Pet Fad Starter
When the appearance of an animal in a media leads to a growing demand for it.
When the appearance of an animal in a work of media leads to a sudden spike in demand for that animal. Basically, an animal version of The Red Stapler. Just like with songs or certain pieces of merchandise, the appearance of a certain animal in a work of media will often lead to sudden attention on the animal, and thus a spike in demand for that animal. Quite common with dog breeds (as many dogs on TV are purebred) but does happen with other animals as well. As with the impulse buy of any animal, this often leads to problems for the people who buy them. When a movie featuring a certain animal comes out, animal advocacy groups often put out messages to discourage people from buying the animal, and for good reason: when the hype dies down people often get bored of the pet, especially when the pet turned out to be more work than they expected. This has led to a lot of animals being abandoned. This trope also leads to negative effects for the animals themselves. In order to cash-in on the fad, many people will begin breeding the animals as fast as possible and without checking for defects. This has caused many dog breeds to become plagued with health issues. Sub-trope to The Red Stapler.
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- The famous "Taco Bell Dog" is often cited as the original source of the popularity of the Chihuahua breed.
- Morris the Cat, the 9-Lives cat food mascot, is sometimes cited as a pre-Garfield example of this occurring for orange tabbies.
- The mascot to the dog food company Cesar is a West Highland White Terrier. Advertisements for the brand helped boost the Westie's popularity.
- "Hush Puppies" is an American brand of shoes whose mascot is a Basset Hound. This has been cited as helping popularize the breed as a pet dog, instead of just a hunting dog.
- In the UK, the toilet tissue brand "Andrex" has been advertised by a Labrador Retriever puppy for decades - it is the UK's most popular dog breed.
Anime and Manga
- Due to Heidi, Girl of the Alps St. Bernard dogs are very popular because of the dog Joseph, which doesn't appear in the original novel.
- The popularity of the 1977 anime Rascal the Raccoon was single-handedly responsible for the introduction of feral raccoons in Japan. Up to 1500 raccoons were imported as pets, but now the descendants of abandoned or escaped raccoons live wild in 42 of Japan's 47 prefectures.
- Hamtaro made many people want hamsters, and in some lands it was a true boom. It faded some years after, however.
- A relatively obscure dog breed, the Weimaraner, has gained popularity through William Wegman's photos and videos featuring this breed.
Film — Animation
- One of the more famous examples is 101 Dalmatians. The film made the breed more popular, and as a result, demand jumped up. Like many "fad" animals, several were abandoned a few months later, aided by the fact that Dalmatians are very high-maintenance dogs that many owners aren't prepared to deal with.
- As with Dalmatians, Lady and the Tramp led to a sharp spike in demand for the Cocker Spaniel breed. The poor breeding done to meet the demand compounded the health problems the breed already had.
- When the film Rio came out, some people feared that the film would lead to an increased demand for parrots, which would've been particularly bad since parrots are extremely high-maintenance animals that need constant attention and lots of patience, not to mention they often live for several decades. Thankfully, that never came to pass, though likely for cost reasons; parrots are expensive and run from several hundred to a few thousand dollars. Not exactly an impulse buy, especially for a first-time bird owner.
- Ratatouille caused a demand for pet rats. Not the worst case, as rats are relatively easy to care for even for a child, but it did lead to some abandoned rats.
- Finding Nemo made tropical saltwater fish popular for a while, which was pretty ironic because a major point of the movie was that fish belong in the ocean.
- All Dogs Go to Heaven increased demand for German Shepherds. Of course, German Shepherds have always been highly popular, and are an easy-going and relatively low maintenance breed.
- Demand for guinea pigs went up significantly for about a year after G-Force came out.
- Balto thankfully didn't do this for wolf-dogs (who are very high maintenance and more like wolves than dogs, not to forget illegal in many regions), however it did help boost interest in the Siberian Husky.
Film — Live Action
- The Disney film Snow Dogs led to a short spike in demand for Huskies, the breed featured in the film.
- Legally Blonde is one of a few things that has been credited with popularizing Chihuahuas as "accessory" dogs.
- Marley and Me made the already popular Labrador Retriever even more popular despite the fact how high-maintenance Marley was.
- The original Our Gang shorts helped popularize the Staffordshire Bull Terrier in the early 1900s. Pete was smart, loyal, and good with kids which made the breed become popular with families (to the point where it had a nickname of "Nanny Dog"). This trend has been inverted due to media and the news frequently depicting Staffys as dangerous, violence guard dogs.
- The release of 102 Dalmatians, with a blue-eyed white puppy named Oddball, triggered a run on blue-eyed white Dalmatian puppies from parents who didn't realize that the blue-eyes gene is strongly associated with deafness. (You thought a hearing Dalmatian was high maintenance? Try a deaf one...) Blue-eyed white Dalmatians (and indeed, Dalmatians in general) were bred at such a rate that puppy mills would inbreed lines with extreme prejudice if they could get away with it. They usually did, and caused enormous damage to the breed in general, with congenital defects ranging anywhere from extra dewclaws to clubbed limbs to clinical insanity.
- Cujo inverted this trope. It caused a decline in the sales of St Bernard dogs (despite the fact the dog is actually rabid instead of naturally mean). This later ended up fixed by the release of Beethoven.
- The Air Bud franchise boosted the popularity of Golden Retriever, which was already popular.
