Most everyone loves TV shows and movies with dogs in them, and some dogs make TV shows and movies hits simply by their acting abilities. When you stop and think about it, there are many dogs that have been in TV shows or movies throughout the years, with some even being cartoon characters that became or have become household names.
In this article, we’re going to list these amazing dogs. We’ll categorize it by TV, cartoons, and movies. Some you may know, and some you may not, but rest assured, we’ll list the most famous dogs along with information about their roles. If you’re ready, let’s go!
The Most Famous TV Dogs
Many sitcoms and TV shows have dogs in them, and these dogs on our list in this section add laughter and a sense of style to the set and onscreen. Let us first take a look at some of the most famous dogs in varying television series that became household names.
1. Lassie (Lassie, 1954 – 1974)
When you mention the name “Lassie,” odds are people will know whom you’re referring to. Lassie was an American TV show that ran from 1954–1974. The name became well known on television sets all across America, and people couldn’t wait to see Lassie’s good deeds with every episode. Lassie was a Collie whom the show followed on everyday adventures of life on a farm.
2. Petey (The Little Rascals, 1929–1938)
Most people remember the American Pit Bull Terrier with the round circle over his right eye and a complete black ring around the left eye. Petey, also known as a “nanny” dog, protected the Little Rascals gang in the series in every episode and followed the children on all of their adventures.
3. Rin Tin Tin (The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, 1954–1959)
Rin Tin Tin was a German Shepherd and is undoubtedly one of the most famous TV dogs in history. This children’s show was set in the West, with Rin Tin Tin accompanying his best friend, Rusty, who became an orphan after an Indian raid. Rusty lives with US soldiers in Fort Apache, and he and Rin Tin Tin assist with establishing order in the American West.
4. Comet (Full House, 1987–1995)
Full House was a TV show about a widowed father raising his three daughters with the help of the girl’s uncle and a friend. Comet was played by a dog named Buddy (who also starred in Air Bud, but we’ll get to that later) and was a beautiful Golden Retriever. He was in many episodes as the family dog and usually received a good laugh with his acting abilities.
5. Eddie Crane (Frasier, 1993–2004)
Eddie was a Jack Russell Terrier who loved to have stare-downs with Kelsey Grammer (Frasier), the star of the show. Eddie was Frasier’s dad’s beloved companion and sidekick, who only obeyed commands from his owner, Martin Crane. Eddie was played by a dog named Moose, who would go on to star in a movie. Could that movie be on our list?
6. Wishbone (Wishbone, 1995–1998)
Wishbone was an American children’s TV show that aired from 1995–1998. Wishbone was also a Jack Russell Terrier that could pull off wearing any type of wardrobe on the set. The show had plenty of action, comedy, and life lessons that came in the form of daydreams and literature.
7. Gidget (The Taco Bell Dog, 1997–2000)
When you hear the saying “Yo Quiero Taco Bell,” you probably think of the little dog in the Taco Bell commercials. The Taco Bell dog was played by Gidget, an adorable little Chihuahua, and ran from 1997–2000. She quickly stole the hearts of Americans while serving as the mascot for the restaurant chain.
The Most Famous Cartoon Dogs
Cartoons have been around for many, many years, with many including dogs. You may be surprised at how many there actually are, so let’s take a look at these funny and witty dog characters.
8. Brian (Family Guy, 1999–Present)
Family Guy is a comedy and sometimes raunchy cartoon that includes flashbacks of many of the characters in the show, including the family dog, Brian Griffin. The flashbacks usually predate the phrase, “It’s like that time….”
Brian is no ordinary dog—he sips martinis and talks and thinks like a human, rather intelligently, might we add. Brian is a white Labrador who is smart, witty, and a downright clever dog that loves the opera and can drive a car. Only occasionally does he act like a normal dog. If you blink, you’ll miss it.
9. Santa’s Little Helper (The Simpsons, 1989–Present)
The Simpsons has been going strong since 1989 with no signs of stopping. Santa’s Little Helper is a Greyhound and is in most episodes, with some episodes centering him around the attention. He’s Bart Simpson’s dog, and he and Homer adopted him from a Greyhound racing track after he came in last during a race and the owner abandoned him.
10. Pluto (1930–Present)
Pluto is Mickey Mouse’s dog, who was born in 1930. A Walt Disney creation, Pluto can walk upright. He often gets into trouble but is smart enough to escape the situation. He is a loyal companion of Mickey’s but sometimes argues with him and other people. As for cats, Pluto is not a fan!
11. Snoopy (Peanuts, 1950)
Fans have adored Snoopy since 1950, with his cute little noises that don’t really resemble a dog. His fantasies of being The Flying Ace in World War l and an author writing the Great American Novel set him apart from his doggie cartoon counterparts. He does a happy dance when it’s time to eat and loves his yellow bird pal named Woodstock.
