"Even the tiniest Poodle or Chihuahua is still a wolf at heart."
— Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, Dogs: The Wolf Within
There is a particular kind of little yappy dog who tends to get on a lot of people's nerves.
The thing is, as theorized by no less than Gary Larson, it might not be the dogs that people have a problem with so much. It may actually be the rather specific kind of person who tends to have little yappy dogs named Mr. Muffykins (or something equally ludicrous). In fiction, Idle Rich old ladies in particular tend to have a small pack of little fluffy creatures. In older fiction, said dogs will have foul little hearts and minds deep within their fluffy little bodies.
Newer versions of this Trope may have their roots in a very odd phenomenon. Increasingly, it seems as if some people (generally older and either childless or suffering severe empty-nest syndrome) are confusing lap dogs with furry little children. A very different kind of Pinocchio Syndrome seems to be in effect here; think of how lonely (or delusional) Geppetto had to have been to treat a cat, a goldfish, and an inanimate hunk of wood as his children.
In any case, we now live in a world where, if you wanted to do so, you could get your terrier's nails painted as she gets fitted for a thousand-dollar collar. Never mind the fact that dogs are very obviously (you'd think) not little hairy people and have markedly different wants and needs. Your terrier would be just as happy — and probably more happy — with an inexpensive comfortable fabric collar and an afternoon playing with you in the park.
So an increasingly common subversion has been to show the dog itself as a sympathetic character; a victim of too much misguided attention with a master who is delusional if not outright hateful. While the trope is older than this, one has to wonder how many of these are influenced by Paris Hilton's dog.
For the record, most people in reality who have small dogs are more sensible. Tiny "purse" dogs are a matter of convenience, especially in an urban environment. A smaller dog needs much less space to be happy, and they also tend to live longer than larger breeds.
Expect this character to be Cute, but Cacophonic, whether friendly or not. If they can back up their bark with bite, this makes them a Killer Rabbit. If they can't but they try to fight anyway, they are a Boisterous Weakling. Compare Right-Hand Cat. Contrast (naturally) Big Friendly Dog. And please don't Eat the Dog... as there's barely enough meat here for anhors d'oeuvre. The really annoying form of Mister Muffykins can make a Kick the Dog very satisfying indeed.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
Madame Muchmoney/Mrs. Kaneyo and her Snubbull (who is essentially a parody of little fluffy dogs) in Pokémon. She wanted to marry it to a Monocle-Wearing Snubbull named "Winthrop". Snubbull herself chose to get the hell out of there and became a recurring character for a while, always seeking to bite on Meowth's tail. She got some closure in a subversion, as when we next see Madame Muchmoney she's become muscularand much less snobbish because she's been trekking through the wildness after her dear Snubbull the entire time. Snubbull evolves to Granbull and the two decide to be a "proper" Pokémon/trainer team.
There's also Madame Shijimi in Naruto. Her cat, Tora, often gets loose and runs into the forest, so a common Genin mission is to retrieve it.
Iggy from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is a Boston Terrier who makes an ass of himself on several occasions, though he's more foul-smelling than loud. Also, his egoistical attitude is not a product of being pampered but because he's not afraid of abusing his stand's powers. Still, he gets better, and finally makes a Heroic Sacrifice to save Polnareff.
In the Tintin album The Secret of the Unicorn, Tintin waits for an extended period of time to use a phone box. After what is implied to be at least a half hour, an old woman with a small dog exits, saying "We can go now Fifi, it has stopped raining." She gets an extremely dirty look from him. Note that Tintin is the proud owner of Milou/Snowy, a wire fox terrier.
Subverted in The Far Side. One strip (the one where he theorizes why people hate these dogs) has the owner shouting at her dog Fifi to come home, Fifi running like mad towards the door, and... the pet door propped and nailed shut from the inside. Another strip has three poodles discussing the pros and cons of murdering their owner.
Prince Charles, the spoiled pet corgi belonging to Aunt Dolly in Footrot Flats.
A Fish Called Wanda: The key witness to the robbery is an old lady with three small Yorkies, who end up getting killed off one by one each time Ken -the animal lover- tries to assassinate the old lady.
