Fads are everywhere. From diets to clothing and everywhere in between, something in the media triggered the trend. We can never be sure how long a trend will last, but we do know that those in the trending market will earn a huge profit.
The majority of the time, a fad isn’t a huge deal. Maybe you’ll have to look at a style you don’t particularly like or hear a music artist over and over. Perhaps your co-workers will try and get you hooked on the new weight loss or exercise plan. Kind of annoying, but really no big deal.
When a particular breed of dog becomes a fad, it IS a big deal.
Great Pyrenees have been popping up everywhere recently. I’ve seen them on commercials for Angie’s List, Cesar dog food, Petco and Purina Pro Plan, and many print ads as well. Don’t get me wrong, I’m like a kid on Christmas when I see a pyr pop up in a commercial. I let out a brief “squee!”, pause the TV, bring Nick into the room, and then we watch the commercial two or three times admiring the breed we adore so much.
Then reality sets in.
Seeing my beloved Great Pyrenees on TV is not a good thing.
I noticed this most when Santa Paws 2 came out. Mauja became a part of our family just days after the movie hit theaters. We took her everywhere with us to work on socialization and every child knew that Mauja was “the Santa Paws dog”. Families fawned over her and expressed how much they wanted the breed. When I asked if they had researched pyrs at all, the answer was always “no, but they seem so sweet”.
A few months ago, a study conducted by PLOS One confirmed what many of us already know to be true. When the media positively promotes a dog breed, either through movies or commercials, there will be a huge spike in interest. Unfortunately, this is usually of detriment to the breed.
The study looked at 87 movies that had a specific breed as the main character and examined the breed’s popularity two, five, and ten years later. Not surprisingly, a huge boost occurred immediately after the breed was featured in a movie. For example, Collie registrations jumped 40% after “Lassie Come Home” debuted and Old English Sheepdog registrations soared 100-fold after “The Shaggy Dog” hit theaters. Increased popularity continued even 10 years after the release date.
The increased demand of a particular breed allows money-hungry individuals to jump at the opportunity of a new breed fad. They begin breeding and over-breeding dogs to keep up with the new fad. We are left with genetic diseases, a lack of compliance to breed standards, and a huge increase of the breed in the rescue system. Breed advocates are then forced to save the breed rather than keep it’s beauty and uniqueness alive.
My heart breaks for those with passion for breeds that have been subjected to a media fad and are now trying to preserve the breed standard. According to AKC registration statistics, the Great Pyrenees has become slightly more popular in recent years. The media is recognizing the striking beauty of the breed and utilizing them in many commercials. Southern states are already drowning in pyrs needing homes due to backyard breeders and I’d hate for the situation to get any worse.
I love the Great Pyrenees, but I really want to stop seeing them in the media.