- LMPC/Getty Images
- Sure, dogs are man’s best friend, but they are also important to pop culture.
- Lassie the heroic collie has appeared in novels, movies, TV shows, and video games over the years.
- Rin Tin Tin, a silent film star, appeared in 27 movies.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
“Toto, I don’t believe we’re in Kansas anymore.” With those eight words, Toto earned his spot in the dog sidekick hall of fame.
Here are the 18 most famous dogs in recent history.
In “The Wizard of Oz,” Dorothy’s love for Toto is what puts the entire film into motion.
- Loew’s, Inc.
When Toto bites the evil Miss Gulch, he is set to be euthanized, but Dorothy comes up with a plan to save her beloved dog. Long story short, she gets caught outside of a storm shelter when a tornado comes and whisks her away to the land of Oz, alongside her trusty canine companion.
However, Toto is also integral to the plot, because he’s the first one to figure out that the Wizard is a sham, and pulls back the curtain hiding him from the gang.
Toto has a permanent memorial at the Hollywood Forever cemetery.
Laika was the first dog in space, and became a worldwide phenomenon.
- Sovfoto/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
Laika was sent into space by the Soviet Union in Sputnik 2 in 1957, after being found on the streets of Moscow. Not much was known about the effects of space on animals, and in the hurry to beat the Americans in the Space Race, Laika was sent into orbit without a means to return her to Earth. She became the first living creature to orbit the Earth.
Originally, it was thought that Laika died four days into her journey, but it was revealed in 2002 that she only lasted around five hours before overheating and dying.
Laika is memorialized throughout Russia, including a statue in Moscow that was erected in 2008.
Lassie has appeared in novels, movies, TV shows, and video games over the years, always as a heroic rough collie.
- Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images
After first appearing in a short story in 1939, Lassie has been depicted in almost every form of media, most famously in movies throughout the 1940s, and the 19-season-long TV show, “Lassie,” which aired from 1954 to 1973.
Lassie is a heroic rough collie, loyal, and always ready to save those in need.
Most recently, Lassie appeared in a 2005 film, “Lassie.”
Just the thought of Scooby-Doo is enough to get theme song stuck in our heads.
- Warner Bros. Television Distribution
A list without Scooby-Doo? As he himself would say, ruh-roh.
Scooby-Doo, along with his human friends Fred, Daphne, Velma, and Shaggy, has been around in some capacity since the ’60s, starting with the original “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” cartoon, which lasted for just two seasons.
The impact of Mystery Inc. can still be felt today, with multiple phrases making it into our vocabulary today, like zoinks, jinkies, and everyone’s favorite phrase to depict annoying children, “meddling kids.”
Balto was a real Siberian husky that saved the town of Nome, Alaska, from an outbreak of diphtheria in 1925.
- Bettmann/Getty Images
In 1925, the town of Nome was hit with an outbreak of diphtheria, a deadly and contagious disease. The only antidote was hundreds of miles away in Anchorage and, thanks to bad weather and an abundance of snow, the only way to get it was by sled.
While a relay of dog sleds passed the antidote off, the final leg was led by Balto, who heroically led his team through 54 miles of blizzards and temperatures of -40. When the team successfully made it to Anchorage to get the antidote, Balto was hailed a hero.
In 1995, his story became the subject of an animated movie. He’s also been immortalized by a statue in Central Park, and his taxidermied body is open to viewers at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
Blue has been helping little kids solve mysteries in some capacity since 1996 in “Blue’s Clues” and its various spin-offs.
- Viacom Productions
Forget about Steve – the most important part of “Blue’s Clues” was the titular blue puppy herself. Starting in 1996 on Nick Jr., Blue and her various friends (both fellow animals and inanimate objects) have been leaving clues behind in order for viewers to solve puzzles. The original show ended in 2007, but continued to air in re-runs.
But in 2018, it was announced that a reboot was in the works. “Blue’s Clues & You!” is set to premiere in November 2019 on Nickelodeon – and both Steve Burns and Donovan Patton will be there to reprise their roles as Steve and Joe, respectively.
Buddy, star of “Air Bud” spawned multiple sequels, spin-offs, and books. He also inspired us all to try and teach our dogs how to play basketball.
- Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
The plot of “Air Bud” is simple: a Golden Retriever escapes from his owner, an evil clown, and starts playing middle school basketball, leading his team to victory. A tale as old as time.
The hunger for sports-playing dogs didn’t end with those films, though. A spin-off series called “Air Buddies,” about Buddy’s puppies, has inspired seven more films.
Boo was hailed as the world’s cutest dog — and we don’t disagree.
Boo (2006-2019) was one of the most beloved dogs in world after first gaining fame in 2010, thanks to a tweet from Kesha.
The spaghetti kiss from “Lady and the Tramp” will forever live on in movie history as one of the best kisses ever, animal or otherwise.
A whole new generation is set to experience the magic of “Lady and the Tramp” when the live-action remake is released in November, but we’re still not over the original 1955 animated version.
