MySpace for Your Pooch?

Laugh all you want – but one of the biggest trends in niche social networking is the online pet community.

If humans can have Friendster, Facebook, and MySpace (to name a few), why can’t our beloved pets have a place of their own?

Celebrating its third anniversary, Dogster and sister site, Catster, are laughing all the way to the bank. Founded in 2004, Dogster offers pet lovers and their furry friends a place to talk about their pooches in groups, forums, diaries, videos, photos and profiles. Within minutes you can create a profile for your pet featuring likes, dislikes, and favorite food and tricks.

As a social network, users can connect with other users and feature their top doggy friends. Some Web 2.0 features exist such as tagging and blogs, all with a Web 1.0 look and feel to it – but recently Dogster raised $1 million in funding from investors to grow the site and add more Web 2.0 features.

Dogster reports having over 240,000 members and serving 10 million page views last month. Through the use of Google AdWords, banner advertising and premium memberships, reports show that Dogster and Catster have been profitable with a six-figure monthly revenue – highly unusual among Web 2.0 companies. Maybe Dogster can teach other Web 2.0 companies a few tricks.

With 63% of U.S. households owning pets, large corporations have jumped on the Dogster and Catster advertising bandwagon including Disney, PetsMart, Clorox, Warner Bros and VPI Pet Insurance.

The fact is – people are crazy about their pets. Dogster and Catster are a place where pet-lovers can look for information, find pets to adopt, get advice, meet new friends and even find exclusive hotels for cats and dogs.

I recently created a Dogster page for my dog, and within hours he already had “pup pal” friend invites from other pooches in the area. At this rate, I’m beginning to think that my dog is more popular than I am.