Follow TV Tropes


Mistaken for Dog

Go To

Alice has just brought home a new puppy! It's adorable at first, but Alice soon starts to notice it behaving strangely. She takes the animal to a vet, or does some research of her own, only to find that her new pet is not a dog at all.

The animal's true identity could be anything from an alien lifeform to a Mexican sewer rat. The most common variant involves the owner mistaking it for a dog, but other pet variants are possible.

See also I Am Not Weasel, All Animals Are Dogs. If another animal is deliberately masquerading as a dog, or has been disguised as one by a human, it may be Ass in a Lion Skin. When the creature is an alien trying to pass as a dog, it's The Dog Is an Alien.


    open/close all folders 


  • Played for Laughs in a commercial for Sears Optical: A lady badly in need of glasses lets a raccoon into her house, thinking it's her pet cat.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Played for Drama in Wolf's Rain, with Quent and Blue's relationship. Quent has a pathological hatred of the wolves (who are fully sentient and capable of speech in the setting), and firmly believes that his hunting animal companion Blue is a particularly large wolf-hound. In reality, she is a half-wolf mutt, but even she believes herself to be a pure-blooded dog and is steadfastly loyal to Quent — at least until neither of them can deny the truth anymore, and they part ways despite considerable anguish.

    Asian Animation 
  • The premise of the Lamput episode "Pup Mix" is based around this, with the docs' typical chase to catch Lamput getting them all trapped in an old lady's house. The lady mistakes Lamput and the docs for her dog and treats them as such, going as far as to feed Slim Doc dog food (which he predictably doesn't enjoy).

    Fan Work 
  • Enforced on Juleak for a time in Hero Chat, thanks to a curse from an artifact that causes her to see dragons or anything dragon-themed as dogs. Luka reveals it to the rest of the team when his sister asked him why Team Miraculous had added another dog hero Wolfhound (Sabrina) when they already had Arashi (Kagami the Dragon hero).

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Adventures in Babysitting, when Brenda has lost her glasses and is stuck in the bus station, she sees what she thinks is a kitten, picks it up... and it turns out to be a jumbo-sized sewer rat.
  • In Evolution (2001), someone finds a "dog" which is actually one of the violently aggressive aliens.
  • George of the Jungle: Like in the cartoons, to George, Shep the elephant is his "big, gray, peanut-loving poochie." Shep seems to believe it, too.
  • Played completely and horrifyingly straight in The Thing (1982), where the characters bring a malamute home to their base camp and it turns out to be an alien bent on assimilating all life on Earth.

  • In Piers Anthony's Race Against Time, one clue that tips off to the protagonist that he's living in a human zoo is that his new "puppy" climbs trees, and his "kitten" has a prehensile tail. Whether they're aliens that only look like house pets, or actual pets modified via genetic engineering, he never does find out.
  • In Howard Waldrop's short story The Ugly Chickens, a family has been raising what they think are just very ugly chickens for several hundred years. It turns out that they're actually dodo birds.
  • "Sam's New Pet", a story from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, follows the "Mexican Pet" urban legend. Sam's parents go to Mexico for a vacation and end up adopting a "Mexican Hairless dog" they find there as a pet. When Sam sees it foaming at the mouth one day, the family takes it to the vet, where they discover the truth: it's not a dog at all, but a rabid sewer rat. What makes this stand out from the other examples is the illustration, which makes it look less like a rat and more like a feral toddler with a rat's tail.
  • Tales of Kaimere: In a world with sightings and history of Homunculi, the surviving First Children experiments, and Demons, animals infected by rampant swarms of magic from a different species; many "ordinary" animals like monkies and the Silent Ones are mistaken for the former two groups. Monkeys are thought by some Kaimerans to be homunculi made with human, cat, and/or bear traits, and the Silent Ones are thought to be rogue homunculi or even aliens harvested from another planet. In truth, both of them are natural animals that arose from evolution like any other creature on Earth or Kaimere.

