101 Dalmatians: Can Hollywood Influence Breed Popularity?

Raise your hand if you remember the movie 101 Dalmatians!

Photo Courtest of www.posterplanet.net

Photo Courtest of www.posterplanet.net

If you recall, this movie was actually released several times. The original animated movie was released in 1961, and then re-released several times including a release in 1985, and again in 1991 (according to Imdb and SavetheDals.org). Not to mention, the release of the live action film in 1996 (SavetheDals.org).

With the release of these movies, came an interesting rise in popularity of the Dalmatian breed.


Firstly, I want to thank the AKC and SavetheDals.org for the use of the above graph.

Note, according to the graph, Dalmatians were ranked 35th in popularity in AKC rankings in 1984, and began to climb in popularity after the re-release in 1985, and moved up again after the re-release in 1991, jumping all the way to #9 in AKC rankings. Also, note that the breed’s popularity decreased both before, and after, the live action release in 1996.

The above data could lead us to conclude a few things:

1. The re-releases of the 101 Dalmatians movie did influence the popularity of the breed in the United States. This effect may have been greater than the initial release of the movie in the 1960’s (but that information has not been provided).

Whenever a breed spikes in popularity so abruptly, it is fair to assume that this breed may not be the right fit for people who are buying, or rescuing, this breed (possibly at the request of their children, or through direct media influence), and therefore, the breed will eventually drop in popularity at some point.

2. The decrease in the breed popularity during the 1996 release may have been a result of the breed spiking in popularity, and possibly not being a good fit for everyone.

Dalmatians are a great breed of dog, but like many other breeds in the dog world, they aren’t a good fit for every person and every family. In this case, the Dalmatian is a high energy breed that requires a lot of exercise, and high energy dogs certainly don’t fit every lifestyle (AKC).

While researching this issue, I ran into a lot of different opinions regarding whether or not Hollywood can influence breed popularity.

In my opinion, it can. Much of the contrary argument pointed at the decrease in breed popularity during the 1996 live action release. Personally, I think that is directly correlated to the increase in the breed popularity prior, and then the realization that the Dalmatian is not for everyone.

What do you think?

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36 Comment

  1. Reply
    Sharon S.
    January 16, 2015 at 10:20 am

    Great post. I think people are influenced by Hollywood and celebrities in general. We still have a huge Chihuahua overpopulation in shelters from the wave of celebrities who introduced cute, little purse dogs. Many people who bought these dogs were surprised to find they needed more attention than being carried around in a purse.
    Sharon S. recently posted…WW: Paralyzed Dog Walks On Treadmill At NCSU StudyMy Profile

    1. Reply
      January 21, 2015 at 8:21 pm

      Sharon, I completely agree, and that type of attention can lead to the wrong kind of growth of a breed (i.e. puppy mills to meet demand). Last year I did hear about Chihuahuas from California being sent to NY where the demand was much higher and many were adopted so that is a solution, but not a permanent one. 🙁

  2. Reply
    Denise Fleck
    January 16, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    Excellent post that shows that we all must do our homework before bringing a loving four-legged creature into our lives cause once we do…it should be for that animal’s life! I came to post pretty much what I see Sharon S. has already said. Shelters (at least in Los Angeles) are overcrowded with Chihuahuas as people flocked to see “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” and observed celebrities using their dogs as adorable accessories, but they then discovered (well, duh) that the dogs are living animals that pee, poo and need time and attention. Humans often want and get without thinking unfortunately and even if it is a little dog, that being needs to be taught manners to survive successfully in a family. When the adopter doesn’t take the time to train, the dog gets relinquished to a Shelter as unmanageable when it really is human error. I did, at least for the last release or two of “101 Dalmatians,” see movie theaters work somewhat with Rescue Groups to educate on the breed which is oh so very important.

    1. Reply
      January 21, 2015 at 8:23 pm

      Denise, that is a great point! I did not know that some of the movie theaters also worked with the rescue groups. Thank you so much sharing!

  3. Reply
    January 17, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    Great post! I am of the same mind when a breed spikes in popularity it is usually due to some type of media exposure. While the Dalmatian’s may have been affected by a movie, as Denise mentioned; people will see celebrities with their purse pooches and suddenly everyone want a “teacup” breed to carry around. We then end up with neurotic dogs, that become scared when their paws touch the floor, because they have been carried everywhere. I think an interesting statistic to find (if possible) is if there is a sudden increase of the “popular” breed showing up at shelters 2 – 6 months afterwards. I don’t know how to determine these stats.

    Choosing a dog that is right for the family is so critical. It is important to take the time to weigh out all the responsibilities, and costs that come with dog ownership. Your post is right on the money.

