By Courtney Emken
co-written by Bart Emken, CPDT-KA, Jen Larson, KPA-CTP, and Amanda Ott.
Before we begin we’d like to give a tiny disclaimer. This list represents the opinion of DogBoy’s staff and is by no means a definitive list. So if we leave off a beloved movie dog or forget to cover one of the coolest dogs of all time, please forgive us!
If we missed anyone, we highly encourage you to leave a comment with your top famous dogs in history. Without further ado, here’s our top 7 famous dogs in history:
We’re starting our list off strong with arguably the most famous dog of all time: Lassie. To be fair, this spot should really go to Pal, the original dog actor who portrayed Lassie on the silver screen. Pal starred in six feature films and made appearances as Lassie on television and across the country. While many dogs have played Lassie since, it was Pal who cemented her fame.
It’s been a year since she left us, but Bretagne (pronounced Brittany) remains the face of the 9/11 canine search and rescue unit. Bretagne sifted through the debris at ground zero, sniffing out survivors buried under the wreckage of the Twin Towers. Bretagne was just one in a company of heroes, but as the oldest surviving member of the team (living to 16) she came to represent them all.
Like Lassie, Benji was a fictional character popularized by a series of successful movies. He was originally played by an adopted shelter dog named Higgins. Though his first film premiered in 1974, Benji’s fame has lasted through the decades and new Benji movies were made well into the 2000’s.
You probably don’t recognize this dog’s name, but it’s almost guaranteed that you’ve seen her face. That’s because Gidget’s name was never mentioned in the massively popular Taco Bell advertising campaign. Instead, people came to know Gidget simply as the “Taco Bell Chihuahua.” Though the ads only aired for 3 years, people still find themselves saying “Yo quiero Taco Bell” to this day.
#5 Rin Tin Tin
Another movie star, Rin Tin Tin differs from Benji and Lassie as he was a real dog, not a fictional character. After being rescued from a battlefield in World War I, Rin Tin Tin went on to star in over 27 films and is often credited with saving Warner Bros. Entertainment from bankruptcy.
One of the most famous lines in cinema history was directed our sixth dog on the list: “Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Toto was originally a character in the classic Oz series of books, but he didn’t leap into super stardom until 1930’s film The Wizard of Oz. Toto was played by Terry, a female terrier who went on to star in 13 more films.
Though not as well known in America, Hachiko is virtually a Japanese national hero. Hachiko was adopted by a professor named Eizaburo Ueno. The two grew inseparable, and Hachiko would dutifully await Ueno at the train station until he returned from work. Sadly, his owner died suddenly one day and never came home.
Hachiko was adopted elsewhere, but every morning and afternoon he returned to that same train station to wait for his owner. That would’ve been the end of his story if a Japanese journalist hadn’t reported on him and spread his story across the country. Now, a gold statue honors his memory, and several movies have been made based on his incredible tale.
We hoped you enjoyed our list! If you want to share discuss some of your favorite famous dogs, or want to ask us about more locally famous dogs, please contact us today. We love any and all conversation about dogs, whether celebrity dog gossip or otherwise!
Lassie’s Hollywood Star by Willem van Bergen
Rin Tin Tin by ABQ Museum Photoarchives
Hachiko’s Statue by Dick Thomas Johnson