From Lassie to Toto: The 8 greatest dogs in film

·4-min read
<p>Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and his sidekick Baxter (Peanut) wearig matching pyjamas in ‘Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy’ in 2004</p> (Frank Masi/Dreamworks/Apatow Prod/Kobal/Shutterstock)

Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and his sidekick Baxter (Peanut) wearig matching pyjamas in ‘Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy’ in 2004

(Frank Masi/Dreamworks/Apatow Prod/Kobal/Shutterstock)

Lassie, Toto, Uggie… these names are as ubiquitous in Hollywood as Meryl Streep or Tom Cruise. The film industry is full of scene-stealing A-list dogs, with many of them are on A-list salaries.

For instance, Moose – the Jack Russell Terrier who played Eddie Crane in the US sitcom Frasier –reportedly earned about $10,000 (£7,000) per episode, making approximately $3.2 million (£2.3m) in total.

Dogs on screen are a crowd-pleaser. That’s probably why MGM bought Channing Tatum’s new road trip comedy Dog (out 16 July) after a major bidding war.

The film, which marks Tatum’s debut as a director, was inspired by his beloved dog Lulu, who died in 2018. He also stars in the movie, as an army ranger who – along with a Belgian Malinois – race along the Pacific Coast.

Here are some of the most memorable canines to appear onscreen.

Baxter – Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)

This scruffy little dog – real name Peanut – was Ron Burgundy’s (Will Ferrell) beloved and eternally loyal sidekick. They even had matching pyjamas and headgear. “You know how to cut to the core of me, Baxter. You are so wise. You’re like a miniature Buddha covered in hair,” Ron tells him. Baxter later proves to be a true hero when he saves the news team from a bear attack. Sadly, Peanut died before the sequel was filmed, with the role of Baxter being taken on instead by a pup named Quincy.

Buck – The Call of the Wild (2020)

Buck, a St Bernard-Scotch Collie mix, stars with Harrison Ford in this adventure film that, unfortunately, caused a stink at the box office. Buck might be a CGI pooch, but his emotive expressions are priceless. When he’s abducted from his comfortable home in California and shipped off to Yukon, Canada, he’s rescued from a cruel sled-driver by Ford’s John Thornton. The dog might not be real, but his on-screen connection with Ford is.

There were calls for Uggie to win an Oscar after he starred in the 2011 silent French film ‘The Artist’ with Jean DujardinLa Classe Americane/Ufilm/Kobal/Shutterstock
There were calls for Uggie to win an Oscar after he starred in the 2011 silent French film ‘The Artist’ with Jean DujardinLa Classe Americane/Ufilm/Kobal/Shutterstock

Uggie ­– The Artist (2011)

This Parson Russell Terrier stole everyone’s hearts after starring in the silent French comedy-drama, The Artist. But he also starred in another film that year, as Queenie in Water for Elephants, opposite Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon. He won the Palm Dog Award at the Cannes Film Festival, while his memoir Uggie, My Story was published in 2012. He died in 2015, aged 13.

Toto ­­–­ The Wizard of Oz(1939)

The loyal Toto, a Cairn Terrier, was always by Dorothy’s side as they followed the Yellow Brick Road. Toto – real name Terry – honed her acting chops at Carl Spitz’s Hollywood Dog Training School. She even did her own stunts, helping her to earn an extremely lucrative salary of $125 a week ($2,325 when adjusted for inflation). She suffered a serious injury when one of the Wicked Witch’s soldiers accidentally stepped on her, spraining her paw. But after some time recuperating at the home of her co-star, Judy Garland, Terry was back on set just two weeks later.

Toto – real name Terry – was glued to Judy Garland’s Dorothy in ‘The Wizard of Oz’Mgm/Kobal/Shutterstock
Toto – real name Terry – was glued to Judy Garland’s Dorothy in ‘The Wizard of Oz’Mgm/Kobal/Shutterstock

Marley – Marley and Me (2008)

This film is the reason why me (and probably many other families) chose a Golden Retriever as their pet of choice. Despite the film’s tagline – “Life and love with the world’s worst dog” – Marley is impossibly cute when newlyweds John and Jenny (Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston) get him as a precursor to children. Despite critics being unimpressed by its saccharine script, the film is a moving portrait of how dogs become part of the family.

Beagle and pit bull in John Wick (2014)

Daisy, the adorable Beagle owned by Keanu Reeves’s John Wick, was played by an eight-month-old dog named Andy, who attended press junkets, red carpets, and premieres. But the pup’s screen time was all-too short: Reeves, who plays a retired hitman, goes on a murderous rampage when Daisy is killed by Russian gangsters. His softer side comes out when he’s seen rescuing a pit bull from an animal shelter, whom he calls “Boy” or “Dog”. It returns in the next two films. But will he finally have a name in John Wick: Chapter 4?

Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) and her dinky Chihuahua, Bruiser, in ‘Legally Blonde’ in 2001Sam Emerson/Mgm/Kobal/Shutterstock
Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) and her dinky Chihuahua, Bruiser, in ‘Legally Blonde’ in 2001Sam Emerson/Mgm/Kobal/Shutterstock

Bruiser – Legally Blonde (2001)

Aspiring lawyer Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) would not be complete without her dinky Chihuahua, Bruiser. The dog’s real name was Moonie (but he was also known as Moondoggie). He died in 2016 at the ripe old age of 18, but not before starring in the rom-com sequel Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde, as well as a Cher music video. He was also present when Witherspoon received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2010.

Lassie – Lassie (1943)

The epitome of loyalty: Lassie actor Pal made his debut as the heroic Rough Collie in MGM’s 1943 film, Lassie Come Home. Pal retired from the role after an impressive six films, and his descendants took over in 1954 for the long-running TV show, Lassie. Lassie is one of only four animals to be awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame alongside Rin Tin Tin, Uggie, and Stringheart.

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