Top 6 Pet Trends Of The 1980s

While trends come and go in hair, music, fashion, and more, one often overlooked area of trends in the pet community. While dogs and cats are mainstays when it comes to the American household, the 1980s had a few other tricks up its sleeve when it came to what you could expect to see as a pet in a friend's house. Let's look at some of the top pet trends that were popular during our favorite decade.


The film Arachnophobia didn't come out until 1990, which is suitable for the Tarantula pets so popular in the eighties. If you're not familiar, Tarantulas are gigantic, furry spiders mainly native to the United States, Mexico, and Central and Northern America. While they are frightening to look at, Tarantulas are actually relatively harmless except for a bite - which they rarely give. Tarantulas also make great pets for their longevity, the male may only live seven to eight years, but the females can live up to twenty-five. While not as common as pets anymore, in the 1980s, many households had a Tarantula or two as their beloved pets.

Hermit Crabs

Keeping with the caged theme, Hermit Crabs saw a massive boom in popularity as pets in the 1980s that they hadn't experienced before or since. Sure, you still see them in boardwalk shops when you're on a beach trip, but nowadays, most of us consider the caging of these cute tiny crabs inhumane. However, in the eighties, it wasn't uncommon to see a Hermit Crab cage filled with neon or pastel-colored pebbles and a crab or two with a painted shell inside. These crabs weren't too fun to play with and didn't live long, which was sad for the crab and the pet owner. Thankfully the Hermit Crab trend has fallen out of favor.


Of course, we can't have a popular pet list without including Man's Best Friend - the dog. While dogs are popular pets no matter the decade, the eighties saw increasing popularity for several breeds. Mainly the Cocker Spaniel, German Shepherd, Treeing Walker Coonhound, and the Poodle. While many families still choose these breeds as their family pets today, they were "it" dogs in the eighties. Oh, and we can't forget the Doberman Pinscher and the Miniature Schnauzers on this list!


While ferrets are still common household pets today, they were trendy in the eighties. Ferrets, though small and tubular, are incredibly intelligent and trainable. If you're sensing a trend of animals that could be kept in cages in the eighties as pets, you're sensing correctly. Ferrets could be let out of their pens, unlike Hermit Crabs and Tarantulas, and many households gave them free rein of the house. Especially if you didn't have other pets like a dog or cat that may get too curious about your pet, Ferret this was commonplace.

Guinea Pigs

The adorable Guinea Pig is another small and cage-friendly yet in-vogue pet of the 1980s. While they aren't that much bigger than a hamster (which were popular then and still are), they are much sweeter and friendlier, making them easier for members of the 80s household to engage and play with the Guinea Pig. It was common to see elaborate pens with tubes and tunnels for Guinea Pigs to play in during the 1980s. Just like the ferrets, if there were no tiny children or other pets in the house, the Guinea Pigs were allowed plenty of free play in the home.


Birds are still popular pets throughout the world. Their beautiful songs, colorful feathers, and cheerful nature make them well suited to brighten the day of the families that own them. Parakeets saw a considerable increase in popularity during the decade, with many families purchasing massive, elaborate cages decked out with plenty of toys for the birds to play with. It was also customary to let your bird out to explore the home or playfully perch on your finger.

Pet trends come and go just like any other trend, but the eighties also saw an increase in exotic pet ownership if you were wealthy enough. As is common knowledge, the more exotic the pet sometimes means, the more dangerous, so those mentioned earlier were more docile and trainable than the more exotic pets that saw a rise in the 80s. Perhaps you still keep some of the pets mentioned above in your home. Tarantulas anyone?

Photo courtesy Depositphotos

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