When it comes to entrepreneurs, they come in all shapes and sizes -- and now species.
In the past few years, there has been an explosion of dogs -- OK, their owners -- being paid to promote products, services and brands.
Known as pet influencers, these canines are part of the world of influencer marketing, in which social media accounts with big followings are cashing in by working with brands. And while celebrities, models and leaders have been tapping into this opportunity for some time, dogs (and other pets) are becoming more in demand.
“Brands are becoming more and more interested in working with animals,” says Kyla Brennan, the founder of HelloSociety and its sub-brand WAGSociety, which focuses solely on animal influencers.
The animals represented by WAGSociety have worked with countless brands, including L.L. Bean, Jeep and Morton’s Salt, along with several major movie studios. Brennan says she believes WAGSociety, and other pet agencies, are just getting started.
“Dogs have been getting famous since the German Shepherd Rin Tin Tin appeared in silent films in the 1920s, but brands are now increasingly seeing the benefits social influencers and pet influencers can have on reaching an audience,” she says. “Marketers are always excited about experimenting with new avenues of brand messaging, and with pet influencers, the results consistently over-deliver for both the brands and the consumers engaging with the content.”
But it isn’t just Instagram posts the owners of these famous dogs are capitalizing on. Because of their huge followings, a pup’s brand can expand to other areas, including books, apps and apparel.
We scoured the internet and came up with some of the most entrepreneurial dogs in America. (Want to know how to make your dog the next pup influencer? You can read the other half of the interviews on This Dog’s Life in the article “9 Super Celeb Dogs Share Tips About How Other Pups Can Find Fame.”)
Click through the slideshow to check out these famous dogs.
Entrepreneurial endeavors: The maltese/papillon rescue dog was literally discovered on the streets of New York City. During a walk with her mom Sam Carrell, an agent noticed the pup and signed her on as one of his clients.
Tinkerbelle’s big debut was as the dog model in a Ralph Lauren collection, and since then has gone on to model for American Eagle, Burt’s Bees, WagWear and Converse, among many more. She also now has long-term contracts with Purina, Swiffer and PetSmart. She has also played Chowsie in the Broadway show Gypsy and was the face of a campaign for the movie A Dog’s Purpose.
We asked her mom, Sam Carrell, what it is like being a dog entrepreneur.
Proudest moment: "Booking her first national campaign with Ralph Lauren."
Best perk your dog has received:"Through Tinkerbelle’s #TravelingTink blog, she has been globetrotting expense free."
Favorite part of the job: "She lights up everyone’s day."
Why do you think brands love or want to work with dogs:"Human brands love to partner with Tinkerbelle because she has such a broad audience reach. From kids to adults and all over the world, Tinkerbelle brings awareness to products that people might not know about. And everyone loves seeing pics with animals."
If there was one pug that ruled the world, it would be Doug the Pug. The Tennessee native has nearly 6 million followers on Facebook, 2.8 million on Instagram and 1 billion video views. He also just made a cameo in Katy Perry’s video (can you spot him?). Other achievements include winning this year’s Shorty Award for Instagrammer of the Year, being the star of a New York Times bestseller book, Doug the Pug: The King of Pop Culture and launching a Doug the Pug line, including coloring books, mugs and t-shirts. Oh, and he has collaborated with some big-name stars, like Justin Bieber.
We chatted with Doug’s mom, Leslie Mosier, to get more insight on the famous pug.
Proudest moment: "Winning the Instagrammer of the Year Shorty Award and making the NY Times bestseller list."
Best perk your dog has received: "Staying at the five-star hotel Savoy in London with a suite overlooking the River Thames and Doug having his own personal butler."
Entrepreneurial endeavors: If the Kardashian family had a dog, it would be Chloe Kardoggian. While the senior rescue dog waits for her big intro to Kim, Khloe and the rest of the clan, she is focusing on growing her empire. Chloe has her own line of stationery and gift products produced in collaboration with the artist Elizabeth Caparaz. The pup has also done sponsored posts and appearances with such brands as Beggin, PetSmart, Clorox, Casper, Stainmaster and Swiffer.
Chloe’s mom, Dorie Herman, opened up about her famous dog.
