To this day scientists are still baffled by the existence of people who don’t like dogs. But thankfully, most of us do. Man’s best friend, dogs come in all shapes, sizes, colours and coats, and have stood by us for thousands of years. So we thought it’s about time we celebrated them.
Since the days of ancient Greece, dogs have gone down in history for their loveable personalities and their unwavering companionship. From Homer’s Odyssey to Homer Simpson, we’ve looked everywhere and considered all dogs, including rescue dogs, animated dogs, acting dogs, family dogs, literary dogs and many, many more, to put together what we see as the world’s 50 favourite dogs.
So without further ado, take a look at the list below (click on any picture for a brief bio!)
Toto is the much-loved terrier belonging to Dorothy Gale in L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz series. Toto rose to fame through the 1939 film adaptation of the book by MGM, during which she was even paid more than some of the human actors. After the film her owner officially changed her name to Toto.
One of the less enlightened characters in the comic series Garfield, Odie is the happy-go-lucky dog who’s always either caught with his large tongue hanging out his mouth, or licking his feline friend, Garfield. He’s mostly classed as the “village idiot” character, but some of us believe he’s secretly really clever – once being caught reading War and Peace and watching a TV show about Mozart.
Pluto, Mickey Mouse’s pet bloodhound dog, first made his appearance in The Chain Gang all the way back in 1930. One of the biggest stars in the Disney universe (part of the “Sensational Six”) Pluto is arguably the most upbeat of all the characters, and mostly doesn’t speak or do anything human-like.
The co-star in the 1989 film Turner & Hooch, Hooch is the unruly, slobbering Dogue de Bordeaux that lands in Tom Hanks’ life to help him investigate who killed his previous owner (and Turner’s friend). Though they get off to a rocky start, the two become a loveable pair, and Hooch even helps Turner begin a romance with the town’s new vet, played by Mare Winningham.
One of our favourites and definitely the most sophisticated, in the TV series Family Guy, Brian is the Griffin family dog, but he’s really a human (apart from on the few times he’s chasing cars and barking at other animals). Clever, cynical and possibly alcoholic, Brian is a struggling writer whose views repeatedly clash with the rest of the Griffin family and of their hometown of Quahog.
Rin Tin Tin
Before becoming a major Hollywood star, German Shepherd Rin Tin Tin was a military dog used in World War I. Lee Duncan, an American soldier, rescued him, trained him, and eventually gained work for him in silent movies. Rin Tin Tin enjoyed a successful career in the film industry, and even received the most votes for the very first Oscar (Academy Award) for Best Actor, but the academy decided that only humans could win.
Santa’s Little Helper
The Simpsons’ pet dog Santa’s Little Helper has been in our lives ever since he was abandoned by his owner at a greyhound racing track in 1989. Homer and Bart decided to adopt him after he lost a race and his owner deserted him. Despite never speaking or performing any human acts, Santa’s Little Helper’s simple ways have found a way into our hearts – and he’s been the star focus of a number of the show’s episodes.
Wishbone is a Jack Russell Terrier, and star of the children’s TV show of his own name. Known as “the little dog with the big imagination”, he daydreams about being the lead character in literature classics like Robin Hood and Don Quixote. The show was a popular and educational success, and won many awards during its running time in the late 1990s.
The goofiest canine ever known, the always-hungry and usually-scared Great Dane, Scooby Doo, in the long-running TV series of the same name, fought paranormal and supernatural crime with his gang Fred, Daphne, Velma and Shaggy. He and the equally hapless Shaggy were always getting in over their heads as they got distracted by food – large sandwiches especially.
The devoted Nana is the canine nanny to children Wendy, John and Michael Darling in the 1953 Disney film Peter Pan. As the nursemaid of the house, Nana looks after the children, and is amazingly talented at balancing trays of stuff on her head.
Animated, blue-spotted dog Blue quickly became a household name and a fans’ favourite amongst young children from her show Blue’s Clues. Combining learning and development insights with likeable characters and modern animation, the show received a total of nine Emmy award nominations and has been described as “one of the most successful, critically acclaimed, and ground-breaking preschool television shows of all time.”
