Famous Dogs

The humble dog has had quite an impact on the human race, and so it is natural that they are represented rather well in the media. Some of the dogs listed here are purely fictional characters, whereas others are based upon real dogs. Here are a selection of dogs that are well known or considered to be famous.


Beethoven (1992). In this comedy, Beethoven is a slobbering Saint Bernard that is adopted by the Newton family. This is a loving but mischievous dog that ends up getting up to all sorts of antics, such as urinating in his master's briefcase. One of the most memorable moments is where the dog pulls a table, chairs and 2 dinner guests along for a ride. But while the head of the household initially focuses on the dog's shortcomings, the dog has a positive effect on the rest of the family.


Butkus - Rocky (1976). In the first film of this series Butkus, a 140 pound Bull Mastiff, was a gift from Adrian to keep Rocky company while he ran the streets, training for his first fight with Apollo Creed. In reality the dog actually belonged to Sylvester Stallone and was brought to location in Philadelphia via a long and arduous train journey. Butkus reappeared in the second film too.


Fang - Harry Potter. In these incredibly popular books and films, Fang is the giant loveable giant Hagrid's pet dog, and whilst described as an oversized Boarhound, it was in fact played by four different Neapolitan Mastiffs. Fang is a large slobbering character with a loud bark but isdescribed as a "bloody coward".


Frank - Men in Black (1997). Frank (real name Mushu) was a well trained pug that plays the part of an alien in disguise. The appearance and temperament of the dog suited the voice-over talents of Tim Blaney and the comic timings of the character perfectly. His first line in the film is "Now that's the worst disguise ever..." referring to someone sitting alongside.


GreyFriars Bobby. A true story adapted for film, Bobby was a Skye Terrier from Edinburgh. After his owner died (a night watchman for the Edinburgh Police Department) Bobby is said to have spent the rest of his life sitting on his master's grave. A small statue of this remarkable little dog stands in front of a pub bearing his name in front of Greyfriars kirkyard.


Jerry Lee - K9 (1989). Police dog Jerry Lee, a German Shepherd (real name Koton and a real police dog too), is assigned to grumpy police detective Michael Dooley, played by James Belushi. Together the pair attempt to solve a crime but Dooley soon learns that the stubborn dog will only work when it wants to. One memorable scene has Dooley putting Jerry Lee in a car wash.


Lassie. This famous female rough Collie has starred in books, TV series and films from 1938 all the way through to 2006. Created by author Eric Knight, the first dog to play the role of Lassie was Pal from California. Since then nine direct descendants have performed as Lassie, and all have been male dogs playing a female.


Nipper (HMV). Music lovers from yester-year will recognise this famous little dog from the old record labels for HMV (His Master's Voice). Born in Bristol in 1884, he was named after his tendency to nip the backs of visitor's legs. After his master died, he was taken to Liverpool by his master's brother, a painter, who noticed the curious look Nipper would give when a phonograph played. It must have made an impression because it would be three years after Nipper's death tht he comitted the image to canvas.

Scooby Doo

Scooby Doo. This cartoon dog, later to be given the CGI treatment in film, is a Great Dane and the best pal of one Shaggy Rodgers, who is part of the Mystery Machine team. Obviously real dogs don't walk upright on two legs as much as Scooby, or talk, but he is a great character that kids have adored since his debut in 1969.


My Dog Skip. A moving film based on the best-selling memoir of the late Willie Morris, this is the story of a lonely boy growing up in Mississippi in the 1940s. His life takes a turn for the better when his mother defies his father and buys him Skip, a Fox Terrier puppy, and the special relationship between a child and a dog is perfectly portrayed.


Toto - Wizard of Oz (1939). In this classic and well-loved film, Dorothy's dog Toto was a female Cairn Terrier called Terry (although she was referred to as a male in the film). Despite being the result of a lengthy search for a dog to match the original drawings in L. Frank Baum's book, Terry was replaced by a lookalike for a few weeks after one of the Wicked Witch's soldiers accidentally sprained her foot by steppeing on it. Renamed Toto her owner after the film, she died in 1945 and was memorialised recently by a statue in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles. Part of the inscription on the base reads, "There's no place like home."


Turner & Hooch (1989). In this brilliant comedy, detective Scott Turner, played by Tom Hanks, teams up with Hooch (real name Beasley), a slobbering Dogue De Bordeaux. Although mischevious, the dog could be Turner's only chance of solving a murder. One of the most memorable parts of the film is the constant drooling of the dog, at one point being referred to as looking like having eaten a sneaker.