Proudest moment: "When Chloe hit 100,000 followers last year she hosted a virtual kissing booth. For each kiss emoji received, PetSmart donated to our favorite charity Foster Dogs and gave funds to its fospice program for terminally ill and/or senior homeless dogs near end of life. We were able to raise $5,000 for them, the largest single donation they'd received to date."
Best perk your dog has received:"I saw a dog I wanted to adopt online (now my dog, Cupid). To get myself noticed, I emailed from Chloe's account. I figured if ever there was a positive reason to use a perk, this was it."
Favorite part of the job: "Being able to help homeless dogs, especially seniors, find homes. Also getting to reshape the public perception of both chihuahuas and senior rescues. I regularly get notes and comments from people who say they adopted a chihuahua and/or senior because of how wonderful Chloe is. There's nothing better than that."
Why do you think brands love or want to work with dogs:"Dogs aren't polarizing figures in the way that humans are. They are love and kindness and never say the wrong thing."
Entrepreneurial endeavors: A rescue pug has brought a whole new caliber to the cute breed with such a big personality in a small size. Known as little comedians, Hamilton the Pug’s Instagram feed is extremely funny, entertaining and highlights a lot of great stories about pet adoption. He also has the very popular (and often trending) Twitter series #Pugchat, in which participants across the country and world ask pug and dog-related questions. Each week, there is a different sponsor that provides a few prizes at the end of the hour. He has also worked with big brands like Subaru, The Shelter Project and the Dials app.
We chatted with Hamilton’s mom, Wendy Frink, about his entrepreneurial endeavors.
Proudest moment: "Being picked as one of three internet famous pets for The Shelter Pet Project, a PSA that emphasizes the importance of adopting from shelters and rescues. Hamilton wound up on billboards across the country and his commercial is played on TV and radio."
Entrepreneurial endeavors: With more than 175,000 followers, this tiny French bulldog has quite the big name. Having worked with many blends -- from The Ritz Carlton to Casper and Urban Decay -- Chloe’s influence spans across fashion, travel and food. She was also the face of Ann Taylor LOFT in April and launched her own line of stylish poop bags (made in New York with all proceeds going to the Humane Society of NY).
We caught up with her momager, Loni Edwards, to talk about Chloe.
Proudest moment:“Chloe's Time Out New York cover.”
Best perk your dog has received:"Chloe loves getting presents, and brands are always sending her their newest products to test out. She starts jumping up and down the moment she sees a box come into the apartment. She assumes all packages are for her, and she's usually right."
Favorite part of the job: "In addition to being the human to Chloe, I’m also the founder of The Dog Agency, so my entire job revolves around helping celebrity pets grow their personal brands. One of my favorite parts of the job is meeting our celebrity pet clients in person, but I enjoy all parts of the day-to-day. It truly is a dream job."
Why do you think brands love or want to work with dogs:"People love dogs, and brands want to resonate with consumers. Partnering with pet influencers is one of the best ways to do that -- people have an innate positive reaction to pet content and looking at photos and videos of pets even boosts endorphins! People will then associate those positive feelings with the brand."
Entrepreneurial endeavors: The pint-sized fluff ball is known for her stunning photographs on Instagram, impeccable taste and cute poses. As an Instagram influencer and dog model, she’s partnered with brands such as Google, Martha Stewart, Disney and Petsmart on collaborations ranging from sponsored content to attending launch events and modeling in marketing campaigns. She’s also been featured on Refinery29, Mashable, InStyle, People and other media outlets.
Mochi’s mom, Elle Drouin, opened up about her famous dog.
Proudest moment:"I remember feeling really proud when she got her first four-figure contract. It was the moment that I really realized that we had built a brand that was worth investing in."
Best perk your dog has received: "Probably the king size mattress we sleep on every night. It’s incredibly comfortable and the fact that it was free as part of a collaboration makes it that much better."
Favorite part of the job:"Getting to travel with Mochi and meeting some of her fans in other cities. It’s so rewarding to see her put a smile on people’s faces!"
Related: Amazon Opens Up Dog Park for Its 2,000 Office Pups
Why do you think brands love or want to work with dogs:"Everyone loves dogs, right? They’re cute. They make people happy. Most dog influencers we know have higher engagement as compared to traditional human influencers with similar sized followings. So from a strategic standpoint, it just makes sense."