The Most Well-Known Dogs in TV and Film
Film and TV

The Most Well-Known Dogs in TV and Film

Some of the most memorable shows and films have featured dogs in a leading role — but which canine takes the top spot as your favourite on-screen pooch?

Together with top UK dog food provider, Feedem, we’ve created a list of the most loved, iconic and remembered dogs. Check out if your favourite made the list…

Lassie: Lassie Come Home

During the 1940s, Lassie — perhaps the world’s most famous rough collie — was enjoying global success. The series of movies began with Lassie Come Home — an MGM production starring Roddy McDowell, Elizabeth Taylor and canine star, Pal. Despite being a female dog in the books, Lassie was usually portrayed on screen by male canines due to this gender typically having thicker, nicer-looking coats.

Clinching the role of Lassie was no easy feat for Pal, who was born in 1940 in Hollywood — he had to beat 1,500 other pooches to get the role in Lassie: Come Home. However, he didn’t initially impress the casting officials and the job went to a female rough collie, instead. But, Pal’s big break was soon to come. During an action scene featuring raging waters, the female Lassie was unwilling to play her part. Pal, on the other hand, stepped in and stole the scene, completing the take so well that the female dog was released and he became the world’s first film-version Lassie. In his career, Pal starred in seven films and two TV shows before dying of natural causes in 1958.

Eddie: Frasier

US TV sitcom, Frasier, was a massive success all over the world — and part of its charm was Moose, a Parson Russell Terrier who played the part of Eddie Crane. Amazingly, Moose won the role after just six months of training and his most famous scenes were usually holding a long, unbroken staring contest with Frasier Crane — which ended up being one of the show’s most popular sight gags.

However, Moose was no born actor. The dog was originally raised in Florida and was a bit of a hell-raiser — barking, digging, chewing, and refusing to be housetrained. As a result, he was sent to the animal training company, Birds and Animals Unlimited, before being flown to a trainer in LA where he eventually made a name for himself in Frasier (1993-2000) and the film, My Dog Skip (2000). Before retirement, Moose also appeared on Entertainment Weekly magazine and released an ‘autobiography’: My Life as a Dog.

Scooby-Doo: Scooby-Doo TV series

Chasing masked villains as part of a brave team of five, Scooby Doo is one of the most loveable mutts in TV history. From 1969 until the present day, the Scooby-Doo character — famous for his well-timed bungles, love of snacks and fear of all things spooky — has appeared in countless cartoon shows, animated films and live-action movies.

At first, Don Messick voiced Scooby ‘Scoobert’ Doo who is remembered fondly for his famous speech impairment of pronouncing words as if they began with the letter ‘R’. Officially, Scooby-Doo has been voiced by five people and has countless on-screen relatives — including Scrappy-Doo, Scooby-Dum, Momsy, and Dad-Doo.

Cairn Terrier Puppy

Toto: The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz, despite being almost 80 years old, remains one of the most loved films in history. The leading canine, Toto, was Dorothy Gale’s male canine companion, however, ‘he’ was actually played by Terry — a female cairn terrier. With major scenes that included escaping the Wicked Witch (twice) and revealing the true identity of The Wizard, some may say Terry earned more than her reportedly $125-a-week salary — a very healthy sum at the time and more than what many other human cast members made!

Aside from The Wizard of Oz, Terry had a great acting career. She was coached by Hollywood dog trainer, Carl Spitz; starred alongside Shirley Temple in Bright Eyes, had a daughter who also went into the acting business, and appeared in 16 films throughout her life — although, she only ever received credit for one, which was The Wizard of Oz. Terry died when she was 11 years old in 1945 and today, she has a permanent memorial at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles.

Beethoven: Beethoven film series

Is there a more recognisable St. Bernard than Beethoven? The first of the Beethoven films — starring Charles Grodin and Bonnie Hunt — was released in 1992 and became an instant hit. Not only was the film warmly received, but the release also boosted the public’s interest in the St. Bernard breed!

Is much known about the lead canine actor, though? The part of Beethoven was originally played by a 200-pound pooch named Chris, who was coached by Karl Lewis Miller — a trainer that also coached animals in the productions of Babe and K-9. Sadly, Chris died shortly after the completion of Beethoven 2. Since no other dog was found that could fulfil the role as well as him, multiple canines were brought in with different acting skills and temperaments for future films — including a boy named Benz and a girl named Dolly.

Brian Griffin: Family Guy

Family Guy is a huge show, and its leading dog character, Brian Griffin, is certainly one of its most popular personalities. This white Labrador — famous for his eloquent musings and rational thinking — is more human than dog in many ways. Firstly, he uses two legs to walk, owns a Toyota Prius, has gone to university, and writes — or attempts to write — novels.

