From Toto to Lassie, many of the best dogs from literature have been loyal companions, much like our own. Here’s our list of the top 10 dogs from literature:
Appears in: The Wizard of Oz – L. Frank Baum
Breed: Cairn Terrier
Famous Quote: “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
Dorothy’s famous companion is a small black dog who remains at Dorothy’s side throughout the story, reminding her of her ties to home. Whilst ever present but rarely acknowledged, Toto is the character who reveals the true identity of the Wizard of Oz, thus enabling Dorothy to find her way home and saving the day with a strong doggy instinct for sniffing things out.
Appears in: The Sherlock Holmes Series – Arthur Conan Doyle
Breed: Half Spaniel/Half Lurcher
Famous Quote: “I would rather have Toby’s help, than that of the whole detective force of London.” – Sherlock Holmes
A reliable hound who is often called upon by Sherlock Holmes to help solve crimes. He plays a key part in crimes and shows that dogs are super intelligent and could teach us humans a thing or two about instinct.
Appears in: Lassie Come Home – Eric Knight
Breed: Rough Collie
Famous Quote: “Ye’re my Lassie come home.”
With a true love for her owner, Lassie is willing to go to extraordinary lengths to reunite with Joe after forcibly being sold to wealthy owners during her true family’s financially difficult times. Lassie escapes from her unhappy home in Scotland and treks through storms and dog catchers and eventually makes her way back to Yorkshire, returning to the boy that loves her. We can only hope that our own dogs know just how much we love them in the same way that Lassie did!
Appears in: Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time – Mark Haddon
Famous Quote: “I like dogs. You always know what a dog is thinking. It has four moods. Happy, sad, cross and concentrating. Also, dogs are faithful and they do not tell lies because they cannot talk.”
At the beginning of this novel, Wellington the dog is found dead, having been stabbed with a fork by an unknown killer. Whilst never reappearing again during the plot, Wellington’s death is the catalyst that takes Christopher on a journey of self-discovery and inspires him to seek truth.
Appears in: Harry Potter – JK Rowling
Famous Quote: “Fine, just so you know, he’s a bloody coward.”
As Hagrid’s best pal, Fang is a ‘dozy dog’ who despite often running away during times of fear, always accompanies Hagrid and often Harry Potter and other students into the Forbidden Forest. Fang is often noted in different scenes of the Harry Potter series to be ‘slobbering’, a trait that we’re always willing to tolerate from the best of dogs.
Appears in: Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire – George RR Martin
Breed: Technically a wolf, but has dog like tendencies and loyalty
Famous Quote: “He’s not like the others.” – Jon Snow
Ok, so he’s not actually a dog, but in the fictional land that is Westeros, a direwolf is definitely the next best thing to man’s best friend. Ghost, like Jon Snow, is the outcast of his wolf family and the two form an everlasting bond. Despite being the runt of the litter, becomes the biggest and strongest of his pack and senses the betrayal of the Night’s Watch. There’s nothing like having an honest wolf by your side…
Appears in: Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World’s Worst Dog- John Grogan
Breed: Yellow Labrador
Famous Quote: “A dog doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, clever or dull, smart or dumb. Give him your heart and he’ll give you his. How many people can you say that about?”
Note: do not read this book unless you are prepared for an emotional rollercoaster. Marley is the ultimate naughty dog who captures the hearts of his owners, John and Jenny Grogan as they get married and pursue their adult life together. John Grogan tells the story of the real impact that a dog has on its owner’s life.
8. Clifford the Big Red Dog
Appears in: Clifford the Big Red Dog Series – Norman Bridwell
Breed: Giant dog
Famous Quote: (From author) “Sometimes you’ll do something that you really like and no one else does. You’ll feel terrible, but you’ve just got to press on and keep trying. If you like doing it and keep working at it, then someday you will succeed.”
A giant cartoon dog best friend; what more could you possibly want in a companion? As a lovable, shy, caring character, Clifford is devoted to his owners and has adventures, often getting into accidental trouble with friends. A fun companion for all the family, Clifford is now Scholastic Books’ official mascot.
Appears in: Peter Pan – JM Barrie
Famous Quote: “Dash it all, Nana, don’t look at me like that. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that… well, you’re not really a nurse at all, you’re… well, a dog. And the children aren’t puppies, they’re people. And sooner or later, Nana, people have to grow up.” – Mr Darling
Oh Nana, how our hearts ached for you when you couldn’t go with Wendy and the others to Neverland. Nana the Nanny looked after the Darling children and cared for them with a heart as big as her paws.
10. Every last one of the dalmatians
Appears in: The Hundred and One Dalmatians – Dodie Smith
Famous Quote: “Dogs can never speak the language of humans, and humans can never speak the language of dogs. But many dogs can understand almost every word humans say, while humans seldom learn to recognize more than half a dozen barks, if that. And barks are only a small part of the dog language. A wagging tail can mean so many things. Humans know that it means a dog is pleased, but not what a dog is saying about his pleasedness. (Really, it is very clever of humans to understand a wagging tail at all, as they have no tails of their own.) Then there are the snufflings and sniffings, the pricking of ears – all meaning different things. And many, many words are expressed by a dog’s eyes.”
It’s hard not to love the idea of 101 dalmatians running around, but we’d imagine that the reality would be quite a handful. Even so, perhaps just for a day, it could be heaven.
If you think we’ve missed any important literary dogs off our list, comment with your suggestions!