- Related Read: Famous Beagles from Around the World (with Pictures)
12. Scooby-Doo (Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, 1969–1970)
Scoobert “Scooby” Doo has appeared in both film and movies but is probably more recognized as a TV cartoon character. Scooby and his friends go on exciting and scary adventures to unmask villains and expose the truth to unsolved mysteries. With such an adventurous position, it’s comical that Scooby is actually a scaredy-cat! Scooby is a Great Dane created by Iwao Takamoto, although Takamoto decided to develop the character as everything opposite of a Great Dane.
13. Lady and the Tramp (Lady and the Tramp, 955)
This Disney creation is about a stray dog named “Tramp,” and a sophisticated American Cocker Spaniel appropriately named “Lady.” This love story is well-known and has never lost its popularity. Considered a classic, this animated film shows the struggles the two have as they fall in love. Lady finds herself on the streets after her comfortable life is shattered when her owners have a baby, and the street-smart Tramp looks out for her. Over time, a beautiful love story is the result.
14. Astro (The Jetsons, 1962–1963)
The Jetsons may have been short-lived, but not without leaving an everlasting mark. Astro’s famous phrase, “Ruh-roh,” is known by many cartoon fans. This lovable Great Dane lives with his human family in outer space in a time set in 2062. Jetsons: The Movie spawned from the animated series in 1990.
The Most Famous Movie Dogs
When it comes to movies, some dogs that are cast in them make everlasting impressions. Sometimes, the dogs are more memorable than the humans! To finish off our list, we’ll list the most famous dogs in movies and discuss their iconic roles.
15. Toto (The Wizard of Oz, 1939)
We’re off to see the Wizard, and the little dog, too! This movie is a classic, with Toto the dog being one of the memorable characters, along with Dorothy, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, and Scarecrow. Toto was a Cairn Terrier who stood by Dorothy’s side through all the adventures leading up to meeting the Wizard, just like any faithful dog would do. In fact, Toto was even paid $125 weekly for the role.
16. Benji (Benji, 1974)
Benji became a household name after the release of this 1974 film. Benji was not a purebred dog and was a stray in the film, but that certainly didn’t stop him from doing heroic deeds, such as aiding in the capture of kidnappers.
17. Beethoven (Beethoven, 1992)
The lovable, slobbery-kissing Beethoven was played by a Saint Bernard named Kris. The enormous, 156-pound dog was trained to act as if he had never had any training at all, which we think is pretty impressive. Beethoven melted the hearts of moviegoers with his clumsy ways; in fact, the movie spawned four sequels.
18. Hooch (Turner and Hooch, 1989)
Tom Hanks stars in this 1989 comedy about a detective trying to solve a murder case; the catch is that the only witness to the crime is a Dogue de Bordeaux named Hooch, a dog who likes to drink beer. Beasley, the dog’s real name, passed away at age 14 in 1992. Turner and Hooch was Beasley’s first and only film.
17. Marley (Marley and Me, 2008)
Marley was played by 22 different Labrador Retrievers, and they all stole the hearts of moviegoers. A Lab named Clyde was in most of the scenes as the adult Marley, and he did a superb job of acting the goofy, destructive, yet loveable pooch. Based on a true story, this movie will have you both laughing and crying, so ensure you have tissues on hand while you watch.
18. Frank the Pug (Men in Black, 1997)
Frank the Pug is actually an alien disguised as a Pug in this 1997 smash hit. Frank’s real name was Mushu, and he and Will Smith bonded on the sets. Mushu was also treated like celebrity royalty while traveling and arriving on the set. He only traveled business class (still under the seat) and was pampered with chicken and steak in his hotel room.
19. Mr. Beefy (Little Nicky, 2000)
Mr. Beefy was an English Bulldog from hell who wore a spiked collar and spoke the human language. When Nicky, played by Adam Sandler, is sent to Earth to find his disruptive brothers who escape hell in an attempt to rule on Earth, Mr. Beefy, a close friend of Satan, guides him around New York City. Mr. Beefy even teaches Nicky how to eat Popeye’s chicken.
20. Milo (The Mask, 1994)
In this film, Milo is a Jack Russell and Jim Carrey’s dog, and he’s leery of the mysterious mask that his master brings home. When his master puts on the mask, he turns into something else entirely, with a green head and huge, white teeth. When Milo puts on the mask, he, too, has a green head, huge teeth, and a spiked collar.
