One of the odder car purchasing criteria in our household has been a vehicle's dog friendliness.

Not for us the blandishments of climate control and electric front seats, although being a bloke who likes creature comforts and pressing buttons, I've no objection to either. However, a car's ability to withstand being used as a mobile kennel without looking, or smelling like one, matters more to us.

Until very recently we owned a crossbreed terrier called Hoover, whom we found by the roadside. Hoover shed little quills of fur, which would stick in the seat fabric of some cars but not others.

Thus we found that my wife's VW Passat estate's rear seat would look positively bearded after a few hours (not helped by the dog being white and the seat black), but the weave used for Nissan and Toyota cloth seats seemed resistant to this, so was Subaru Legacy cloth. Mind you, Hoover did chew a door trim, although that's hardly the car's fault. The Passat has since been replaced by a Skoda Fabia, and as Skoda is owned by VW, we feared its seats would have similar problems, but no, they remained pretty un-stubbled.

When a road test car came my way with pale cloth or leather seats, Hoover either didn't travel in it, or the seats were covered with a large blanket –we'd found that off-the-shelf plastic seat covers were no barrier to his fur. However, dark leather seats turned out to be far more dog-friendly. Hoover did ride in a Ferrari California with dark grey leather trim, but not before I'd fashioned an all-encompassing cover from a cardboard box that had once contained a washing machine.

When I borrowed an Audi RS-6 estate with black velour seats, which we felt wouldn't benefit from dog claws, Hoover had to slum it in the Skoda.

After fourteen years we are, now sadly dog-less, but that's likely to change. A different canine chum will mean different fur and new challenges in car usage. Dog lovers will understand. Everyone else will think we're bonkers.

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