Here is a fact I am okay with: Many dogs have more followers than me. To repeat, dogs—who don’t even know what social media is, or that they have social media pages—have more followers than me. 

I am typically fine with this, particularly if the dog (and person behind the dog) spread helpful messages about dog behavior, cognition, training, or general dog awesomeness. In these instances, I am downright elated. But if the dog promotes ‘extreme cute,’ specifically the breeding of an extremely short muzzle, I am less pleased. These dogs and their bazillion followers normalize an extreme form of selection and a conformation which studies find can impair dog welfare. Unfortunately, breeding for an excessively flat face is spreading to other companion animals like cats and rabbits.

But like I said, some dogs on social media rock. What follows is not a list of one-hit wonders. These dogs are not famous for what they wear, and some are not even (gasp) cute by traditional standards or incredibly weird-looking—for some reason either end of the spectrum seems to contribute to popularity. The following dogs on social media share messages of resilience, agility, cognitive prowess, learning, companionship, and often, general hilarity. You know, because they are dogs.

The 367 Dogs

In 2013, 367 dogs were rescued in the second largest dog-fighting raid in U.S. history. Many have since moved on to vibrant lives and equally vibrant social media pages.

Pibbling with Theodore (Facebook) — Theodore doesn’t care for getting wet. He makes high-quality art from household items, is exceptional at dog-dog play, and rings a bell to tell his staff, aka humans, that he wants to go outside. Animal behavior professional Trish McMillan Loehr, former director of the ASPCA’s animal behavior department, is Theodore’s main staffer. ‘Pibbling with Theodore’ is my go-to spot for exceptional videos of dog play, which McMillan Loehr kindly posts in slo-motion so we can actually see what the heck is going on in these fast-paced, hilarious exchanges.

"You are eating ice cream. Funny thing, I also like ice cream." Pibbling with Theodore Credit: Trish McMillan Loehr

The Mighty Finn (Facebook) — Snuggling. Snuggled. Snuggler. Also play. Did I mention Finn also does nose work, practices obedience, and spends time with cats and other dogs? Also, snuggling. Finn lives with trainer and animal welfare professional Andrea Kilkenny

Also from The 367 Dogs, Wondrous World of Wickham, Theodore’s brother who was more on the shy side. Ruby’s Big Adventure is another exceptional character, and I was informed that Ruby's nickname in the shelter was 'Special Mama' for her sweetness to all people and extreme devotion to her five needy puppies. Ruby is now a therapy dog.

The Athletes

Crush (Facebook) — Athletes come in all shapes and sizes. Crush is a 9-year old mixed-breed agility dog who has won agility at Westminster and numerous other competitions alongside trainer Aryn Hervel. In her spare time, Crush sniffs out sewage leaks and contaminants.

Miles on Hydrants (Instagram, Facebook, YouTube) — “Fire hydrants are for much more than peeing,” Miles would probably say if he could talk. More of a cautious canine, playing games on daily walks “[encouraged] him to interact with his surroundings in fun, interesting ways,” explains Joan Forry, the human who introduced Miles to the joys of fire hydrants. 

When she first adopted him, Forry would help Miles interact with the environment and ask him to put his front paws on things, jump on ledges, and touch his nose to mailboxes. One day, instead of putting his paws on a fire hydrant, Miles jumped on top. “Each hydrant is a new puzzle for him to solve,” Forry offers. During a 2014 cross-country drive, Miles balanced on hydrants all over the United States. Well done, sir.

Smarty Pants 

Poppins: From Puppy Mill to Older Dog Advocate (Facebook) — After 8 years in a puppy mill, it was time for Poppins to try something new. Now a certified therapy dog, Poppins loves to perform tricks and is a fan of yummy treats. A YouTube video showcases her skills. 

Chaser the Border Collie (Facebook, Twitter) You’ve probably heard about a dog who knows the name of over 1,000 toys. Well, that’s just the beginning of Chaser’s story. I’ve written about Chaser’s way with words numerous times, particularly how she accomplished this feat with the help of her human, John Pilley, emeritus professor of psychology at Wofford College. On social media, Chaser reminds us to look for the potential in all dogs. 

Raising Rudy (Twitter) — When you study canine behavior and welfare science and bring a new dog home, the only thing to do is raise him with science. That’s what my Do You Believe in Dog? (Twitter) colleague, Mia Cobb, did when she brought home Rudy, a dog who I think is more accurately described as a large Fraggle with a monkey tail, despite what his DNA test says. See what it means to be a dog raised by science. His job this week: puppy socialization. Life is hard.

Puppy socialization with #RaisingRudy, Credit: Mia Cobb

Homeward Bound

Dekalb County Animal Services (FacebookTwitter) — A recent study suggests that viewing videos of adoptable dogs, as opposed to photographs, could result in dogs being perceived more positively. From Dekalb County Animal Services' social media, I have to agree! Dekalb’s Facebook page features exceptional, short videos showcasing each dog’s individuality. See for yourself!

Who else would you add to this list of dogs to follow on social media?