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Internationally-renowned, award-winning animal photographer Illona Haus is the province's premier pet photographer, serving clients across Ontario, the US and the world. Photographing exclusively animals, both commercially and for private clients, since 2007, scruffy dog photography inc. -- based in Kitchener, Ontario -- is considered one of the world's leading and most influential pet photographers.


To learn more about the scruffy dog experience, its creator and history, as well as how YOUR scruffy can become a part of the SDP family, feel free to browse through the menu above, and scroll through a decade's worth of blog entries below!


Please drop us a line! We'd love the opportunity to capture stunning, creative, one-of-a-kind photographic memories of your 4-legged loved ones to treasure in artwork for a lifetime, and show you just what makes the scruffy dog experience second to none.

smartypants annie

meet Annie …


full-throttle, full-drive doodley goodness.  i love this girl … but then i do love the hunting dogs, and this golden girl certainly took some hunting genes from both her golden and poodle parents. there was something about her energy that reminded me of my own wirehaired girl, although simmered down to a more reasonable and manageable dose.

still, this girl’s head was spinning … always on the lookout for birds as we walked the forest trails and boardwalks through Burlington’s Royal Botanical Gardens …


… and every squirrel was given a run for its money … or nuts as the case would be …



mom, Linda, was shy of the camera and kept trying to escape out of frame, but sometimes i love capturing owners with their dogs.  so, Linda, sorry … gotcha.  🙂  just had to …  your bond with your wonderful girl is too lovely to not want to capture.



i certainly did love the backdrop of the boardwalks and its bridges …





Annie, however, preferred getting off the bridges and into the mud.




but all good things must come to an end … and it was back in the car to head home …


… and to Annie’s newly landscaped backyard.




and inside, you would have thought Annie would be pooped after our hours out, but don’t let this photo fool you …


this was totally posed.  in fact, this is were Annie’s smartypants, doodley brain shone.  in a matter of seconds she picked up on my gesture for her to put her head all the way down and pose like this.  not many dogs i’ve met at shoots will do this, unless their owners have worked with them previously.  but Annie had it from the first gesture and a treat in the backyard.  in fact, Linda and i were cracking up at how much like a trained model Annie had suddenly become.  i’d love to take some credit for my abilities with dogs, of course, but honestly, Annie’s just a super-dooper smartypants.


thanks Annie and Linda, for a memorable afternoon.  and i’m so glad you were able to meet my own crazy girl Matea.

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  • Lizzy & SparkyOh my goodness… These are amazing. Just came across your blog through Flickr, I love it! These photos all look incredible large. You have a wonderful talent in pet photography!

    Especially liked those shots on the bridge. 🙂

    Lizzy & SparkyReplyCancel

  • JeanMore scruffy dog magic! Wonderful series. The B&W of smartypants and her mom is meant for a gallery.ReplyCancel

  • MarlaGorgeous series, Illona. She looks like one hella model. Linda must be thrilled!ReplyCancel

why scruffy dog photography?

dogs like Layla is why …


Layla — weighing less than my Nikon — is barely a handful … a handful of wiggling sweetness and sheer, squirming love.  however, she’s also a handful of nervous energy who flinches at any click or noise, and whose recent introduction to her owner’s DSLR has unfortunately been done with a flash.  this can often cause even more fear of the looming camera and the shocking noise of the shutter.

add to that an allergy that forbids her to partake in the absolutely irresistible scruffy dog treats which accompany me on every shoot, and bringing this wee girl around took more than the average camera-shy subject.  as previous clients know, i don’t watch the clock at a shoot, so i honestly don’t know how many hours it took for sweet Layla to come around.  honestly, there were times when i worried it would be hopeless.

you can see from the depth of field in this photo (the focus on the brick much in the foreground) that at the first click of the shutter, Layla has scurried back by at least five feet, much out of the focus of the camera where she’d been only a second earlier between the first and second shutter release.  terrified.