Buddy is the Golden Retriever starring in the 1997 movie Airbud, who can somehow play basketball. After being left homeless by his previous owner he’s adopted by the 12 year old Josh Framm, a new kid in the area, and the two quickly strike up a bond. The end of the film features a classic scene in cinema, when Buddy is asked to choose between Josh and his legal owner, Norm – buddy tears up Norm’s newspaper before running over to Josh.
Lady & the Tramp
“His happiest motion picture” Lady and the Tramp is the typical princess and stable-boy story, where a well-to-do Cocker Spaniel (Lady) meets and falls in love with a mutt who lives on the streets. Their famous spaghetti eating scene taking place in the back-alley of a restaurant was enough to earn them an instant place on the list, having already won the hearts of the world’s dog lovers over 60 years ago.
Named after the German composer after barking along to his fifth symphony, Beethoven was one of the most loveable dogs of the nineties. Despite a rocky start with family man, George Newton, Beethoven eventually found his way into the Newton household and into our hearts. Throughout the first feature film Beethoven manages to help all of the children with their problems, and probably the most famous image of him is in bed right in between parents George and Alice.
Taken as one entry, Disney’s One Hundred and One Dalmatians is an adaptation of the 1956 novel by Dodie Smith. The story spawned one of the most iconic villains we know, Cruella de Vil, who hated animals, and stole the Dalmatian puppies in order to make a coat out of their fur.
Along with his unlikely friend Tod (the fox) Copper makes up the hound in Disney’s much-loved 1981 film The Fox and the Hound. Copper is a young bloodhound and is a natural enemy of Tod, a fox. The two overcome their backgrounds to form a heart-warming friendship.
Old Yeller is the story of the boy, Travis, and his adopted dog, Old Yeller, who wins the hearts of this post-Civil War family in Texas with his loyalty and heroics. It’s a cult classic in America, up there with the likes of Star Wars and The Wizard of Oz, and features one of cinemas saddest scenes at the end.
Who could forget Benji? The star of his own movie of the same name, the fictional dog Benji is a loveable mixed breed that has starred in many feature films. With a great ability to always be in the right place at the right time, Benji was always there to help when someone needed him.
The award-winning novel by Kate DiCamillo, Because of Winn-Dixie, was turned into a feature film in 2005, and tells the story of the young India Opal Buloni who finds and adopts a scruffy Berger Picard in a Winn-Dixie supermarket, and decides to name her after the store. Loveable and popular, Winn-Dixie quickly made friends both for himself and for Opal.
Though most know him from the 2008 movie Marley & Me, Marley was a real dog whose life was chronicled in his owner John Grogan’s book, published in 2005. It tells the story of Marley and his family as they struggle to cope and come to terms with a dog that simply can’t get onboard with what’s expected of him as a household pet. Despite being destructive and unruly, Marley is ultimately loved for his good intentions, and the family understand that he’s only acting in the way natural to him.
Charlie B. Barkin
Charlie B. Barkin proves that dogs do go to heaven in the 1989 animated film All Dogs Go to Heaven. After going back to Earth to avenge his death, he teams up with best friend Itchy Itchiford, and the two meet the young orphan Anne-Marie who teaches them a valuable lesson about loyalty and love. In the end he unwittingly discovers that he does deserve to go to heaven after all – of course!
Shadow & Chance
The classic Homeward Bound film series covers the games, misdemeanours and adventures of Chance, the American Bulldog, Shadow, the older and wiser Golden Retriever, as well as their feline friend Sassy, a sassy Himalayan Cat. Despite always getting lost on far-flung adventures out in the wild of America, the group always manage to come through.
Disney’s Balto was a wolf-dog crossbreed, outcast by both dogs and humans, who risked his life to save children from a deadly outbreak of diphtheria in Nome, Alaska. The character is loosely based on the real dog of the same name, a black and white Siberian husky sled dog who led the final leg of a run to deliver diphtheria serum to Nome in 1925.
One of the most famous and loved dogs on this list is undoubtedly Lassie. She rose to fame in the novel and subsequent MGM film Lassie Come-Home, which depicted a Rough Collie dog who always turns up to save the day. The TV show Lassie, which ran through the 50s, 60s and 70s is the fourth longest-running US primetime TV series and ran for 17 seasons.
