Dog whisperer Cesar Millan and Lassie at the taping of the 100th episode of National Geographic Channel's "Dog Whisperer" at Pickwick Gardens in Burbank, Calif. on March 30, 2008.
Neilson Barnard—Getty Images
By Laura Stampler
September 11, 2014

Well-received dog movies can influence the popularity of the specifically featured breed for up to a decade — even if the dogs are cartoons, according to a new study.

Collies saw a 40% bump in registrations through the American Kennel Club after the 1943 release of Lassie, according to research published in Plos One Wednesday, though researchers conceded that may have been assisted by its many sequels. But the study also found that registrations of Old English Sheepdogs went up 100-fold after Disney’s 1959 release of The Shaggy Dog, and 101 Dalmations even had a significant impact on the breed after its 1985 premiere.

Researchers from the University of Bristol, Western Carolina University, and the City University of New York analyzed 87 dog movies in total, comparing them with data from the American Kennel Club, which has registered more than 65 million dogs. They found that early movies had a greater impact than more current ones, which now — alongside internet corgi/frenchie/pug listicles proliferate the market.

And this wasn’t necessarily because the dogs had other laudable traits apart from their fame. “On the whole, breeds with more desirable behaviours, greater longevity, and fewer inherited genetic disorders did not become more popular than other breeds,” said co-author Hal Herzog. “In short, cultural shifts in types of pets largely reflect ephemeral changes in fashion rather than selection for functional traits.”

But hey, at least that’s better movies turning teens into smokers.

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