Posting cute pictures of your pet online is no longer just about trying to get likes and follows. These days, the most popular dogs on social media are being courted by brands, and they--well, make that their owners--are making good money.
We met some of the most influential dogs of New York City at a holiday party hosted by Petsmart. You know those pre-Oscar swag suites where the stars can take whatever they want? Think that, but with unlimited doggy sweaters, bedazzled collars and unlimited beef chews free for the taking, all in hopes a post with the event's hashtag #Petsgiving winds up on the dogs social media pages.
But while getting free stuff is great, making actual money is even better.
"I never thought I could take pictures of my pet and make money, it's incredible," said Olia Saunders, professional photographer and mom of Cookie, a golden doodle better known on social media as PS.NY. Cookie currently has 113,000 followers on Instagram, and counting.
Saunders started taking pictures of Cookie for fun a few years ago, but soon the followers added up and brands came calling.
"Sometimes I get 20 emails a day," Saunders said.
Cookie, who has his own Christmas ornament for sale at West Elm right now, has collaborated with dozens of brands, ranging from Barneys, to the Peanuts Movie, to Daniel Wellington watches. The pay per post?
"It ranges almost like insane in a way, you start from a hundred dollars, to a few thousand per post," said Saunders. "I think it's totally possible to make 10 grand, even 15 grand and even higher, absolutely,"
That's $10,000 to $15,000 a month, and in the world of the insta-celeb dog, it's becoming the norm--and not just for the super-famous dogs you may have heard of like Marnie or Boo.
MenswearDog, a shiba inu dispensing fashion advice to the masses, has his own book, His owners are on record as saying he hauls in a reported $15,000 a month.
Doug the Pug (ItsDougThePug), has more than 1 million followers and even sells his own merchandise online.
"Plenty of our influencers who are human are making over a million dollars a year doing this so if you look at the total reach these animals have, it's not crazy to think people could make half of that on their animals," said James Nord, the CEO of Fohr Card, which pairs (human) social media stars with brands. The company launched "Fur Card" for animal influencers last year.
But it takes work to get noticed on social media. I should know. I've been trying to make my dog Jax (that's jaxarfhur on Instagram) a star for months.
Costumes, props and witty captions are practically a requirement.
"Having a good photo is one thing but having a good caption with a photo is so much stronger, people will be more likely to share it with their friends and kind of laugh," said Loni Edwards, mom to Chloe the Mini Frenchie (chloetheminifrenchie), follower count: 90,000.
Chloe has partnered with brands ranging from Mattel to Dyson.
Fashion photographer Chantal Adair, who photographs dressed-up dogs under the account TheDogStyler, and has seen more and more brands wanting to work with well-known dogs.
"I think a lot of people are liking to see animals in front of the camera selling their products, more so than humans," Adair said.