A golden brown Akita dog, Hachiko is an inspiring example of the strong bond between man and man’s best friend. After greeting his owner at Shibuya train station in Tokyo at the end of each day for all of his life, one day his owner didn’t show up – he had died from a brain hemorrhage. But that didn’t stop him waiting. Hachiko returned to the train station at exactly the time his owner was due to arrive every day for over nine years.
Undoubtedly the most famous and well-loved of dogs in history is Charlie Brown’s pet Beagle, Snoopy. Part of the hugely popular Peanuts comic strip, we were able to see his thoughts through “thought bubbles”, to make up for him not being able to speak. But his real character came out from his various imagined fantasy lives, like being a daring WWI fighter pilot often in combat with the Red Baron, a cool college student, and an author who can never quite make it.
He’s not quite as well remembered as his contemporary, Rin Tin Tin, but he’s equally worthy of being on the list. Strongheart was one of the very first canine Hollywood film stars, brought to the US in 1920 after first training as a police dog in Germany and serving with the German Red Cross. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was the subject of two popular books by writer J. Allen Boone, detailing his deep connection with animals.
The story of the Italian dog Fido has made it possibly the most popular dog name ever since, and meaning “faithful” it was the perfect name at the time. In a story similar to that of Hachiko, Fido was found injured in a ditch one day and nursed back to health and adopted by Carlo Soriani and his wife. For two years he accompanied Carlo to and from his bus stop every workday, until he was killed by a bomb blast in 1943. For the next fourteen years Fido loyally continued to wait at the bus stop each day, awaiting his master’s return.
Petey was the beloved Pitbull Terrier in the hit show Little Rascals most recognised for the iconic ring around his left eye. Always loyal and protective over the gang, he quickly won a place in our hearts. When the original dog, Pal, passed away, his 6 month old pup Pete took over the role as Petey – and with the help of a little make-up he looked the part with his father’s ring around his eye.
The slightly less adept but no less adorable pug Otis was the loyal companion to friend Milo, the cat, in the 1986 film The Adventures of Milo and Otis. The two get lost down a river during an eventful adventure in which they encounter all kinds of other animals in the wild, before finding mates of their own and reuniting at the end of the film.
It was the 2011 Oscar-winning silent film The Artist that raised the Jack Russell Terrier, Uggie, to fame and into our hearts. His friendly and boisterous personality was an instant hit, and he even won the 2011 Palm Dog Award at Cannes, and the 2012 Golden Collar Award.
Laika was a true pioneer in space discovery, and not just in the animal kingdom. Once a stray dog found on the streets of Moscow, she became a Soviet space dog (part of the Sputnik 2 mission) and one of the first animals in space. At a time when little was known about the effects of space travel on human or animal organisms, she paved the way for human voyages into space. Though sadly she died during the mission, she was integral in the development of human missions to space.
Possibly the bravest dog on the list, Appollo was the first search and rescue dog on the scene of the attacks on the World Trade Centers on 9/11. At age 9, and after a career of high achievement in law enforcement, he braved fireballs, acres of jagged concrete and days of double shifts, tirelessly searching for survivors – and when the search ended he had to be pulled away from the rubble.
Lex was a brave and fiercely loyal military dog and partner to handler Corporal Dustin J. Lee in Iraq. When an attack killed Lee and wounded Lex, he refused to leave Lee’s side and had to be dragged away in order to be given treatment for his wounds. He became the first active-duty military dog to be granted early retirement and was adopted by Lee’s parents after their online petition gained national media attention.
Bobbie “the Wonder Dog” rose to fame through a feat that it’s still hard to believe now. After they became separated whilst on a roadtrip in Indiana, his broken-hearted family returned to their home all the way in Oregon, never expecting they’d see Bobbie again. But six months later and completely out of the blue, Bobbie turned up on their doorstep battered and bruised, showing all the signs of having walked the entire 2,551 miles all by himself. His subsequent rise to stardom earned him a role in the 1924 silent movie The Call of the West, and fellow canine star Rin Tin Tin placed a wreath on his grave after his death 1927.
Checkers is widely credited with saving former US President Richard Nixon’s career. In 1952, when the then vice-presidential candidate was facing allegations that he accepted money from a secret political fund, Nixon declared that the only gift he’d ever accepted was their family dog Checkers. It was a sensational hit with the public and helped to turn his career around, and images of Checkers, the cocker spaniel, became hugely popular.
