Dogs are taking over Instagram – but why are they so popular?

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A growing social media trend has led to a huge rise in dog Instagram accounts, with some of our famous furry friends boasting huge followings. Whether they’re running free in some of the world’s most picturesque locations, or sporting a range of iconic outfits, we wanted to find out why dogs are becoming so popular on social media.

Our research looked into some of the most popular accounts you’ll currently find on the social media platform and the celebrities they’re leaving behind, as well as gaining expert opinions on the science behind the burning desire to follow and create these accounts.

Dogs leading the way on Instagram

According to market research, to become an influencer on Instagram you need between 10,000 and 50,000 followers on the platform. Looking at the top ten most followed dogs, the smallest following belongs to Aria, a small dachshund from Mexico, yet she still has over 1.4 million followers. This just shows the huge influence these dogs have.

The most followed pup is a famous dog from the US called Jiffpom. This Pomeranian is some way ahead and has generated a massive following of over nine million followers, owing to his confidence in front of the camera, and wide range of cute outfits.

Jiffpom first rose to fame in 2014, when he featured in Katy Perry’s music video for her song Dark Horse. From that moment, he’s never looked back, and his follower count continues to rise. Since October 2017, Jiffpom has gained a further 2.4m followers, and his account continues to grow to this day.

Next on the list is Doug the Pug. This relatable pug is often pictured with a variety of foods or caught posing with one of his illustrious celebrity friends, such as Cole Sprouse and Halsey. He‘s also popped up in some notable music videos, such as Katy Perry’s Swish Swish and Fallout Boy’s Irresistible.

He’s so famous in his hometown of Nashville, Tennessee, that the Mayor of Nashville recently declared May 20th (Doug’s birthday) “Doug The Pug Day”. Doug has over ten million followers across all social media platforms, with 3.8 million on Instagram alone.

The final position on the podium falls to Maru. This Shiba Inu has grown incredibly popular on Instagram and is known as “The Smiliest Dog in Japan”. His constant state of happiness and different adventures have helped him earn over 2.5 million followers.

Celebrities struggling to keep pace

Never mind influencers, many celebrities have fewer followers than our instafamous dogs. We noted a few key comparisons in our research to show just how famous these furry faces really are.

With Jiffpom’s 9 million followers, there aren’t many people who can say they have more. One example we found was presenter of The Late Late Show and A League of their Own, James Corden.

Other notable celebrities with fewer followers than their four-legged counterparts include Love Island presenter Caroline Flack, X Factor judge and businessman Simon Cowell, singer and songwriter Lily Allen, and ex-professional footballer and Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker.

These comparisons clearly show people are getting more benefits from following dogs than celebrities on platforms such as Instagram, so we acquired the help of experts to find out why.

What’s behind the rise of dog influencers?

In this section, we’ll discuss our findings from the research, with supporting opinions from psychiatrists, mental health experts and health professionals.

The positive and negative side to social media

There are many positives from using social media, but there’s also an argument that it can be damaging too. What we see on sites like Twitter and Facebook can often make us feel self-conscious or envious.

You don’t get any of this when seeing a dog flash up on your timeline, dogs are man’s best friend and fill us with nothing but joy, and it can be a refreshing break from the normal posts you’re used to seeing.

Leading US psychiatrist, medical doctor and author, Carole Lieberman says:

“The dog’s followers can project their own stories onto these dogs and feel comforted, rather than dealing with real humans who post pictures on Instagram that make followers feel envious and inferior.

“For example, followers don’t look at dog pictures and feel fat-shamed, or inadequate because they can’t afford a luxurious vacation, or don’t have a romantic partner.”

The science behind it all

Engaging with dogs in different ways sends signals to our brain that make us feel happy and positive.

Cali Estes, PhD, Therapist and Celebrity Addiction Specialist talks about her own experience of using dog therapy in her work:

“People have long been enamoured with their pets and love to show them off and there is no better platform to do this than Instagram. Petting dogs has been proven to increase serotonin and dopamine to the brain and looking in a dog’s eyes increases oxytocin.

“Simply looking at dogs and pictures of dogs can make a person immediately happy and increase the serotonin and dopamine to their brain, almost creating a drug-like euphoria.”

This means when we see dogs on our Instagram feeds it makes us feel happy. This was supported by our recent Twitter poll. We asked people why they followed dogs on social media, and the most popular response was ‘because they cheer me up’.

Changes to the content we want to see

Social media has changed a lot since its emergence, and because of this, we have seen a shift in the type of content we want to see as an audience. Platforms such as Instagram have made snackable content a real draw for users.

Dog accounts are perfect for this as all it takes is a picture of a dog to keep followers engaged and interested.

Niki Lancaster, our in-house social media expert, supports this:

“The rise of visual social media platforms and story post formats led to users wanting regular snackable content, dogs are perfect for this as they’re always up to something that’s going to entertain and engage people.

“I think dogs, and animals in general, are getting a much larger following as they have mass appeal because they’re generally a lot more entertaining than humans. “

These reasons offer an explanation as to why we’re not only seeing dogs become enormously popular on social media, but also why more and more people are choosing to create their own pet an Instagram account. There are so many positive effects that can come from following our furry companions, so it’s likely to be a trend that will continue to grow.


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