Mel: The squirrels are going to take over the world! I knew it! I always said, "squirrels are shifty little guys!"
Gidget: No, we're not doing the little squirrel thing right now, that's not—no!
Forget cats. If there's one animal dogs seem to despise more than anything, it's squirrels. Often a dog will be minding its own business. But the moment it sees or even hears a squirrel, it'll go NUTS and chase after it. It's like they are instinctively driven to go after them. It's one of many common Animal Stereotypes.
For a squirrel, Beware of Vicious Dog ensues.
This isn't just done with regular dogs. Across media, it seems to affect dogs all over the Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism. Whether you're dealing with a Nearly Normal Animal, Talking Animal, Partially Civilized Animal, Civilized Animal, or sometimes even Funny Animal, dogs just can't seem to stand squirrels in media, because Predators Are Mean. Often the more sapient the canine and/or squirrel, or in case they are giant dogs and giant squirrels, the more exaggerated the chase gets.
Often this trope is used a gag Played for Laughs. I mean when you have a canine character or pet dog in the cast, what better filler joke than having them turn savage and run through everything in sight just to catch a squirrel? This trope also serves as a common Furry Reminder for dogs. Afraid that your supposedly, mostly normal dog is getting a bit too human-like? Have a squirrel run across his path and watch him be humbled as he goes after it. At other times though, the trope isn't be used as just a quick gag. Sometimes, this is employed as a way to separate a dog from his companions or get a pooch into trouble. Sometimes the very dog-squirrel conflict becomes the center point of the story, in which the squirrels tend to be on the side of the good and dogs are portrayed as villains. Sometimes the squirrel will be just going about their own errands, searching for acorns and what not, only for a big, mean old dog to turn into a Super-Persistent Predator to get in their way. On the other hand, the dog's hate for the squirrel may be justified by having it be tormented by a Screwball Squirrel, in which case it better watch out.
A Big Friendly Dog or a Precious Puppy usually doesn't exhibit this trope, unless when they're pissed. Due to their generally likeable nature, they are more likely to spare poor squirrels from outright brutality compared to other dogs.
As far as real life goes, this is indeed Truth in Television, but not to the absurd extent fiction loves to play it up. Many dogs do indeed chase squirrels on sight. But such dogs likely won't pursue a little squirrel anymore than any other small animal. Dogs are indeed predatory carnivores which share a good chunk of their DNA with wolves and foxes. Chasing little animals for them is practically instinct.
As a side note you might notice that this trope is far more common in Western media than Eastern media. That's because urban squirrels are much rarer in the East than they are in Western nations so the people naturally aren't as familiar with the idea.
See also Elephants Are Scared of Mice for the similar interactions between rodents and larger mammals.
- In the pilot of Bannertail: The Adventures of Gray Squirrel, the titular character is playing in a tree when a big mean dog starts barking at him. Far above the dog's reach, he fools around on the branches, taunting the hound, only for the branch to break. Fortunately his mom, an adoptive cat, comes to his rescue.
- Parodied as Animal Motifs in the second season of Dog Days, where both factions of dog and cat people were pitted against a faction of flying squirrel people.
- The Bolt Chronicles: Inverted in a few stories.
- In The Imaginary Letters, Bolts reaction when he says the word squirrel is to laugh at this trope with the observation Did I say squirrel? Who am I, Dug from the movie Up?
- In The Seven, the collie puppys prominent dead squirrel odor is noted by his friends, all of whom want to know where he found the source.
- The Nut Job: During Surly's plan to break into the nut store, he gets cornered by their Angry Guard Dog Precious. But before she can rip him apart he gets a hold of their dog whistle which brings her to her knees. Surly then uses it as a Restraining Bolt to force her into cooperation as they work with the other park animals to get the nuts. But by the end of the movie she pulls a HeelFace Turn and helps Surly as friend. This is highlighted by how she helped him even though he had lost the whistle by that point.
- Open Season: Averted. Mr. Weenie shows no hostility to McSquizzy or his squirrel troops at all and in the sequel the other dogs show no more hate for him than they do the other wild animals. In fact, this trope actually gets inverted in the sequel as when McSquizzy disguises himself as a little female dog along with Gizelle, a doberman named Rico becomes smitten with him and remains in love even after he finds out that McSquizzy is a squirrel. It's not until he reveals that he's a guy that Rico drops the romance.
- The Secret Life of Pets: A lot of the dog characters in the movie are depicted as utterly despising squirrels. The very page quote comes from the scene where Gidget is about to tell the gang about Max's disappearance only for Mel to sidetrack the conversation, assuming she was about to state that squirrels intend to take over the world. One scene has Mel and Buddy barking at two squirrels for being in a tree they just...marked, only to get pelted with acorns for their troubles. Another scene features Tiberius going into a fantasy about being Gidget's friend which includes the two of them maniacally laughing as they swoop in on an unlucky squirrel.
- A Running Gag in Up. Throughout the movie, practically every dog from The Ditz Dug to Muntz's Angry Guard Dogs can't suppress their natural urge to chase squirrels with all the dogs occasionally raising their heads and yelling "SQUIRREL" in mid-conversation. Russell actually exploits this during the final struggle in the movie where he causes Muntz's fighter pilot dogs to crash into each other by yelling "squirrel". Dug considers a squirrel dying as the pinnacle of comedy. And during the credits, Dug can be seen chasing one.
