Tag Archives: collie

The impact of movies on dog breed popularity

The effect of movies featuring dogs on the popularity of dog breeds can last up to ten years and is correlated with the general success of the movies, according to new research from the University of Bristol, the City University of New York, and Western Carolina University.

The researchers used data from the American Kennel Club, which maintains the world’s largest dog registry totaling over 65 million dogs, and analysed a total of 87 movies featuring dogs. They found that the release of movies is often associated to an increase in popularity of featured breeds over periods of one, two, five, and ten years.

The influence of movies was strongest in the early twentieth century and has declined since.

Additionally, they found that these trend changes correlated significantly with the number of viewers during the movie’s opening weekend, considered as a proxy of the movie’s reach among the general public.

This suggests that viewing a movie may cause a long-lasting preference for a breed that can be expressed years later, when the time comes to buy a new dog.

The 1943 hit Lassie Come Home is associated, in the following two years, with a 40 per cent increase of Collie registrations in the American Kennel Club.

Lassie Come Home theater poster

An even more dramatic example is the 100-fold increase in Old English Sheepdog registrations following the 1959 Disney movie The Shaggy Dog.

Photo taken by Harald Urnes, Norway

Photo taken by Harald Urnes, Norway

Professor Stefano Ghirlanda, lead author of the study said: “We focused on changes in trend popularity rather than on popularity itself to avoid attributing to movies trends that were already ongoing before movie release, as up-trending breeds may have been chosen more often for movies.”

Earlier movies are associated with generally larger trend changes than later movies. This might be due to an increased competition with other media, such as television, and more recently, the internet, but also to an increased competition among movies. Movies featuring dogs were released at a rate of less than one per year until about 1940 but a rate of more than seven per year by 2005.

Dr Alberto Acerbi, a Newton Fellow in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Bristol and co-author of the paper said: “If people buy en masse dogs because they appear in movies the consequences can be negative for the dogs themselves. Our previous study found that the most popular breeds had the greatest number of inherited disorders.

“It’s not surprising that we tend to follow social cues and fashions, as this is a quite effective strategy in many situations. However, in particular cases the outcomes can be negative. When choosing a new pet, we may want to act differently.”

Source:  EurekAlert! media release

Dogs on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Along a stretch of about 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California is the Hollywood Walk of Fame.   Stars are embedded in the pavement to honor achievements in the entertainment industry and are a major tourist attraction for anyone visiting Hollywood.

Three members of the Walk of Fame are canines:  Rin Tin Tin, Lassie and Strongheart (a canine star of silent films).

Strongheart was a German Shepherd that was born in 1917 and lived until 1929.  He starred in a number of films including White Fang and was sadly injured on a movie set when he was burned by a studio light.  The burn became tumorous and was responsible for his death.

Strongheart, an early canine star in Hollywood

Rin Tin Tin, another German Shepherd, is probably more well known.  The first Rin Tin Tin was born in 1918 and featured in 26 films for Warner Brothers studios.  There have been many successors to the first Rin Tin Tin and the dog has featured in comic books and other memorabilia.  You can learn lots more by visiting his official web site.

Most dog lovers will know about Lassie, a Collie dog who starred in Lassie Come Home in 1943.  The film was based on a novel that was published several years earlier.    Lassie was played by a dog named Pal.  Lassie went on to feature in a television programme, comic books, animated films, radio and other children’s books.  Like Rin Tin Tin, there have been a number of Lassies over the years.  Lassie also has an official web site.

Lassie on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

If you are visiting California, why not honour the dog stars of Hollywood by visiting them on the Walk of Fame?