A Shaggy Dog Tale Of Hair to Haute Couture | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 30.08.2007
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A Shaggy Dog Tale Of Hair to Haute Couture

A German woman has realized there's a lot to be said for the hair of the dog. She's started a business making clothes for customers from the fur of their pet dogs.

A bearded collie

Would you steal the hair off this dog's back?

Bearded collies are not the perfect pets for fastidious housekeepers. Throughout the year, they tend to shed their hair on carpets, beds and sofas. It's enough to make their owners sick as a dog.

But 50-year-old Bettina Menkhoff, a primary school teacher who lives in Stoetze in the Lüneberger Heide with four such four-footed friends, decided that all that lovely fur shouldn't go to waste.

Three years ago, she taught herself how to turn it into yarn, and has been making scarves, gloves and other clothes ever since. Her Internet business now attracts customers from across the country, all putting a stylish new spin on the proverbial hair shirt.

"It only works when the hair is longer than four centimetres," she explained. "I regularly brush my dogs and keep the hair for processing. It's warmer than sheep wool."

As fabric, pet hair appears to be a lot more emotionally charged than anything Lagerfeld or Lacroix ever work with. These days, Menkhoff can barely keep up with demand. Fortunately, she's found a new supplier -- a local dog salon.

A dog being brushed

One day, he'll be a scarf

"Some clients specifically want me to use hair from other animals too," said Menkhoff. "They dread the day their pet dies and all they're left with is a scarf hanging in the closet." For others, meanwhile, it's precisely this sort of sentimental souvenir that they're after.

But if business continues to boom, they'll be more people than ever having bad hair days.

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