Gamma: (Parachuting down) I HATE squrriels!!!
- Discussed in the Dog with a Blog episode "The Parrot Trap". In the episode, Ellen has been getting sick of Stan destroying all her stuff and feels he does because. In his defense, Avery brings up the idea that he might do it because he senses her general dislike for dogs which Stan then feels is as crazy as a dog not wanting to chase an arthritic squirrel.
Avery: Did you ever think that Stan doesn't like you because he senses that you don't like dogs?Stan (thoughts): Seriously? That's like saying you don't like joy or smiles or arthritic squirrels— so easy to catch.
- Pooch Café
- Amongst the cast of animals are a bunch of squirrels that the dogs regularly chase. In one strip, the squirrels actually build their own cafe next to the dogs', sparking a war.
- Averted in one strip in where Poncho chides the house cat about allowing mice to traverse the living room unmolested. The cat merely stares out the window, and Poncho follows his gaze to see that squirrels have set up an elaborate theme park in the back yard. Poncho grouses, "Yeah, well ... yours is in the house." Neither character budges from the couch.
- The Jolly Roger Telephone Company is a company that provides bots which are designed to waste the time of telemarketers and other unwanted callers. One of the later iterations of the Jolly Jenny bot has her shouting at her dog Fluffy, telling him that "It's just a squirrel!"
- In the Animaniacs episode, "Slappy Goes Walnuts", one of Slappy Squirrel's archenemies is Doug the Dog, a bulldog who guards a walnut tree, which Slappy wants to collect walnuts from for her walnut fig-dough.
- The Garfield Show:
- In the episode, "Up a Tree", we see that Garfield's favorite past time is watching Odie be thwarted nonstop as he chases the squirrels in their backyard. Eventually though he actually catches one of the squirrels who runs into a tree. This makes him actually take pity on the little guy and he eventually makes friends with him and the other squirrels. When Garfield later comes and scolds them for making peace and ruining his pastime, the squirrels give him a Humiliation Conga.
- In a later episode, "Where's Odie", Odie ends up running off while chasing a squirrel. By the time Garfield finds him, he's in a cabin with an old man who thinks he's his lost dog Spot.
- Screwy Squirrel: His first cartoon being the Trope Namer for Screwball Squirrel, Screwy was often shown making life hell for dogs. In particular his archenemy was Meathead Dog who would try his darn best to get back at the psychotic squirrel only to be painfully fooled each time. In their debut cartoon, "Screwball Squirrel", Screwy gets Meathead riled up by calling him yellow for choosing to chase birds instead of squirrels.
- Secret Squirrel: In the episode, "Catty Cornered", Secret and Morocco have to secure a cat who's swallowed an explosive capsule. However, the efforts to keep it safe are constantly thwarted by a mean dog who keeps attacking the cat. Eventually Secret is able to get rid of it with a bone and save the cat. However, this was not without Morocco taking quite a few Amusing Injuries and when the professor reveals that the cat had actually not eaten the capsule at all, Morocco snaps and begins acting like an angry dog. He then proceeds to chase Secret and the professor up a telephone pole.
Secret Squirrel: Gosh, I never knew Morocco had such a doggone temper!
- Squirrel Boy: Rodney, a red squirrel and the main character, along with his friends would often be attacked by a vicious Angry Guard Dog referred to as the "Crazy Dog". This got deconstructed in a later episode where they run into his formerly vicious brother who shares the house with the aforementioned hound. Although he's a Nice Guy, he ends up getting frequently beaten up by the guys, because they have him mixed up with the Crazy Dog who's attacking them at the same time.
- Family Guy: Brian is shown several times to have bitter hatred of squirrels.
- A Cutaway Gag from "Tom Tucker: The Man and His Dream" shows Brian yelling at a squirrel from inside the house; the squirrel calmly walks by while flipping him off.
- In the final segment of "Family Guy Viewer Mail #2", Brian chases a squirrel while driving his Prius until he runs over it.
- In "Brian's Play", Brian is jealous that Stewie is a better playwright than him and takes it out on a squirrel in the front yard.
Squirrel: This ain't about me, is it?
Brian: (breaks down sobbing) No, and I'm sorry. But nobody can ever know that! (snaps the squirrel's neck)
- In "Life of Brian", after Brian is fatally hit by a car, a squirrel spits on him and tells the Griffins "That guy sucked!".
- In the Ready Jet Go! episode Magnet, PI", Mitchell's dog Cody chases Floyd the Squirrel at the end of the episode.
- On My Friends Tigger & Pooh, Darby's pet dog Buster often chases after squirrels and is sometimes taunted by them in return.
- As stated earlier this is indeed Truth in Television for many dogs as many owners can attest. Although not every dog has an uncontrollable desire to chase squirrels.
- Speaking of which, some dogs, especially terriers, can viciously maul sqiurrels (and other small rodents) to death. And even wild dogs such as tanuki are not immune to this trope, since they also hunt rodents for meals.
- Back in The '80s one of Dave Barry's dogs was named Shawna was an aversion. She was so stupid that even when a squirrel ran by and Dave's family encouraged her to chase it, Shawna would just turn to them with a confused expression.
- Inverted by this story of squirrels attacking and killing a dog in a Russian town.