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The perfect gift for a dog lover. Tall order, huh? I started by thinking about all the things I could use and would appreciate. I was overwhelmed by the number of choices, so I tried dividing all the different products into categories. That made it a little easier.

There are thousands and thousands of products on the market for dog owners, geared toward dog owners, and for dogs. Many of these items would be one of the best gifts for dog owners, so how do you decide? Unique gifts are always the best, so I started there.

I decided to concentrate on the more unusual items I found. One thing to remember in your gift-buying frame of mind is that just about any dog-related product can be personalized. That makes giving a unique gift even easier. Similarly, there are a lot of products on the market that are made for specific breeds or sizes of dogs. A gift that is uniquely designed for a certain type of dog is a nice gesture too.

RELATED: How to Dress Your Dog and Avoid Embarrassment

I couldn’t narrow it down to the 10 best gifts for dog lovers, so I decided to select the 10 best categories for gifts. You can choose a category that fits the wants or needs of the intended recipient and then select a gift that is specifically made for their favorite breed.

10 Best Gifts for Dog Lovers

Totally Awesome Gifts for Dog Lovers and Owners 1These categories are in no particular order. All dog lovers have different interests and you’ll need to select a category that the gift recipient enjoys.

For example, some dog lovers enjoy dressing their pet up in clothes while others like to get outdoors and take their pet on hikes and boating trips. You’ll want to select a gift that meets the needs of the person that you intend to give it to.

Dog grooming

This is a great area in which to find gifts for dog lovers. I know I’d appreciate a basket full of shampoos and conditioners, brushes and combs, detangler, soft baby wash cloths for the eye area, and even dog towels like DII Bone Dry Microfiber Dog Bath Towel.

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Everyone grooms their dog, and there really is no better gift than a practical one. If you’d like something more original and unique, you can select grooming products like grooming wipes, tear stain remover, fur paint or dog perfume such as De-Stress.

Dog apparel

Totally Awesome Gifts for Dog Lovers and OwnersMany people love to dress up their dogs. Apart from costumes, there is clothing of a practical nature, most of it geared to the weather — rain capes, hats, dog boots (four, of course), and warm clothes for winter. American Beagle, a division of American Eagle, carries puffer vests for dogs in colors that can easily be matched to a puffer vest for a human. Stylish.

If that one’s not available, you can also try NACOCO Pu Leather Motorcycle Jacket.

One of the more interesting gifts I found was a Pet Umbrella from Happy Pet Travel. On the underside of the umbrella is a leash with a hook at the end to attach to the dog’s collar, and the top of the umbrella connects to what looks like the handle of a regular umbrella. The umbrella is clear so you can see your dog, and it keeps him dry on his come-rain-or-shine daily walk.

Best Gifts for Dog Lovers

Dog beds and crates

You can pick up a nice dog bed at any pet store, but what about a made-to-order bed or crate with pillows and bolsters, custom made for your friend’s dog’s size and weight in a fabric that will blend with your friend’s decor? You can find dog beds like this on Etsy and I’m sure at other sites as well.

I also found dog crates that look like furniture: end tables, coffee tables, and the like in styles that will fit with the furniture in your friend’s room. That kind of crate with a pad in a fabric matching the decor of the room would be irresistible, at least to me. There are some really luxurious crates for dogs which only pet owners who truly like to spoil their Fidos should even consider purchasing.

RELATED: How to Ensure a Good Night’s Sleep for Puppies

Dog Kitchenware

Totally Awesome Gifts for Dog Lovers and OwnersI wasn’t sure what to call this category. I’m referring to water and food bowls, cooking utensils, automatic dog feeders, and anything else having to do with drinking and eating, such as this awesome and impractical Pug Mug.

I was given a wonderful bowl commemorating one of my dogs. It was a beautiful, made-to-order piece created with a picture of my pooch Rocky when he was about eight weeks old and the year he was born. I treasure it. You can make your own at Zazzle.com for about $30.00.

Another item that I think would be one of the best gifts for dog lovers are dog-shaped cookie cutters available in almost any breed. I’m not a baker, but I would love to get a plate full of cookies (for humans) in a papillon shape. There are quite a few you can get on Amazon for cheap.

I saw a food and water bowl set made from a cut-down whisky barrel. I’m not sure what decor this would go with, but I suspect it would be more of a rustic setting. You can find dog bowls to go with any decor, from the most modern minimalistic designs to the most rustic, like the raised bowl set above from Loving Pets.

Dog leashes, collars, and harnesses

Totally Awesome Gifts for Dog Lovers and OwnersThis is a category in which you can go all out. There are collars, leashes, and harnesses in matching colors and patterns. You can even get them in colors that coordinate with your clothes. A beautiful leather leash and collar or harness is a timeless gift any dog lover will appreciate.

The more pedestrian collars can be imprinted with your friend’s dog’s name and contact information, always good for the owner’s peace of mind. I saw a leash that was made entirely of glow-in-the dark material with a matching collar, such as Pawow LED Light-Up Night Safety Dog Leash. That would be appreciated by anyone who walks their dog at night.