From the second movie on, Sharpay from the High School Musical series has a dog named "Boi," who is played by the Kenny Ortega's real life dog, Manly.
FuFu, the evangelist's wife's dog in the spoof Repossessed, gets tossed into a woodchipper by the frustrated evangelist. It was sweet justice.
Natalie (Sarah Jessica Parker) in Mars Attacks! has a yapping Chihuahua that she carries everywhere. In an horrible yet hilarious turn of events, when they're captured by the martians, both are beheaded and the dog's head is sewn on Natalie's body, and vice versa. By the end of the film, while the martians are dying, the dog in a woman's body takes the chance to strangle one of the martians, while still yapping at it.
Snakes on a Plane features blond socialite Mercedes and her teacup Chihuahua Mary Kate as two of the ill-fated passengers. Mercedes carries the little yipyap dog in her purse and even has antidepressants for it. Mary Kate ultimately gets fed to a boa constrictor, who turns on and devours the asshole who threw it the dog.
Queenie in the Danny Kaye version of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, who sits in a high chair to eat, wears a bib, and barks whenever the main character moves.
An odd version appears in Blade Trinity, where Triple H's character owns two rottweilers and a little pomeranian all of which are the split-faced vampire type as well.
Mrs. Pumphrey and her dog Tricki Woo from the All Creatures Great and Small novels and TV series by James Herriot. This is a relatively benign example, since Tricki is very good-natured and his owner is a very well-meaning person, but highly over-indulgent of Tricki's appetite.
A more classic James Herriot case would be Ruffles and Muffles Whithorn, described in The Lord God Made Them All.
In Animorphs, Marco's stepmother has a toy poodle named "Euclid" (she's a math teacher) who barks and acts annoying whenever it gets the least little bit excited. Unlike many other examples of the trope, it really is the poodle that is annoying, while the owner is someone Marco can learn to like. At the end of the book, Marco learns to accept his father's choice to get remarried, but he still hates the dog. Later on he turns into the dog◊ to harass a (secretly psychotic) celebrity philanthropist Controller into attempting to strangle him on live television. It worked.
In the Molly Moon books, the first ally Molly makes is a pug belonging to the owner of her orphanage, who dotes on it. Petula, the dog, is fed tons of cookies, which give her horrible stomachaches, making her nasty. Molly cures her of her cookie addiction via hypnotherapy, and she becomes lovable and friendly without the horrible pain.
It's implied that Big Fido, the mad poodle that led the anti-human "Dog's Guild" in Men at Arms was one of these before he went insane.
Making Money features a slightly more likable example in Topsy Lavish's dog Mr. Fusspot.
In The Truth, Gaspode attempts to disguise himself as one of these, with mixed results:
"All in all, the effect was not of a poodle, but of malformed poodlosity. That is to say, everything about it suggested "poodle" except for the whole thing itself, which suggested walking away."
Lord Vetinari once had an elderly terrier named Wuffles, perhaps his own version of the Right-Hand Cat. It wasn't terribly obnoxious though, having a thin wheezing bark. Also notable for being the only character to fight Mr. Pin and Mr. Tulip (in The Truth) head on and come away unscathed. No wonder Vetinari keeps him around, he's nearly as badass as his owner.
By the time of Making Money, Wuffles has died and we learn that the vastly cynical and pragmatic Vetinari still leaves the dog's favorite brand of dog biscuit on his grave every day. It's likely that Vetinari confiscated Mr. Fusspot for companionship, as well as to actually own the chairman of the bank.
In T. H. White's The Once and Future King, Queen Morgause (who in this adaptation (and Le Morte Darthur) is the mother of Mordred; Morgan La Fay is Morgause's sister and doesn't get involved in the story until later) has a succession of these little lapdogs. Mordred grows up hating them, but as an increasingly unstable adult starts keeping his own.
In the first Mary Poppins book, Miss Lark very much plays the stereotypical rich old lady who dotes on her spoiled and pampered lapdog. Said lapdog, Andrew, is revealed to absolutely hate this treatment and wish for a simpler dog's life.
Buffalo Bill, a kidnapper and Serial Killer in The Silence of the Lambs has one named Precious. Its strident needy yapping gives that extra inflection to the already horrific pit scenes.
