One of the simplest joys in life is watching a dense little bulldog rocket down a hill on a skateboard — its stubby tail wagging and slobbery jowls flapping in the wind. Few creatures have ever displayed such pure, unadulterated joy as the skateboarding dogs of YouTube. It’s almost as if these pups don’t know that they’re total posers who can’t shred for shit. At least, that’s what real skaters would say.
Or as Roy, a skater of more than 20 years puts it, “These dogs have a handle on the mechanics of making a skateboard move, but they have serious board control issues.” Meaning, as much as these dogs can get speed, “they seem to struggle with which way they’re going, which is why they’re continually off the sidewalk and in the grass,” the 37-year-old explains.
Tomm, another serious skater, notes that skater dogs lack knowledge of any basic moves — ironic for a species that’s well known for its tricks. “Most of these videos were owners putting them on a board and pushing them, which is all a game of balance, so I’m not impressed,” he tells me.
Roy compares the lack of trick variety to a skating trend in the late 1990s, early aughts “where everyone was one-upping the last person with an even bigger rail.” “These dogs are falling into the same trap with bigger and bigger hills,” he continues. “Big hills are a finite resource, and once a dog rides down it, the others are going to have to start getting creative again.”
To Tomm, the one exception to this critique is the bulldog in the video above who, around the 1:14 mark, falls off three boards that are stacked on top of each other, repositions himself and gets back up. “That was righteousness,” he says.
Tomm also generously concedes that dogs may be better at skateboarding than children. He hasn’t seen any dogs “pushing mongo,” which is when you move your skateboard with your front foot instead of the back foot, a common practice among kids, who are notoriously bad skaters. But in general, “until I see a dog bust out an ollie or kickflip, I’m gonna label them longboarders and say they’re not good at skateboarding,” he concludes.
As much as dogs are social creatures, the biggest thing holding skateboarding dogs back, in Roy’s opinion, is that they’re not skating together. “Skating in a bubble is one of the worst things you can do when trying to get better. No one is pushing or inspiring you,” Roy says. [Editor’s Note: Speaking directly to the dogs — have you considered building a skatepark for you and your buddies?]
Still, according to dog trainer and blogger Jacquelyn Kennedy, even social dogs don’t really take up skateboarding to make friends. They do it for the same reason they poke their heads out of car windows. “They love to feel the wind in their faces, watch the world pass by and feel the road under their wheels,” Kennedy tells me. “They adore the breeze, and all the sniffs and scents flowing over their faces while they skate.”
Since larger dog breeds might not fit on a skateboard, and balancing is one of the hardest parts of staying on, it makes sense why shredding would especially appeal to smaller breeds with a low center of gravity, like bulldogs. Likewise, having stubby legs and a predisposition to joint problems may make it easier to get around this way, depending on the pup, of course. “If a dog doesn’t like it, don’t push them to be the next Tony Hawk,” Kennedy says. “That will never happen and it won’t end well for either of you.”
If nothing else — and sorry in advance for this — they can always be your Tony Dog.