Here Are The 29 Most Famous Dogs In U.S. History

Dogs have been considered human’s best friend since the beginning of times. People enjoy the company of their furry friends and the truth is that we just can’t live without them. But believe it or not, some of our 4-legged friends have played a major role in history. Some have been part of important historical events like the First World War, some have acted in some of the world’s first movies, and others have been faithful companions of crucial political figures like John F. Kennedy. Don’t miss the following list and learn the story of the 29 most important dogs in American history. You won’t believe #14, #9 and #2

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#29. Millie Bush

Mildred Kerr Bush, also known as Millie, was the pet of the former president of The United States George H. Bush and his wife Barbara. This English Springer Spaniel was known as “The Most Famous Dog In White House” and was named after Mildred Caldwell Kerr, an old family friend.

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The former president once mentioned his pet in a speech in 1992, saying that she was more intelligent than her opponents. Believe it or not, Millie has her own biography, Millie’s Book, and as you may imagine, the book’s co-author was her owner Barbara Bush. The book was released in August 1990 and became a bestseller of the New York Times. Sadly, Millie died in 1997 at the age of 12 from pneumonia.

#28. Pal

Who doesn’t remember the movie classic, Lassie? The first dog that played Lassie was a male Rough Collie called Pal, who was trained by a famous Hollywood animal trainer named Rudd Weatherwax. Pal’s first appearance was in 1943 in the film Lassie Come Home. All in all, Pal starred in seven Lassie movies between 1940 and 1950, and he is considered as the dog with “The Most Spectacular Canine Career In Film History“.

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But something that maybe you didn’t know is that this dog not only starred in these famous films but also on television and radio. He retired after a successful career but his descendants continued with the role of Lassie. So it is accurate to state that this family is full of stars! Pal passed away in 1958 at the age of 18.

#27. Rin-Tin-Tin

The story of this German Shepherd is unique and unbelievable. Everything started when the American soldier Lee found him on a French battlefield of the First World War. Duncan declared it was love at first sight and he couldn’t abandon his 4 legged-friend, so he decided to take him back to the US.

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Duncan trained Rinty (which was his nickname) and helped the dog get his first role in Where The North Begins in 1923. Rin-Tin-Tin was in more than 25 Hollywood films, like Frozen River, and he is famous around the world even today. Sadly, he passed away at the age of 14 in 1932. Rin-Tin-Tin became so famous that after his death, many German Sherperds were named after him. In addition, other dogs of his breed starred in the film The Adventures Of Rin-Tin-Tin.

#26. Chips

Some dogs’ destiny is to serve their country, no matter the consequences. This is the case of Chips, a special dog that was trained for the United States Army. This dog is actually a crossbreed between a German Shepherd, a Collie, and a Siberian Husky. He is known as The Most Decorated War Dog From World War II.

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His owner was Edward J. Wren and like many citizens during the years of the war, he decided to donate his dog for duty. Chips was sent with his handler to Sicily, but the Italian troops started to shoot at them when they arrived at the coast. With immense bravery, Chips attacked the Italians’ pillbox and saved his owner’s life. At the same day, he rescued ten prisoners! For his work and cooperation, Chips earned the Distinguished Service Cross and he returned with his family after the war ended in 1945.

#25. Terry

In 1939, The Wizard Of Oz became one of Hollywood’s most iconic movies of all time, and we still remember the furry star, Toto. The female Cairn Terrier that played the character was called Terry, and she was born in November 1933. She was trained by Carl Spitz, who was also her owner. Spitz was paid $125 per week each time his dog acted in a movie.

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Terry appeared in 16 movies and her first appearance was in Ready For Love in 1934. She was also Shirley Temple’s co-star in Bright Eyes and was also part of the movie Bad Little Angel with Virginia Weidler. Terry’s last movie was Tortilla Flat in 1942. After that movie, she retired from her acting career and she passed away in 1945 at the age of 11. Terry has her own memorial in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. She really deserves it!

#24. Balto

Balto was part of one of the bravest medical campaigns of US history. In 1925, the town of Nome, Alaska, was suffering from a diphtheria epidemy. A ship made an attempt to bring medicine, but there was so much ice that the town was inaccessible. Thus, a Husky named Balto was in charge of delivering the medicine to the patients on a sled.

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Balto became extremely famous after the so-called Serum Run, and he is still remembered today. After those events, Balto spent his last days resting at the Cleveland Zoo until 14 March of 1933, when he passed away at the age of 14. His remains have been kept in the Cleveland Museum Of Natural History. 

