Dogs truly are man’s best friends, and they have proven it throughout history. Since the beginning of time, the dog has been our companion in hunting, defending, and in life.
While some canines became famous due to their White House owners, others earned their place in history by showing great devotion, compassion, or heroism.
For one reason or another, they all deserve a spot in our list of 15 most famous dogs in history.
Laika was a stray dog, living on the streets of Moscow. In 1957 she was picked up along with two other strays for the Soviet space program.
After her training, she was selected as the dog that will board the Sputnik 2 and fly into space.
Things went smoothly at first, but when it came to coming back to Earth, the technology we had back then didn’t include a returning mechanism.
Soviet officials said that Laika was euthanized prior to the oxygen depletion on the sixth day of orbit. It was only revealed in 2002 that the first dog in space actually died only a few hours after launch, due to overheating.
As a tribute to her accomplishments, in 2008 a monument to Laika has been raised near the military research facility where she trained.
His owner Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor at Tokyo University, was returning home each day via train.
And each day, at the same time, Hachiko would wait for his human at the train station, to greet him and accompany him home. He did this for years, until one day in May 1925, when Hachiko’s owner failed to show up. Unfortunately, he suffered a fatal hemorrhage.
But Hachiko kept returning to Shibuya Station for nine years thereafter, still waiting for his master to return at the exact time the train arrives.
In 1935, the devoted Akita Inu was found dead in the streets of Shibuya.
The German shepherd was just one of over 350 search and rescue dogs that day on the Twin Towers site.
They have tirelessly searched for survivors and bodies for more than half-a-day for over a week.
Animal Planet said at the time: “The SAR dogs worked with their handlers up to 16 grueling hours a day, and it became evident that the dogs were nearly as distraught as the human rescuers when there were so few survivors to be found.”
“For the human rescue workers, the lack of survivors made the attacks feel ever more horrific and tragic. For the dogs trained to find survivors, though, it felt like a personal failure.”
Nonetheless, Appollo and his canine colleagues found and rescued a great number of people in the days of the tragedy, and everyone present on ground zero that day will always remember them for their deeds.
Both him and his handler US Marine Corps Cpl. Dustin J. Lee were in Fallujah, Iraq, when they were in an attack that killed Lee and seriously wounded Lex.
But despite his wounds, Lex wouldn’t leave his partner. He had to be dragged away to be treated by medics.
Lex survived, bas had suffered some devastating injuries that reduced his mobility. This caused Cpl. Lee’s parts, Jerome and Rachel Lee, to appeal to the U.S. military to adopt poor Lex.
Lex became the first active-duty, working military dog to be granted early retirement. Even though he still had over 50 pieces of shrapnel in his body, the now ex-military dog still worked as a therapy dog, visiting military veterans at hospitals and retirement homes.
He was awarded an honorary Purple Heart, along with an Award for Canine Excellence by the American Kennel Club in 2008. Lex died of cancer aged 13 in 2012.
The film was written and directed by Joe Camp, and since the first movie, there have been several incarnations on both the large and small screen.
Since no studio in Hollywood wanted any part of the project, Camp had to finance and distribute the film himself. Needless to say, it was a great success.
Benji was originally played by Higgins, a dog from the Burbank Animal Shelter. According to the American Humane Society, his origins started an adopting spree, where over a million dogs got adopted during Benji’s fame days.
This female Cairn terrier was an important part of the 1939 film that greatly impacted the popular culture since its release.
Besides phrases like “there’s no place like home” and “we’re off to see the Wizard,” there is one thing we can attach to Toto.
Thanks to her appearance in the movie, over 30% of small breed dogs have been named after Toto in almost 70 years since the movie was released.
The 5-year-old terrier’s real name was Terry, and he was chosen for the movie from over a hundred other dogs. Terry also appeared in numerous other films after “The Wizard of Oz.”
In 1923, Bobbie was traveling with his family from Silverton, Oregon to Indiana. At some point he got separated from his owners and got lost.
