We’ve laughed, cried and watched in suspense. For decades, celebrity dogs have been entertaining us on TV and in the movies. Now, thanks to internet phenomena YouTube and Netflix, new viewers are discovering some of these canine stars for the first time.
Peanuts comic strip, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Beagle
Commonly thought to be a Beagle, Snoopy was created by Charles M. Schultz for his comic strip, Peanuts, which ran from 1950 to 2000 (and thereafter in re-runs). Snoopy became a central figure and star of all the television specials that were based on the comic strip. The first, A Charlie Brown Christmas, still airs every holiday season. Originally a “normal” dog, Snoopy was eventually humanized by Schultz so that he walked on two legs and began “talking” via thought bubbles. Schultz also moved Snoopy from inside the doghouse to the roof, and it became a prop for Snoopy’s Red Baron fantasy world.
Eddie Crane (real name Moose)
Frasier, Jack Russell Terrier
Famous for his ability to stare down Frasier (Kelsey Grammer), Eddie achieved such popularity that at one point he received more fan mail than the human actors on the show. Eddie was played to perfection by Moose, who landed the role after only six months of training. Moose’s son, Enzo, later took over for his dad as a stunt double in the more physical scenes, and replaced his dad completely when Moose retired. Moose died at home in 2006 from natural causes, at the age of 15½.
Beethoven (real name Chris)
The movie debuted in 1992, starred Charles Grodin and Bonnie Hunt, and went on to inspire a further six films. The lead character, played by a St. Bernard named Chris, also starred in the first sequel, Beethoven’s 2nd. Unfortunately, Chris died shortly after making the second film and replacements were used in the remaining films.
Bruiser (real name Moondoggie)
Legally Blonde and Legally Blonde 2, Short-haired Chihuahua
Legally Blonde was a turning point for actor Reese Witherspoon, and her adorable co-star Bruiser helped “seal the deal”. Bruiser was played by Moondoggie (Moonie), a petite Chihuahua who owner and trainer Sue Chipperton acquired as a stand-in for her other famous Chihuahua actor, Gidget, the Taco Bell dog. But Moonie never grew big enough to impersonate Gidget, so he landed a career of his own. Unforgettable in his designer duds, the dog bonded well with Witherspoon, perhaps due to the real pieces of chicken the actor held in her hands for various scenes. Moonie reunited with Witherspoon in 2010 when she received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Bud/Comet (real name Buddy)
Air Bud and Full House, Golden Retriever
In 1989, Kevin di Cicco found a disheveled stray Golden Retriever in the Sierra Nevada mountains. He took the dog, who he named Buddy, home to San Diego and trained him how to play basketball, baseball, football, soccer and hockey. After appearing on America’s Funniest Home Videos, Buddy performed on a segment of Stupid Pet Tricks on Late Show with David Letterman. Hollywood came calling and the dog went on to play Comet in six seasons (1989 to 1995) of the television sitcom Full House. Buddy then moved to the big screen with the release of Air Bud, a movie about an abandoned dog that moves in with a boy who has just lost his father. The movie led to a further 13 movies – four Air Buds, and seven Air Buddies. Unfortunately, none of the sequels starred Buddy, who passed away at home in 1998 after a battle with cancer
Toto (real name Terry)
The Wizard of Oz, Cairn Terrier
By the time Terry, a Cairn terrier owned and trained by Carl Spitz, appeared in The Wizard of Oz, she was already a seasoned actor. Her credits included playing Rags in the Shirley Temple movie Bright Eyes. After she landed the part of Toto (a male
role, by the way), Terry went to live at Judy Garland’s house for two weeks. Garland became so attached to the dog she wanted to adopt her, but Spitz refused. The little Cairn Terrier earned $125 a week for her stint as Toto (more than the actors who played the Munchkins) – great money, considering she made it into show biz by accident. Spitz, who owned the Hollywood Dog Training School, ended up adopting Terry only after the original owner never bothered to pick her up after her training session. Terry passed away in 1945, with a total of 15 movie credits to her name.
Animated TV series, Great Dane
Scoobert “Scooby” Doo, the perpetually hungry Great Dane who will do anything for a Scooby Snack, first made his appearance in 1969, and has been entertaining us ever since. Created by Hanna-Barbera, the series launched a number of spin-offs and movies. Scooby, the bosom buddy of Shaggy Rogers, was originally named “Too Much” in pilot scripts, but Fred Silverman, head of children’s programming at CBS, changed it after hearing Frank Sinatra’s famous “doo-be-doo-be-doo” riff at the end of Strangers in the
Night. Scooby’s catch-phrase “Rooby-doobie-do” (Scooby has a bit of a speech impediment), like all of his broken English, was voiced by Don Messick until the actor’s death in 1997.
Lassie (real name Pal)
Lassie Come Home, Collie
Based on a short story by Eric Knight, who expanded it into a book called Lassie Come Home, the movie of the same name starred a Collie named Pal. The success of the 1943 film encouraged MGM to make a further six feature films about Lassie, through 1951. By this time, Pal’s owner and trainer Rudd Weatherwax had changed the dog’s stage name
to Lassie. In the early ’50s, Weatherwax acquired the Lassie name and trademark from MGM and toured with Lassie at rodeos, fairs and other events. The long-running Emmy winning television series, Lassie, debuted in 1954 and ran for an incredible 19 years, with the lead role always played by one of Pal’s descendants. The current Lassie is a tenth
generation direct descendant of Pal. While the fictional Lassie is female, the role has been played consistently by male