#23. Smoky

Although Yorkshire Terriers are known because of their tiny size, they can be really brave! This is the case of Smoky, who served in World War II. Her weight was only 1.8 kg and she was the size of a purse, but she proved to be tough and courageous. She was found by accident by an American soldier in a foxhole in New Guinea’s jungle.

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Corporal William A. Wyne was her owner and she accompanied him during the events of War World II. Wyne declared several times that Smoky never got ill during the war and that she was always next to him. He also declared that this little dog saved his life many times as she warned him when soldiers were coming. After the war ended, Smoky became famous worldwide.

#22. Sergeant Stubby

Sergeant Stubby served the U.S Army during World War I for 18 months, and he was also part of seventeen battles on the Western Front. He was so brave and determined that he saved his regiment several times, especially from surprise mustard gas attacks. He also helped his partners to catch a German soldier. Stubby was decorated for his actions during the war and he became the only dog to literally become a sergeant!

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His face may ring a bell because he is the official mascot of the 102nd Infantry Regiment Of The United States. He also met presidents like Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, and Warren G. Harding. Stubby passed away in 1926, after a long life of service and fame. In 2018, the movie Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero was released, featuring his life.

#21. Rags

Like many dogs of this list, Rags played an important role in World War I. This mixed Breed Terrier became the mascot of the U.S 1st Infantry Division, after being adopted by Private James Donovan in Paris. Rags played a crucial role during the war times… Let’s see why!

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Rags was in charge of the correspondence between soldiers! He had to run messages between those soldiers in the headquarters and those in the front lines. Also, Rags saved many lives after he delivered a message in the Meuse-Argonne and he won several medals and awards after that event. When he returned to the U.S., he was named as the official mascot of the U.S Army until his death in 1936.

#20. Bud Nelson

How did this Pit Bull become famous throughout the U.S.? Well, Bud Nelson was the first dog in America to cross the whole country in an automobile way back in 1903! It all began when American physician Horatio Nelson Jackson decided to build an automobile to pursue his dream of crossing the United States by car. Jackson, in fact, became an automobile pioneer around the world!

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Jackson found Bud in Caldwell, Idaho and the dog became part of Jackson’s journey since then. Bud Nelson became famous around the world after Jackson decided to protect Bud’s eyes with a pair of goggles because their car didn’t have a roof. One of their pictures went viral, and Bud and Jackson were soon in all the front pages of newspapers. Bud’s goggles are still displayed in the Smithsonian Museum Of American History.

#19. Pal

Back in the 1920s, a dog called Pal became famous in the US because of a particular feature: he had a ring around his eye. This is uncommon in dogs, but it’s still a weird reason why to be famous, right? But can you guess what his job was?

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This dog became part of a couple of a few TV series such as Buster Brown, Our Gang, and The Little Rascals. Pal died in 1930 but his son Pete continued working in the same series, replacing him in his role as Petey. Keep on reading the most incredible stories of the 29 most important dogs in American history!

#18. Sallie

Sallie Ann Jarret, best known as Sallie, became the mascot of the 11th Pennsylvania Infantry and she accompanied the soldiers during the American Civil War. This American Staffordshire Terrier was a courageous dog that would do anything for her friends. She was part of the troops and she adapted to the army life very quickly.

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Sallie was always in the front line of any march, always next to Coronel Richard Coulter. In some of President Abraham Lincoln’s memories, there are some mentions regarding Sallie and how she was always on the head of any mission. Sadly, she passed away defending her country during a battle but the veterans of the 11th Infantry erected a life-size bronze statue in her honor on the Gettysburg Battlefield in 1890.

#17. Nemo

Before Disney’s famous clownfish, there happened to be another animal called Nemo. Nemo was a German Shepherd that served in the United States Air Force during the times of the Vietnam War. Nemo was one of the 40 sentry dogs that were sent to South Vietnam in order to help the troops during the battles.

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Nemo became famous when he saved the life of his handler, Airman Robert A. Throneburg during an attack by the Viet Cong in the Tan Son Nhut Air Base. In that battle, Nemo lost his right eye when hit by a bullet. When he returned to the US, he became a hero and the Air Force decided to retire due to his injuries. Nemo lived in peace until his death in December 1972.

#16. Lucca

Lucca was a mix between a German Sherped and a Belgian Malinois. He was a service dog who was part of the United States Marine Corps for six years. Her mission was really important for the nation because she was in charge of detecting explosives. Under her duty, she had to travel twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. She was part of more than 400 missions and under her watch, plenty of human lives were saved.

