BO-ZING! 8 Most Popular Dogs in Literary Fiction

Dog From a Painting Chewing on a Page from a Book

Dogs have been a part of literature for centuries, from Homer to J.K. Rowling. Keep reading to see if your favorite pooch is on the list!

Argos – The Odyssey

This epic poem by Homer is a classic among literary works. It tells of the wanderings of Odysseus after the Trojan War.  

Argos waited for 20 years for his master to return and was the only one to recognize Odysseus for his true self. And like any good dog, this man’s best friend (after having seen his master safely home) went and died in peace. It’s a true tale of fidelity and love.

Snowy – The Adventures of Tintin

It may not be an epic tale, but the adventures of Tintin and his eye-rolling and cynical-mouthed canine, Snowy,  elevated this series to one of the most popular European comics of the 20th century.

The Adventures of Tintin was created by Georges Remi (1907–1983), who wrote under the pen name Hergé and features slapstick humor  offset by dashes of sophisticated satire and political or cultural commentary. These books became so popular they were translated into more than 70 languages, with sales that topped 200 million copies.

Even though Snowy may have been distracted by his favorite chews (a good bone) every now and then, he was still able to help his happy-go-lucky owner out of some tight spots.

Toto – The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Who can forget the cute little terrier that accompanied Dorothy to the mystical land of Oz?

Toto was a loyal sidekick to Dorothy, even though she ended up with three other unlikely companions. Toto displayed the ultimate in loyalty and fearlessness, and  this tale wouldn’t be half as good without him!

Written by author L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published in 1900. It has since gone on to become a classic tale for both children and adults, and has been adapted for both film and stage.

Did you know that in the Oz sequels, Toto could talk? He always could, but told Dorothy that he simply chose not to.

Check out “Terry”, aka Toto of the Wizard of Oz.

Buck – The Call of the Wild

This tale tells of survival and primordial instinct of its main canine character, Buck, a Saint Bernard/Scotch Collie mix.

Buck is dognapped from a California ranch where he was a beloved pet and sold as a sled dog in the Yukon at the height of the  Gold Rush. Here Buck must fight to dominate the other pack dogs and learn the violent, evil ways of man. This left Buck no other option but to resort back to his wild state, until he met his savior, John Thornton, whose love and kindness showed the mistreated dog the other side of humanity.

Written by Jack London, The Call of the Wild was first published in four installments by the The Saturday Evening Post in 1903. The same year it was picked up by Macmillan  to be made into a book, and has been in print ever since.

Tock – The Phantom Tollbooth

Another “cartoon” dog stole the hearts of children (and adults) in this 1961 children’s adventure novel by Norton Juster called The Phantom Tollbooth.

In this tale a young boy (Milo) is bored with everything. One day he arrives home to find a mysterious package with a note awaiting him. The package contains a magical tollbooth that brings Milo into a whole new world.

Here he meets Tock, an oversized talking dog with an alarm clock on each side of him (a “watchdog”) who tells Milo “since you got here by not thinking, it seems reasonable to expect that, in order to get out, you must start thinking.” (Good advice from a cartoon canine!)

The Phantom Tollbooth sold over three million copies, was translated into several languages, and was adapted for the stage, screen, and even the opera.

Lassie – Lassie Come Home

Lassie the beloved Rough Collie is an all-time favorite of many people. She is a wonderful and devoted dog that shows unending love and dedication to her young owner by trekking over many miles to be reunited with him in Lassie Come Home.

Written by Eric Knight in 1938, Lassie Come-Home was originally published in The Saturday Evening Post. By 1940, Knight had expanded the short story to a novel, which gained commercial and critical success; he went on to write more books featuring the brave pooch, and even had a couple of radio programs. Lassie was so popular it was made into a movie in 1943, with a remake in 2005.

The tv series, Lassie, chalked up 19 seasons and is the fourth longest-running program in TV history. Here’s a look at Lassie on the opening theme of the show.

Old Yeller – Old Yeller

Old Yeller might be the most tragic of stories involving a beloved dog. This faithful “yellow dog” wins the heart of his young master and goes on to save the family from many harrowing situations. Unfortunately, Old Yeller has to be put down after he is attacked by a rabid wolf.

The author of this children’s novel is Fred Gipson, who received a Newbery Honor in 1969. Before it was recognized as a literary masterpiece, Walt Disney made it into a movie in 1957. If you’re brave enough to watch this sad tale, be sure to have a box of tissues handy…you’ll need them.

Fang – Harry Potter

Who wouldn’t love an oversized, sometimes cowardly, sometime valiant Boarhound?

This slobbery, lumbering pooch is part of the Harry Potter crew and is just one of Rubeus Hagrid’s pets. Fang was present for the majority of the Second Wizarding War, and accompanied Hagrid to many places, including the Forbidden Forest.

Although not likely to be found on the AKC registry, this lovable Boarhound has won the hearts of Potter fans all over the world. In the movies, Fang was played by a Neapolitan Mastiff.

Jip – David Copperfield

Everyone loves a lap dog –  but maybe not as much as Dora loved Jip in David Copperfield.

Jip is spoiled beyond reason by his mistress and is extremely jealous of any attention paid to anyone else other than himself.  Jip’s loyalty and love for Dora lasts only as long as his beloved mistress, dying in the exact moment Dora takes her last breathe. Now that’s devotion!

Snoopy – Peanuts

No list of famous fictional dogs would be complete without including the most beloved Beagle of them all – Snoopy.

This cartoon hound won the hearts of kids and adults alike with his human-like antics and infectious laugh.

Even though Snoopy was technically owned by Charlie Brown, he was a neighborhood pet to all the Peanuts gang. Peanuts started off as a simple comic strip in 1950 and went on to become best selling books, television specials, a play, and even a hit movie.

Want to smile? Check out Snoopy getting ready for a fashion show.

Who are your favorite fictional pups?

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