The family searched high and low for their two-year-old dog, but ultimately returned home after failing to find him.
But six months later, in February 1924, Bobbie suddenly appeared on their doorstep. He was dirty, skinny, and weak. His feet were worn to the bone because Bobbie walked over 4000 kilometers across the US.
And after being the partner of Cpl. William A. Wynne for the next two years, she became something of a WWII mascot.
She slept in Wynne’s tent, shared his rations with him, and followed him wherever he went. She survived over 150 air raids on New Guinea and made it through a typhoon at Okinawa.
Smoky was named the “Champion Mascot in the Southwest Pacific Area” by Yank Down Under magazine in 1944.
Thanks to her keen sense of hearing and danger, Smoky saved Wynne’s life on multiple occasions, warning him and his comrades of incoming fire. She was also the first therapy dog on record.
He was found injured in November 1941 by Carlo Soriani, a brick worker in the Tuscan Province of Florence, Italy.
He took Fido home and nursed him back to health.
For this, Fido was eternally grateful, and he showed it by accompanying Soriani to the bus stop from which he would go to work, and was always waiting there when the bus came back to bring his owner from work.
Two years later, Soriani was killed in one of many Allied bombardment of the factories in the Tuscan Province. Nonetheless, Fido kept coming back to the bus station, waiting for his master, for the next 14 years.
This lasted until June 9, 1958, when he died on the same bus stop, still waiting.
The incident occurred in the summer of 1924. The only doctor in the city didn’t have enough medicine to treat everyone, and the port was closed for the winter.
That’s when a pack of sled dogs lead by Balto jumped in to save the day.
They raced over 650 miles across Alaska in five and a half days, and were ultimately successful in bringing the diphtheria antitoxin in time.
The husky and his team were recognized by all for their determination and endurance.
At the time, Nixon was yet to become president, and he was under attack for accepting private donations.
As it turned out, Checkers was one of those donations. He belonged to Nixon’s daughter, and when he was mentioned, it earned a lot of sympathy for Nixon.
“You know, the kids, like all kids, loved the dog, and I just want to say this, right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we are going to keep it,” Nixon said.
Checkers passed away by the time Nixon got to the White House in 1970, but his memory still lives as the dog that saved the career of one of the most famous presidents in the history of the States.
12. Rin Tin Tin
After they came to the US, Duncan trained Rinty and got him a couple of small roles in some silent films. Rin Tin Tin’s first big break came in 1929, when he got the role in Warner Bros.’ “Where the North Begins.”
Both the film and Rinty were a great success, after which the actor-dog starred in 27 more movies. Some believe he is the one responsible for bringing Warner Bros. back from the brink of bankruptcy.
Argos is probably one of the most well-known dogs in history, thanks to his unyielding love for his master, Odysseus.
Odysseus raised Argos since he was a pup, and the two were inseparable. But at some point, being the King of Ithaca, Odysseus left for the Trojan War and was gone for twenty years.
Upon returning to his home in Ithaca, not even his family could recognize the brave king. Only Argos saw through his ragged clothes and hair and beard, so he started wagging his tail.
After giving a final whimper as a last greeting to his master, his life ended. This is surely one of the most heartbreaking dog stories in history.
The family found him at the graveyard, where Capitan was sitting next to Guzman’s grave, mourning and grieving.
Capitan caught the eye of the media in 2012, after which we found out that he goes for a short time back to his family’s home every day, only to return to Guzman’s grave each night.
Cemetery director, Hector Baccega, said that staff at the cemetery in central Argentina are now feeding and taking care of the dog.
Despite being a fictional character, Lassie is arguably the most famous dog ever.
From 1943 to 2007, Lassie was portrayed in movies first by a Collie named Pal, and by ten generations of his descendants after him.
Even though Lassie’s character is a female, there have been multiple occasions where she was played by a male Collie. This was because males have a thicker coat in summer, which makes them more “puffy.”
And to avoid human child actors outgrowing Lassie while filming, male Collies came in handy since they are bigger than females, giving the actors more room to finish the movie.