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In 2012, she was in Afghanistan on a patrol when she was injured by an IED blast, causing the amputation of her left leg. Lucca had to come back to the states where she recovered from the injury in Camp Pendleton. Later that year, Lucca retired and was adopted by Gunnery Sergeant Chris Willingham and lived happily with him until her death in 2018. Lucca was also awarded the Dickin Medal. 

#15. Lex

Lex was another 4-legged friend that was part of the U.S Army. To be more specific, he was part of the United States Marine Corps, and he became the first dog to earn an early retirement while being in active duty. Lex was also sent to the Iraq War together with Corporal Dustin J. Lee.

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In the battlefield, Lex’s handler died and the dog refused to leave him but eventually, the troops took Lex and sent him back to the U.S. Because of his honorable action, Lex was awarded Purple Heart, one of the most important awards given by the president. Lex received early retirement and he lived in peace with a new family until his death in 2012.

#14. Apollo

Apollo was a German Sheperd search and rescue dog that served in the New York Police Department. When the September 11th terrorist attacks took place, Apollo and his handler Peter Davis happened to be close to the Twin Towers. They arrived at the site fifteen minutes after the attacks and Apollo became the first rescue dog to help the victims.

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Apollo managed to defend himself from fire and flames and thanks to his bravery he saved a lot of human lives. He dragged victims from the site of the attack and took them to a safe place. Apollo worked for almost 20 hours per day several weeks after the events. For his work and cooperation, he received the Dickin Medal in 2002 in the company of two other rescue dogs, Roselle and Salty.

#13. Sinbad

The story of the mixed-breed dog Sinbad started off with a failed romance. The American soldier A.A. Roth worked for the United States Coast Guard, and he was about to be sent to a mission during World War II. But before his takeoff, he wanted to give to his girlfriend a gift, something she could remember him by. He rescued Sinbad from the streets and gave it to her, but unfortunately, dogs were not allowed in her building. 

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Thus, Roth took Sinbad with him to the mission because he didn’t want to abandon the puppy. Luckily, his partners welcomed him with a lot of joy. According to the Coast Guard, Sinbad was enlisted into the service with his pawprint. The dog earned several medals, like the American Defense Service Medical and the American Campaign Medal.

#12. Owney

Owney was a Border Terrier and he became the first dog to travel by train around the United States.  Everything started in 1888 when this dog appeared in the front door of the Albany post office and never left. Postal workers started to call the dog Owney and he became more and more famous among the workers. He became the first unofficial postal pet.

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As the months went by, some of the postal workers grew so fond of the dog that they began taking him with them on some of their journeys across the country. In fact, Owney became the first dog in history to ever travel to each and every one of America’s 50 states. In 2011, the United States Postal Service published a stamp in his honor.

#11. Buddy

Some dogs are trained for military service or for acting in movies, but some others are trained to become guide dogs. Nowadays, it’s common to see Labrador Retrievers as guide dogs for blind people but the first Seeing Eye dog in the world was Buddy, a German Shepherd who was trained by a young man called Morris Frank.

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One day, Morris was reading an article about the First World War, and the article said that some injured veterans used German Sherperds as guide dogs. Morris contacted the article’s author Dorothy Harrison Eustis, who also happened to be dog trainer, and together they trained Buddy. It is said that her story inspired the creation of The Seeing Eye, a dog-training institution. You don’t want to miss what’s next on our list!

#10. Clifford

I bet all of you know Clifford, the Big Red Dog. He’s not actually a real dog but we still thought that he deserved to be on our list since he has marked the childhood of thousands of kids all over the world. Clifford is part of an American children’s book that was first published in 1963 and written by Norman Bridwell. He once declared in an interview that he based Clifford’s adventures on his own dog.

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More than 80 books have been published about the adventures of Clifford, including famous titles like Clifford, The Small Red Puppy, Clifford’s Family, and Clifford Goes To Washington. What’s more, Clifford also has his own television show. The creator of Clifford passed away in 2014, but his creation will live with us until the end of time.

#9. Bosco

Did any of you know that there’s an American dog who was elected honorary mayor? Bosco Ramos was a mix between a black Labrador Retriever and a Rottweiler, and he was elected mayor of Sunol, California in 1981 after defeating two humans candidates. He served his community until his death in 1994.

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The Daily Star covered the election and called Sunol “the craziest town in the world”. Bosco also appeared in the company of his owner, Tom Stillman, in the game show 3rd Degree. Nowadays, there is a statue of Bosco in front of the Sunol Post Office. We can say that Bosco’s life was full of adrenaline!

