The term “working dog” calls to mind images of German Shepherds in police vests or Border Collies herding sheep, but in the Instagram age, a new crop of photogenic pups are working hard at striking poses. Recently signed to canine talent management firm The Dog Agency, 2-year-old Royce the Frenchie is leading the pup model pack of 2016.
While many dogs have their own Instagram accounts, few have managed to turn being cute into a profitable career the way Royce has. With more than 23,000 Instagram followers, this little guy is following in the paw steps of superstar dogs like Chloe the Mini Frenchie, who appears in the feeds of more than 140,000 Instagram users (and whose human founded The Dog Agency).
But long before Royce was hanging out with big-deal dogs like Chloe and inking deals as a pet model, he was just another adorable French Bulldog puppy who’d made a human fall in love with him.
“He’s half chocolate and half blue, so he’s a brindle — he looks like a little tiger,” explains his human, Jaime Getto.
Getto had just graduated college and entered the working world in Manhattan when she brought baby Royce into her life back in 2014. Of course, the new pet parent snapped plenty of pics of her adorable puppy, prompting an Instagram origin story that is a familiar one to anyone who follows celebrity canines.
“I just assumed that my personal Instagram would become flooded with dog photos — which would have been the case — so I created his own account just for my friends and family,” says Getto, who then watched as hundreds — and eventually thousands — of strangers started following Royce’s account. “Then, brands started reposting all of his photos.”
As a director of marketing for a startup, Getto recognized that Royce himself was becoming a brand as more and more followers flocked to his Instagram. At first, Getto found herself receiving offers of free products from brands, and eventually she was able to monetize the social media traction through sponsored posts. The duo does make money from the account — but that doesn’t mean Getto and Royce are selling out. According to Getto, she and Royce only partner with brands they’re really into.
“We have to look at, okay, what do we really love? I try to keep it like 90 percent funny, unsponsored type content, and then when I do incorporate sponsored type content, I do still try to keep it in theme or on brand.”
That brand can be summed up in three words: funny Frenchie fierceness. Royce is a muscular model, but he’s also got a sense of humor and a heart of gold.
“As much of a tough guy as he is, he has two little toys — one is a sock monkey and one is a lambchop — that he frequently nurses on,” Getto says.
Royce obviously has a softer side, something that comes through not only during alone time with his toys, but also during some of his pro-bono charitable campaigns.
“This is also a huge opportunity for us to help extend reach for a lot of philanthropic organizations. Specifically, we’ve worked with the Humane Society of New York and Best Friends Animal Society,” explains Getto, who is pleased that she can use Royce’s brand to help less fortunate animals.
As for Royce, he knows he’s a pretty lucky dog. Getto says that while some people might imagine Royce is living like a reluctant child star being pushed into the spotlight by a stage mom, his reality couldn’t be further from the truth.
“It’s not like he’s always being shuttled around between photoshoots,” she explains, adding that Royce’s Instagram celebrity is just a symptom of a societal shift that is allowing people to spend more time with their pets.
“My office is so dog-friendly, so I’m able to have him here with me,” explains Getto, who is able to focus on her own career as well as Royce’s burgeoning brand.
“He is just over 2 years old and doing way better than I was when I had just finished college,” she jokes.
Royce may be one of the latest doggy influencers to find success on Instagram, but Getto doubts he’ll be the last.
“I don’t think [the trend] going away anytime soon. People will forever love puppies, dogs, and animals.”