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WEDNESDAY, Sept. 10, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Movies that feature dogs seem to influence the popularity of the dog's breed for up to a decade, according to a new study.
But, this long-term boost in popularity isn't related to a breed's temperament and health, and may have negative consequences for dogs, the researchers cautioned.
"If people buy en masse dogs because they appear in movies the consequences can be negative for the dogs themselves. Our previous study found that the most popular breeds had the greatest number of inherited disorders," study co-author Dr. Alberto Acerbi, a fellow in the department of archaeology and anthropology at the University of Bristol in England, said in a university news release.
"It's not surprising that we tend to follow social cues and fashions, as this is a quite effective strategy in many situations," Acerbi added. "However, in particular cases the outcomes can be negative. When choosing a new pet, we may want to act differently."
The study, published online Sept. 10 in PLOS One, looked at 87 movies that had a dog with a prominent role in the film. Using the American Kennel Club's dog registry of more than 65 million dogs, the investigators looked at the movies' release dates and then examined the popularity of the featured dogs' breeds one, two, five and 10 years later.
The study showed that the release of movies "starring" dogs was associated with a boost in the popularity of the dog's breed. In addition, there was a strong correlation between this increase in popularity and the number of people who saw the movie during its opening weekend.
More than 800,000 additional dogs than expected were registered in the decade after the most popular 10 films were released, the study found. For example, the release of "Lassie Come Home" in 1943 was tied to a 40 percent jump in Collie registrations in the American Kennel Club. A 1959 film, "The Shaggy Dog," was also followed by a 100-fold increase in Old English Sheepdog registrations, according to the study.
"We focused on changes in trend popularity rather than on popularity itself to avoid attributing to movies trends that were already ongoing before movie release, as up-trending breeds may have been chosen more often for movies," the study's lead author, Stefano Ghirlanda, of the City University of New York, said in the news release.
-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
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SOURCE: University of Bristol, news release, Sept. 10, 2014