#8. Bretagne

If we talk about 4 legged-heroes, we have to mention Bretagne, a Golden Retriever that gave everything for rescuing people. Bretagne’s first rescue actions took place after the September 11 Attacks, when she helped search for survivors at Ground Zero. She was part of the more than 300 rescue dogs that were needed to help the authorities.

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That was Bretagne’s first rescue mission, but it was definitely not her last one. Several years later, she also participated in the rescue missions carried out to aid the victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Ivan. When she retired at the age of 9, she continued participating at local elementary school as a reading dog.

#7. Charlie

It must be really hard to be the president of a country, but things are always easier when you have a furry friend by your side. President John F. Kennedy had the company of his Welsh Terrier called Charlie, who was a gift to him by his wife Jackie Kennedy. Apparently, she gave him the dog just while he was running for president. Although the Kennedys already had a lot of dogs, Charlie became his favorite.

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Apparently, the former president was always in the company of his friend, even during the most difficult moments of his government. Charlie was known by all the White House workers and some of them even claimed to have seen Charlie sitting on the president’s lap. Who would’ve thought?

#6. Laddie Boy

Many U.S. presidents owned a dog, but one of the most famous ones is Laddie Boy, who was owned by President Warren G. Harding. This Airedale Terrier was born in Toledo, Ohio and his father had won several dog competitions. When Charles Quetshke showed the little dog to his future owner (and future president) it was love at first sight.

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Laddie Boy was a loyal dog and he was always next to his owner. It was common to see them side by side each time the president went to play golf. Laddie Boy was so famous around the White House that his birthdays were celebrated every year. He is considered one of the first dogs to ever appear in all of the country’s newspapers’ frontpage.

#5. Gidget

Does the face of this Chihuahua look familiar to you? Gidget, better known as the“Taco Bell Chihuahua” became famous when she became the mascot and advertising figure of the Taco Bell restaurant. Her face was around the world from 1997 to 2000. But her acting career didn’t stop there since she was also part of GEICO commercial in 2002.

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Maybe you know Gidget from another place… Yes, we are talking about Legally Bonde 2: Red, White & Blonde! Gidget was in the role of Bruiser’s Mom, so this little fella actually worked with Hollywood star Reese Witherspoon. After a successful career, Gidget retired and then passed away in 2009 at the age of 15.

#4. Butch

We all know that dogs don’t live as much as humans. The average life of a dog is more or less 14 years but some of them live a bit longer. Well, this is definitely the case of the Beagle called Butch who lived from 1975 to 2003, which means… he lived for 28 years! And in dog life, you have to multiply the age by 7 so the result is somewhere near 200. How can that be possible!?

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Butch is the second oldest dog in the world and the oldest American dog in history. According to the Guinness World Records, Butch was only outlived by Bluey, an Australian Cattle Dog who lived until the age of 30.

#3. Zenit

As we were saying, a lot of dogs from our list have played a crucial role in important historical events. This is also the case of Zenit, a German Sherped who appeared in the cover of National Geographic in 2014. Can any of you guess why he made it to the front cover?

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Zenit was part of a mission in Afghanistan in the company of his handler, Jose Armenta. He was in charge of detecting explosives. Unfortunately, his handler was extremely injured during an expedition so he had to return to the U.S. In 2012, Armenta retired from the Marine Corps and decided to adopt Zenit as his pet. So they never drifted apart!

#2. Bobbie

It was August 1923, and Frank and Elizabeth Brazier together with their daughters Leona and Nova were visiting some relatives in Indiana. Their Scotch English Shepherd, called Bobbie was with them. After being attacked by three other dogs, Bobbie ran away and the Braziers couldn’t find him. The family returned to their hometown in Oregon, brokenhearted.

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But the Braziers were in for an unexpecting turn of events. In February of 1924, six months later, Bobbie appeared at the front door of their house, full of dirt and injuries. Bobbie had traveled more than 4,000 km all the way to his home! He crossed deserts and mountains but the love for his family was the vitamin he needed. From then onwards, he became known as Bobbie The Wonder Dog.

#1. Sun Yat-Sen

The sinking of the Titanic has been one of the most famous accidents in history. After the tragedy, newspapers from all over the world published stories told by the ship’s survivors. Everyone always talks about the people that were on board… but what about the animals? It turns out that twelve dogs were on board and three of them were lucky enough to survive. One of them was a Pekingese called Sun Yat-Sen.

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According to historians, people were allowed to transport different kinds of animals, like dogs, cats, chickens, and birds. It is accurate to say that Sun survived because of her size. Her owner Henry Harper declared he was able to save her because he hid her in the lifeboat as if Sun was a baby.

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