Leeds animal lovers urged to remember a pet is not just for ‘likes’

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Pet-lovers in Leeds are being urged to “put love above likes” as it is revealed one in seven choose pets that would get more likes on social media.

The UK is well documented as a nation of animal lovers, so it should come as no surprise that we have just as avid an interest in our furry friends on social media as we do in the real world.

However, national pet charity Blue Cross is appealing for Britons to “put love above likes” today, after new research revealed that one in seven people (14%) would choose a specific breed of cat or dog based on the number of “likes” they think the pet will get on social media.

The research was conducted by Blue Cross to encourage pet owners and would-be pet owners to put love above social media ‘likes’ when choosing a pet and instead consider the unique and individual qualities of every pet, regardless of breed.

The tendency to think about potential “likes” when choosing a pet is arguably a consequence of the explosion of pet content online in the last few years and rising popularity of certain breeds like the French Bulldog and the Pug. The charity’s research also showed that over two thirds of Brits (67%) follow a feed on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest that is “run by” or dedicated to a specific breed or animal, while 10% of us follow over 10 animal accounts.

What’s more, the research suggests a direct connection between the quantity of pet images on social media and the breeds Britons choose to bring into their homes: one in six (12%) pet owners or would-be pet owners said that although they conducted thorough research into a certain breed before choosing their new pet, they were initially attracted to the breed because of images seen on social media.

As part of the research Blue Cross has also compiled a league table of the most Instagrammed cat and dog breeds today:

TOP 15 DOGS BY HASHTAG USE:

Pug (34.5m)

French Bulldog (24.4m)

Chihuahua (21.4m)

Bulldog (18.7m)

Husky (12.9m)

Boxer (15.5m)

Labrador (11.1m)

Beagle (11m)

Dachshund (10.97m)

Shih Tzu (10.4m)

Corgi (10.5m)

Golden Retriever (10.7m)

Poodle (9.4m)

German Shepherd (9.3m)

Pomeranian (8.4m)

TOP 15 CATS BY HASHTAG USE:

Tabby (4.5m)

Maine Coon (4m)

Bengal (3.6m)

Siamese (3.5m)

Persian (2.4m)

Sphinx (3.3m)

Rag Doll (3.2m)

British Short (1.9m)

Birman (590k)

Manx (210k)

Himalayan (177k)

Burmese (162k)

Russian Blue (145k)

Moggy (89k)

British Blue (25k)

The tables reveal a trend amongst dog lovers to focus on pedigree breeds on social media: there are just 159,603 uses of #mongrel and 735,035 uses of #mixbreed meaning they don’t feature anywhere near the top 15, compared to #tabby and #moggy which are prominent amongst Instagram cat posts.

Mandy Jones, Director of Rehoming from Blue Cross said: “We certainly sympathise with anyone who loves taking photos of their pets or following cats and dogs on social media, but we wish we could get our homeless pets the same numbers of followers! We love every breed; be they pugs and bulldogs or mongrels and mixes. Choosing based on fashion can lead to heartache too; the current fashion for flat faced dogs is resulting in thousands of puppies being born who will have a lifetime of chronic health problems due to being unable to breathe comfortably.

Most importantly we believe every pet is unique and beautiful in its own way so we’d always encourage anyone thinking of getting a pet to consider a rescue and make a decision based on personality as well. Pets come in all shapes and sizes and are much better in real life than online. We hope that anyone who loves looking at pet profiles on social media, will take time to visit the dogs and cats on our website and maybe find a perfect new companion to rehome.”

In light of the research findings, Blue Cross is appealing to pet owners and would-be pet owners to champion the unique and individual qualities of every pet, regardless of breed or appearance.

It takes in thousands of pets every year and each one is photographed for their rehoming page when they are ready to find new homes – so, to help make sure that all pets enjoy social media popularity, the charity is sharing some of its expert tips for capturing every pet’s best side, regardless of breed, age, size or temperament.

Rachel Reeves.

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