Life in the 50’s: Popular Pets

Retro Dee writes about music, fashion and other trends of the 1950s on this site.  Check out her blog, Retro Dee’s Guide to the Best Era Ever here, and her column here every Wednesday.

Hello again, my friends! It’s Retro Dee with another addition of Life in the 50’s!

For eons, mankind has enjoyed the companionship of animals. In the 1950’s, people loved their pets just like they do today… but what was it like for pets and their owners back 60+ years ago?

Dogs 🐩

Every era has its trendy dog breeds. In the 1950’s, one popular breed was clearly the Poodle, not just on skirts, but as a family pet as well. The poodle was certainly a dog that folks wanted in their home. Poodles were seen on patterns, as figurines and as stuffed toys. French influence was a big part of the fashion in the 1950’s and you can’t have great French Fashion without a posh poodle!

A lovely lady and her poodle taken from a circa 1950’s Kodak Color Slide that I purchased on eBay. (Note the floral curtains, old lamp and 50’s TV!)

Another popular canine of the day was the Boxer. My family had a beloved Boxer in the 50’s and she was stolen! Poor Queenie. It goes to show that even in a great era such as the 1950’s, crime still existed to a degree. Boxers in those days would get stolen much like French Bulldogs do today. Fortunately today, dogs (and cats) have chips installed so that they are easier to locate and this makes it harder for thieves to get away with stealing your pet. But back in the 50’s a tag and dog license attached to the collar was the best you could do.

The family dog Queenie! Yes, this is actually Queenie, taken from a family photo with a very cute, undisclosed relative 😉

In addition to Boxers, classic popular breeds were often kept as pets such as Cocker Spaniels, Beagles, Basset Hounds, Great Danes, German Shepherds and Labradors…

And so dogs continued to be man’s best friend in the 1950’s as they had been for many years before. Although, if I were to guess, I think it was probably around the mid-century when kids began sharing their ice cream with them. 🙂

Boy feeds dog ice cream in this 1957 photo. Source: eBay

Cats 🐈

Cats are cute, smart, fun and overall awesome. We know this. The people back in Ancient Egypt knew this. Still, I was surprised when I found an ad from the mid-1950’s for cat food while searching for vintage advertisements. You see, I thought cats back then just lived outside and ate mice, but that’s not true. Cats were actually kept as beloved house pets just like they are today.

This 1954 ad for Puss n Boots cat food features Siamese cats.


Specifically, Siamese cats were popular pets in the 1950’s. Much like the poodle was to dogs, the Siamese cat appeared on things like fabric prints and most often as ceramic “TV” lamps that folks would display in their homes.

Lamps like this beautiful circa 1950’s Siamese Cat lamp were popular as home decor. The bulb would go in the back and the eyes would glow. Source: eBay

At the end of the 1950’s, a new breed of cat was introduced to the United States: The Korat. The Korat is a beautiful steel gray colored that originated in Thailand. It is Thailand’s most coveted pet and is said to bring luck and fertility. Newly married couples were often gifted a pair of Korats as a wedding gift.

The Korat was so coveted, that Thailand was reluctant to share. But in 1959 the first pair of Korats were brought to the United States. Nara and Darra are said to be the first breeding pair of Korats, and that all cats with Korat blood in the US can be traced back to them. Of course this is difficult to prove, but I always enjoyed saying that my Chelsea (who was mostly Korat) was a descendant of Nara and Darra.


Circa 1950’s Sassy Cat Food Label features cats that resemble the Korat breed.


So cats in the 1950’s might not have had designer kitty condos, thousands of toys and several strains of catnip to chose from like today’s cats do. They might not have had the luxury of liquid cat treats or the “scarf and barf” mat. But they still had caring owners and were considered much more than mouse hunters.


Other Pets 🦜🐇🐠

Dogs and Cats were not the only type of pets people owned in the 1950’s. There were plenty of parakeets keeping people company. Children kept rabbits and guinea pigs and there were many goldfish bowls. Folks on farms had horses and goats that were loved as part of the family.

1956 ad for French’s Parakeet food line.

So when you think about it, pets in the 1950’s didn’t differ all that much from pets of today. They were just a bit less spoiled. Sort of like kids!


I hope you enjoyed my post on Pets of the 1950’s. You can follow Retro Dee right here on Word Press for more posts on Life in the 50’s! I’m also on Twitter @RealRetroDee and Instagram @mariepascal82 .

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