In Seventeen by Booth Tarkington, Lola Pratt constantly addresses her lapdog Flopit in Baby Talk.
In Eva Ibbotson's Which Witch?, Sir Simon claims that he murdered one of his seven wives because she had a 'little dog that yapped.'
C. S. Lewis's The Four Loves talks about having pets and the possibility of giving them this treatment, and how the animal could never tell the truth about its ruined life even if it could realize the extent of the damage.
Many dogs of this type appear in P. G. Wodehouse's works as the companions to evil aunts and soppy heroines. They're almost universally disliked by the heroes, although Jeeves and Wooster end up becoming quite fond of McIntosh, Aunt Agatha's dim-witted Aberdeen terrier. Some of them (Bartholomew, for instance) are thoroughly nasty, while others, such as the dachsund Poppet, merely seem that way.
Bertie: He may give you the impression on first meeting you that he intends to determine the color of your insides, but it's all guff. He has to put up a tough front because his name's Poppet.
In Warrior Cats, these appear a couple times. It's a relief to the cats to be facing such a small dog, since they often can scare it away, as opposed to the much larger dogs that local humans usually own.
One kid's novel, Watchdog and the Coyotes, has a trio of dogs attempting to defend themselves from a pack of ravenous coyotes. One of the dogs, a gentle and kind Great Dane named Sweetie who unsuccessfully tried to make peace with the coyotes, reveals his Dark and Troubled Past where he was given away by his second owners when they thought he attacked and hurt their child Ben and pet poodle. In reality, it was the mean-spirited poodle, Fu-Fu, who bit Ben when he innocently wanted to play with her, prompting Sweetie to immediately attack Fu-Fu for Ben's safety.
The small dog breeds from the Dogs of the Drowned City trilogy. The big dogs find them so annoying that they call them a word they don't like: yappers.
Maria's dog Furball in House of the Scorpion, described as a "shrill, rat-sized dog that forgot his house training when he got excited."
In The Dresden Files, Abby the psychic has a Yorkie dog named Toto. Observing how Toto gets to ride around in a carry-case brings out a disappointed sigh from Mouse, Harry's foo dog, who's so big he'd need a refrigerator-carton instead.
Mrs. Bennett and her dog, Mr. Muggles (pictured), in Heroes. There are so many fan theories about this otherwise unassuming little Pom. Who says only humans get to be genetically gifted? It also said something that when Sylar held the family hostage that fans were upset that he didn't kill it. One deleted scene had him flicking the poor dog through the doggie door once the barking got too much.
Then there's Biggles, Janet's mother's dog in My Hero. Biggles hates the way she makes him wear a sweater, and the fact that everyone calls him Biggles despite the fact that his name is actually Malcolm.
Mrs. Chase's nasty-tempered lapdog (a.k.a. "the hairy mosquito" or "el perro microscopico") in the Fawlty Towers episode "The Kipper and the Corpse". In the commentary for this episode, John Cleese talks about how, in comedy, you can get away with being far meaner to a smaller dog than to a larger one. Cleese theorizes that this is because small dogs don't register as "dogs" to people, they are, in his words, "basically big hairy insects" and mentions that if Mrs. Chase's dog were a large breed, killing it wouldn't have been funny.
On NCIS, Dr. "Ducky" Mallard's mother has a number of corgis.
In The X-Files, Scully inherits a Pomeranian she names Queequeg, of which Mulder is not so fond. He ends up getting eaten by an alligator near the end of season 3.
In "Kill The Dog Next Door" by The Arrogant Worms, one of these dogs drives the narrator Ax-Crazy. Eventually he successfully kills the dog, but when made to pay a fine decides to murder his neighbor, the dog's owner, too.
The Muppet Show: Miss Piggy also has a little fluffy dog named Foo-Foo. He doesn't like Kermit much. Notable is that Foo-Foo is a puppet when carried or interacting with other Muppets, but played by a real dog in some scenes.
In the series Cabin Pressure, Carolyn Knapp-Shappey has a cockapoo called Snoopadoop, which is frequently described as a ridiculous little dog.
