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Behind the Brand: Dog + Bone

A company set out to prove that not all collars are created equal.

by Jinnie Lee
October 15, 2021
Dog wearing a collar and leash by the company Dog + Bone
Courtesy of Dog + Bone

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Seven years ago, Dog + Bone came thundering into the marketplace with their top of the line dog gear, promising quality over quantity. The company offers a series of outdoorsy, sustainable, and hand-made snap collars, adjustable leashes, and waist extensions. However what truly differentiates this brand’s line is efficiency. The martingale collar, Dog + Bone’s crown jewel, is virtually inescapable — providing pet owners with additional security, as well as a solution for over-exuberant pups. The collar is so successful it has become a necessity at many shelters.

Dog + Bone isn’t just a leader in the industry — the company also sets the bar when it comes to giving back. Founder Anne Christian is a frequent donor to A Purposeful Rescue, a non-profit that helps save dogs from high-kill shelters in the Los Angeles area. Christian sums it up best: “We were mainly focused on producing quality products, raising funds for rescues, working to promote sustainability, and seeing where organic growth would take us.” And the results speak for themselves. 

First off, tell us about your many pets. What makes each of them unique?

Leland (Shepherd mix) is sweet as sugar, wouldn’t hurt a fly, a handsome, baby-licking dog. He’s soft-spoken and mild-mannered at home but can run for days with ease through the mountains. His athleticism is stunning and I wish I had his grace and endurance. Ever the shepherd, he always checks in to make sure I’m not far behind. Flora (Lab mix) is a slower-moving lady — she prefers to spend her time swimming in the creeks around our casa. She keeps us laughing with her hilarious antics, pranks, and group hugs. An absolute comedian and fun-loving gal with a zest for chasing bugs.

Birdie (Hound mix) is a wild one. A no-fear, climb-that-tree, jump-that-fence, don’t-stop-can’t-stop, full-throttle hound dog. She inspired me to up my game in dog training. With a voice like a subwoofer and an even deeper love for her people, she is truly larger than life. Fritz (Toy Fox Terrier) is the sweetest soul I’ve ever known. He was our foster after being surrendered at 10 years old with several other dogs. He is my shy guy and snuggle buddy. Fig (the cat) is 16 years and counting. He is a large and lean house cat, our very first pet, and an easy-going source of calm amidst a pack of dogs.

Courtesy of Dog + Bone

What inspired you to focus on outdoorsy dog gear?

The brand is really just a reflection of who we are as people. I’ve always been that girl in a dress, climbing a tree, dirt on my face, with a big smile. I’m very much at home in nature and love sharing the experience with dogs.

How has the move to Lake City, CO impacted or changed your vision for Dog + Bone?

The move to Lake City has been huge for us. Because the cost of living is lower than in Austin, it’s allowed Ivan to join me full time and we’ve been able to increase our focus on growing the business. Living in a small mountain that is dependent on seasonal tourism has also opened our eyes to new ways that we can support our community, such as providing year-round jobs at a livable wage. It’s also the perfect environment to let the dogs run wild and test our gear.

I love how straightforward and simplified your offerings are. Do you have plans to expand or introduce new styles?

Yes, absolutely. Over the years we’ve had so many ideas for additional products but felt it was important to stay focused. I think part of it comes from the sensitivity to sustainability, to create just the core, essential pieces and not just make stuff for the sake of making stuff to grow the collection. Now we’re at a point where we are starting to hire people and we’re excited to finally have the resources to work on a few new meaningful products.

Courtesy of Dog + Bone

I can’t help but notice how affordable your products are, given that everything’s made by hand. 

From the start we felt it was important to strike a balance between quality and accessibility to dog lovers. I think we landed in a really good place, and even though a lot of our costs have increased, we’ve done our best to maximize efficiencies to avoid raising our prices.

As a tiny biz, I’m impressed that you’re able to offer lifetime guarantees on all your products. How did you come to that bold decision?

I guess we’re just really confident in our gear. When you own your production you can keep an eye on everything and make sure quality is consistent. That’s a big part of why we’ve never outsourced it.

Can you tell us how your escape-proof martingale collars work?

I first learned about martingale collars when I was volunteering at no-kill shelters and rescues. Every dog had a martingale collar. Because this style of collar gets tighter when pulled, they are known for preventing a dog from slipping out, which is why they are a favorite of rescues. A martingale collar has an extra loop that you clip a leash into so that when pulled, it cinches the rest of the collar down evenly around the dog’s neck. The limited cinch is gentler than a “choke” collar. 

Courtesy of Dog + Bone

What do you want eco-conscious consumers to know about your sustainable practices?

Because our products are handmade in our studio, we are able to have small batch production practices that significantly reduce our waste stream. We don’t even need a commercial-sized dumpster but rather a small residential trashcan. When returned products are not in resellable condition, they are donated to a rescue or shelter instead of being destroyed. We also offer a repair program to extend the life of our products, reduce our environmental impact, and give our customers an economical alternative to buying new gear.

Tell us more about your social impact mission, which includes partnering and giving back to rescue orgs.

We feel that businesses have a responsibility for social good. We look at everything we do through that lens, whether it’s how we can better support rescues or work to reduce our environmental impact. We’ve landed on a few ways to partner with rescues including sending gift boxes for events, weekend fundraisers where we donate half of our total sales, and offering gear at 50 percent off retail. Also, we’re always on the hunt for more sustainable materials and packaging, and we’re really proud to be in our third year as members of One Percent for the Planet.

Between managing the retail space, working the studio, and taking care of your pets, how do you accomplish everything you need to in your day-to-day?

Honestly, we wake up very early. Watching the sunrise during a morning run with the dogs starts the day off right. Good time management and genuinely loving what we do helps a ton too.

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Jinnie Lee

Jinnie Lee is a Brooklyn-based culture writer who has written for Vogue, Refinery29, Vice, W, Elle, New York Magazine, and others.