Why is TikTok obsessed with dogs that look like pizza slices, and why is that making me sad?

Borzois were already popular on the social media app for their long snouts and air of ennui, but now the Muppets are involved – what’s going on?

OK Calla, apparently there is a new TikTok trend that has not yet filtered through to Instagram, where geriatric millennials like me can “discover” it. Tell me about it.

Jo, I’m so glad you asked. To understand this meme, you need to know two very important things about TikTok. The first is that the good people of the clock app are absolutely mad about borzois, or Russian wolfhounds. You know, the lanky, wispy-haired dogs that look like they have just appeared on a misty bridge at midnight to ask you their riddles three.

A large part of this popularity is due to a borzoi named Esper, who sadly died last year. Esper was owned by Jacob Chattman, a US actor whose account is dedicated to the animals he calls hose goats. The hose goats, in turn, are dedicated to ruining his life by howling.

The second thing you need to know is that if a song exists, there will be a Muppet cover of it on TikTok. They often sink below the waves but occasionally the algorithm will drag one to the surface and whenever that happens, a meme is born.

You had me at “lanky, wispy-haired dogs”. So what do the memes look and sound like?

The essential feature of the borzoi is its extremely long nose. Just a lone pair of nostrils and then miles and miles of snout before you reach the eyes, which always convey the expression of an animal that has suffered a moral injury. They look like a stray sock with eyes on. So a few months ago, people started dueting videos of borzois with a googly-eyed sock puppet. Then people realised that if you draw two little dots on a HB pencil, that also looks like a borzoi.

An uncanny likeness, it is hard to tell which video is of the borzoi and which is the pencil that looks like a borzoi.

Around Christmas time, a video of another dog that looks like a pencil with eyes was dueted by a pencil with eyes that looked like the dog, paired with the FKA twigs song Cellophane as sung by Miss Piggy.

A dog that looks like a pencil and a pencil that looks like a dog.

And now I cannot escape it. Everything looks like a borzoi.

Surely not that many objects look like a long-faced European dog?

Hotel room taps. The pump dispenser on a bottle of moisturiser. Other dogs with slightly less long noses (one of the earliest memes featured a Silken windhound). Anteaters. A doorstop. A collection of taxidermy at Oxford Museum. A banana. Shelving brackets. A skinny slice of pizza. Whatever this thing is in the birthing ward with Jacob Chattman and his partner and new son (congrats btw). They are everywhere.

How can a skinny slice of pizza make you feel so much?

Oh my. I find this both very funny and weirdly … poignant? I want to adopt all these weird little triangular objects. How can a skinny slice of pizza make me feel so much?

It may be because sighthounds, with their short life spans, remind us of the ephemeral nature of life. Their soulful eyes, or two burnt patches on a skinny piece of pizza, tell us that every moment is to be treasured.

But I suspect the real reason is that FKA twigs is a very good songwriter, even when being covered by a Muppet.


Calla Wahlquist explains it to Josephine Tovey

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Why are people on TikTok obsessed with Little Miss quizzes? And are they harvesting my data?
The children’s book characters had a makeover and now TikTok users really want to know which one they are. Alyx Gorman explains it to Josh Taylor

Alyx Gorman explains it to Josh Taylor

03, Aug, 2022 @6:11 AM

Article image
What is Elite TikTok and what has it got to do with Donald Trump?
Members of something called Alt or Elite TikTok have been credited with ruining a Trump rally. But who are they? Matilda Boseley explains it to Ben Doherty ... quickly

Matilda Boseley and Ben Doherty

22, Jun, 2020 @2:38 AM

Article image
Why do female musicians have to fake it on TikTok? | Rebecca Taylor
Everyone from FKA twigs to Florence is under pressure to provide viral social media content, but it’s at the expense of building a sustainable fanbase and honing one’s craft

Rebecca Lucy Taylor, Self Esteem

30, May, 2022 @3:39 PM

Article image
Why is Dreams by Fleetwood Mac back in the charts? And why is everyone skateboarding along to it?
A TikTok user with a broken-down car and a bottle of cran-raspberry juice has revived a 43-year-old song – and inspired Mick Fleetwood to take to the streets

Joe Koning explains it to Naaman Zhou

05, Oct, 2020 @5:41 AM

Article image
Meet Hugo and Huxley, the ‘pet influencers’ making £100k a year
Boom in advertising trend for creatures to promote everything from cars to collars and ferries to wellies

Rupert Neate Wealth correspondent

20, Jan, 2023 @12:00 PM

Article image
Why is everyone saying Instagram is rubbish now – and what’s TikTok got to do with it?
A demographic shift has prompted the photography app to start blasting users with algorithmic full-screen videos, making a lot of people very unhappy

Josh Taylor explains it to Nino Bucci

27, Jul, 2022 @7:29 AM

Article image
Shelby Sherritt: the Ballarat cancer survivor who became a TikTok pottery queen
Once known as the 20-year-old who survived cancer, Shelby Sherritt now has half-a-million TikTok followers who are more interested in her art

Matilda Boseley

27, Feb, 2021 @7:00 PM

Article image
Shake your frozen pizza! The scrappy have-a-go exuberance of dance on TikTok
From tap stars duetting with Gene Kelly to Gordon Ramsay twisting with his daughter, TikTok is where performers – large, small, amateur, pro – drop the facade and dance till their toes are raw

Lyndsey Winship

09, Nov, 2021 @12:00 PM

Article image
‘It just takes off’: why short-video app TikTok has caused a global stir
From lewd comedian Kevin Bloody Wilson to the Australian Reptile Park, users are finding an effective way to milk the web

Naaman Zhou

02, Aug, 2019 @10:00 PM

Article image
Some dogs, Ed Sheeran's eyebrow, Quentin Tarantino, a portable pizza pouch – we review anything
Every Friday we apply critical attention to things that don’t normally get it. This is an important function that might just hold civilisation together. Or, more likely, not. Drop your suggestions for reviews in the comments or tweet them to @guideguardian

Kate Hutchinson, Rachel Aroesti, Luke Holland & Paul MacInnes

05, Feb, 2016 @1:52 PM