7 Famous Dogs From Our Past

7 Famous Dogs From Our Past

Author WDF Staff | Last updated: May 03 2023


Dogs played a massive role in history. They were a part of beloved movies, scientific discoveries and even helped soldiers during the war. It doesn’t come as big surprise humans and dogs have a close bond since we have survived and worked side-by-side for tens of thousands of years. However, some dogs took it a step further and cemented their place in human history forever.

Some of the famous dogs are animated characters. From Goofy, Scooby-Doo, Lady, Tramp, and all the Dalmatians, we loved watching exciting stories about our favorite animals. Unfortunately, we will not mention them this time. Here are the 7 most famous real dogs in history.

1. Laika

One of the most famous dogs in the world is the first dog in space - Laika. Some have praised this dog because of the action she took part in, and others were in a state of shock that such cruelty was done to an innocent dog. We certainly don’t condone animal experiments, and such cruel ones are genuinely despicable. However, there is no denying that Laika holds a special place in the history of space exploration.

laika in spaceImage Source

Laika was the first dog that was sent to space. In fact, she is the first living creature that was sent to Earth’s orbit. Laika was a stray Husky mix. On November 7, 1957, on the 40th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, she was launched into the Earth’s orbit 2.000 miles above Moscow. Laika had gone through rigorous training only to be sent to space where she had enough oxygen for 7 days. She was forced to give her life, and now she is one of the most famous dogs in history.

2. Balto

Unlike the sad story of Laika, Balto has achieved fame through his life-saving success. There are movies and cartoons made in Balto’s honor and his achievement. He was a dog that led the last part of the famous 1925 Nome serum run. The story follows a dangerous diphtheria outbreak in Nome. The only way its citizens could be saved was if they were given a medication that was located 500 miles away in Anchorage.

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Balto was a Siberian Husky and a well-known sled dog from the kennel owned by Leonhard Seppala. Balto was a part of the team that ran through a freezing blizzard to deliver the life-saving medicine that helped young people in Nome recover from a deadly epidemic. However, Balto’s success was not without a bit of controversy. He was never a leading dog, and some have claimed that a Husky named Fox actually had the lead. We might never find out the actual truth, but to this day, Balto is praised as one of the best and most famous sled dogs in the world.

If you want to know more about the true hero of the 1925 Nome serum run, check out this article - The true story about Togo, the sled dog.

3. Rin Tin Tin

The most famous German Shepherd in history is a dog called Rin Tin Tin. This dog has an unusual life story. He was found in France in the middle of World War I. Rinty was adopted and saved by an American soldier Lee Duncan. Unfortunately, the rest of the Rinty’s littermates did not make it.

rin tin tinImage Source

Lee took Rin Tin Tin with him to Los Angeles, where his new life and road to fame began. The first time Rin Tin Tin was noticed, he was apparently jumping 12 feet in the air, which caught a Hollywood filmmaker’s eye. He employed Rinty and his owner to star in a movie. This dog was a natural talent and went on to star in more than 30 Hollywood movies. He even became the unofficial mascot of Warner Bros. Studios. 

4. Hachikō

If you are a dog lover, you probably heard the story of the most loyal dog in the world. Hachikō was an Akita Inu, and his love for his owner was proven to be undying. There are several movies dedicated to the story of Hachikō, and the Hollywood remake stars Richard Gere as Hidesaburō Ueno, Hachikō’s owner. If you haven’t seen the movie, make sure you prepare some tissues because it will make you cry.

akita inu dog

The story of Hachikō is legendary. He was brought home by Professor Ueno when he was still a puppy. Every day, the professor went to work from the Shibuya Station. Hachikō learned when his owner returned and waited for him every day at the station to return home from work. One day, Professor Ueno had a fatal hemorrhage at work. He never returned to that station, which broke his dog’s heart. Despite that, Hachikō returned to the station every day to wait for the professor. This dog is used in Japan as an example of loyalty and fidelity.

5. Toto

Toto is Dorothy’s dog in the famous movie classic “The Wizard of Oz.” If you have seen the movie, you probably remember the line, “Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Before Toto’s debut and close-up alongside Judy Garland, she was already pretty used to the big screen. Toto starred in 17 movies and was one of the most famous dogs in Hollywood. Toto’s real name was Terry, and she had an amazing story.

toto and judy garlandImage Source

This small Cairn Terrier was abandoned when she was a puppy, but luckily for her, she was saved by Carl Spitz. Mr. Spitz was a dog trainer that worked and achieved the status of the unofficial dog trainer for Hollywood. He made Terry one of the biggest canine movie stars in history and booked her some of the biggest Hollywood movies at the time.

6. Boo

With the rise of social media, dogs and their owners were given a chance to reach millions of followers and admirers worldwide. No one took advantage of that better than a tiny Pomeranian called Boo. His owner made him the world’s most famous social media canine star. Boo was even praised as the cutest dog in the world, although all dog owners will disagree and say their dog is the cutest ever.

booImage Source

Boo’s success was tremendous. At the time of his death in 2019, Boo had more than 19 million followers on his social media channels. He had two books written about him and even had a stuffed toy made after him. This small dog's success has gained many financial gains for his owners, and he paved the way for other canine social media stars whose life we love to follow to this day.

7. Lassie

Another classic movie and TV series with a canine leading role is the series about Lassie. Most dog owners know the fame Lassie brought to his breed, the Rough Collie. There isn’t a child who has seen Lassie stories that didn’t beg their parents to get a Collie. The first role of Lassie was fulfilled by a male dog named Pal. The interesting thing is that while Lassie is a girl, all the roles were played by male Collies.


The original series about Lassie started in the 1940s, and the last movie was made in 2005. That is a testament to Lassie’s fame and adoration. It is one of the most beloved canine characters in TV history. Plus, the roles of Lassie were played by different dogs from Pal’s litter, which means that it is a very lucrative business for their owners. Apparently, Pal, the original Lassie, made twice as much as his costar Elizabeth Taylor.

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