The Best Christmas Gifts for Pet Lovers [2019]

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My best Christmas Gift Reveals from 2019

Every year, I’m asked about what makes the best Christmas gifts for pet lovers, because let’s face it: we all have at least one person in our lives who is absolutely bonkers about their pets. And we love that person. And we want to make them smile (or maybe cry) on Christmas.

As a pet portrait artist, my answer is… kind of obvious. But I hope that these stories will show you why!

It’s been so hard not sharing these portraits for so long but I didn’t want to ruin the surprise. Thank you to everyone who trusted me to create something unique for them and their loved ones.

I loved painting your pets!

Ruby the Pug

When I delivered Ruby’s portrait (on a cold, rainy day in Victoria), I got to meet Ruby in person! She was reluctant to come out in the wet, but had stout, wiggly, perpetually-worried-looking but delightfully friendly puggy affection to offer nonetheless.

This portrait is a 16″x16″, big enough that you can really see the detail in her fur. I have a lot of different sized portraits in this post, but for a direct comparison of portrait sizes check out my Portrait Sizing Guide.

Bailey: a Christmas Gift for a Pet Lover Leaving Home

Happy Bernese Mountain Dog Portrait from Photo Painting Art

This piece was a going-away present for a daughter who was leaving home, and therefore would be spending much less time with the family dog.

I received note after the holidays to say it was “an Emotional and fantastic Christmas present…a great hit! “.

That made my day.

Best Pet Portrait from photo


This sweet Poodle mix is Shiloh. Her owner commissioned a portrait as a memorial and as a gift early last year using a couple different photos as reference.

Shiloh’s expression was best captured in a photo where she was looking right at the camera and you could see her big brown eyes. But her dog-mom really liked the pose and the background from an outdoor picture where she was relaxing on the lawn. After some back and forth, we combined the two into this final work of art!

See more Pet Memorial Art here in the Gallery >


Pet Art Poodle Dog Painting in Oil Portrait

Frenchie Friends Hank & Burger

First of all, I love their names. Hank and Burger. How cute is that?

This painting came out of a couple different photos as well. Hank liked getting right up front and personal with the camera, and Frank… well Frank less so.

Because this was going to be a surprise Christmas gift to a pet lover, we made what we had work just fine.


It was a challenge getting all those expressive little wrinkles in on an 8″x8″ canvas, but fortunately I’ve had practise with French Bulldog Foreheads before.

Sir & Teagrey, Two In-Your-Face Cats

Cat portrait painting by Zann

This is TeaGrey, or more specifically Princess TeaGrey Aldergrove S. F. And below we have Sir. Or Sir Excalubur T Samaui S. F.

Because “the naming of cats is a difficult matter”.

Custom Cat portrait by Zann Hemphill

As someone with a cat named after both the second Roman Emperor and the “T” in James T Kirk, I couldn’t agree more.

Cats made much more of an appearance this year compared with my 2018 Christmas Gift Roundup. I had a ton of fun painting the long whiskers.

It feels like cheating because cats are already art.


A German Shepherd Explosion

This time I received a message directly from the gift recipient! She loved it, and gave me this great photo of the portrait with their Christmas tree in the background.

Christmas Gifts for Pet Lovers

The snow in the background for this painting was really fun. I was able to fill in some parts that were out-of shot in the reference photo, and it felt great to create a more complete-feeling image overall.

Sunny Christmas Gifts for Pet Lovers: Bring Warmth into December

Dog Portrait painting

This beautiful, glowing, golden dog is Oliver. His portrait was a Christmas present from one of the staff at Nanaimo’s very own Bocca cafe to her mother. Oliver’s big personality shines through even on a small 8″x8″ canvas.

Miso (the Dog, not the Soup)

Black Dog Portrait Painting

What a smile!! I love doing square pet portraits that come at you nose-first. Big happy “I love you” eyes get to be front and centre. I didn’t get to meet Miso in person, but I bet she plays a heck of a game of fetch.

This 12″ x 12″ painting was mostly completed “Alla Prima” or using the wet-on-wet painting technique. It gives softer edges and I find it especially useful when painting black or dark animals.

Penny, Michi and Ricky

Two Cats and Dog in Painting Together

When you can’t get three pets to sit nicely together for a photo (who can, really, when two of them are cats?), painting is a great option.

The portrait of these three friends came out of three different photos, and Penny the Boxer even got to choose one of her trademark bandanas to wear. Some pets just don’t look like themselves without their usual attire, and it’s easy to add in even if it’s not in the reference.

I was so happy to see that the recipient loved the piece. She even posted it as her profile picture!

And finally... the Best Christmas Gift for Pet Lovers who Want to Chill

Cat portrait by Zann

Nothing is more chill that watching a relaxed cat. What a great thing to have on the wall!

Lucy has a unique cross-legged pose that her owner wanted to capture. She would do it all the time when she was just hanging out with her people. What a polite cat.

If you’re interested in getting a portrait done as a gift for the pet-parent in your life, check out my Gift Guide. I go through how to choose a size, sneak some reference photos over to me, and still keep it a surprise.

Whether you’re looking for a Birthday Present, Mother’s Day gift, or Anniversary Idea, custom artwork of favourite pets are always a hit!

As always, you can check out the Pet Portrait Gallery  for more recent work.

Picture of Zann Hemphill

Zann Hemphill

Zann Hemphill is a practising pet portrait artist, writer, and video producer.

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Pet Portrait art of a dog and kitten by Zann Hemphill

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