Several comedy-themed Advanced Dungeons & Dragons tournament adventures from the '80s, written by Rick Reid, sent heroes on missions to rescue the kingdom's lapdog mascot. This little Miss Muffykins, and her knack for getting herself dog-napped, were the common thread in a series that bore her name: "Fluffy Quest".
163. Not allowed to try and make a dire version of any dog of the toy breeds.
1512. My canine officer can't spend his animal requisition cash to buy two dozen chihuahuas.
Evita, the dog Driven to Suicide (really) by Angel in Rent, was described as yappy — but is an Akita, a relatively large breed.
Once again invoking the Zeroth Law Of Trope Examples, a dog of this type was mentioned in Two Gentlemen of Verona. Launce (who contemptuously referred to it as a "squirrel") was supposed to deliver it to Sylvia as a present from his master, but it got stolen by the local hooligans and he replaced it with his dog, Crab, who was ten times larger. It didn't go over well.
Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures has Poodgie-Woo and Tinkie-Wee, two Cavalier King Charles Spaniel-lookalikes owned by Wallace's snobbish, histrionic neighbor Miss Flitt. These yappers behave when their owner is around; otherwise they are vicious and inconsolable.
You can buy your companion and possible love interest Leliana a "cute nug", basically the local equivalent of a toy poodle. She'll name it Schmooples. In one banter she talks about the wealthy woman who raised her owning an actual dog of this type, named Bon-Bon, which had a habit of attacking ankles. Apparently she once kicked it across the room when she mistook it for a rat.
Wynne tries to dress up Dog, a trained attack animal the size of a small horse with near-human intelligence, as if he were one of these and speaks to him as if he were a baby. She (jokingly?) suggests using magic to give him a bigger and fluffier tail, changing the color of his fur, and giving him antlers. Dog plays along at first, then steals her staff to keep her from actually going through with it.
In Nancy Drew Dossier: Resorting o Danger, a yappy Pomeranian named Mr. Mingles absconds with evidence and must be chased down and/or rescued repeatedly. His owner's attitude is even worse than most examples but if you choose the ending where she's the culprit, and bust her, the dog gets a new owner who treats him like a beloved pet rather than a fashion accessory.
In Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, a heavyset rich woman named Babette flips out because her precious little boy Tom is missing on the train, and she demands that Layton, Luke, and Inspector Chelmey all search for him. Naturally, her Insistent Terminology in referring to Tom as her little boy has them hunting for a child, and of course, Layton eventually realizes that the missing Tom is actually a dog.
King's Quest VII comes with two varieties: The villain's pet... thing, who is every bit as obnoxious as her owner(though not quite as able to send you to the game over screen. Also, the town of Falderal is led by a talking variety, Archduke Fifi le Yip Yap, who is only tolerable due to the fact that every citizen of the town is certifiably insane, and he just happens to be par for the course.
Ghost Trick has you save one named Missile. A small Pomeranian, who he himself admits, is only really good a yapping loudly and not much else. However with the help of the protagonist's supernatural ghost tricks, he is able to save himself and his mistress from a hitman. He later gains his own ghost tricks and becomes an important ally later on in the game.
Minuet in Eternal Sonata is essentially this — a little yappy poodle puppy with a red bow. In the original XBox 360 version, she just yaps once and then exits the scene. In the PlayStation 3 version, however, she leads the party on a merry little chase through a Magic Mirror.
The Pokémon Furfrou is a Kalosian (standard) Poodle Pokemon that trainers (both players and NPCs) style in various ridiculous fur fashions. At least one rich NPC has a Furfrou he treats in this manner (it hates him), and people are known to fawn over them. However, true to the real-life poodle's origins, its Dex entry notes that they are excellent guard dogs, and their signature ability gives them surprisingly Lightning Bruiser potential in the game.
Kingdom of Loathing has the Purse Rat familiar, a small dog in a designer handbag. Its ability is to raise the level (and thus difficulty) of monsters by yapping at them until they go berserk. (This isn't actually a bad thing; raising a monster's level increases the experience you get from it when you kill it.)
