"There would be no way to manage all the stuff without her quitting her job," says Jon Huang, co-owner of Manny, a French bulldog with one million Instagram followers.

He's referring to the workload that his girlfriend, Amber Chavez, has taken on since Manny went viral. What started as a way to share photos and videos of their pup with friends and family has mushroomed into a social media and philanthropy empire, and now, it's taken over their lives.

… Not that they mind. Manny brings in hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for the couple thanks to seemingly innumerable endorsement deals, modeling gigs, TV appearances and branded products. Chavez and Huang generously donate the majority of the cash flow to charities like the ASPCA and the Special Olympics, but, they also retain enough of the profit to make managing Manny their full-time job, something they've had to hire actual employees to help with. 

Manny's not the only cash cow who's actually a dog, though. A handful of meme-worthy, ultra-cute pets are currently being used to by their opportunistic owners to generate millions in profit; money that typically goes to less altruistic places than the ASPCA.

And just what's so special about these animals that makes them such big earners? After all, not everyone who posts a photo of their cat eating a watermelon becomes an automatic millionaire.

Animal advocate and author Wendy Diamond says it takes more than just a cute photo or video to achieve virality. The biggest animal influencers, she says, are those who have a following, a personality and a dedicated team committed to keeping them on-brand. But … it also doesn't hurt if there's something wrong with them.

"Your dog either has to have a deformity or a disability or a well-connected parent," she says. Cough — feline dwarfism — cough.

Deformed or otherwise though, atypical animals rake in profit for the simple reason that things which evoke strong emotions tend to go viral. And evoking emotion isn't hard for gold mines like Grumpy Cat who is cute, yet clearly disabled, and Manny, who gets a lot of gushing and sympathy because his owners brand him as "philanthropy dog."

"People who have over half a million followers are getting serious money," says Katie Sturino, who owns Toast, a King Charles pup with no teeth and dangling tongue that clearly broadcasts her disability. "The ones who have really broken out are getting a lot."

Deformities or not, viral pet are big business, and they're lining the pockets of their owners by the sheer action of existing. Which are worth the most?

Let's meet some to find out.


The talent: Boo, Pomeranian.

The dough: $1 million per year.

The story: The so-called "cutest dog in the world" got his start back in 2010, when his owner Irene Ahn —who suspiciously works for Facebook — decided to make her dog a viral sensation using the social media tools she had on hand. It worked, and today, Boo has 17 million likes on Facebook (which is 5 percent of the population in the U.S.), two books printed in 11 languages, his own stuffed animal, a Wikipedia page and is the spokesanimal for Virgin America. In other news, is Facebook hiring? 

Stalk Boo here.

Lil' Bub

The talent: Lillian (Lil) Bubbles (Bub), domestic shorthair mix with pretty bad osteoporosis.

The dough: The amount of money that Lil Bub has earned for owner Mike Bridavsky remains a secret, but … it's enough that Bridavsky quit his day job years ago, paid his mortgage and bills, donated $200,000 to animal charities. What we do know is that Lil Bub earns at least $30,000 a year in YouTube royalties.

The story:  In July of 2011, Lil' Bub was born in a tool shed in rural Indiana. As the clearly-deformed runt of the litter, it looked like she had little hope until Bridavsky gave her a home … and a social media account. Just a few years later, Lil' Bub is regular flash in pretty much every tattoo shop in America, something one could easily attribute to her cool 1.5 million Instagram followers. Bridavsky has built her an impressive résumé, which includes a starring role in an Animal Planet special and other documentaries, producing a single for Breeders guitarist Kelley Deal, meeting Robert De Niro, writing a book,and interviewing Michelle Obama and Whoopi Goldberg on her YouTube series, “Lil Bub’s Big Show.” Scientists are also planning on sequencing her genome, ostensibly so more people can cash in on their cat's deformities.

Drool all over Lil Bub here.


The talent: Tuna, Chiweenie (Chihuahua + daschund).

The dough: $100 million dollars since 2011.

The story: Ever seen something so ugly it's cute? That's Tuna, the Chiweenie with an overbite the size of a pre-iceberg Titanic. The unlikely internet sensation was found as a stray at a California farmer's market, but with 1.8 million Instagram followers, two books printed in multiple obscure languages (Slovakian, anyone?), and a product line, life on the mean streets of California is far behind him. Like Manny, Tuna raises mega cash monies for via numerous charitable causes, particularly in the realm of animal adoption, but his human overlord Courtney Dasher makes enough off his likeness that she's been able to quit her job as an interior designer to manage Tuna's minions full-time.

