You don’t have to look far to see a dog wearing their own shades. Doggles have been around since the early 2000s, and have a function besides making a dog look cool. When these doggie goggles were first invented, they were number six on a list of the most useless inventions. But since then, veterinarians, the military, police departments, search and rescue, hunters and other dog owners have discovered a variety of reasons for putting a pair of Doggles on their dog.
How Doggles Came to Be
The idea for dog goggles wasn’t on the mind of Roni and Ken Di Lullo until one day in 1997 when their Border Collie, Midnight, kept missing the Frisbee they were playing fetch with. He was squinting a lot, and Roni thought it was because his eyes were sensitive to the sunlight. With nothing available on the market, she decided to try to customize a pair of sports goggles to fit Midnight, and it worked. His Frisbee catching improved, and other dog owners at the dog park were amused when they saw him wearing his goggles.
People began to stop and ask about the specialized goggles, mainly because they looked so cute on Midnight. Roni started to get requests from other dog owners asking if she could customize sports goggles for their dogs. The big problem with using the sports goggles was that they didn’t fit right. So Roni and Ken consulted with eyewear manufacturers to find one that could develop the goggles into glasses that would fit canines correctly.
Doggles are much more than just a fashion statement, although they do make dogs look pretty hip. The shades are actual eyewear protection, and can help dogs with eye conditions that make them sensitive to sunlight. Pannus is a progressive eye inflammation that affects the cornea. It’s mainly seen in middle aged German Shepherds, but Border Collies, Labrador Retrievers, Greyhounds and long haired Dachshunds can also be affected by this condition. It is found in other breeds as well, but it’s not as common.
This eye condition is seen more in the Rocky Mountain states and the desert southwest. The cause isn’t known, but exposure to ultraviolet light increases the severity. Because Doggles have tinted lens, they can reduce UV light and offer sun protection to dogs affected by Pannus, dry eyes, light sensitivity and other eye conditions. Prescription lenses can be customized for dogs that have undergone cataract surgery or have failing eyesight.
The dog goggles are flexible and foam padded to fit snuggly against the dog’s face. The lenses are shatterproof and anti-fog, and adjustable head and chin straps keep the Doggles in place. Dogs who love to play on the beach can have relief from blowing sand along with protection from the sun’s rays, and the goggles provide eye protection for dogs riding in cars with the windows down.
The U.S. military uses Doggles to protect the eyes of their four legged K9 bomb sniffing units. The goggles protect the dogs’ eyes from flying debris, shrapnel, wind, sand, small rocks, bugs and dust. Navy Seals train dogs to jump from helicopters and airplanes; they fit their canines with Doggles for eye protection during jumps.
You may not know who Cairo is, but he is the dog that went on the mission with the famous Navy Seal Team Six. This Belgian Malinois helped secure the perimeter of Osama bin Laden’s house, and made sure there were no bombs inside the Pakistan compound. He wore specialized Doggles equipped with night vision and infrared capability that would make it possible for him to see human body heat through concrete walls.
Search and rescue dogs and police dogs are also fitted with Doggles for eye protection. The dog goggles can help protect the eyes of hunting dogs from twigs and other debris, too.
There’s no question that Doggles have evolved since their inception. When military dog handlers in Iraq and Afghanistan were asked to name things they wanted or needed, Doggles were one of the most requested items.
The goggles are sold worldwide, and millions of dogs are getting eye protection from the sun and wind while looking stylish at the same time.
Top photo by Spc. Daniel Bear
Middle photo by Sgt. Jason Brace
Bottom photo by Kathleen Tyler Conklin
Read more articles by Linda Cole