    Live Action-TV 
  • ALF: ALF would sometimes be mistaken for a dog, even getting thrown into the pound in one episode. He was also mistaken for a kangaroo once.
  • In Pixelface, at least two sets of visitors to the console (Uthelwynne in "Two Aethelwynnes" and Alexia's parents in "Alexia's Dinner") have assumed Rex is a dog, despite him talking to them.
  • The Two Ronnies famous duck sketch in which one of the protagonists has been conned into buying a duck, convinced it's an "Albanian racing pigeon".
  • In the "Basil the Rat" episode of Fawlty Towers, Manuel the waiter buys a (domesticated) rat as a pet. The pet store told him it was a "very large hamster".

  • The urban legend of "The Mexican Pet" involves a woman taking her "dog" to the vet, only to be told that it's a diseased Mexican sewer rat.
  • A similar Polish urban legend has the "dog" bought from "a Russky" on a bazaar turn out to be a bear cub.
  • There's the old joke that ends, "What the hell kind of dog is that?" (After said "dog" bites off the head of a German shepherd.)
    "Well, afore I bobbed his tail and painted him yellow, he was an alligator."

    Video Games 
  • For the King: One of the new creatures added in the Lost Civilization DLC are cockatrices, which are introduced in-game in a mini-quest involving a farmer who bought a flock of cockatrice chicks thinking they were an exotic new kind of chicken. (As a result, until another character properly identifies them, the game interface labels them as "Ornery Chicken?".)
  • Life Is Strange: True Colors: One of the MyBook-thread you can read was from a poster that posted a picture of a large stray cat they had found around their garbage can and asked if someone had lost it. The poster was quickly informed that it was actually a mountain lion cub that should absolutely not be interacted with. The poster then sheepishly asked what one should do if it "happened" to be on their bed.
  • Happens in a StarCraft cutscene: "Looks like you mashed some poor feller's dog, sarge." "It's a zergling, Lester, smaller type of zerg. They shouldn't be out this far unless... oh shit."
  • Tales of Symphonia has Noishe, who Lloyd thinks is just an oversized dog. He's actually Protozoan, a very ancient species.

    Web Animation 
  • Etra chan saw it!: In this story, a toddler Yuri wandered through the forest and pointed her arriving father Tokusa to a "big doggy", which turned out to be a bear cub. Years after the incident, Yuri still mistook the bears for dogs, to which her mother Karin tells her the truth while Tokusa had a mental breakdown upon being reminded of it.

