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The Dalmatian Syndrome

When most things get popular it’s a good sign, like a restaurant. This does not hold true in the pet world. When there is a growing demand for a certain dog breed that becomes part of the “popular culture” this phenomenon is known as The Dalmatian Syndrome.  This moniker goes back to 1985 & 1991 with the re-release of Disney’s 101 Dalmatians movie that sparked a rise for the demand of this breed. For instance, according to the American Kennel Club the annual number of Dalmatian pups that were registered skyrocketed from 8170 to 42,816. Plus, a Humane Society in Colorado saw a 301% and one in Tampa Bay saw a 762% increase in the number of Dalmatians in their districts. So, with this type of demand of a breed it triggers the backyard breeders &/or puppy mills to view this as a money-making opportunity.


These carpetbagger type breeders, then breeds any Dalmatian with any Dalmatian that is around, to then produce puppies with no regard to the quality of these pups.  When I say quality, I mean in temperament, soundness & a screening of people that maybe shouldn’t get this type of dog. This produces overly aggressive, stubborn & high-strung dogs owned by people that have little hope of improving their pet’s behavior & shouldn’t have gotten this breed in the first place.   


This is such a problem that you must give the Disney Studio a bit of credit (even though they create this problem) that at the end of the 102 Dalmatian sequel they added a statement to worn potential owners to research a pet’s breed thoroughly before purchasing it as an additional member of their family. They even partnered with the Dalmatian Club of America to develop an extensive educational campaign focusing on pet ownership responsibility.


I know I will be criticized for saying this, but I can’t help my inner instinct of dogs, in the fact that I am leery when I approach this breed.   It’s not so much the breed in itself, but the people that buy them that want to be “in the in” on wanting such a “cool” and distinctive dog. They ignore that this breed needs a lot of exercise as they are bred for their energy and endurance with a willful personality. So, when an ignorant owner doesn’t fulfill these needs, they get restless, bored, irritable and becomes unpredictable, nothing like the cute little cuddly dogs depicted in the movie.


Other breeds that have been affected by their popularity on TV:

But please note, dogs are not the only animal to suffer the need for some people to possess what is popular.


Take for instance the fact that after the movie Finding Nemo came out, more than 1 million clownfish were taken from reefs for home aquariums.


Their sales rose by 40%, making them practically extinct in the Philippines and parts of Thailand & Sri Lanka.


Though the Blue Tang Fish (Dory) is not endangered, I am sure that the movie did not help their cause either.  So much so, Ellen DeGeneres the voice of Dory, issued a public appeal to consumers not to buy these fish.


They can live up to 50 years & can grow over 12” long, which means they would require a 180 gallon aquarium.


Disney’s G-Force movie starring world saving Guinea pigs, also increased their popularity as pets. It even showed them getting around in a hamster ball, which some ignorant GP owners might try with their new pet.

Volunteers at the Piggles Rescue Booth at the Cdn Pet Expo. Far Right is Tanya who is holding her fur ball of choice and operates the Canadian Chinchilla Rescue in Mississauga, Ontario.  View Cindy interviewing her passion at:

Cindy awarding Piggles, a GP rescue group, The 2016 Canadian Pet Expo’s Best In Show Club/Rescue Booth Trophy

In closing, I lived across from a nieghbor I knew well, only because our toddlers played together. (Read between those line!). They were the epitomy of people that shouldn’t have had a Dalmatian but got it because it was the in, cool looking dog.  They did everything wrong in raising this dog & its personality showed the effect of their ineptness as a dog owner. I even talked about this dog in my podcast in episode 6 in which it almost killed a little lapdog.  I truly feared for my child when he went over there to play at their home. With no disciplene, they even installed invisible fencing along their kitchen countertop to prevent the dog from jumping up on the counter.  Have you ever heard of anything so ridiculous? I often wondered what was the fate of this dog but I am sure it was not a good one and that  the dog paid the price due to its prestige-oriented owners.


Needless to say there are alot of phenonomons & syndromes in the pet world. One that is a real issue is called the Black Dog Syndrome.  Read Cindy’s blog about this mystique concerning black dogs and cats at: