Dogs in Business: Definition, Examples, and Strategies


Discover the concept of a “dog” in the world of business and marketing. Learn how this term relates to the BCG Growth-Share matrix, investment strategies like “Dogs of the Dow,” and the importance of managing these underperforming assets effectively. Explore the significance of these definitions in today’s corporate landscape.

Dog definition in business and marketing

In the dynamic world of business and marketing, understanding specialized terminology is crucial. One such term is “dog.” In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the multifaceted concept of a “dog” and its relevance to both the BCG Growth-Share matrix and investment strategies like “Dogs of the Dow.”

The BCG Growth-Share matrix

The BCG Growth-Share matrix, developed by the Boston Consulting Group in the 1970s, is a fundamental tool for managing different business units within a company. It categorizes these units into four distinct quadrants, one of which is the “dog.” But what does it mean to be a “dog” in this context?

In essence, a “dog” is a business unit that holds a small market share within a mature industry. It neither generates substantial cash flow nor requires significant investments, as cash cow and star units do. A “dog” typically ranks low in terms of both market share and growth potential.

Dogs of the Dow

Within the realm of investments, the term “dog” takes on a different meaning. “Dogs of the Dow” is an investment strategy that aims to outperform the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) by concentrating on high-yield investments. The strategy involves allocating funds to the ten highest dividend-yielding blue-chip stocks among the 30 components of the DJIA.

Weigh the risks and benefits

Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks to consider.

  • High dividend yields
  • Potential for outperforming the DJIA
  • Focused on blue-chip stocks
  • Risk associated with stock performance
  • Not a guaranteed strategy
  • Requires ongoing monitoring

Understanding “Dogs” in business

Within a company, a “dog” represents a business unit that ties up valuable capital and resources. The capital invested in a “dog” could potentially be allocated more effectively elsewhere in the company. This raises the question of whether a “dog” should be sold or divested.

However, there are cases where a “dog” may serve a broader purpose within the company. It might offer products that complement those offered by other business units or act as a portal to engage customers with the company’s other products. In such instances, management must weigh the synergies and intangible gains against the capital tied up in this unit.

When a “dog” has bleak long-term prospects, the best course of action might be to sell or divest it as soon as possible. As time passes, its deteriorating prospects make it increasingly challenging to find a buyer. In most cases, since a “dog” typically operates in a mature industry, allocating more capital to it to expand market share is not justified.

Special considerations

According to the BCG matrix, companies should consider liquidating, divesting, or repositioning their “dogs.” However, in reality, these moves might not always make financial sense, as “dogs” may already have low value and could distract management during the sale process. Their weak competitive position can leave them incapable of being “harvested” as well.

Instead, companies often choose to operate “dogs” with minimal resource drain on the rest of the portfolio. Over time, these underperforming units become a diminishing portion of the portfolio.

Dogs of the Dow in investment

In the context of investments, a “dog” can transform into a star if management executes a turnaround that improves the stock’s profitability and prospects. This concept forms the basis of the “Dogs of the Dow” strategy, which involves investing in high dividend yielders in the DJIA.

While not an entirely new concept, the “Dogs of the Dow” strategy gained popularity with the publication of Michael B. O’Higgins’s book, “Beating the Dow,” in 1991. The strategy is based on the idea that these high-yield stocks can outperform the index over time as they enhance their operating performance and financial results.

Real-world examples of “Dogs” in business

Examining real-world examples can provide a deeper understanding of what a “dog” in business truly represents. Consider the case of Company X, a once-promising tech startup that ventured into a mature market with a new product. Over time, their market share dwindled, and their product became outdated. Company X found itself managing a “dog” – a business unit with a small market share and low growth potential. Despite investing resources, the product failed to gain traction, and the company had to decide whether to divest it or allocate resources elsewhere.

Another example is Company Y, an established manufacturer in a traditional industry. One of their product lines, which had once been profitable, saw a sharp decline in demand as consumer preferences shifted. This product line became a “dog” for the company, as it neither generated significant cash flow nor showed signs of growth. Company Y had to evaluate whether to keep the product line with minimal investment or explore divestment options.

The impact of market dynamics on “Dogs”

Understanding how market dynamics influence the classification of a “dog” is essential. In a dynamic market, a business unit may shift from a “star” to a “dog” over time. Let’s explore this transformation through a hypothetical scenario.

Imagine a company operating in the smartphone industry, which was once a rapidly growing market. Initially, their product gained widespread popularity, and they were considered a “star.” However, as the market matured, competition intensified, and consumer preferences evolved. The company’s market share diminished, and they found themselves managing a “dog” as their product faced declining sales and profits.

This scenario highlights the need for companies to adapt to changing market dynamics. What was once a thriving business unit can transform into a “dog” if not properly managed and strategically positioned.

The evolving role of “Dogs” in the digital age

In today’s digital age, the concept of a “dog” has taken on new dimensions. With the rise of e-commerce and digital marketing, even established businesses can find certain product lines or services becoming “dogs.” Companies are now faced with the challenge of redefining the role of these underperforming units.

Consider Company Z, a traditional brick-and-mortar retailer that experienced declining foot traffic and sales in their physical stores. They decided to invest in an e-commerce platform to supplement their business. Initially, this digital venture was a “dog,” with a small market share compared to their physical stores. However, over time, it attracted a growing online customer base, and the company managed to transform the “dog” into a thriving online division.

This example illustrates how companies can leverage “dogs” to explore new avenues in the digital landscape. The evolving role of “dogs” in the digital age is not merely about divestment but also about adaptation and innovation.


In summary, understanding the concept of a “dog” in the context of business and marketing is essential. Whether it’s about managing underperforming business units or pursuing investment strategies, the term “dog” holds significance in the corporate landscape. Effective management of “dogs” can have a substantial impact on a company’s overall success and profitability.

Frequently asked questions

What are the main characteristics of a “dog” in business?

A “dog” in business typically exhibits a small market share in a mature industry, resulting in low growth potential and minimal cash flow generation.

How does the BCG Growth-Share matrix categorize business units?

The BCG Growth-Share matrix categorizes business units into four quadrants: stars, cash cows, question marks, and dogs. Each quadrant represents a different classification based on market share and growth prospects.

Can a “dog” in the investment world transform into a star?

Yes, a “dog” in the investment world can potentially transform into a star if the management executes a successful turnaround that improves the stock’s profitability and prospects.

What strategies can companies employ to manage underperforming business units effectively?

Companies can consider options such as divestment, repositioning, or operating “dogs” with minimal resource drain. Effective resource allocation and strategic decision-making are key to managing underperforming units.

How can market dynamics influence the classification of a “dog” over time?

Market dynamics can impact the classification of a business unit, leading it to transition from a “star” to a “dog” as a result of changing consumer preferences, increased competition, and shifts in the industry landscape.

What role does digital transformation play in redefining the concept of a “dog” in the modern business landscape?

Digital transformation has redefined the role of “dogs” in the modern business landscape by offering opportunities for adaptation and innovation. Companies can leverage digital platforms to revitalize underperforming units and explore new avenues for growth and profitability.

Key takeaways

  • A “dog” in business has a small market share in a mature industry.
  • “Dogs of the Dow” is an investment strategy that focuses on high-yield stocks within the DJIA.
  • Managing “dogs” effectively is vital for a company’s overall performance.
View Article Sources


  1. BIG DOG MARKETING LIMITED overview – Companies House – GOV.UK
  2. Market dog – Highland Council
  3. National Dog Survey: Describing UK Dog and Ownership … – National Institutes of Health (.gov)