Dog side eye meme

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The ‘side eye dog’ meme, explained

The meme even spawned a new cryptocurrency.


Alexandra Samuels


Posted on Nov 30, 2023

There are a number of famous internet dogs, but perhaps none of them have captured the world’s attention in the way ‘side eye dog’ memes have. 

The viral meme rose to internet fame after a photo of a Shibu Inu dog crossing its paws was overlaid with scattered comic sans text—meant to convey the pup’s inner dialogue. Internet users quickly found new names for the dog (who is actually named Balltze) — Cheems, side-eye dog and Doge, with the latter even spawning a new cryptocurrency in 2013. 

Here’s everything you need to know about the viral meme:

Who is ‘side eye dog’ based on?

Shiba Inu dogs have long been the internet’s favorite meme dog. Balltze, however, is a rescue dog who rose to internet fame after a photo of him went viral in 2017. The initial photo shows Ballzte crossing its paws with a disgruntled look on its face. 

A number of memes associated with Balltze rely on using his head versus his entire body. The initial memes consisted of a picture of the dog’s face with text overlay in Comic Sans font (meant to represent the dog’s internal monologue.) Various iterations of Shiba Inu dogs with silly captions capturing their thoughts went on to gain virality, too, becoming known as ‘Doge.’

What are the other ‘side eye dog’ memes?

One of the most popular iterations of the ‘Doge’ meme is Swole Doge, another Shiba Inu dog sporting a muscular frame. These photos usually capture the dogs making the same confused face and are often used side-by-side with Cheems to convey two separate historical eras. 

Other Shiba Inu dogs that have gone viral, too. Kabosu, another rescue dog, sported the same concerned look and quickly rose to fame in 2010. But while Kabosu has more of a wide-eye stare, Balltze looks more amusingly judgmental in memes. One of Balltze’s more famous appearances was the “Go to Horny Jail” meme, where he bonks another dog on the head with a bat.

Where is Balltze today?

Unfortunately, he died in August 2023. In an Instagram post, the dog’s owner said that Balltze fell asleep during a surgical procedure and never woke up.

“Ball Ball fell asleep on 18/8,” his owner wrote. “He fell asleep on Friday morning during his last thoracentesis surgery. Originally, we wanted to arrange chemotherapy or other possible treatment for him after this operation, but it is too late now.”

His owner asked that Cheems’ followers not be saddened by his passing, but instead celebrate his life. “Please remember the joy that Balltze brought to the world,” the post read. “He has helped many people during the pandemic and brought a lot of joy to many of you, but now his mission has [been] completed.”

Are people still talking about ‘side eye dog’?

Internet users aren’t talking about Cheems now as much as they were when he first went viral, but that doesn’t mean his impact has faltered. Earlier this year, X owner Elon Musk posted that, starting April 15, X would only recommend content from paid accounts in the For You feed. And, for a brief time, he changed the Twitter homepage’s icon to a picture of “doge.”

We’re not exactly clear why Musk did this or what the intended impact was. But shortly after Doge’s X takeover, Dogecoin saw its price jump by 30%, according to NPR.

Is your dog giving you the side eye a bad thing?

Sure, the dog side-eye memes are hilarious, but you should probably pay close attention if your dog is shooting you this face.

Whale eye can be a sign that your pooch is about to get aggressive with you. Usually it’s because they’re being protective or something—say, a bone or a toy—or feel threatened. Either way, this is your pup’s way of laying down a boundary.

If you catch your dog giving you side eye, it’s wise to back away and respect their space. Ignoring their warning could result in a defensive response.

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*First Published: Nov 30, 2023, 12:52 pm CST