Referenced in Snatcher, where the current pet craze is for "Pocket Pets", genetically-modified animals in various sizes, with "handles" and pouches for storing items, allowing the owner to use them as a fashion accessory and handbag. The animal, of course, often suffers from internal lacerations from being used to store sharp objects, and they often live short lifespans. It's mentioned that several Animal Rights groups try to ban the sale of these pocket pets for this very reason.
In The Law of Purple, the extremely intolerant Mrs. Wyrd owns some kind of very hyperactive long-haired little terrier named Burtie.
In an early Looney Tunes, Porky's Romance, Porky's attempts to court Petunia are undermined by her nasty little Pekinese. At cartoons' end Porky runs away, but zooms back, for his and our satisfaction, to give the little yapper a swift kick.
An early episode of Rugrats has the Pickle family adopting a poodle named Cuddles after their family pet Spike ran away (he's returned at the end of the episode). Not only was the poodle loud and obnoxious, but it would attempt to bark and bite the babies, something that would have had it immediately sent off to the pound had their parents noticed.
On Angela Anaconda, Nanette has a (male) poodle named Ooh-La-La, that she dresses up in a tutu and tiara. He, however, would like to roll around in garbage and act like a normal dog, along with Angela's mutt, King.
In The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Ms Catherine de Bourgh has a little lap dog called Anniekins that seems inseparable from her. A god toy is a part of Lizzie's costume for portraying Ms de Burgh. Lizzie thinks Annie is a very creepy pet.
A real-life subversion occurs in actual poodles. They were bred as hunting dogs, and some historians suggest that the fur is cut into such strange shapes to minimize drag while maintaining enough fur on the joints to keep them warm, particularly while swimming. It may or may not be true, but regardless, poodles can be pretty badass. Especially since there's a general assumption that a poodle is generally on the small side. Those are toy poodles. Three official sizes (toy, miniature and standard) of poodle exist — standard poodles are huge, often bigger than the labs and retrievers some people breed them with. Poodles are also the second most intelligent dog after border collies, standard poodles apparently make good guard dogs and even toy poodles make good watch dogs.
Prince Rupert of the Rhine had a frickin' war poodle who struck such fear into the hearts of his opponents that it was presented as a demonic familiar in propaganda leaflets of the time. His name was Boye, and it was suspected that he was actually the Devil himself in disguise. He was rumored to be invincible, able to predict the future, and could catch BULLETS in his MOUTH. He was promoted to the rank of Sergeant-Major-General, and died in battle. Yes, a poodle. Your expectations? They were just boned.
Anyone wondering what poodles were bred to hunt? The answer is lions.
Additionally, Lhasa Apsos, although small enough to fit on your lap, tend not to want to be there for long. Their original purpose was to act as watchdogs over monasteries, and so they actually tend to be very independent and, in addition, very physically tough for their size.
Dachshunds, which were bred to hunt badgers, can be startlingly aggressive for something with such a cute, odd little shape. Badgers, although fluffy and pudgy-looking, are vicious little motherfuckers who will stop at nothing to protect their burrow. Fun fact: "dachs" is German for "badger" ("hund" means "dog"). They were sent into the badger's burrow to flush it out so the hunter could shoot it when it appeared, usually after realizing that this dog means fucking business. Modern show dachshunds are often bred into bizarre parodies of the original, efficient form—for instance, at least one male dachshund has had the problem of having legs so short, his penis kept bumping into stairs every time he climbed a staircase. This trend is thankfully dying out now, thanks at least in part to the threat of legal action by the RSPCA and other animal-welfare groups.
The smooth-haired Dachshunds tend to be more aggressive than wire-haired or long-haired ones, at least when it comes to people. Nearly every dachshund in existence will have a switch-flip and turn into a vicious hunter when they see any kind of critter less than twice their size, however, and chances are they'll murder it and leave the corpse where it is while going back to their usual doggy demeanor. So if you're going somewhere you know has hens, or peacocks, or any kind of farm animal smaller than a pig, do not let your dog anywhere near them, because not even their very owner can get between a dachshund and something they want to kill.
However, due to blending between standard and miniature (bred for show or rabbit hunting at most), most modern dachshunds are considerably smaller than their badger hunting ancestors.
