples over with the slightest movement, and the clip to tighten the strap flat out didn’t hold—I had to tie it in a knot. Could I make this costume work with a needle and thread? Sure. Should you have to? You decide.
Spider costume by Pet Krewe
This spider costume suffers from good idea, bad execution. It comes in only one size, designed for “animals up to 15 pounds… with waists of 8 inches to 21 inches.” Quite a range! But given that both our Yorkie, Penny, and super-mutt, Gus, are on the small side, I ordered it to try on both.
Surprise: It's not so itsy-bitzy. It fit Gus—the larger of our dog models—pretty well, and has a good design, attaching like a saddle on the back with three velcro straps: one under chin, one behind front legs, and one around the midsection. There are also loops at the back for further securing the costume to the dog’s rear legs, but Gus is too long for those to fit him properly. But, man, is this costume heavy! Gus didn’t want to walk much with all eight extra legs flopping about. And there was no way we were going to put tinier Penny into this fuzzy, gangly contraption. We could maybe see it working OK on a small, stocky pup like a French bulldog (which, perhaps not so coincidentally, is the breed of the dog model the company uses in its photos).
Star Wars Dewback pet rider dog costume by Rubie's Costume Company
This may come as no surprise, but most Reviewed staffers are huge fans of Star Wars. (As in, we have a channel on Slack, our office chat software, dedicated to it.) So when we ordered this Dewback costume, we couldn’t wait to see how convincingly it would turn a dog to the Dark Side.
It comes in only one size, for a dog with a 21-inch chest, and a 15-inch back length. Gus measures 18 inches and 19 inches, respectively. It was a gamble, but we decided to give it a go. Unfortunately, much like the Empire in the Battle of Yavin, we lost: The costume was too short for Gus.
We have to wonder, though, what dog would match those proportions and would tolerate having that comparatively heavy stuffed stormtrooper strapped atop its back—without invoking The Force.
Prices are accurate at the time of publication but may change.