A new hair dye trend has taken Chinese social media by storm: Pet owners in China are dyeing their dogs’ fur wacky colors using — with safety and health in mind — natural food coloring, more specifically, with juice from Chinese cabbage or napa cabbage.
On China’s Instagram-like platform Xiaohongshu, a hashtag for ‘dyeing dog fur with cabbage’ has garnered more than 4 million views at the time of writing, with dog owners sharing photos of their dogs’ new looks.
The most popular post belongs to a Xinjiang-based user who documented the process of dyeing her dog with juice from extra cabbage she got from ‘group buying.’ The region has been partially locked down since August due to Covid-related restrictions. As a result, many have to rely upon government food parcels or bulk community food purchases (commonly referred to as ‘group buying’).
Presumably, this new dog dyeing trend is therapeutic to pet owners confined to their apartments.
Notably, the cabbage dye reminds netizens of the cute ‘Cabbage Dog’ designed by Japanese artist PonkichiM. The creative has been releasing an illustration series called ‘Vegetable Fairy’ on Twitter since 2019. The series, said the illustrator in previous interviews, combines cute animals with vegetables to encourage kids to eat their veggies.
In China, the most famous character of PonkichiM’s series is arguably the Cabbage Dog, which is also a phrase to use when humiliating someone incompetent in Chinese slang. In 2021 and 2022, collaborating with the Chinese toy company dodowo, PonkichiM released blind boxes with seven toys from the ‘Vegetable Fairy’ collection.
Now, having seemingly discovered food coloring for the first time, Chinese pet owners have found a natural way to decorate their canines to resemble the viral Cabbage Dog. Some have even created memes of their dogs, as shown below.
Moreover, other creative dog lovers have discovered natural dyes from other foods and plants, such as dragon fruit (pitaya) and garden balsam. The results vary from yellow to orange, pink, or purple.
But be careful leaving your dog alone with dragon fruits, as you may return to find Sparky looking more like Jeffrey Dahmer than a purple version of the Cabbage Dog.
China’s pet industry has been steadily growing over the past half-decade, and the market is predicted to reach 445.6 billion RMB (about 61 billion USD) next year. Meanwhile, almost half of singles born between 1995-99 are pet owners, and about 30% of those born after the year 2000 have pets, according to a 2021 study by the Chinese market research company iiMedia Research.
As Chinese youths have become increasingly health conscious, they will likely find more organic beauty products for themselves and their beloved pets.
Cover photo by the author. Other images via Xiaohongshu, unless otherwise stated
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