When you see a beautiful collie running across a green lawn do you immediately think Lassie? Does the name Toto evoke a vision of a tiny terrier nestled in the arms of a young Judy Garland? Since the early days of movies and television, canine characters have made their mark on the hearts and minds of audiences. These special dogs have made us cheer, laugh and cry and have even influenced the way we view their breed.
1. Asta. A small wire-haired terrier, Asta performed in the “Thin Man” movies of the 1930s and 1940s. Also known as Skippy, Asta has been credited with being so popular that over-breeding of wire terriers became an issue during the pinnacle of his career.
2. Beethoven. The slobbering but lovable Beethoven burst onto the big screen in 1992 in a romping comedy featuring the St. Bernard as the title character. Beethoven’s loving personality endeared audiences to the St. Bernard breed.
3. Benji. The original Benji, a mixed-breed dog, starred in multiple movies and was the second animal to be inducted into the Animal Actors Hall of Fame. Because the original Benji came from a shelter, the American Humane Association reported that people were influenced to adopt dogs from local shelters, about one million nationally.
4. Eddie. His real name was Moose, but television audiences knew him as Eddie, the Jack Russell terrier from the hit series Frasier. This talented canine was a weekly reminder to viewers how smart and trainable the Jack Russell terrier breed could be.
5. Fang. More than one Neapolitan Mastiff portrayed Fang in the Harry Potter movies. Hugo was the first, trained by Gary Gero. He played Fang in the first three movies, showing audiences that big doesn’t have to be scary.
6. Lassie. According to Lassie’s personal website, her “very name symbolizes loyalty, courage, beauty, and grace, and most of all, everyone’s love for pets.” The star of both movies and television, Lassie is an iconic canine character and one of the world’s most recognizable collies.
7. Marley. His owner, John Grogan, wrote a best-selling book about him, and quickly, millions knew Marley. Grogan labeled his Labrador retriever as the “World’s Worst Dog,” but it was with great affection and love that the antics of Marley were chronicled.
8. Rin Tin Tin. The original Rin Tin Tin, born in 1918, made 26 movies for Warner Brothers Studios. The German shepherd is credited with saving the studio from bankruptcy. There have been 12 generations of Rin Tin Tin German shepherds.
9. Tinkerbell. Tinkerbell Hilton, a teacup Chihuahua, is owned by celebrity Paris Hilton and has inspired Chihuahua owners across the United States to name their dogs after the tiny pup. Tinkerbell has been seen on television and at movie premieres and has been photographed by numerous magazines.
10. Toto. The Cairn terrier known to the world as Toto charmed audiences in the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz." Today, his popularity has not waned. You can find Toto stuffed animals, posters and other collectibles. The little dog’s popularity even has prompted the state of Kansas to propose legislation to make Toto the state’s dog.