Not only in American homes, but on television shows and in the movies as far back as we can remember. Here's our list, in no particular order, of 15 special breeds that have shown up on the big and little screen. How many of these do you recognize?
Toto from "The Wizard of Oz"
If you have ever seen the movie "The Wizard of Oz," you probably remember Dorothy's feisty little friend and companion, Toto. Did you think he was a Scottish Terrier? If so, you aren't alone, but that's not correct. He's actually a Cairn Terrier.
Lassie from "Lassie Come Home" and the TV series "Lassie"
This magnificent Rough Collie, star of both the big screen and television, will long be remembered for her beauty and loyalty. Although the character Lassie was a female, her part was often acted by male dogs.
Rin Tin Tin and Pax from "Longstreet"
Rin Tin Tin was a German Shepherd who also made a claim to fame in both movies and on television, and was one of the first, if not the first, well known dog stars. German Shepherds have been popular both as pets and on the screen ever since. A beautiful white German Shepherd named Pax was the seeing eye dog for the blind detective Michael Longstreet in the 1970's series "Longstreet."
Petey from "The Little Rascals" and "Our Gang"
Petey, the familiar dog with a circle around his eye from "The Little Rascals" (also known as "Our Gang") was an American Pit Bull.
Wilby (in dog form) from "The Shaggy Dog"
Most people today recognize the Old English Sheepdog: a large, long-haired dog with fur over his eyes. But the breed was almost unknown in America when Disney released the movie "The Shaggy Dog" in the 1960's. The breed instantly became popular. An Old English Sheepdog made a television appearance as Ladadog in the series, "Please Don't Eat the Daisies."
Tramp from "My Three Sons" and Reno from "Top Dog"
Another shaggy dog from the 1960's and 70's was Tramp, on the television series "My Three Sons." Both he and the dog that played Reno in the movie "Top Dog" were Briards. This somewhat less familiar breed dates back to at least the 14th century, was bred for herding, and has exceptional hearing.
Duke from "The Beverly Hillbillies"
One of the Clamplett clan that seemed to really embrace the Beverly Hills lifestyle was Jed Clampett's Bloodhound, Duke. Although Jed alludes to Duke's hunting abilities "back home," Duke spent most of his time on the series lounging about.
Mignon from "Green Acres"
Mignon, owned by Lisa Douglas on the series "Green Acres," was a Yorkshire Terrier. This breed is perfect for the part of a pampered pooch, who shared the house with Arnold the Pig.
Chance and Shadow from "Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey"
Chance, the impetuous pup in the movie "Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey," was an American Bulldog. His mentor and friend, Shadow was portrayed with dignity and humility by an aging Golden Retriever.
Zeus and Apollo from "Magnum PI"
Higgins' two guard dogs, Zeus and Apollo, on the television series "Magnum PI" were perfectly portrayed by two Doberman Pinschers.
Milo in "The Mask" and Eddie on "Frasier"
Both Milo from the movie "The Mask" and Eddie on the long-running television series "Frasier" were played by Jack Russell Terriers. Another more recent role played by a Jack Russell Terrier was that of Skip in the movie "My Dog Skip."
Cujo, from "Cujo" and Beethoven from the movie "Beethoven"
Horror movie fans may best remember the Saint Bernard as the lovable dog turned violent due to rabies in the movie "Cujo." The image of the Saint Bernard was softened some after the movie "Beethoven" came out. Though very large (they can weigh 250 pounds or more), they tend to be calm, gentle, friendly dogs.
Brutus from "The Ugly Dachshund," Scooby-Doo and Marmaduke
Brutus, the "ugly" Dachshund in the movie, "The Ugly Dachshund" was a Great Dane. The cartoon characters Scooby-Doo and Marmaduke are also Great Danes, catapulting this breed to fame.
Shiloh from the movie "Shiloh" and Snoopy from "Peanuts"
The dog Shiloh, from the movie of the same name, was a Beagle. But probably the best known and most beloved Beagle is Snoopy from the "Peanuts" comic strip and cartoons.
Old Yeller from "Old Yeller," Benji from "Benji," and Tiger from "The Brady Bunch"
If you don't see a strong similarity between Old Yeller, Benji, and Tiger, don't feel bad: the only thing these three dogs have in common is that they're all three mutts. It seems a dog doesn't need a pedigree to be an actor, just an ability to follow direction and an endearing photogenic quality.
Images courtesy Wikipedia or screenshots from the films
Pam Hair is a pet industry copywriter with Fuzzy Friends Writer, where she combines her three passions: a love of animals, a strong desire to help other people, and the joy of writing. She has been a pet parent over the years to dogs, cats, and a variety of rodents. Currently she and her husband share their home with two guinea pigs.