Another figure of canine loyalty, Argos dates back thousands of years to the time of Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey. When his master returns to his home disguised as a beggar, Argos is the only member of the household to recognise his true identity, wagging his tail and dropping his ears when he sees him. Odysseuss’ friend Eumaeus tells the story of a supreme tracking dog known for his speed and strength.
German Shepherd, Capitán, guarded his owner’s grave since his death in 2006 in Argentina. Though he had never been to the cemetery, his family returned from his master’s funeral to discover the dog gone, and later found him at the grave. He has stayed there virtually ever since his owner died, and the staff at the cemetery even started taking care of him and putting out food.
Gidget, “America’s Most Beloved Chihuahua” gained fame in the US as the Taco Bell Chihuahua. She was a dog actress and comedienne in America, best known for her portrayal of the mascot for Taco Bell in its TV advertising between 1997 and 2000.
Clifford, of Clifford the Big Red Dog, was a big red dog and loyal friend to owner Emily Elizabeth. Shy, friendly, loyal, clumsy, caring and helpful, Clifford frequently used his varying size to help Emily and the inhabitants of their island get out of sticky situations. The children’s book was first published in 1963 and was adapted for TV in 2000.
By far one of the most underrated characters, Slink is the friendly, southern-spoken toy dachshund and friend to Andy in the Toy Story series. His torso consists of a long, coiled metal slinky, which comes in useful for some of the gang’s tricks and stunts.
Pet dog, sidekick, close friend, confidant and saviour, Baxter is the loyal partner to Ron Burgundy in the Anchorman movies. After being kicked off a bridge by Jack Black, Baxter returns at the end of the film to save Ron and Veronica from an attack by bears, where it turns out he can speak their language.
Comet was the furry, four-legged star of the hit US family TV Show Full House, which ran from 1987 to 1995. His real name Buddy, he’s actually the same dog that stars in the hit Disney movie Air Bud. But we prefer Comet.
A dog we maybe love to hate, Cujo is the huge St. Bernard and central character of Stephen King’s novel of the same name, which was made into a hit film. Despite starting out in the story as a gentle and friendly dog, Cujo is bitten by a bat and contracts rabies – resulting in small-town carnage and many dead as those around him struggle to deal the situation.
Loveably naive, Bolt is the white German Shepherd who stars in the 2008 Disney film of the same name. He spent most of his life in isolation, playing a TV role in which he uses superpowers to protect his owner from the evil Dr. Calico. But when his owner, Penny, appears to be kidnapped in real life, Bolt sets out on a wild adventure to “rescue” her, believing he really does possess superpowers. His unwavering trust, loyalty and good-will are what we and so many are drawn to in Bolt.
A beer-drinking dog? Spuds MacKenzie was the cool Bull Terrier who for a few years in the late 1980s was the massively popular mascot for Bud Light. Frequently, depicted wearing sunglasses on a beach with a cold beer, Spuds first appeared in a Super Bowl XXI advert in 1987, and went on to sell a huge amount of associated merchandise.
Probably our favourite character from the animated US sitcom The Jetsons, Astro was the clumsy canine and less enlightened member of the Jetson family. But despite being quite dumb-witted, he had a pretty good grasp of English, taking after Scooby-Doo by pronouncing almost every consonant with an “r”.
One of the best characters in Frasier, and certainly one of the best fictional dogs out there, Eddie was Martin Crane’s pet Jack Russell Terrier. A dog capable of more than meets the eye, Eddie was capable of understanding human conversations, and in one episode we find out he has six puppies, all of which inherited his habit of staring at Frasier.
White Fang entered our lives via Jack London’s adventure novel of the same name – which tells the story of the mixed wolfdog and his friendship a young Yukon gold hunter. The story was made into a feature film in the 1990s, starring a young Ethan Hawke alongside Jed, who played White Fang.
Definitely the most elusive of all the dogs on this list, Zero was the ghost-dog in Tim Burton’s 1993 dark fantasy feature film The Nightmare Before Christmas. Belonging to Jack, his body appears to be entirely made up of a white sheet, with a tiny pumpkin sitting at the end of his long and slender nose.