    It’s unfortunate but I think there should be a waiting time for getting a dog so it is not an “impulse” purchase. If people; adopt a child, or purchase a gun, there are waiting periods, background checks etc. we should have the same for pet ownership too. At the very least put these boundaries on yourself, and your family, and make sure the whole family is on board with owning a pet.

    This post needs to go #viral so people understand.
    Thanks for the great info Rachel.
    Suzanne recently posted…No More Puppy Potty Training Problems Ever!My Profile

    1. Reply
      January 21, 2015 at 8:26 pm

      Thank you Suzy for your input! I would hope that people do their research and don’t adopt or buy a puppy on a whim. For some reason it seems as though many people still don’t understand the responsibility that comes with owning a pet.

  4. Reply
    January 17, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    I’m sure movies have an influence on dog breed popularity. Unfortunately, this leads to impulse buying and poor choices when a particular breed is chosen based on the dog’s “look” or behavior in the movie. Choosing the right dog requires research and knowledge of the needs and personality of the different breeds.
    Marie recently posted…Shadow Dogs – The Joy Of A Late Afternoon WalkMy Profile

    1. Reply
      January 21, 2015 at 8:29 pm

      Marie I completely agree!

  5. Reply
    It's Dog or Nothing
    January 18, 2015 at 10:55 am

    I actually wrote about this topic a few weeks ago and I believe the media definitely influences breed popularity. If you’re interested, you can read my take here: http://itsdogornothing.com/great-pyrenees-in-the-media/

    1. Reply
      January 21, 2015 at 8:28 pm

      I will definitely stop by! Thank you for sharing!

  6. Reply
    Anna Coffin
    January 19, 2015 at 2:43 am

    Yes, Hollywood can influence breed popularity and it’s not always a good thing. Individuals should pick a dog that fits for their family and environmental setting not on popularity.
    Anna Coffin recently posted…Why spay and neuter costs vary so muchMy Profile

    1. Reply
      January 21, 2015 at 8:29 pm

      Anna, I completely agree!

  7. Reply
    The Swiss Cats
    January 19, 2015 at 2:59 am

    Great post ! We agree with your analysis ! Purrs
    The Swiss Cats recently posted…Sunday SelfieMy Profile

    1. Reply
      January 21, 2015 at 8:30 pm

      Thank you Swiss Cats!

  8. Reply
    Fur Everywhere
    January 19, 2015 at 3:05 am

    I believe Hollywood can definitely influence breed popularity. I wonder if more people are adopting the breed Grumpy Cat is, for instance, now that she is so popular.
    Fur Everywhere recently posted…Keep Indoor Cats Warm in WinterMy Profile

    1. Reply
      January 21, 2015 at 8:30 pm

      That is a great question! I will look into that!

  9. Reply
    January 19, 2015 at 5:30 am

    True, true true! While celebrities show-up with their animals, there’s little talk about how they (or someone on their team) take care of their critters. I think that’s the missing link, the responsible owner – not just a PR piece. Some do this, and do it well, you see their life with their animal – it’s not portrayed as just a prop.

    1. Reply
      January 21, 2015 at 8:31 pm

      Mattie, well said! Some celebrities are real pet parents and some are just for show. I just wish people could see the difference.

  10. Reply
    Jana Rade
    January 19, 2015 at 6:00 am

    Yes, I believe that movies can greatly influence breed popularity. Unfortunately, this leads to huge demand and ultimately to a demise of the breed.
    Jana Rade recently posted…Our Nail A Day Challenge UpdateMy Profile

    1. Reply
      January 21, 2015 at 8:32 pm

      Jana, I agree. What’s worse is the the breeds could grow on in popularity on their own, but it is so difficult with media influence!

  11. Reply
    January 19, 2015 at 6:29 am

    I know that there was a huge increase in demand for Chihuahuas after Beverly Hills Chihuahua was release, which resulted in so many being abandoned at the shelters or let loose on the streets. So many people think of them as an accessory, not a responsibility that takes research and the right household.
    Amy recently posted…Top 10 Workouts For Your Dog’s BrainMy Profile

  12. Reply
    Kitty Cat Chronicles
    January 19, 2015 at 6:57 am

    I definitely think that Hollywood and celebrities can influence a breed’s popularity! The graph and correlation between the Dalmation’s popularity and the release of the movies seems like too much of a coincidence for it not to be related. Also, think about movies like Legally Blonde – the lead character had that chihuahua that she carried around in her purse with her. After that movie, it became a huge fad to get little dogs like chihuahuas and carry them around in purses everywhere. They should make a movie about rescue animals so that people go out and adopt dogs and cats more!!!

