Gangsta Dog Canine Confectionary

Gangsta Dog

Unleash your pup’s taste buds with a trip to Gangsta Dog, where there’s “great stuff for really good dogs”

Love in its purest form exists between a man and his dog. We shower our four-legged friends with treats, toys, customized collars and memory foam beds in an effort to repay them for their steadfast companionship. Local dog enthusiasts Gary and Laura Hughes believe all animals deserve only the highest quality of care. Their pet shop, Gangsta Dog, is on a mission to ensure local pets receive just that.

Like any great business plan, the concept of Gangsta Dog was born out of casual bar talk. 

“One evening at a restaurant, over a martini and on a bar napkin, my wife and I decided to create a business around Bruiser, our oldest dog,” remembers Gary Hughes. The name “Gangsta Dog,” in fact, is a cheeky nod to Bruiser’s mixed breed roots.

The couple launched Gangsta Dog and its products at a farmer’s market in Kentucky in 2014 and expanded into an official storefront three years later. When the Hughes relocated to Coastal Virginia, they brought Gangsta Dog with them, opening their first local brick-and-mortar on the Yorktown waterfront in April 2021 and a second location in Norfolk’s East Beach in 2022.

Gangsta Dog has since acquired a nationwide following. Locals flock to Gangsta Dog not only to check out its funky 1920s-inspired decor but to seek the expertise of its highly trained staff and to shop its wide selection of all natural, homemade treats. The dog bakery rotates through roughly 50 variations of biscuit recipes ranging from cheeseburger and peanut butter to apple cinnamon and coconut. 

“My wife and I created all of the recipes and all of the variations are available every day,” says Hughes. “On the days our pastry chef works, she is churning over 1,000 dog biscuits a day by hand.”

Gangsta Dog’s signature line of dog food is another fan favorite. 

“We have nine recipes and currently sell between 17,000 and 24,000 pounds of it every six weeks. It is made specifically for us by a manufacturer in the United States,” Hughes explains. “Our food is packaged in reusable FDA-approved buckets. When their food runs out, customers can bring their bucket back to the store and get it refilled.”

While pet owners refill buckets and peruse Gangsta Dog’s selection of accessories, bath products and supplements, canine clients are invited to shop the shelves. The bottom three feet of
every aisle are stocked with goods for pups to sniff and explore. 

“Charlotte, a chocolate Labrador Retriever, shops on her own,” says Hughes. “She gets every item she wants and takes it to the register before she eats it or plays with it. She even goes to her owner and gets his credit card when it’s time to pay.”

At Gangsta Dog, everyone is treated like family, so much so that Hughes created a line of cakes to celebrate pup’s birthdays and even gender reveals. 

“We make several flavors of fresh birthday cakes with maple bacon being our most popular. We also make reveal cakes so if a person is expecting, their dog can be involved in the gender reveal, too,” says Hughes. 

The bone-shaped cakes are doused in white pet-friendly icing and filled with either pink or blue interior to match the dog’s gender.

With a strong client base behind them, the Hughes set their sights on expansion. Gangsta Dog is currently in the process of securing its third location and gearing up for the launch of its franchise business this spring. 

“While we work really hard on Gangsta Dog, it has reins of its own,” says Hughes. “The universe basically takes it where it needs to go and we follow along.”

Learn more at gangstadog.com/shop.


Pups’ Picks

These canine customers are regulars at Gangsta Dog, and these are some of their favorite treats.

Name: Cooper
Breed: Golden Retriever
Favorite Find: Pig Ears

Names: Sailor, Teddy and Wiggly
Breed: Mini Australian Shepherds
Favorite Find: Cannolis

Name: Preston
Breed: Black and Tan Coonhound
Favorite Find:Yak Chews

Name:Jake
Breed: Pitt Mix
Favorite Find: Lamb Chews

Names:Bear and Lady
Breed: Rescue Dogs
Favorite Find: Dried Chicken Feet

Grace Silipigni Headshot
Grace Silipigni

Grace Silipigni is an elementary school Spanish immersion teacher based in Virginia Beach and a regular contributor to Coastal Virginia Magazine, covering a wide range of topics such as health and wellness, education and learning, food and drink, happenings and events, travel and getaways and more.

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