As man's best friend, it's a no-brainer that dogs would show up in creative ventures, including dozens of movies and TV series. Animated dogs like the Great Dane Scooby Doo, characters like Wishbone, the Jack Russell terrier, and the Rough Collie favorite, Lassie, have long legacies and inspire new relationships with these animals. Movie historians rate a few other breeds as bankable stars worthy of supporting and leading roles.
German shepherds are the undisputed stars of the screen, with over 500 appearances in movies and TV shows and double the IMDB credits of the second most popular breed. They've understandably appeared on dozens of movie posters. Rin Tin Tin, a German shepherd rescued from World War 1, paved the way for the dogs you see today in movies like I Am Legend and series such as After Life.
Next up is the flat-faced bulldog who ruled Hollywood in the 1940s. Bulldogs have graced the screen with their presence over 200 times and claim the Number 2 spot on this elite list. Spike in the Tom and Jerry cartoons is a famous if fictional bulldog. And French bulldogs, a similar breed, have had notable stints in the movie Due Date (2010) and a starring role as protagonist Jay's beloved pooch Stella in the Emmy-winning sitcom Modern Family.
Hot on the bulldog's heels, the poodle is no stranger to the show business world. This breed has spawned numerous crossbreeds because it has admirable traits, including friendliness and intelligence. No wonder, then, that movie makers enjoy working with these dogs. From Breakfast at Tiffany's back in 1961 and Look Who's Talking Now (1993) to Zoolander (2001) and the iconic line "hold my poodle" from 2004's White Chicks, the poodle is cashing checks.
Dobermans are usually outside America's top 10 most popular breeds, but you wouldn't know that from the movies. They're the fourth most popular screen breed, and a regular feature in action flicks. Dobermans are the macho Sly Stallones of the showbiz industry. They've clocked up more than 170 roles, including memorable films such as Father of the Bride (1991), The Invisible Man (2020), Resident Evil (2002), and cameos in shows like Peaky Blinders and Sons of Anarchy.
Chihuahuas closely follow Dobermans and round out the Top 5. They're also relatively low down the American Kennel Club's list of popular dogs in America, occupying the 37th spot, but their compact cuteness makes them shoo-ins for Hollywood and explains their outsized presence. This toy breed was the perfect mascot and companion for Elle Woods in Legally Blonde (2001). It's also the star of the eponymous Beverly Hills Chihuahua trilogy.
Golden retrievers pip labradors to the Tinsel town post, but only just. The loyal breed currently has just under 150 acting credits, chief among them the role of lovable basketball pro Buddy in Air Bud (1997). Golden retrievers also feature in the show Full House and movies including Hawkeye, The Art of Racing in the Rain, the Lindsay Lohan classic The Parent Trap, and the perennially popular rom-com You've Got Mail. But, it should be noted that the dog in Marley and Me (2008) was a labrador.
No canine celebrity list would be complete without mentioning arguably the biggest star of them all, Beethoven. The sloppy St. Bernard was front and center in this film franchise and singlehandedly advanced species diversity and representation in films. This breed of gentle giants features in over 100 pop culture artifacts, including The Call of the Wild (2020) and The Dark Tower (2017).
Because they look a bit like wolves and come from the iciest climes imaginable, Siberian huskies have a certain mystique that people love. They also have blue eyes, which is pretty rare. Sled dogs and huskies feature in movies such as Snow Dogs (2002) and Eight Below (2006), and their proximity to fantasy fiction characters like dire wolves and werewolves has led to surges in demand for the breed at the height of Game of Thrones and Twilight fever.
Mention corgis, and most people immediately think of Elizabeth II. Her Majesty's fondness for the breed reinforced the idea that corgis are regal arbiters of taste, and shows and movies like The Crown and The Queen's Corgi led to upticks in corgi registrations. Kate's discerning dog Newton in season 2 of the regency series Bridgerton (2022) is also a corgi.
This black and white spotted breed first rose to prominence after Disney released an animated movie adaptation of Dodie Smith's book. Live-action versions ensured that generations of children couldn't spot dalmatians in real life without thinking of the number 101 and villainous Cruella Deville with her half-and-half hair and red lipstick.
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