To many viewers’ horror, Brian was killed off in 2013. However, a brief online outcry of anger soon persuaded the writers to reinstate the beloved pooch for disappointed fans. Brian is voiced by Seth MacFarlane and is believed to be one of the show’s best merchandising characters.

Marley: Marley & Me

Marley & Me, starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson, is based on a book by John Grogan and is considered by many to be a true Hollywood tearjerker.

This story of an unruly Labrador takes the audience through family life and all its ups and downs. Unlike the other pooches in our collection of most famous dogs in film and TV, the character of Marley was portrayed by 22 yellow Labradors — mainly due to the fact that the dog had to age throughout the film. Released a decade ago to mixed reviews, Marley & Me has since made a total worldwide box office of approximately $242,717,113!


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This article has 111 comments

  1. Jeanette

    I think my favorite dogs is Toto! That one was a sassy little guy and I loved how little it was. Another famous one was Benji. I loved Benji!

  2. Candy

    I also remember the little dog on the Taco Bell commercials. Lassie was my favorite of course.

  3. Alli Smith

    When my dog starts barking a certain way, I usually say, “Lassie, is Timmy in the well?” Yes, he looks at me like I’ve lost my mind. I love all of these well-known dogs!

  4. Brit Strawbridge

    Awe! I think Beethoven was my favourite!! But Toto sure is cute! I love all these dogs!

  5. Rebecca | AAUBlog

    aw I think Beethoven has got to be my favourite – reminds me of watching the movies with my siblings growing up 🙂

  6. Wendy

    Dogs are great! Lassie and Scooby are our family’s favorites! We had a Lassie dog for years she was the best!

  7. Melissa Chapman

    I am a big fan of the dogs in the cartoons like Scooby and Brian. I am a dog advocate so I really love it when dogs are in TV and movies.

  8. Sara

    Beethoven is definitely my favorite with Sandy from the original Annie movie a very close second!

  9. Olivia Jade

    110% Brian is one of my fave characters of all time, he’s so sassy!

    Oh, and you can’t forget Scooby from growing up, such a good show 🙂 x

  10. Anonymous

    I really love Lassie! And that terrier Eddie in Frasier was a great one as well.

  11. Angela Ricardo

    i personally love and have watch Lassie, Beethoven and Scooby over and over. I even watch the cartoon version of scooby doo! I cant wait to watch these classics with my son someday soon.

  12. Tara Pittman

    I remember Lassie. I think my siblings talked about watching that show when they were younger.

  13. Karen Morse

    I think I’ve watched all of these. Marley and Me definitely broke my heart but it was such a lovely movie. Lassie is a classic favorite. I remember watching it with the whole family when I was younger!

  14. Amber Myers

    I remember a lot of these dogs. I loved the Beethoven movies as a kid. I also sobbed throughout Marley & Me.

  15. Wilderness Wife

    I don’t see Rin Tin Tin! He’s my favorite because I really fond of German Shepherds although I did love Marley! The mischevous pup was adorable in that movie.

  16. Alex Gladwin (@bumptobaby_blog)

    I instantly thought of Lassie when I read the title of your post. Scooby Doo is one of my favourites! Marley and Me is so sad, I cry when I watch it. x

  17. LiveLoveAndAdventure

    Scooby Doo is timeless!! I watched it as a kid, my kids watched it and now my grandkids are watching it as well. Everyone loves it and it still makes me laugh!

  18. Laura

    My first thought reading this was you missed Benji, Hooch (Turner & Hooch) and Jerry Lee (K-9), the kids responded with but what about the Buddys. Still a great lost though.

  19. Jessica Joachim

    Lassie was my favorite as a kid! Another one I always loved was Wishbone!

  20. Chubskulit Rose

    We love the Marley and Me movie. My husband’s favorite is the Scooby Doo.

  21. valmg @ Mom Knows It All

    I can think of other “live” dogs that could easily be on this list before the animated ones, such as the dog that was in Benji. Also the dog that was in Turner & Hooch.

  22. This Mum At Home

    Oh lassie and Beethoven ! I had totally forgotten these from my childhood , such classics 🙂

  23. Janell Poulette

    I love when they add a dog to a TV show. I didnt realize so manyTV shows had a dog in them. Fun list!

  24. Suzanne Spiegoski

    OMG you missed the most famous one of all! Rin Tin Tin! The best dog in tv and film. EVER.

  25. Mo

    Toto was a female cairn terrier?! I never knew this but I really can’t tell the difference.

