10 Most Famous Dogs in History

Canines are known as man's best friend for a number of reasons. Loyal, intelligent and and affectionate are just a few of the great characteristics of our beloved pets, and the most famous dogs in history are all of this and more!

While humble and selfless at heart, dogs often find ways into the spotlight. One viral story or amazing video, and dogs can gain the affection and adoration of the public in mere minutes.

That's what inspired me to do research for this list of the most famous dogs in history.

I had so much fun learning about these 10 amazing canines. I had heard of some them, but enjoyed learning even more.

You may already know a few of these celebrity pups, too. Not surprisingly, some of the most famous dogs in history have been featured in movies and on television, followed their human counterparts onto the battlefield and even inspired some of our favorite inventions.

10 Most Famous Dogs in History

famous dogs in history
Source: The New Yorker

1. Laika

Laika was the first dog in space. She was a stray found on the streets of Moscow, and researchers in the Soviet Union sent her into space in the spacecraft Sputnik 2.

There wasn't very limited information on the effects of space on animals at this time. The Soviets were eager to beat the Americans in the Space Race, so they sent Laika into space without the means to return.

Laika was the first living creature to orbit Earth.

Originally, experts through that she died four days into the expedition. Sadly, new research has revealed that she only survived a few hours after being launched into orbit.

Researchers placed sensors all over her body, and were able to learn a lot about what happened to an animal's heart rate, stress level and respiratory system during the launch. The use of animal testing for this spaceflight was essential to preparation for human-manned flights in the future.

2. Balto

Most people have heard of Balto. You've probably seen the movie or read the books about him, but do you know why he's one of the most famous dogs in history?

Balto was a Siberian Husky who saved the town of Nome, Alaska in 1925. The town was plagued with a terrible bought of diphtheria, a deadly and extremely contagious disease.

The medicine that the townspeople needed was hundreds of miles away. Due to winter weather and a lot of snow, the only way to reach the medicine was by dog sled.

A relay of dog sleds passed the medicine along, and the final leg was led by Balto. He led his sled team through a blizzard over 54 miles of trail in temperatures as low as 40 below zero.

Balto has been immortalized in an animated movie, books, and there is a statue erected in his honor in Central Park. You can also view his taxidermied body at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

3. Rin Tin Tin

Rin Tin Tin is another one of the most famous dogs in history who you probably recognize – at least you probably recognize the name.

Did you know that Rin Tin Tin was originally rescued from a battlefield during World War I? After being rescued he appeared in numerous films in the 1920's and 1930's. He was also one of the first dogs to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

READ MORE: 25 Ways To Make Your Dog Famous on Social Media

Checkers with Richard Nixon
Source: Richard Nixon Foundation

4. Checkers

Richard Nixon’s Cocker Spaniel, Checkers, became one of the most famous dogs in history even though he never actually lived in the White House.

Did you know that September 23rd has been designated ‘National Dogs in Politics Day‘ in honor of Checkers?

Richard Nixon is infamously known for his participation in the Watergate scandal. He was also part of another scandal when he was holding down a seat in the Senate, which threatened his position just a few short weeks before the 1952 presidential election, in which he was the Republican nominee for Vice President.

Nixon took to television to address the nation about the accusations. What American seem to remember best from his TV appearance was Checkers, the adorable black and white Cocker Spaniel puppy.

Most experts agree that Nixon's “Checkers Speech” was what saved his campaign for the Vice Presidency.

5. Greyfriar’s Bobby

Greyfriar's Bobby is one of the most famous dogs in Scotland. In the nineteenth century he demonstrated the incredible power of a dog's unwavering loyalty.

According to legend, the terrier (Bobby) belonged to John Gray, a night watchman working for the Edinburgh City Police Department. After Gray's passing, Bobby found his way to his grave located in the Greyfriars Kirkyard.

The faithful canine sat beside the gravestone until his death 14 years later. After his death, Bobby was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard.

While some people do doubt the tale, Bobby is an inspiration to many. There are multiple monuments erected in Scotland his honor.

6. Chips

Chips began his life as an ordinary domesticated house dog. He was a Collis, Malamute and German Shepherd mix.