This tale of star-crossed lovers – a spoiled cocker spaniel named Lady and a tough, street smart stray named Tramp – had a rare happy ending that has stuck with us for decades. And we’re not exaggerating when we say that the spaghetti smooch is one of the most iconic movie kisses of all time.
Snoopy is arguably the best member of the Peanuts.
- Peanuts/Charles Schulz family
Move over, Charlie Brown. The best member of the Peanuts gang is Snoopy, Charlie’s canine friend who spends most of his time contemplating his existence while laying on top of his doghouse, or hanging out with his best friend Woodstock.
Snoopy has become a beloved figure in both pop culture and space travel. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2015, 65 years after his debut in a newspaper strip.
There’s also an SFA Silver Snoopy Award, which is given to astronauts who “made contributions toward enhancing the probability of mission success.”
Bo and Sunny are two of the most beloved presidential pets in recent history.
- Pete Souza/White House via Getty Images
After it was made public that President Obama had promised his daughters Malia and Sasha a puppy for dealing with the election, everyone started guessing what type of puppy they’d be getting. In April 2009, the world was introduced to Bo, a 6-month-old Portuguese water dog. The breed is hypoallergenic, as Malia is allergic.
Four years later, then-First Lady Michelle Obama posted on Twitter about Sunny, another Portuguese water dog that was joining the family.
According to the Wall Street Journal, requests for the breed increased “100% in the US and 122% in the UK” from the year prior to Bo’s adoption.
Higgins was one of the most famous dog actors of the ’60s and ’70s, starring in “Benji” and the sitcom “Petticoat Junction.”
- CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images
Most famously, Higgins played the titular role of Benji in the 1974 film. The original film spawned multiple sequels, including the recent 2018 reboot on Netflix. “Benji” was so universally beloved that even Alfred Hitchcock is said to have had a soft spot for the film.
However, Higgins also appeared in 149 episodes of “Petticoat Junction,” receiving a PATSY Award for his role. He also appeared in “Green Acres” and “The Beverly Hillbillies.”
Doug the Pug has 3.8 million followers on Instagram and frequently meets celebrities.
- Doug The Pug/Facebook
As Doug’s own Instagram bio says, he is the “King of Pop Culture.” Doug has met dozens of celebrities, from Cole Sprouse to Zedd to Michael Strahan to the cast of “The Big Bang Theory.”
What’s so special about Doug? He’s just really, really cute. He first gained a following in 2014 after a Mashable profile of him (really), and his career took off afterwards. Doug has a book, “Doug the Pug: The King of Pop Culture,” a line at Claire’s, and a new line of dog toys.
Santa’s Little Helper was introduced on the very first episode of “The Simpsons” when he’s adopted by Homer and Bart.
For 30 years, audiences have watched as Santa’s Little Helper has fathered puppies, passed obedience school, trained as a police dog, become the mascot for Homer’s beloved Duff Beer, and was given away to an ostrich farm (though, of course, he came back).
Santa’s Little Helper is one of few cartoon dogs that simply acts like a regular dog, and for that, we love him.
Rin Tin Tin was a silent film star that appeared in 27 movies.
- Public Domain
Rin Tin Tin was originally rescued from a World War I battlefield, and appeared in many films throughout the ’20s and ’30s, until his death in 1932. He even received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960.
His legacy lived on thanks to multiple successors, including his son Rin Tin Tin Jr. who also became a star.
A show based on Rin Tin Tin’s heroics, “The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin,” aired on ABC for five seasons from 1954 to 1959.
Wishbone made kids care about literary classics like “The Odyssey,” “Don Quixote,” and “Pride and Prejudice.”
- Mattel Creations/Lyrick Studios/HIT Entertainment
Wishbone was a literary-minded Jack Russell terrier that frequently daydreamed about himself as characters from classic works of literature. His show, aptly titled “Wishbone,” aired on PBS from 1995 to 1997, though it continued to garner fans in re-runs.
For decades, viewers have been brought to tears by the saga of Old Yeller, a lovable lab who contracts rabies.
- LMPC/Getty Images
“Old Yeller” was released in 1957, based on a book of the same name, and has been traumatizing dog lovers ever since. The movie tells the story of Travis, a kid living in the 1860s, and his heartwarming bond with Old Yeller, a dog he finds.
Old Yeller is eventually infected with rabies after saving Travis from a wolf attack, forcing Travis to shoot his beloved pet. While it’s a moving tale about growing up and the loss of innocence, and has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, plenty of people were scarred by Yeller’s death.
- Read more:
- How dogs are trained for movies and TV
- How it cost me $10,000 in 10 weeks to raise a puppy in NYC, and why it’s the best money I ever spent
- 9 unusual and cool jobs you didn’t know dogs could have
- 21 adorable photos of dogs cuddling tigers, ducks, and other animals that prove they’re not just man’s best friend