- The Marmaduke film averted this, as the eponymous Great Dane is portrayed as being very high-maintenance to say the least. Certain animal welfare groups were concerned about this trope, but it doesn't appear that the film has done much to increase or decrease the popularity of Danes. The utter failure of the film at the box office probably didn't hurt.
- I Am Legend likely helped the popularity of German Shepherds.
- Beverly Hills Chihuahua did its best to avert this with a message in the credits saying, essentially, "make sure that you really want and are prepared to care for a dog should you get one." Ostensibly, this film is immune to the effect, as it was made in response to a terrible cultural trend that was already in existence (and apparently on the decline at the time). If anything, The Simple Life and Paris Hilton are to blame for the trend that led to the film.
- The only reason pretty much anyone outside of Africa has even heard of the Basenji is the 1950s novel and film Goodbye My Lady.
- Most people who saw Turner & Hooch probably couldn't have named Hooch's breed to save their lives. Demand for the French Mastiff didn't explode by any means, but that movie and other appearances in media have definitely invoked this trope, since it's a massive, high-maintenance dog that, as the vet herself said, "Not many people [have room for]." Or time for, or money for. And that's with the movie actually playing it fairly straight in terms of how high-maintenance Hooch was.
- Jurassic Park Increased the demand for frilled lizards as pets, due to them looking like the portrayal of the dilophosaurus in the film.
- The documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed created an inversed reaction to this. It brought to the mainstream the health issues of various breeds such as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Boxer, Pug, and German Shepherd. This in turn caused many people to get into mutts instead of purebreds and start protesting dog breeders. The documentary caused a lot of controversy around dog breeding in general.
- Surprisingly, the popularity of Harry Potter led to a big demand for snowy owls. So much so, that an owl sanctuary had to be opened to accommodate all the owls that were bought as pets but then abandoned.
- The children's book Stargirl provoked some readers to get interested in pet rats.
- The popularity of Shiloh caused this with Beagles.
- The popularity of Warrior Cats has gotten many people into cats. Since it's about feral cats, most aren't purebred so fans can't exactly be drawn to certain cat breeds, but fans often get interested in certain pelt colours due to liking characters with said designs. Some cats resemble breeds, such as Bluestar looking like a Russian Blue with the wrong eye colour and Yellowfang resembling a Persian, which also spurs interest in breeds.
- The popularity of Lassie led to a large demand for Collies. As with other dog breeds that come into this effect, several were bred to meet the demand, leading to unhealthy, inbred dogs. Many people blame this for health problems the breed has today.
- Game of Thrones caused a huge leap in the popularity of Siberian Huskies, and other wolf-looking breeds, due to their resemblance to the direwolves from the series. Unfortunately, not soon afterwards shelters began reporting an increase in Huskies due to people abandoning their dogs. Huskies are a large, high-energy breed that aren't recommended for beginners.
- Nintendogs tried to avoid this by including a message in the manual:
Nintendogs is an interactive entertainment experience centered on puppies. In the uniquely imaginative world of Nintendogs, the young dogs do not age, always remaining puppies. They boast docile habits and personalities, and are easy to handle.However, since real puppies are living things, they have habits and personalities that may be different from those of the Nintendogs, so when training and caring for a real puppy, please be sure to understand the real puppy's habits and personality.When caring for living dog, the trainer holds ultimate responsibility for the survival and well-being of the dog, so be sure to consult with your family before raising a real dog.
- Shiba Inus have experienced a spike in popularity thanks to Doge the Internet meme, according to the experiences of Jonathan Fleming, the photograph of the picture that would become the "hipster doge." Fans of the breed advise against first time dog owners owning them. While not bad pets by any means, Shibas are quite a stubborn breed (to the point where many call them "cat-like") and could be hard to handle for inexperienced owners.
- The fad for pet red-eared slider turtles that began when Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a big deal on TV. A lot of imported turtles were abandoned after the show fell out of favour and the luckiest of them were dumped in rivers and reservoirs. Various areas of Britain report that water features suddenly developed resident turtle populations after the end of the show's run on TV, possibly when owners realised they weren't going to morph into superheroes and that the real thing is rather prosaic and boring - and possibly long-lived. Sefton Park in Liverpool, for instance, now has an unwanted turtle population which defies attempts to cull it and is a pest, preying on native fish and wildfowl. Fishermen across the UK hate the imported alien population of snapping turtles, for their part in depleting fish stocks. Attempts are periodically made to cull them.
- Many people want a Great Dane due to Scooby-Doo. This is despite Scooby intentionally being the antithesis of what a Great Dane "should" be like. The creators researched Great Danes and made Scooby the opposite of breed standards.
- Dan Povenmire and Jeff "Swampy" Marsh were apparently Genre Savvy enough to be aware of this trope when they developed Phineas and Ferb, which is why they deliberately gave their protagonists a pet that was uncommon, an animal that kids could not "pick out at a pet store and beg [their parents] for". Perry is a Platypus.
- Similarly averted with Rufus the Naked Mole Rat in Kim Possible.
- From time to time, seeing a big celebrity with a pet leads to a demand in them:
- Paris Hilton is a notable example, and is often credited with/accused (depending on who you ask) of popularizing tiny "purse dogs" like Chihuahuas.
- This has happened with people. It was trendy for dames at the French royal court to have a black dwarf servant following them around after Louis XIV's wife was gifted a dwarf slave by the King of Dahomey, named Nabo. The fad came to an abrupt end when the Queen gave birth to a black daughter and Nabo abruptly disappeared from the historical record.
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