21. Chance and Shadow (Homeward Bound, 1993)
This heartwarming children’s movie is about two dogs and a cat searching for their human family. The three travel all across America in their search and sometimes come into dangerous situations. Chance, a young American Bulldog, Shadow, an older and wiser Golden Retriever, and Sassy, a Himalayan cat, stick together in this touching movie, even though Chance sometimes gets the whole gang in trouble.
24. Bruiser (Legally Blonde, 2001)
When Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) decides to go to law school, her beloved Chihuahua, named Bruiser, accompanies her. The dog’s real name was Moonie, who sadly passed away in 2016 at the ripe old age of 18. Reese Witherspoon loved him and took to social media when Moonie passed, posting a touching tribute.
25. Cujo (Cujo, 1983)
Based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King, Cujo, a rabid Saint Bernard, frightened audiences instead of leaving a pleasant and heartwarming impression. Would you want to pet a rabid dog that has you trapped inside a scorching-hot car for hours along with your son? We think not.
26. Old Yeller (Old Yeller, 1957)
Bring out the tissues for this one! This touching movie is a classic, and we couldn’t exclude it from our list. The plot is basically about a boy and his dog, which is a Bull Mastiff and Yellow Lab mix. We don’t want to spoil it in case you haven’t seen the film. Let’s just say your eyes are going to leak heavily.
27. Hercules “The Beast” (The Sandlot, 1993)
The Sandlot involves a group of boys who spend their summertime playing baseball. The boys must brave the junkyard dog after an autographed Babe Ruth ball lands there after a home run. Legend has it that “The Beast” ate someone, forcing the owner to leave him in the backyard forever. Of course, the boys must get the baseball back, and after unraveling the truth, The Beast ends up being a friendly Mastiff named Hercules. Hercules even becomes the team mascot for the boys.
28. Buddy (Air Bud, 1997)
Buddy was a basketball-playing Golden Retriever in this film. His real name was Comet, and he also sat in on an episode of Full House as the Tanner family dog. Buddy was a good basketball player and instantly befriended a young boy who also loved basketball. The two become inseparable, and Buddy helps the boy gain confidence to try out for the school basketball team. Fun fact: Buddy is actually playing basketball in the film.
29. Clifford (Clifford the Big Red Dog, 2021)
Clifford is, well, a big red dog, and his breed is never revealed in the movie. Nonetheless, Clifford is a sweetheart who grows to an enormous size, so much so that his family has to leave their New York City apartment to find more accommodating digs. One thing’s for sure: Clifford knows how to love big, just like his size.
30. Jack (The Artist, 2011)
Uggie, a Jack Russell Terrier, became “The Dog” in this mostly silent, black and white film that paid homage to silent films that preceded it. Uggie would live to be 13 years of age, and he passed away in 2015, but not before stealing the hearts of the audience. Uggie even won the Palm Dog award in Cannes for his role in the film—pretty impressive, especially since he was rescued from a pound by a man who ended up training him for showbiz.
31. Fly (Babe, 1995)
Fly is a Border Collie who takes on the role of a surrogate mother to a piglet named Babe. This family film is about how Fly teaches Babe how to herd sheep and find his way on the farm. In return, Fly learns a thing or two from Babe, too. Turns out that Babe has natural herding abilities, much to the disapproval of Fly’s husband, Rex.
32. Dug (Up, 2009)
This animated pooch has a high-tech collar that allows him to speak his thoughts. Dug loves squirrels, and his loving personality will win you over; even though this Golden Retriever is not a real dog, but we wish he were.
33. Otis (The Adventures of Milo and Otis, 1986)
This adorable story is about a cat named Milo and a Pug named Otis. The two grow up together on a farm but eventually become separated when Milo is swept away by a river. And so, the journey begins through various terrains for the two to find one another.
34. All Dalmatians (101 Dalmatians, 1996)
We could not omit this wonderful film from our list, even though it’s not about one dog, but 101 of them. In actuality, 230 Dalmatian puppies and 20 adults were used for the film, and they all did a fantastic job, especially trying to escape the wrath of one Cruella Devil.
35. Skipper (My Dog Skip, 2000)
A shy boy living in Mississippi back in 1942 gets a Jack Russell Terrier for his ninth birthday, whom he names Skip. Some fun trivia about this movie is that Skip is played by both Moose and Enzo. If you remember, Moose was cast in Frasier, and his son, Enzo, stepped in for his father in that role. In total, six Jack Russell Terriers were used for the film.
Many movies, television series, and cartoons have dogs in them, and some of these dogs are what made these films, series, and cartoons smash hits. Think about Cujo without Cujo or The Wizard of Oz without Toto. Dogs make us smile, and they also extend that curiosity to the big screen. Heartwarming movies like Marley and Me and Beethoven stay with us, and they make us realize just how special dogs are.
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Featured Image Credit: Javier Brosch, Shutterstock