however, as past clients will know i don’t give up.  i will move on when the dog clearly shows me that they need to, but i’ve been known to spend twenty minutes or more just on one shot, on one ‘sit’ in one setting with a dog or puppy who perhaps isn’t as highly trained.  it’s times like these when i sometimes feel the owners’ frustrations rise, and i often find myself having to assure them that i’m in no way frustrated and that this can be perfectly normal.

but Layla was a challenge … and as i worked with her through some of my behavioral tricks, kept watch of her body language as well as my own, rewarded, marked and encouraged, i often found myself thinking: how on earth would a regular photographer ever handle a case like this?  a photographer without the experience of working with and understanding dogs? and the truth is, they wouldn’t.  or rather, they wouldn’t get this:


or this …


this isn’t Layla’s official blog entry.  i’m sure i’ll be putting one up of her other shots from her day.  i just wanted to share the experience.

i’m left wondering only one thing … would Marci have noticed if i’d stuffed this ball of sweetness in my camera bag at the end of the shoot?

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  • Gina C.Illona ~ I haven’t really spent much time perusing your blog until today (I’ve always just hung around your Flickr photostream) – and “WOW” – I’m sorry I didn’t stop by sooner. I’m speechless! Your photos are just simply too gorgeous and impressive for simple words to explain. If you are one to believe things happen for a reason, your book writing didn’t work out because taking photos is your true calling. I am very passionate about photography. I love photographs, especially those really special ones which can touch ones heart. The more I study, examine, look and browse photo after photo in millions of portfolios on Stock sites, Flickr and anywhere else I can find, the tougher it gets to impress me. However, I have to say, and I’m being completely honest here, EVERY single one of the pictures you have here really are moving! You are blessed with a special talent that very few people possess. Your photography truly is remarkable. Keep up the great work! I hope your business continues to prosper!ReplyCancel

  • Layla's Professional Photographer session - Forums - Yorkshire Terrier Community[…] put up- it ended SOOOO well! i am so happy and can’t wait to see the proofs when they are ready scruffy dog photography blog why scruffy dog photography? __________________ ‘s […]ReplyCancel

  • nicoleAmazing!ReplyCancel

  • Marci (Layla's Mom)Awww- I was in tears by the time I got to the end! Layla had SO much fun yesterday despite how the day started! It breaks my heart to see that first picture because I know just how upset she was- and I was feeling awful putting her through something so stressful. When we started at the park I thought- I am not going to get the shots I want- I really thought it was hopeless. I have a skiddish dog and it just wasn’t going to work. But boy you sure got her to turn around- By the end of the day- on the deck- I couldn’t BELIEVE how close you got with your camera! Thank you for spending so much time with us. Layla is still working on the toy you got her 🙂 Can’t wait to see our pictures!ReplyCancel

my favorite little melon-head

this is rosie … and i can call her my favorite little melon-head because she knows i love her.


seriously the sweetest little girl bully i’ve ever met, with the cutest, most perfectly round head you’ll ever see … thus the ‘melon-head’ endearment.  and who knew she could fly?

you’ll be seeing more of this dollface soon, in the meantime, enjoy this one.

as for the horizon line … yeah, it’s skewed … and we like it like that!  🙂  for those of you who would argue it needs to be straightened, you should know that by doing so you’d lose precious sky which is essential to this image … of course, yes, i can always work my post magic to fill in the where sky is lost in the straightening and fix that.  but also, with the skew, i believe there is a more of a sense of motion and upward propulsion.  and hey, rosie needs all the lift she can get!


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  • EmilieStunning! It’s my widdle niece Rosie Posie!! It’s breath-taking!ReplyCancel

    • illonathanks, everyone. just wait till you see the rest! i just love this little girl.ReplyCancel

  • karenI wouldn’t change a thing. It’s perfect.ReplyCancel

  • Lizskewed = perfect 🙂ReplyCancel

  • VickiI love those little short legs and jowls!! So much energy and life in such a compact little package!! I think straightening this pic would take away from all of that fun personality!! I love it just the way it is 🙂ReplyCancel

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