If your friend has more than one dog, consider a leash coupler. RC Pet Products makes one that is very highly reviewed by consumers. Very handy for walking more than one dog at a time, you connect your leash to an O-ring to which are attached two or more arms that act as dog leashes you can connect to your pets. Most advertise that they are tangle-free, but my dogs overcame that hurdle almost immediately.

The pièce de résistance was a leash and collar with real jewels bordered in nine-carat gold and a matching belt for your human friend. A gift like this would be appropriate for a very good friend and a very large bank account.

Best Gifts for Dog Lovers

Things about dogs

This is a fairly easy category. Most of these gifts don’t require any outside-the-house shopping, and many can be wrapped and delivered directly to your friend’s door by the seller.

Magazine subscriptions are a good choice. There are magazines devoted to particular breeds, to dogs in general, to dog health or behavior, to the human who shows their dog — the list is almost endless.

Your friend would probably enjoy any kind of coffee table book about dogs also. Dogs by Lewis Blackwell, author, and Tim Flach, photographer, would be a beautiful addition to a home library. The book received a great deal of praise for its beautiful photography that captures perfectly the personality of each dog.

If you’re philanthropic, lazy, or just plain stuck, consider a donation to an animal organization in your friend’s name or your friend’s dog’s name.

Dog comfort

Best Gifts for Dog LoversI’m not sure if this particular item should go in this category or in the category, Things about dogs, but here goes. DirectTV offers a 24-hour television channel for dogs — not about dogs — for $4.99 a month. According to DirectTV’s website, “DOGTV keeps your pet relaxed and entertained. It’s scientifically developed to stimulate, entertain, and habituate your dog, so you don’t have to worry about leaving your beloved pet at home alone.”

My dogs spend all of their free time sleeping when I’m around, and I suspect they do the same when I’m not here to interrupt them. I don’t think DogTV would interest them, but I’m sure there are dogs that would benefit from this kind of entertainment. Maybe they have documentaries that will teach dogs things they can do besides eat and sleep.

RELATED: How I Help My Dog Deal With Separation Anxiety

Other items to consider are doggy windows and doors. For the safety conscious, there are pet doors that respond only to a chip in the dog’s collar and close automatically. I saw cone-shaped, Plexiglas windows that can be installed in a privacy fence for the nosy dog. He can stick his nose into the cone so that he has a 360̊ field of vision of your friend’s neighbor’s yard. Better check with the neighbor first.

For the lonely dog, there are “pet videophones.” According to its Amazon website, “PetChatz is the first-ever Greet & Treat videophone that allows pet parents to interact with their pet from anywhere. With PetChatz, you can see, hear, speak to, provide a comforting scent and give your pet a dog treat using a smart phone or computer.” My dogs probably wouldn’t answer.

Dog safety

Totally Awesome Gifts for Dog Lovers and OwnersThis is another area with many things to choose from. All dog lovers are concerned about their dog’s safety, and you can’t go wrong with a gift that will help protect someone’s dog.

GPS trackers can be a great help if your friend’s dog wanders away or is stolen. They work through a browser or an app that can be downloaded to a cell phone. Some of them, including Tagg Tracker, not only keeps a record of the amount of exercise a dog gets, which would be zero for mine, it also has a map feature that will help get to the missing dog’s location quickly.

You might also consider some type of cooling device if the dog spends any amount of time outside during the summer. You can get these in collar or harness (such as Ruffwear’s Cooling Vest) configurations or as a mat the dog can lie on, like the one Green Pet Shop offers.

Best Gifts for Dog Lovers

Dog snacks and treats

Another basket idea is one filled with treats for your friend’s dog. Different organic treats made in the U.S. or Canada are always a big hit. Appropriately sized treats for toy breeds are hard to find. Look for “training treats.” These are very small dog treats used as a reward in training the larger breeds. Their small size makes them perfect for the tiny dog.

Combine the treats with a cookbook for making your pet treats and dog-shaped cookie cutters for a gift the dog owner, and their pet will never forget. Dog owners have picked Zuke’s and Rocco’s treats as some of the best pet snacks their Fidos love to munch on.

Dog toys

Best Gifts for Dog LoversDog toys are fun for the dog and the owner as well. The problem is choosing from the many kinds that are available. If you know what your friend’s dog considers fun, you can find dog toys to match the dog’s preferences.

There are toys that test the dog’s skill in getting a treat out of a toy. For dogs who like to fetch, not only are there balls and frisbees in any size and color you can imagine, there are ball flingers, for the owner who can’t get the ball out far enough to challenge their dog, and ball launchers. Toys that make noise, especially animal noises such as Outward Hound’s Alligator, can keep a dog entertained for a long time, but you may want to check with your friend before getting their dog an annoying noise maker.

RELATED: Durable Dog Toys That Will Outlast Your Puppy’s Jaws

If you’re not sure what to buy your dog-loving friend, a gift certificate to a local pet specialty store or a donation to your local Humane Society in their name would be an excellent choice.

Happy shopping!