    Web Original 
  • Not Always Right:
    • This woman refuses to believe that her cat, who is quite unfriendly, sprays when threatened, and is black with a white stripe down his back, might not be a cat, and concludes that the vet has "obviously never seen a cat before".
    • This drunk hotel guest complains about a squirrel in his room, which turns out to be a raccoon. By the time someone comes to deal with it, he's decided it's his pet cat. It eventually turns out he stole it from the zoo.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Tick, the Tick mistakes a capybara for a dog and makes a pet of it.
  • Inverted with Ren of The Ren & Stimpy Show; most people think he's some sort of rat, though he's really a chihuahua. Stimpy, however, gets passed off as a dog sometimes — when the two of them get jobs at the fire station, and at a dog show. Also, at the show, when Stimpy gets disqualified, their owner George Liquor enters as a dog, and wins!
  • In The Looney Tunes Show, Bugs mistakes the Tasmanian Devil for a dog, which is strange considering even Daffy could tell immediately that he was not a dog.
  • In Taz-Mania, the Tasmanian Devil treats a turtle as a pet dog. Subverted, perhaps, as though rather dim, he knows it isn't really one, but as it was raised by a pack of dogs, it sure acts like one — which comes in handy, it turns out, when Bull and Axl come along looking to trap Taz, and Dog the Turtle attacks them. Played straight, though, when homeless, lonely Wendal Wolf pretends to be Dog, and Taz treats him like a real dog (even offering him dog food), which offends him.
  • In a series of Sylvester the Cat and Tweety Bird cartoons, Sylvester keeps mistaking a baby kangaroo for a giant mouse.
  • In the first episode of The Mighty B!, the dog Portia enters in the dog show turns out to be a rat.
  • Naturally, this sort of thing happens to Mr. Magoo all the time. One cartoon has him releasing a panther from a circus when he mistakes it for his dog being taken away by the dog catcher. In the feature film 1001 Arabian Nights, Magoo's "dog" Bowser is actually a cat, and a subplot has a ball of enchanted yarn used to make a Flying Carpet take a liking to Magoo after he mistakes it for a cat and starts to pet it.
  • Kim Possible: Kim and Ron go undercover at a dog show, entering Rufus (a naked mole rat) as a contestant. Rufus wins!
  • The Goode Family: The family adopt what looks like a diseased dog. When they take it to the vet, they discover that it's actually a rare Malaysian marsupial, whose grotesque appearance is perfectly natural.
  • In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Billy enters a werewolf (not just any werewolf, but an infected Irwin) in a dog show.
  • Muppet Babies (1984) once has baby Animal mistake a fully grown dinosaur for a puppy.
  • Family Guy:
    • In "Lethal Weapons", Peter admits that for the first few years of her life, he thought Meg was a cat.
    • In The Teaser where they visit their new neighbors the Smiths, Peter mistakes Roger for a dog.
  • In The Angry Beavers, Dag and Norbert are adopted by a family that thinks they're dogs.
  • Rocko's Modern Life:
    • In one episode, Rocko tries to get Spunky out of the pound, only for the officials to mistake him for a dog and throw him into a pen with other dogs.
    • Another episode has Rocko hypnotized into acting like a dog, ending up being 'adopted' by his neighbor, Mrs. Bighead, who doesn't recognize him.
  • Animaniacs:
    • Mr. Director often refers to the Warner siblings as "puppy children". They're really generic cartoon characters with traits from several different animals.
    • Runt thinks that his cat friend, Rita, is a dog, and will often correct someone who says otherwise. Since Runt hates cats (Rita being the one exception because he thinks she's a dog), Rita plays along with this.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures:
    • In the short "Devil Doggie" from the episode "The Wheel O' Comedy", Elmyra Duff mistakes Dizzy Devil, a tasmanian devil, for a dog. When Dizzy agrees to be her pet for the day upon hearing the free food she'd give him, she treats him like a dog, which includes playing with a rubber dog toy, feeding him from a dog bowl, and even grooming him to look like a poodle.
    • In the short "K-9 Kitty" from the episode "Furrball Follies", Furrball is looking for a new home, and a near-blind couple, who absolutely hate cats, mistake him for a dog. Furrball takes advantage of this by acting like a dog. When the couple get two new pairs of glasses at the end of the short, they find out he is a cat and kick him out.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball
    • In "The Puppy", Richard mistakes the vicious turtle he buys from a dodgy van for a puppy.
      Richard: It's a labradoodle.
      Turtle: [hisses]
      Richard: It's a labraturtle.
    • In "The Burden", Principal Brown asks Gumball and Darwin to look after the school hamster, but Brown accidentally gives them a lump of his hair instead. None of them notice until the next day.
  • George of George of the Jungle believes his beloved pet Shep is a dog. Shep is an elephant, though admittedly, he does behave like a dog.
  • Steven Universe: In the episode "Kevin Party", Kevin mistakes Lion for a dog (he's also apparently allergic to dogs, yet does nothing about it).
  • We Bare Bears: In "The Kitty", the bears find what they think is a stray cat, which Panda strangely isn't allergic to, and let it into their cave as a pet before going out. When they come back, it turns out that the cat is actually a baby cougar, and the cave is now overrun with adult cougars that the bears have to find a way to lure back outside.

    Real Life