  26. Heather

    My favorite dog of all time is Lassie! Such a beautiful and intelligent dog.

  27. Ricci

    I have seen all of these and I LOVED them!! Well maybe not Marley and Me, that one made me cry too much. HA

  28. Manvika Reddy

    Lassie is my favvv.Intelligent dog 😉

  29. Elizabeth

    What a blast from the past some of these pups are! I have watched all of these shows over the years and really enjoyed them all.

  30. Rhian westbury

    The dog from Fraiser was always a favourite with me, and of course you have to love Brian from Family Guy x

  31. Lisa

    I love The Family Guy so Brian is probably my most favorite! This is an awesome list!

  32. Margaret Gallagher

    Loved reading this and reminiscing – lassie is always my favourite

  33. Anosa

    So many iconic dogs here, I think everyone knows of Lassie and Beethoven and who didn’t cry at Marley and Me?

  34. Nigel Soper

    Fascinating – I wonder whether this says more about the dog owners than the dogs themselves. Presumably the dogs are all thoroughly trained, so one wonders if a family pet could perform as needed.

  35. Mellissa Williams

    There are so many iconic dogs – I remember watching Scooby Doo when my son was younger!

  36. Sondra Barker

    Dogs are my favorite actors! Beethoven is my personal favorite

  37. sara lafountain

    When I was little I was so in love with Lassie! He made me want to get a family dog.

  38. Cathy M.

    Benji, Lassie, Brian Griffin, and Scooby Doo, to name a few. Lassie was one of my favorites growing up.

  39. Andrea

    my brother was obessed with scooby doo when he was little and would watch it every day after school, i remember he had this stage of that movie.

  40. Nichole Arnold

    Dogs really do steal the show most times! I know all of these pups very well growing up!

  41. Casey

    She is lovely, have watched her on tele when I was a kid. Lassie is probably the most cute and beautiful dog on tele.

  42. Apostolia Delikosta

    So many memories with this post! Lassie, Scoobie Doo, Beethoven! Damn, I’m growing up…

  43. David Allen Elliott

    Yeah all of those dogs are pretty well known. Although I would say that Marley is more about the book than it is about the movie that they made from the book. I always remember the dog Hooch from Turner and Hooch with Tom Hanks.

  44. Waren Jean

    Marley from Marley and me is my favorite! That dog is just so adorable. Haha. Reminds me so much of our dog when I was a child.

  45. Jeanette Leighton

    Used to love watching scooby doo . Lassie I haven’t watched for ages

  46. Linda Hobbis

    I can actually remember watching Lassie. God I’m old! Love Scooby Doo but can’t abide Scrappy!

  47. Msddah

    All these makes me want to rewatch the movies. Especially Marley and Me. Great post

  48. Sara Welch

    I think dogs make the best celebs. So many of them have shaped the lives of children.

  49. sarahjane24carter

    I loved all these films as I was growing up my stepchildren also love them x

  50. Anosa Malanga

    Couldn’t agree more on this. I guess you have to add Hachiko too, the very loyal dog and friend from Japan. It’s actually one of my favorite movies.

  51. Anonymous

    I remember watching Lassie and Scooby do as a kid so them two dogs are the ones I have the fondest memories of.

  52. Nayna Kanabar

    I remember watching Lassie and Scooby do as a kid so them two dogs are the ones I have the fondest memories of. I always used to make sure I did all my homework quickly so my mum would let me watch the show.

  53. Carol Cassara

    I agree with your list, these dogs are definitely famous and known up to now. I think Beethoven will always be one of my favorites!

  54. Natalie

    I also loved the dogs in Homeward Bound!

  55. Susie Wilkinson

    Not forgetting the littlest hobo, definitely my favourite! (Who’s read this and is now singing the theme tune!!)

  56. Kayleigh Watkins

    I loved Turner and hooch when I was younger, I still enjoy watching it now with my children, wellard off eastenders, and Brian off family guy as you said above xxx

  57. lavandamichelle

    What a cool post! I never thought about how dogs can actually make money from acting, haha. This was so cool! 🙂

  58. Vicki D

    I love all these film and tv dog stars but my favourites have to be Lassie and Brian from Family Guy, absolutely love them.

  59. Amy PJ

    I think Beethoven was my favourite film dog in childhood. Now I’m not sure how I’d manage a dog like that, with all the fur and slobber everywhere1

  60. Iris Tilley

    Beethoven was class and watching that film made me want one. Shame my parents didn’t let me get that breed but also glad I didn’t buy one when I moved out …way too big lol

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