During World War II, Chips family donated him to the War Dog Training Center. Chips was sent oversees with his handler.

In 1943, Chips and his human counterpart were cornered by an Italian machine-gun team. It seemed like there was no way out until Chips broke free and jumped into the shelter where the machine-gunners were hiding.

Chips forced the four gunners out of their hiding place, grabbing one of them by the neck. This brave canine served valiantly and was returned to his family 2 years later.

ALSO: 9 Famous Dogs That Are the Biggest Movie Stars

trakr hero dog

7. Trakr

9/11 is a day that drastically changed history. More than 300 Search and Rescue dogs were used to find and uncover survivors from the rubble.

One of these heroic canines was Trakr.

Trakr and his handler, James Symington, went to New York from their home in Canada to help find survivors at Ground Zero. They are credited with finding the last survivor, a woman who had been trapped for more than 24 hours

8. Nemo

Did you know that more than 3,500 military dogs were used during the Vietnam War?

The Viet Cong were known for being incredible sneaky. They were experts at hiding in the jungle, which made them nearly impossible to find. This gave them a huge advantage over the American soldiers.

Thanks to their incredible hearing and powerful sense of smell, military dogs were trained to alert their handlers when they could sense the presence of enemy soldiers.

The dogs could alert their handlers before the Viet Cong soldiers could be seen. Sadly, these dogs often lost their lives after vocalizing the presence of the enemy.

Nemo was among the thousands of dogs used in these military efforts. He was stationed at Tan Son Nhut Air Base as part of their security detail.

On December 4th, 1966, Nemo suffered a horrible injury when he and his handler successfully killed two Viet Cong soldiers. A bullet went through Nemo's eye and out the side of his snout.

Thankfully, this injury did not kill him. Despite his wound, Nemo continued to ward off any potential threats by laying across his handler's wounded body until paramedics arrived.

Nemo ended up losing his right eye due his injury. He was retired shortly after this event, and became a decorated war veteran. In his retirement, he accompanied recruitment officers in their duties to gain new canines and humans to enlist in the armed forces.

9. Milka

You may not recognize this dog, but you certainly know the invention that she is responsible for.

On a fall day in 1941, George de Mestral took his dog, Milka, for a walk. When they returned home, George discovered that Milka had burs in her coat.

The burs weren't sticky, but they held onto the fur tightly. While they held tightly, they could be removed easily.

This got George thinking! He looked at the burs under a microscope and discovered that they had a natural hook shape.

His understanding of how the burs worked led to his invention of a two-sided fastener that we now call Velcro.

10. Buddy

Buddy was the first seeing eye dog in the United States. As you can imagine, this had a huge impact on the future of seeing dogs in this country and around the world.

Morris Frank lost the vision in his right eye when he was 6-years-old. 10 years later, he lost the vision in his left eye after a boxing match went awry.

When Morris was 20 years old, his father read him a newspaper article entitled “The Seeing Eye”. It was written by an American dog trainer, Dorothy Harrison Eustis.

Eustis was living in Switzerland and wrote the article about veterans who’d lost their sight in World War I and were being assisted by service dogs. Morris immediately wrote to her and arranged to go to Switzerland to meet one of these service dogs.

In 1928, Morris Frank became the first American to have a trained seeing eye dog. Buddy was a female German Shepherd.

Morris and Eustis came to an agreement to bring seeing eye dogs to other vision impaired Americans. Eustis agreed to back the project financially under two conditions – first, it would need to be proven that guide dogs could help blind humans navigate through and secondly, the public would need to be educated to allow guide dogs in public areas.

Morris Frank created The Seeing Eye, the first guide dog training institution in America. Buddy and Morris were instrumental in the creation and passing of American access laws, which would become the foundation for today’s American’s With Disabilities Act.

The dogs on this list are truly amazing. I had a great time researching and learning about these dogs and their human counterparts. If you'd like to recommend a dog for this list, comment below or share the information with us on one of our social media channels.

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Samantha’s biggest passion in life is spending time with her Boxer dogs. After she rescued her first Boxer in 2004, Samantha fell in love with the breed and has continued to rescue three other Boxers since then. She enjoys hiking and swimming with her Boxers, Maddie and Chloe.