Here, in no particular order, are our favorite dogs of the animated world. Did your top dog make the list?
Hong Kong Phooey
This 1970s cartoon obviously attempted to capitalize on the massive popularity of Kung Fu films at the time—but it’s still an awesome premise. A mild-mannered yet clumsy dog named Penrod “Penry” Pooch is a janitor at a police station under the stern command of fearsome Sergeant Flint. But, through the powers of a magical filing cabinet (yes, filing cabinet), Penry is transformed into Hong Kong Phooey—a masked avenger with a souped-up ride (aptly named the “Phooeymobile”) and a martial arts manual called The Hong Kong Book of Kung Fu. Despite his best efforts, however, his fighting skills are meagre at best but, thanks to the help of his cat Spot, he becomes an unlikely crime-fighting success.
Muttley (Dastardly and Muttley)
If you grew up during the ‘80s, chances are at some point in your childhood, you did an impersonation of Muttley’s signature wheezy laugh. As the sidekick of villainous but accident-prone aviator Dick Dastardly in the cartoon series Wacky Races, Muttley always stole the show with his stealthy snickers at his bumbling masters’ expense.
Ren (The Ren and Stimpy Show)
Enjoyed by as many teens and twenty-somethings as kids, the rather groundbreaking Ren and Stimpy show (which debuted in 1991) introduced TV audiences to a whole new kind of cartoon—a totally twisted style of animation that irreverently shunned social conventions, especially those having to do with bodily functions and gore. Ren Höek is an out-and-out psychotic Chihuahua whose frail, asthmatic frame doesn’t match his vain delusions of being a muscle-bound big guy while Stimpy J. Cat, his good-natured goofball of a sidekick, ends up being on the receiving end of most of his rants. Still, you gotta love a loony sociopathic dog who sounds like a bad rendition of Peter Lorre.
We all know that dogs are smart, but Mr. Peabody is in a class all his own. As part of the popular ‘60s cartoon series Rocky and His Friends, genius pooch Mr. Peabody is determined to better educate his simple-minded human protege Sherman. The duo were later featured in a series of cartoon shorts called “Peabody’s Improbable History,” where Mr. Peabody teaches history lessons to Sherman with the help of a time machine (which he built himself, of course). In 2014, Dreamworks revived the characters for the animated film “Mr. Peabody and Sherman,” which introduced the time-traveling pair to a whole new generation of young’uns.
Everyone loves rooting for the underdog, which is what made Underdog such a lovable cartoon character for kids during the 60s, 70s, and beyond as the show ran in syndication. Following the standard superhero model, Underdog is the alter-ego of meek and humble Shoeshine Boy. However, whenever his lady love (TV reporter Sweet Polly Purebred) finds herself in the villainous clutches of bad guys like Riff Raff, Simon Bar Sinister, or Overcat (get it? Overcat?), Shoeshine Boy transforms into the heroic Underdog and saves the day. Not only is this canine a crimefighter, but he’s also a poet, a skill attested to by his habit of constantly speaking in rhymes: “When Polly's in trouble/I am not slow/it's Hip, Hip, Hip/and away I go!”
Hands down, the best thing about Droopy isn’t his mournful eyes nor his super saggy jowls, but it’s that dejected voice of his that makes him the Eeyore of cartoon dogs. But don’t let his slow-as-molasses speech and depressed demeanor fool you into thinking that you can push him around for too long. Soon enough, his foes learn that this melancholy mutt, much like the Incredible Hulk, can pack a good wallop when he gets angry!
Jake the Dog (Adventure Time)
Adventure Time’s adult fans may, quite possibly, outnumber its child fans for its hipster quirkiness, off-center humor, and for scaling heights of imagination that most TV shows of any genre never quite reach. Jake the Dog, along with his adoptive brother Finn the Human roam around kingdoms far and wide in search of adventure—and adventure they find. Jake’s “Stretchy Powers” allow him to take any form and size he wishes, while Finn’s sword fighting prowess secure victory for the valiant duo—but not before the always-unpredictable plotline takes a few bizarre twists and turns. It’s also worthy to note that Jake’s love interest is Lady Rainicorn, a Korean-speaking Unicorn-Rainbow creature with whom he has fathered five Rainicorn-Dog hybrids.
Who would make a list of cartoon dogs and not include Snoopy? Not us. The little white beagle from the Peanuts Gang made his way into many young, impressionable hearts when he bedecked his doghouse with Christmas lights, ruled the campus as “Joe Cool,” and when he took imaginary flight in his WW1 fighter plane to battle the Red Baron. Contrast Snoopy’s charmed life with Charlie Brown’s...well...NOT-so-charmed life, and you’ve got just the right combination of comedy and pathos to delight and endear fans across generations.
Gromit is the smart but silent best friend of Wallace—an inventor with an extreme fondness for cheese and a tendency toward absentmindedness. Communicating only through facial expressions and gestures, Gromit does his best to keep Wallace out of harm’s way—but it’s a tough task. Not only is Gromit clearly the more sensible of the two (he’s a graduate of “Dogwarts University,” after all), but he’s also adept at a variety of skills including flying planes, cooking, electrical work, and knitting. We love a well-rounded pup, so Gromit makes our list.
Brian Griffin (Family Guy)
Our top dog is none other than The Family Guy’s Brian Griffin, the upright-walking pooch whose wry, sarcastic witticisms are the perfect foil to Peter Griffin’s clueless buffoonery and baby Stewie’s constant maniacal plotting. Despite his penchant for a tipple (and his rather troubling attraction to Peter’s wife, Lois), Brian is clearly the sanest Griffin by far. However human he may appear, he’s still a dog—evidenced by his uncontrollable urge to sniff rear-ends and to antagonize the mailman.
Though he's not the bravest dog in the bunch, he still gets the job done when it comes to bringing the bad guys to light...so long as Scooby snacks are his reward! Of course we're talking about Scooby Doo who, along with a groovy gang known as Mystery Inc. (a.k.a. "those meddling kids") Fred, Velma, Daphne, and Shaggy, hop into their Mystery Machine to go to haunted houses and other creepy locales where villainous plots are afoot. Then those cartoon cops had better step aside, because Scoob and gang will no doubt solve the mystery in half an hour flat.
By Maya M.
Image by mightyfilm