"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
. Contrast (naturally) Big Friendly Dog
. And please don't Eat the Dog
... as there's barely enough meat here for an hors d'oeuvre.
Especially make sure that the critter stays away from your Evil Uncle
's Right-Hand Cat
, who may think it's a rat and eat it. The really annoying form of Mister Muffykins
can make a Kick the Dog
very satisfying indeed.
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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 muscular and 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.
- In a Spider-Man #647 back-up strip, a P.O.V. Sequel to the whole of Brand New Day from the perpective of the girl who was kissing Peter in the first panel of #546, she has a Mister Muffykins who mysteriously disappears while she's interrogating the Dark Avengers' Spider-Man under the impression he's the one Peter takes pictures of. Burp!
- Strangers in Paradise - Katchoo's least favorite kind of dog.
- Trope subverted by Lynda Barry.
- 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.
Films — Animation
- Percy from Pocahontas.
- Fifi, the poodle from Open Season 2; a good not-so-old example of one of these little yappers having an evil little heart.
- The Chipmunk Adventure features a pair of very, very '80s villains and their unpleasant little dog, Sophie.
Films — Live-Action
- 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.
- Amanda and Halston in Ugly Betty.
- 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.
- Kamen Rider Faiz has sort of an amusing take on this, in that the small fluffy dog Chaco is owned by Scary Black Man Mr. J.
- 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.
- Chester from the The Nanny is an odd one as he hates his owner, C.C., yapping at her, but loves Fran (a bit of Real Life Writes the Plot as the dog was Drescher's dog and would only act affectionate to her).
- 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.
- Frank Zappa built an entire Running Gag concept about poodles in his lyrics, also pondering why humans have felt the need to modify this dog species according to their own kitschy desires.
- Ninja Sex Party has one during "Unicorn Wizard", where Danny Sexbang mentions his 'hellhounds' Tinkles and Gary.
- 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.
- 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.
- At the start of Dead Rising, the Too Dumb to Live hysterical old lady tears down a barricade to keep zombies out when she sees her Mister Muffykins outside. She doesn't realize that the Mister Muffykins was being ignored by the undead because it was one of them.
- 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.
- Dragon Age: Origins:
- 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.
- A reversal occurs in Sheep in the Big City, where Lady Richington is the yappy one (a steel wig!) and her poodle is far more even-tempered.
- South Park:
- One episode showed how Axe Crazy a jealous Jennifer Lopez can be when she tosses her puppy out of a moving car.
- A memorable episode showed Paris Hilton literally driving her pets to suicide through misaimed attention. And unfortunately, Butters was her latest pet]].
- The first season of Fantastic Four had Ms. Forbes' dog, Foo-Foo, as a supporting player in her appearances.
- Suga Mama's poodle Puff on The Proud Family.
- Kim Possible:
- Commodore Puddles, Dr. Drakken's psychotic pet poodle.
- Another villain, Gemini, owns a tiny sickly chihuahua named Pepe who totally freaks out if anyone mentions "Global Justice".
- 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.
- Paris Hilton's little dog Tinkerbell.
- Leona Helmsley's dog Trouble. (But then again, the owner was a Rich Bitch...)
- 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
- 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.