Media-Based Dog Breed Choices

Pick the dog that’s right for you, not the dog that is popular right now!
By Karen B. London PhD, October 2017

The canine actors that people see in the media affect which dogs they choose to purchase or adopt. It’s been well documented that certain type of dogs become popular when they are featured in the movies or on TV. The most famous example is the mad rush for Dalmatians after the movie 101 Dalmatians came out, but it has happened with many breeds over the years.
 

All too often, the breed du jour is far too active or intense to suit many families. There are exceptions, both with families who are a good match for such dogs or with an individual dog who is not typical of the breed. However, choosing a dog based on what you see in the media, even if you do it subconsciously, can so often lead to trouble.

In a recent heartfelt, if slightly over-the-top, essay by Julia Hubbel, the writer begs readers not to rush out to get an Australian Cattle Dog just because the breed has been featured in a commercial with NFL star Aaron Rodgers.

(FYI, the dog in the commercial does not actually belong to Aaron Rodgers though he has two dogs named Frankie and Chance. Chance is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Frankie’s background is unknown. Both were adopted by Rodgers and his then-girlfriend, actress Olivia Munn, who is a strong proponent of “Adopt, don’t shop”.)

As a behaviorist and trainer, I have seen the trendy dog have an influence on many families, especially those with kids who beg for a certain breed after falling in love with one on screen. Sadly, the effects are rarely positive as choosing a dog because it looks like one who is a star is not the ideal way to choose the right dog for yourself and your family. It breaks my heart when I consult with a family in a tough spot with a dog who is not the best match for them, and they are in this predicament because of a canine actor. These families love their dogs but struggle to make the relationship work due to compatibility issues.

Right now, a lot of Huskies are being relinquished to shelters and rescues (or simply abandoned). Many blame the popularity of Game of Thrones, which features Huskies and similar canines on the show. Gorgeous animals they are, but that does not make them right for all of the people who now want one.

Have you seen an increase in certain types of dogs following their appearance in the media?

Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral problems, including aggression. She is the author of five books on canine training and behavior.