    1. Reply
      Jodi (+ Koly & Fe too!)
      January 19, 2015 at 11:22 am

      They have done a few. Oliver and Company, Lady & the Tramp, Hotel for dogs…just to name a few that had stray/homeless pets who eventually find homes. Those stories just don’t have the same marketing pull that a breed specific movie does because you can’t pin point that breed. You would have to luck into finding it somewhere… and for people looking to adopt “that dog on TV”, it’s often too much work to look.
      Jodi (+ Koly & Fe too!) recently posted…Rainy Day Fun: Indoor Dog GamesMy Profile

  13. Reply
    January 19, 2015 at 7:03 am

    As a dalmatian myself, I can tell you that my pets actually adopted me because of the movie. She was fond of it as a child and always wanted one.
    With the re-release of it again coming soon, I’m sure there will be another spike to add to your graph!

  14. Reply
    Amy Shojai, CABC
    January 19, 2015 at 7:19 am

    The power of the media impacts us on multiple levels for good or for ill. With movies, the bottom line is….the bottom line. What put butts in seats = $$
    Amy Shojai, CABC recently posted…Celebrating Old Cats: What Is Old?My Profile

  15. Reply
    January 19, 2015 at 7:38 am

    I completely agree with hollywood making a breed popular which can also hurt the breed as they become popular, they are over bred.
    Kimberley recently posted…It’s OfficialMy Profile

  16. Reply
    Carma Poodale
    January 19, 2015 at 7:40 am

    I totally agree that Hollywood is a large contributor in what breeds people want. Beverly Hills Chihuahua , the movie Chihuahua and the Dalmatian movies increased a spike in the breeds and the breed being surrendered to shelters. The movies Super Buddies had everyone wanting Golden Retrievers.
    Another thing I have started to notice is that more disabled people are choosing pitbulls. The ones who live in counties or states that have BSL laws are the ones who are choosing the dogs. Because a service dog can not be discriminated against because of their breed. If a town has a BSL law but someone has a pitbull that is a trained service animal, the town can’t impose fees, take the dog away or fine the person who has it.
    Carma Poodale recently posted…How My Fur Friends Keep Warm In The Winter.My Profile

  17. Reply
    January 19, 2015 at 8:03 am

    Absolutely! I remember being a young girl at the 1991 release and wanting a Dalmatian with every ounce of my being. Luckily my mom had done plenty of research and knew that they would not be a good match for our family. We ended up with a golden retriever and the rest is history!
    MyDogLikes recently posted…BlogPaws Nose to Nose Award NominationsMy Profile

  18. Reply
    Rascal and Rocco
    January 19, 2015 at 8:07 am

    It is sad that so many get pets based on trendiness and popularity rather than doing research to find out what would be the best fit for a pet for their family. Thanks for sharing this post! Hopefully it will make people think before they choose!

  19. Reply
    January 19, 2015 at 9:05 am

    My mother had a Dalmatian but it was not the brightest dog she ever owned. It was very nice though.
    Patty recently posted…Hunting Shadows by Charles Todd – Blog Tour and Book ReviewMy Profile

  20. Reply
    Christine & Riley
    January 19, 2015 at 11:13 am

    I’m always amazed at the damage Hollywood can do. Not only did it influence the dalmatian breed, but also the chihuahua, along with Paris Hilton. The sad part is to think of all the dogs that are disposed of after a family realizes that the dogs are not like the ones in the movies.
    Christine & Riley recently posted…Shih Tzu Birthday Party on a BudgetMy Profile

  21. Reply
    Jodi (+ Koly & Fe too!)
    January 19, 2015 at 11:20 am

    Marketing works…even if it doesn’t work the way people intended. (ie. I’m sure Disney didn’t intend to make Dals popular.) And once a breed is the focus of a marketing machine, it’s hard to stop it from rolling out of control.

    I don’t think it’s just movies either. As a grown up, I chose a dog that looks IDENTICAL to the Pound Puppy I had as a kid. I remember begging for that thing. As soon as I saw Kol, my heart skipped a beat without even knowing why. It wasn’t until almost 4 years later that I realized what I had done.
    Jodi (+ Koly & Fe too!) recently posted…Rainy Day Fun: Indoor Dog GamesMy Profile

  22. Reply
    January 19, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    I wonder; if all the animal-welfare advocates put our heads together and brain stormed, could we create such an influence and address one issue at a time?
    Sadie recently posted…of strong mind & bodyMy Profile

  23. Reply
    Ruth Cox
    January 20, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    Oh yes, I do believe Hollywood, as well as other things, can influence breed popularity. The power of suggestion is great!
    Ruth Cox recently posted…Great White Waterbird HunterMy Profile

  24. Reply
    January 22, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    Great Article : I agree that tv/movies can influence decisions about owning a certain breed both positively and negatively. It would be nice if education about the breed could accompany the choice.
    Theresa recently posted…Hug the One You LoveMy Profile

    1. Reply
      February 17, 2015 at 6:45 pm

      Theresa, I completely agree! That is why I love Dogs 101, because they help people decide what is the right pet for them.

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