Look at Tuna's ugly/gorgeous mug here.


The talent: Maru, Scottish Fold.

The dough: $180,000 per year, mostly in YouTube ads.

The story: Maru fucking loves boxes. Like really, loves boxes. Good thing for his owner, people love Maru loving boxes. So far, over 300 million people have watched him try to fit his plump corpus into various boxes and bags on YouTube, a peculiar talent which has earned him a book deal, a shit ton of merchandise, a Wikipedia page, a DVD, an appearance on the Ellen Degeneres show, and a buttload of endorsement deals in Japan. Hopefully, that's enough to afford him enough boxes to last his weird little lifetime.

See Maru fuck up all the boxes on his YouTube page here.

Menswear Dog

The talent: Bodhi, Shiba Inu.

The dough: $15K per month.

The story: Named after Patrick Swayze’s iconic '80s surfer character from Point Break, Bodhi is a modern gentleman who enjoys the finer things in life — specifically, men's clothing. You can find him cruising the streets in gingham shirts, tweed blazers and silk overcoats as he flaunts his taste to an adoring audience, whose ranks number in the millions at this point. Poking fun at the manicured self-seriousness of Fashion Tumblr, Menswear Dog has become big business for his owner Yena Kim and her boyfriend David Fung, who noticed that he'd pose Zoolander-style for them when they dressed him up in his pre-fame days. Now, his model behavior has landed him campaigns for  Coach, Victorinox Swiss Army, Ted Baker, American Apparel, Brooks Brothers, Salvatore Ferragamo, ASOS, Hudson Shoes, Revlon, Todd Snyder, The Tie Bar, Polyvore, Purina (which they have a monthly contract with), Korean department store Comodo Square (for whom Menswear Dog is their unofficial mascot), and many, many more brands who cannot believe a dog is wearing their clothes.

Question your taste and accomplishments by following Menswear Dog here.

Tara the Hero Cat

The talent: Tara, Tabby.

The dough: $55K-$463K per year, mostly from YouTube views.

The story: Tara soaked the panties of parents everywhere when a video of the California tabby cat rescuing a child from being attacked by a neighbor's dog went viral, racking up nearly 17 million hits in the first two days. Within 24 hours of the incident, Tara's humans made her Instagram and Facebook accounts, and even hired a cat talent agent from Junkin Media to help manage her overnight fame. In addition to her efforts in preserving human life, Tara also has a Wikipedia page, a product line including some branded yoga pants which you can buy for $31 of your hard-earned cash, and was awarded the honorable title of Hero Dog by the SPSCA. Unlike the other pets on this list, Tara hasn't developed quite as formidable of a business empire, but we'll just assume it's because she's out looking for dogs to fuck up.

Idolize Tara's life force on her Facebook page here.

Grumpy Cat

The talent: Tardar Sauce, mixed breed with a particularly cute case of feline dwarfism.

The dough: Some sources say $100 million, but her owner has yet to disclose the real amount.

The story: Ah, the sweet mother lode of gravy train animals: the ubiquitous Grumpy Cat. Her owner, Tabatha Bundesen was working as a regular old server when her brother posted a video of the now-famous feline, Grumpy Cat, to Reddit in September of 2012, and in less than 48 hours, the kitty had gone viral. Now, Grumpy tours the world promoting her never-ending empire of Grumpy things, the likes of which are honestly too accomplished and numerous to even list here, but … we'll try. In 2012, MSNBC named Grumpy the "world's most influential cat," she's won a lifetime achievement award from her sponsor Friskies, (who pays for her to fly first class, have her own private hotel room with king-sized bed, a personal assistant, a chauffeur, and unlimited Friskies food and bottled water) and, in addition to having a New York Times bestseller and her own feature film with Aubrey Plaza, has hosted both the Bachelorette and WWE Monday Night Raw. With that rap sheet, Grumpy is worth more than most A-List celebrities. Probably the most prolific cat other than Garfield, Grumpy is a testament to how far you can go with a weird-looking pet and a modicum of social media know-how.

Feel inferior to a cat by following Grump Cat here.