Christian Vieler Takes Viral, Funny-faced Dog Photos for a Living (And We’re Jealous)

By: Alyssa SparacinoUpdated:

Photographer Christian Vieler getting licked by a dog
All photos by Christian Vieler

Christian Vieler Takes Viral, Funny-faced Dog Photos for a Living (And We’re Jealous)

Admit it: Giving your dog treats is a highlight of your day. Now, imagine if you could do it full-time. That’s exactly what Christian Vieler, a photographer based in Germany, has done, building a career out of taking photos of dogs as they open their mouths to catch treats. Their wild, hilarious mid-snatch expressions have to be seen to be believed. We mean, look at these pups!
a dog's face with wide eyes and open mouth
a dog's face with wide eyes and open mouth
It’s no wonder that Vieler’s silly and endearing shots of dogs catching treats—or, for some less coordinated puppers, attempting to catch them—have become viral Internet sensations. They’ve gotten shoutouts everywhere from CNN to the Drew Barrymore Show. But you might be surprised to know that Vieler didn’t set out to become a famous dog photographer. In fact, he discovered this niche of photography totally by accident.

Back in 2013, Vieler was working as a freelance reporter and content creator—but he spent his free time shooting snaps of his dog Lotte, a Labrador Retriever. Lotte was Vieler’s first dog, and like most first-time pet parents, he was low-key obsessed with her.

“She was my reason to grab a camera and take photos,” he says.

Taking his photo hobby to the next level, Vieler purchased a portable flash that was designed to capture outdoor action shots. But on the day it was delivered to his home, the weather was rainy and gloomy, so he decided to test it with Lotte in his living room instead. There was just one problem: The new flash was intended to capture movement, but Lotte, ever the good girl, was just sitting calmly, ready to take center stage.

That’s when Vieler had the idea that would launch a thousand goofy pup faces: tossing treats in order to get Lotte to move. It worked, and when he saw the resulting photos, with Lotte’s wide eyes and adorable chompers in view, he knew he had captured something special. He began testing the technique with more dogs, honing his trademark style and eventually creating a photo series titled “Dogs Catching Treats.” The series took the internet by storm for the first time in 2016 and continues to resurface on social media as new audiences discover the delightful, hilarious expressions he captures.

Today, Vieler has published two photo books, “Treat!” and “Treat Too!,” and sells prints and a variety of monthly calendars of his most adorably wacky pup pics on his website. (Because you know you want to see these pups' faces every single day of 2023.) And it all started with his love for Lotte.

“She is the reason why my life changed completely—and rapidly,” he says.

Sadly, Lotte passed away in December 2021, but Vieler is continuing her legacy with his other pets: a Doberman named Anni, a mixed-breed rescue named Tammi, a wire-haired Dachshund called Alfred, and a horse, Rugby.

He’s also giving other dog parents the gift of seeing their own pups’ treat faces. He travels internationally to stage photo shoots for clients who want to give their dogs the famous Vieler treatment. Next up is London, with plans to continue traveling as much as possible—hoping to one day make it to the U.S.

two dogs with open mouths
We have a feeling there are lots of drooling, open mouths just waiting for him to toss them a treat along the way.

Christian Vieler’s 5 Tips for Amateur Pet Photographers

  1. Get down on their level. Have you noticed that Christian always takes his dog photos head-on? That’s the best way to capture their expressions, he says, so whenever possible, take photos from their eye level, not from above or down below. (Yes, this might mean dropping to all fours yourself.)
  2. Use all the treats. One type of treat is exciting for dogs, but a variety? That’s the key to unlocking your dog’s unwavering attention, Vieler says. During shoots, he keeps several different treat flavors on hand—and if all else fails, a little sausage and cheese, too.
  3. Learn to multitask. Whoever holds the treats will also hold your dog’s attention, so photographers should get comfortable managing both their cameras and their dog’s tasty morsels. If you hand off treat duty to someone else, your pup will likely stay fixated on them instead of looking at the camera.
  4. Plan in advance. Before you get out the camera, think about your dog’s behaviors and key expressions, such as how they yawn, bark or lick. Then, brainstorm the best ways to capture your favorites. If they have a great licking face, for example, it might be time to get out the peanut butter!
  5. Keep things simple. Use a plain background. Remember: Your dog is the star, so why distract from them with anything else?
Keep up with Christian Vieler's funny dog faces on Instagram:


By: Alyssa SparacinoUpdated: