Famous dogs

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This article discusses famous dogs, those which have earned a high level of fame, to the point where the name of the dog has become recorded in history.

Non-fictional dogs

None of the following dogs are fictional, and each of the following real-life dogs helps illustrate the range of accomplishments of working and companion dogs.

  • Barry: Buried in an island graveyard in the River Seine in Paris, lies this Newfoundland dog who patrolled the St. Bernard Pass in the Swiss Alps. The monument depicts him saving a child, and in fact he saved the lives of forty persons who had been lost in snowstorms in those mountains.[1]
  • Balto (1922 – March 14, 1933) was a lead sled dog in the 1925 serum run to Nome, in which diphtheria antitoxin was transported from Anchorage, Alaska to Nome by dogsled teams to combat an outbreak of the disease. Balto and his team became famous during coverage of the event, and went on to tour the country. Unfortunately, within a few years, Balto found himself in a run-down dime museum; when word got out of his plight, a campaign was started in Cleveland, Ohio to raise money to bring him there. He spent his last years at the Cleveland Zoo, and after his death was taxidermied; his body is on exhibit in the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
  • Brandy: was the first "seeing-eye dog" in the United States. Although guide dogs for the blind had become accepted in Germany in the early twentieth century, American organizations for the blind scorned their use."[2] The head of one prestigious school for the blind described the guide dog as 'a dirty little cur dragging a blind man along at the end of a string, the very index of incompetence and beggary." A young American blind man, Morris Frank, fought for a full and independent life at a time when this was not considered possible for a person like him. He traveled to Switzerland, at the invitation of the trainers Dorothy Eustis, and there went through an extensive course of training with a German Shepherd bitch he named "Brandy". He returned to New York City and, in the glare of flashbulbs, showed reporters that he, a blind man, could walk (with Brandy) across some of the busiest and most dangerous streets in the city. His subsequent travels across the country demonstrated that a blind person could be guided by a dog and achieve independence.
  • Checkers: Spaniel owned by then-Vice President Richard Nixon. He became famous when Nixon, accused by critics of accepting lavish gifts, went on the offensive and attacked his critics, admitting only to accepting the gift of Checkers. The speech came to be known as "The Checkers Speech":

We did get something, a gift, after the election. A man down in Texas heard Pat on the radio mention the fact that our two youngsters would like to have a dog. And believe it or not, the day before we left on this campaign trip we got a message from Union Station in Baltimore, saying they had a package for us. We went down to get it. You know what it was? It was a little cocker spaniel dog in a crate that he'd sent all the way from Texas, black and white, spotted. And our little girl Tricia, the six year old, named it "Checkers." And you know, the kids, like all kids, love the dog, and I just want to say this, right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we're gonna keep it.


The speech rehabilitated Nixon's reputation and convinced President Dwight D. Eisenhower to keep him on as Vice President, ultimately making possible Nixon's later election as U.S. President in 1968.
  • Greyfriars Bobby: This Syke Terrier from the nineteenth century became famous for waiting every day (barring bad weather) by his master's grave for his return in Edinburgh, Scotland for fourteen years.[3]
  • Fala: Scottish terrier owned by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, often photographed with Roosevelt during his presidency. He is depicted in the Roosevelt statue on the Capitol Mall in Washington, D.C. [1]
  • Hachikō: A Japanese Akita known for its loyalty. Hachikō waited for his master, a university professor, at the Shibuyu Railway Station every evening, and continued to do so even after his master's death.
  • Him, Her and Edgar: Three beagles owned by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Johnson became briefly infamous for being photographed while he playfully pulled at least one of them upright by the ears. He then made things worse by insisting that beagles enjoyed this.
  • Laika: Launched aboard Sputnik 2 on November 3, 1957, Laika was the first living creature from Earth to go into space. She did not return alive.
  • Rin Tin Tin: unlike Lassie, the original Rin Tin Tin was a real dog. Rin Tin Tin's financial success was credited saving the then fledgling Warner Brothers film studio from bankruptcy. “Rinty” was one of two German Shepherd Dog puppies rescued by an American serviceman, Lee Duncan. Corporal Duncan brought both dogs to the United States of America but the female did not survive. The male became the most recognizable German Shepherds of his era, as well as one of the highest paid actors. Rin Tin Tin has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
  • Willie: Bull terrier owned during World War II by U.S. Gen. George S. Patton. Willie, short for "William the Conqueror," was often photographed in news stories about the colorful general. [2]

Fictional dogs

  • Anubis - Egyptian mythology
  • Argos One of the most faithful dogs in ancient history, Argos was Odysseus' dog, who waited patiently for his master's return from the Trojan War for over twenty years. He instantly recognized and greeted his master, even though Odysseus had disguised himself as a beggar.
  • Air Bud
  • Benji
  • Buck - main animal character of Jack London's Call of the Wild
  • Cerebrus — Greek mythology
  • Curious incident of the dog in the night-time, the — Title of bestselling novel by Mark Haddon, inspired by "the dog that didn't bark" in the Sherlock Holmes story, "Silver Blaze."
  • Dynomutt - Dynomutt, Dog Wonder was the sidekick to an obscure superhero, "Blue Falcon" created by Hanna-Barbara in the late 1970's.
  • Garryowen — Mongrel wolfhound mix who figures prominently in the "Cyclops" chapter of James Joyce's Ulysses.
  • GoofyWalt Disney cartoon dog
  • Hound of the Baskervilles, TheSherlock Holmes canon
  • Lad
  • Lassie
  • Ran Tan Plan (pronounced, in French, more or less, rohn-tohn-plohn; in later works his name apparently changed to Rantanplan) a cretinous and cowardly German shepherd in the famous French comic books about Lucky Luke, the cowboy "who can shoot faster than his own shadow," by Morris & Goscinny. The long-running series is available in Canada in English and eventually spawned a secondary series about Rantanplan himself. The title of one of those books was "The Dog Who Is Stupider than His Own Shadow."
  • Strongheart
  • Scooby Doo
  • Underdog


  1. A Hero Dog The Watchman (1894-1906). Boston: Nov 8, 1900. Vol. 81, Iss. 45; p. 22 (1 page)
  2. Source for quote: Brandy Chapter in Dog Heroes, Tim Jones, Epicenter Press, Seattle, 1995 page 37)
  3. "The Story of Greyfriar's Bobby, Scotland's Most Famous Dog", by Bowen Pearce, Highlander magazine, vol. 44, No. 5 (September/October 2006), pp 10-18.

Online resources:

  • Official Rin Tin Tin website: [[3]]