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New kids on the mall: babyfied dogs as fashionable co-consumers

Annamari Vänskä (Postdoctoral Research Fellow, based at Centre for Fashion Studies, Institute for Media Studies, University of Stockholm, Stockholm, Sweden)

Young Consumers

ISSN: 1747-3616

Article publication date: 12 August 2014




This article is a theoretical investigation about the babyfied dog and the troubled relationship between dogs and parenting in contemporary consumerist culture.


In the frame of the special theme issue, the focus of the article is on theorising consumption and care in the context of new motherhood. The article analyses why the babyfied and fashionable dog has become so popular and what the human–dog/animal–transgression is about.


The anthropomorphised animal is an integral part of constructing and understanding the romantic ideal of childhood and childhood innocence. Simultaneously with the modern educational attitude towards pets and animals in general, real animals, especially small lapdogs, have started to replace teddy bears and other plush animals as the dressed-up childlike animal. The tamed and designed animal is not completely an animal anymore and occupies the space between the human and the animal, becoming central to the reconfiguration of the family, childhood, leisure and identity. Currently, as the number of children in families decreases, the babyfied dog is taking the place traditionally reserved for the child.

Research limitations/implications

Even though the findings cannot be generalised, they suggest that more research on the relationship between humans and dogs is needed.


The article makes an original contribution to the theme issue by focusing on the still unusual, yet strongly emerging form of parenting and care of dogs. Doing this, the article challenges ideas about “natural parenting” by arguing that dogs are the latest babies and fashionable co-consumers.



The author thanks Mary Jane Kehily for her intellectual generousness and support in preparing this article.


Vänskä, A. (2014), "New kids on the mall: babyfied dogs as fashionable co-consumers", Young Consumers, Vol. 15 No. 3, pp. 263-272.



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