Dyeing (pink, blue, orange) is for the dogs

Spartacus, a mixed breed, gets his new purple mohawk trimmed and sculpted by groomer Neil K. Davis at Doggie Style on Passyunk Avenue.

The purple mohawk on Spartacus - a little less than 8 pounds - helps give the pup a little swagger.

But the purple accent is just one in an arsenal of color combinations that the Brussels Griffon/Chihuahua mix wears. He has been green for St. Patrick's Day, blue just for fun.

"During the World Cup, I had his mohawk, the tip of his tail, and his feet dyed orange to represent the Netherlands, cause that's where I'm from - my little Dutch Lion," said Sangeeta Koets, Spartacus' South Philadelphia owner, who has been having him dyed for about three years.

He loves the attention, she said. "I think he's proud."

Dyeing your dog is the latest way to express your true colors, whether it's showcasing your favorite team, demonstrating your love of the Irish, or embracing the pampered lifestyle.

For Lucy, a 10-year-old white Maltese, pampered means pink, having boasted a pastel tail and pigtails most of her life. Lucy gets a cut and color each month at the Groove Hound in Fishtown, about a three-hour process costing $100, said Lucy's owner, Gina Pierantozzi of Queen Village.

"The groomer says Lucy thinks she's a princess when she's getting dyed, so she's not bothered by the dyeing process," said Pierantozzi. "At home, it doesn't affect her one way or the other."

When groomer Courtney Golden began dyeing pets about four years ago at Doggie Style, a pet store and grooming salon with locations throughout Philadelphia, she would get a client every two or three months. Now, she does one a month, offering full-body dyes to individual body parts - tails, feet, ears - for an extra $10 to $20 over the typical grooming fee. Tattoolike hearts and clovers on a dog's hip are popular.

Golden uses Top Performance hair dye gel ($11.99 a jar), available in 14 colors that can last up to eight weeks. But dyeing a dog ain't a walk in the park:

"You have to hold the dog the whole time you're doing it, or he'll shake and get the dye everywhere," Golden said. It takes about 20 minutes for the dye to completely dry, at which point it won't rub off on rugs or furniture, or even in the rain. It can work on any color fur, but shows up brightest on lighter pets.

Janice Trzeciak uses PetPaint - a quicker-drying, though shorter-lasting product - to decorate her five pit bulls. She employs dye, too, sometimes, "but the PetPaint washes right off," said Trzeciak of Penn Hills - perfect for dressing up for holiday parades and pet expos.

Not to mention, the coloring has had an unintended but profound effect.

"A lot of people are afraid of pit bulls, and I noticed, when I decorated them, it took the focus off the breed," she said. "They are petting them because they are so cute, and by the time they ask the breed, it changes the perception."

PetPaint is the brainchild of Abe Geary, who in 2011 stenciled "Marry Me?" on his brother's white boxer. The girlfriend said yes, and a year later, PetPaint, based in Southern California, was born.

A pet lover who had worked in the Halloween industry, Geary realized there weren't many accessories for his furry friends. The year "2012 was when dog costumes started to get big," he said. "Dogs are like people nowadays - what you can do to yourself, your dogs can join in the fun."

PetPaint isn't really paint but a colored aerosol hair spray made with mineral-based colors - and, Geary contends, no harsh chemicals. It's similar to what you use to color kids' hair, he said, "but a better quality because your kids don't sit on their heads on the couch or car seat like a dog."

An array of 12 colors, including Beagle Blue, Pug Purple, and Rescue Red, cost $9.99 a can, with stencils - a skull and crossbones, Halloween ghost, cheetah stripes - at $7 each.

PetPaint sales have skyrocketed, growing from about $80,000 in 2012 to more than $1 million last year. The biggest bump came after Geary's November 2014 Shark Tank appearance, in which one of the sharks, Barbara Corcoran, offered him $200,000 for a 60 percent majority stake in his business. He turned her down but said the Shark Tank effect was immeasurable.

PetSmart carries PetPaint as part of its Pet Expressions stencil service; in addition to evergreen and seasonal stencils, pups can support breast cancer and veterans' causes with pink- and yellow-ribbon stencils - $1 from every purchase is donated to Susan G. Komen and the Canine Companions for Independence-Wounded Veterans Initiative.

Other do-good stenciling comes in the form of spraying "Adopt Me" on the hips of animals available for adoption through Ventura County Animal Services in California - something that seems to bring more attention to them, said marketing manager Randy Friedman. He warns pet owners to make sure the products they use are made specifically for dogs and are safe and nontoxic, especially because the animals might try to lick those areas.

Emily Patterson-Kane, animal-welfare scientist for the American Veterinary Medical Association near Chicago, suggested using only products with listed ingredients that are food or cosmetic grade.

"Don't get too committed to wanting to take a great Instagram picture," Patterson-Kane said, "and be sensitive to what your dog is telling you."

Some dogs like the attention the colors can bring, but others may show signs of stress: panting, yawning, trying to leave, or pulling back. If there's any skin reaction, wash the paint off right away, she said.

"We should respect that when that's what our dog is telling us."