Dog Movie Stars: Iconic Dog Roles in Movies & Television
When we think of the best movies or television shows, we usually think of humans. What about dogs? Throughout the years, there have been so many iconic and memorable roles that dogs have played in entertainment. Here are some of the most notable dogs in movies and television history.
Don Shanahan is a Chicago-based and Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic writing for 25YL and his own website Every Movie Has a Lesson. Here are Don’s picks for top dog movie stars.
1. Tramp from Lady and the Tramp
The gray mutt Tramp, voiced by Larry Roberts, represents the ownerless dogs of the world. Without human company, he freewheels the charmed life of a scrappy and lovable stray. Just like it is for us people, romance changes the stag singles out there like Tramp. Lady and the Tramp remains a cherished Disney classic that has us all nudging meatballs toward our own special spaghetti dinner partners. More than only love, though, Tramp inspires us all to look for our own strays to give a loving home.
2. Hooch from Turner and Hooch
For everyone who is a tried-and-true dog person, there are plenty of people who aren't ‘dog people.’ Yet, some of those people will land into "dog sitting" and the challenges that come with that. Sure enough, that non-dog person might find themselves getting attached. When you take out the cop part of Turner and Hooch with Tom Hanks, that's the adorable core of the movie in a nutshell. That whole man-and-dog relationship is so good that the action part of the movie falls to a distant second beyond the beefy Dogue De Bordeaux that topped over 100 pounds.
3. Baxter from Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
There are so many colorful characters in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy from studly news anchors to colorful San Diego citizens. Out of all the wild pickle circumstances of that movie, one has to realize that Ron's dog Baxter is a huge catalyst. When Jack Black's burrito-soiled biker punts the Border Terrier out of Ron's life (temporarily) that triggers the newsman's bottomed-out descent. Baxter returns triumphantly at the end as the silent hero and bear whisperer that saves the day. In a movie filled with coolness, you have to grant a bunch of cool points to Baxter. That, and do you know another dog that speaks Spanish and eats a whole wheel of cheese?
4. Jack from The Artist
Plenty of owners teach their dogs basic tricks like sitting, standing, rolling over, playing dead and shaking hands. That's cute and all, but we have come to realize that dogs are so much more dexterous, smart, and talented than that. One of the best movie dogs to show off some big-time talent was Jack from the Best Picture Oscar winner The Artist. The character tagging along with Jean Dujardin was played by a Parson Russell Terrier named Uggie who passed away in 2013. Thanks to his scene-stealing in The Artist, Uggie had an entire PR campaign built to get him an honorary Academy Award to go with the five won by the French import silent film. That's high praise!
5. Toto from The Wizard of Oz
No list of the best movies dogs can forget Toto from 1939's The Wizard of Oz. That haughty little Cairn terrier lived up to every quality of the "man's best friend" celebration of dogs. Size didn't matter. She played both companion and protector to any and all scary and evil obstacles in that children's classic. Toto, like the movie itself, is iconic and deserves eternal credit.
About Don Shanahan:
Don is the owner of Every Movie Has a Lesson and host of the 25YL-backed Cinephile Hissy Fit Podcast on the Ruminations Radio Network. As a school educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical. He is a proud director and founder of the Chicago Indie Critics and a voting member of the nationally-recognized Critics Choice Association and the Online Film Critics Society.
Other Notable Dogs in Pop Culture
What are some other beloved dogs in movies and television? Here are a few notable dogs in entertainment history:
Buddy from "Airbud"
Golden Retriever Buddy becomes a star athlete for the Fernfield Timberwolves. Coming from an abusive background with his former owner, Norm the Clown, Buddy enters the loving family of the Framms.
Bruiser from "Legally Blonde"
Bruiser is a companion for Elle Woods in the movie. The chihuahua's role in the story of Elle Woods grows throughout the movie and its sequels.
Beethoven from "Beethoven"
Beethoven is a St. Bernard who finds his way into the home of the Newton family as a puppy. Beethoven enjoys a happy life helping the family overcome several problems.
Benji from "Benji"
Benji longs for a human home and tries to become a member of the Chapman family. Benji helps the family overcome an attempt to extort money from Dr. Chapman.
Frank the Pug from "Men in Black"
Frank the Pug appears on the list, but he is an extraterrestrial. Frank takes the form of a pug to live safely on Earth.
Comet from "Full House"
Comet appeared when a litter of golden retriever puppies was born in the tanner's backyard. Comet was chosen by the family to remain as part of the family in the series.
Eddie from "Frasier"
Jack Russell Terrier, Eddie Crane, came to live with Frasier after Martin Crane moves in with his son. Eddie is often seen as annoying Frasier and being loving to the rest of the characters.
Duke from "The Beverly Hillbillies"
Duke appeared occasionally in "The Beverly Hillbillies", but his appearance in the opening credits made the hound dog a part of TV history.
Lassie from "Lassie"
The Collie, "Lassie", has appeared in movies and TV shows since the 1940s. The character is known for sensing danger for her owners.
Wishbone from "Wishbone"
Wishbone lives in a small town in Texas with his owner, Joe Talbot. The character daydreams about taking the main role in classic stories from literature.
Brian Griffin from "Family Guy"
Brian Griffin is a talking dog and writer who lives with the Griffin family. Brian spends most of his time with baby Stewie Griffin traveling through time.
Snoopy from "Peanuts"
Charlie Brown's dog, Snoopy, lives a happy life on the edge of the groups of friends headed by Charlie. Snoopy and his bride friend, Woodstock, act out surreal scenes.
Clifford from "Clifford the Big Red Dog"
Clifford is owned by Emily Elizabeth. The pair live on Birdwell Island and navigate life as a preteen with their young friends.
Blue from "Blue's Clues"
Blue is a puppy who is always looking to do something different with his companion, Steve or Joe. Blue creates clues about his hopes for the day and waits for the audience to solve them.
An icon of TV and film, Scooby-Doo has appeared in several cartoons, with Shaggy and his nephew, Scrappy-Doo. Scooby-Doo is a member of Mystery, Inc. and helps the gang solve crimes.
Dogs in Entertainment
Throughout the years, dogs have made their imprint in Hollywood. There have been many great roles in television and movies. Everyone has their personal favorite dog in a television show or movie. We hope your favorite made the Spot Pet Insurance list.