They curl up next to you on the couch, they lick your face when you’re feeling down, and they stare at you with those big eyes begging you to pet them. Anyone who’s ever had a dog knows how much their companionship means and that life quite simply wouldn’t be the same without them. As the great animators of the world created some of our favorite cartoon characters, they made sure that they also had some pretty awesome pooches by their sides.
The world of cartoons has had some amazing dogs over the years; in fact, it’s almost difficult to find a single animated show that doesn’t feature a canine at one point or another. And even in their animated forms, these dogs bring us comfort and joy with their floppy-eared antics and their undying loyalty. But, out of all the amazing cartoon dogs out there, a few have emerged as the most memorable and lovable of the bunch. These are the seven best cartoon dogs of all time:
Courage (Courage the Cowardly Dog)
A good dog will risk its life to protect its owner, but Courage from Courage the Cowardly Dog takes that to a whole different level. Nearly every episode of the show features Courage putting his life on the line to protect his two oblivious owners from villains ranging from ghosts to deranged nephews to evil sentient computers.
One of the cutest parts about Courage is the fact that, even though Eustace and Muriel will make countless blunders and put all their lives in danger, Courage always ends up curling up on Muriel’s lap in front of the television. Courage is able to forgive, forget, and keep being the loyal little purple companion that we’ve all grown to love.
Blue (Blue’s Clues)
Just one more extension of the patriarchal influence on our society, most people who watched Blue’s Clues assumed that Blue was a boy. In fact, Blue was a girl, and a pretty awesome one.
Not only was Blue one of the best detectives in cartoon history, often making up for the incompetence of her human companion and solving mysteries with only three clues, but she was also heart-warmingly cute and funny.
Also, let’s not forget about the fact that Blue could actually jump into magical drawings and travel to other dimensions. She also had her inseparable doggy friend Magenta, proving that Blue wasn’t only liked by humans but also by other dogs.
Clifford (Clifford the Big Red Dog)
Moving from one primary color to the next, if you didn’t read or watch Clifford the Big Red Dog when you were younger, then your childhood sucked. Just kidding, but not really. In all seriousness, though, who doesn’t want to be able to climb out of their bedroom window and ride on their gargantuan dog off into the sunset?
Clifford wasn’t just big, he was gentle and extremely loyal to his owner Emily Elizabeth. However, owning a dog of that size must have been a hassle both practically and financially. His doghouse was about the size of the family’s house. He probably drank a small lake’s worth of water every day. Don’t even get me started on when he takes a doggy doo-doo on the neighbor’s lawn.
Scooby-Doo (Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!)
While some might argue that either Fred or Velma was the leader of Mystery Incorporated, I think we all know who was really running the show. Scooby-Doo is definitely one of the most iconic dogs to ever appear in pop culture, spanning television shows, live-action movies, comic books, video games, and more from the year 1969 to the present day. From the very first episode of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, this adorable Great Dane made his way into our hearts.
Perhaps one of the best parts of Scooby’s personality is the fact that he and his best friend Shaggy come across as a pair of dummies, but always end up saving the day in the end. Plus, there’s the not-so-subtle implication that the duo is getting stoned throughout the entire show, which explains why Scooby requires Scooby Snacks to function in any useful way.
Santa’s Little Helper (The Simpsons)
Santa’s Little Helper first appeared in The Simpsons when Homer took the small amount of money he earned working as a Santa Claus at the Springfield Mall and, instead of using it to buy Christmas presents for his family, bet it at the dog track.
Rather than listen to a tip he gets about the winning dog, he goes with the longshot named Santa’s Little Helper, who comes in last. Frustrated with the dog’s performance, Santa’s Little Helper’s owner leaves him behind and he’s rescued by Homer and becomes a part of the Simpson family.
Santa’s Little Helper, who briefly becomes known as Suds McDuff as part of an advertising campaign for Duff beer, has the uncanny ability to appear dumb and destructive and yet seem to have some sort of human-like or supernatural quality to him. Santa’s Little Helper is also implied to be bisexual in the “Jaws Wired Shut” episode of The SImpsons, making him the only LGBTQIA+ dog on this list.
Goddard (The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius)
Named after Robert H. Goddard, the engineer and inventor credited with building the world’s first liquid-fueled rocket, Jimmy Neutron’s faithful companion is more of a robot than an actual dog, but I think he deserves a spot on this list anyway. Sure, there was that one time that he turned into an evil monster and tried to destroy Retroville, but for all the other times when he saved Jimmy’s ass, I think we can forgive him.
Throughout the 61 episodes of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Goddard is shown to have almost unlimited gadgets built into him, yet he’s still somehow light enough to fly. He’s also been blown up and dismembered countless times only to use his self-reassemble feature to go right back to normal. That’s just another day at the office for Goddard. He also apparently has the capacity to love as he becomes extremely smitten with Roxy, the pet dog of Jimmy’s nemesis The Junkman.
Pluto (Mickey Mouse)
Of course, there had to be at least one of the legendary dogs from the Mickey Mouse series of cartoons, movies, and comic books on this list. It was certainly a toss-up between Pluto and Goofy; however, as Pluto seemed to embody more dog-like qualities, he seemed like the right choice. Pluto first made his debut as an unnamed bloodhound in the film The Chain Gang way back in 1930, making him the oldest character on this list.
There are several parts of Pluto’s existence that don’t make a whole lot of sense. First of all, how does a mouse have a pet dog? In the real world, mice are significantly smaller than dogs, and Pluto would probably just eat Mickey, and he definitely wouldn’t take orders from him. Also, why is it that Goofy is able to talk but Pluto isn’t? After doing some research into the answer, it seems that Goofy is actually a human being who resembles a dog, which is why he walks and talks like a human. Honestly, that’s pretty terrifying if you think about it.