Papillons, despite the fact that they look like this trope embodied — and the fact that their name literally means "butterfly" — are actually one of the smartest dog breeds, and athletic enough to be world-class competitors in dog agility.
Any terrier. Yorkies, Scotties, Cairns, West Highland Whites, Skyes, Dandie Dinmonts, Welsh, Wire Hair — they were all bred to hunt vermin, and it shows. These are some of the brightest, most independent little dogs on the planet, and they require a strong and confident owner.
Shih Tzus are intelligent, surprisingly athletic, and stubborn. This makes them especially hard to housebreak, and their teddy bear looks make them especially prone to bad owners and thus this trope.
Shetland Sheepdogs (a.k.a. "Shelties"). A little bigger than some of these examples (though still the same size as most terriers), but their spectacular long coats put them into this category. They're actually intelligent, highly energetic and rather boisterous dogs, intended for herding.
Chihuahuas, despite being one of the smallest of the small breeds, are notorious among dog people for being examples of the aggressive end of this spectrum. Anyone familiar with the breed would not blink at the sight of one attacking a dog twenty times its size.
The dogs were bred as a portable food source and to hunt vermin during Aztec war campaigns, so their aggressiveness is somewhat justified.
Queen Elizabeth II's corgis are rumoured to attach themselves to the odd ankle, though given Her Majesty is meant to be a very good dog trainer, the extent to which this is true is dubious...note Ankle nipping is a fairly common problem in corgis, so it's not unexpected even in Her Majesty's dogs. Corgis are full-blown working dogs that are bred to herd cattle. Their means of doing so? Nipping at the feet of the cattle. This is a trait purposely present in the breed, and when they have no livestock to work with, it can turn up as nipping other pets or humans, especially children.
While Cocker Spaniels are a bit larger than many of the dogs described here, an anomaly called Rage Syndrome can make them very very aggressive indeed. The main symptom is a sudden outburst of "rage" for no reason whatsoever, and can be followed by a completely calm, happy dog moments later. It's impossible to train out of the dog, and can be incredibly dangerous as the dog lacks any bite inhibition while in a rage. While antiepileptic medication may help, sometimes the only solution is euthanasia, because these dogs are simply too big of a risk.
A problem with small dogs is that their owners often fail to train them properly, figuring that they're too small to actually do any damage if they misbehave. It's a bad-owner problem rather than a bad-dog problem, resulting in a yapping, snapping, house-fouling little beast which has always been allowed to get away with behavior that wouldn't be tolerated in a bigger breed. See roughly one Its Me Or The Dog segment in three.
A lot of small dogs are terriers. Terriers are bred to be high energy, stubborn, independent, vermin killing machines; the cuteness is merely a side effect of their needing to fit down small tunnels. If they are not exercised, socialized, disciplined, and stimulated properly (read at least one hour of walking every day, plus access to a secure garden, plus consistent enforcement of acceptable behaviors, plus very tough toys, plus intensive meet-and-greet with other dogs and people from puppyhood onwards), they will turn into pint sized dictators. Not handbag dogs in the slightest.
Dachshund breeders took a different approach to the problem of fitting down small tunnels, reasoning that what they really needed was not necessarily less dog, just less leg. So dachshunds wind up being rather like terriers on steroids.
Size Leniency, a problem that has the potential to be incredibly dangerous. A toy breed is perfectly capable of killing an infant, or even an adult if they manage to bite in the wrong spot, and dogs in general are more focused on behavior than on the size of another dog. As a result, it is extremely common for owners to be injured when small dogs attack larger dogs and trigger a fight. Do not attempt to physically get in the middle of a fight between dogs, people have been seriously injured and even killed doing this. Get help, use objects to separate the dogs, or throw water/soda/tea/whatever on them.
Generally averted with lap dogs of the Bichon type (Havanese, Coton de Tulear, Maltese etc.). They are often said to have a "big dog personality" as they tend to be very friendly (even to burglars), caring and attentive and don't bark much. However, as they still are very small, many people will unfortunately think this trope applies to them and scorn them just because they are small. That's to say, they do need proper socialization like all other dogs to develop the best temperament.