Friday, September 24, 2021

Green Phoenix - 8 Amazing Animated Canines

Back when I was working on my Balto review, I was suddenly struck by a bout of inspiration regarding a new countdown. Dogs have long been a quintessential part of human culture and media, owing to their long-standing relationship as "Man's Best Friend". Growing up, I certainly remember seeing many amazing animated canines that helped to transform me into the dog person that I am today (even if I have no plans to have a pet dog of my own).

Whether they talk or not, are protagonists or simple side characters, many dogs have become iconic or much beloved members of their respective franchises. There are obviously far too many examples of great cartoon dogs to ever be effectively condensed or listed in a single article without it being overwhelmingly long. So I decided to do just a general list of some particularly standout dogs from my childhood and early teenage years.

With that in mind, I decided that today's article should be slightly lighter fare than usual and a just short, yet sweet tribute to cartoon canines. So without any further ado, let's present 8 Amazing Animated Canines.



  1. Any canine species is welcome on the list, as long as they are dog-like in their appearance and referred to as a dog in-universe. This means that humanoid dogs are not going to be listed.
  2. Anthropomorphic dogs are allowed so long as they don't break the first rule; so talking dogs are cool.
  3. Artificial dogs will also count, as long as they exhibit dog-like characteristics and a similar function in narrative. If they could be replaced by a real dog and change very little of the overall plot of the series, then they are good to go.
  4. All dogs are listed not according to any particular order, just a generalized list.
  5. Only a single representative for any one franchise. If a franchise has multiple dog characters, I can only pick one.



1. Scooby-Doo (Scooby-Doo franchise)

Starting the list is a canine who might very well be the most recognized dog in animated history. Introduced in 1969, Hanna-Barbera's talking Great Dane is a genuine icon of television history. The titular character of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, Scooby is the cowardly pet and best friend of Shaggy Rogers and an integral member of the Mystery Inc. detective group.
I grew up watching Boomerang, the classic cartoon channel, and Scooby-Doo was all over the network. Whether it was in his classic 1969 - 1970 show, or the innumerable spin-offs and remakes (with my favorite being A Pup Named Scooby-Doo), Scooby-Doo's cowardly nature, humorous antics, and his absolutely prodigious appetite are just incredibly iconic and there is a reason the characters remains one of Hanna-Barbera's most popular characters.
I can already hear some people who are more familiar with the more modern interpretations of Scooby-Doo decrying that "Scooby-Doo isn't a dog! He's an alien that just looks like a dog!" And all I can say to those people is...
Fuck off.
Seriously, Scooby-Doo was originally designed as a Great Dane that was capable of talking, modern interpretations didn't need to explain his intelligence by making him an alien, cartoon logic did that for them. When he first appeared in 1969, Scooby was intended to be a dog and it is in that spirit that I put him on this list.
And he makes a perfect first entry for it, so there.

2. Pluto (Disney Cartoons)

Originally, I wanted to make this entry a two-parter, since Disney really has two iconic "dog" characters. Goofy might've made this list except that Goofy really seems to be something all together different and is never once referred to or treated like a dog in his own universe. By contrast, Pluto is absolutely a dog and might actually be the most dog-like entry on the list, with the exception of one.
 Pluto (Disney) transparent.png
Introduced in the 1930 Disney short The Chain Gang, Mickey Mouse's iconic mix-breed pet is a founding member of Disney's Sensational Six, and the only one that actually acts and is treated like an animal (the other members of the group being Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, & Goofy). Whether he is teaming up with Mickey or going up against Chip & Dale's innumerable hijinks, Pluto has become an essential part of the Disney cartoon formula.
I think I remember his iconic laugh and his tendency to pant the most. He always seemed to be trying his best to help out, without letting his temper get the best of him. To varying levels of success. Now that I think about it, her sort of encapsulated all the best parts of the other members of the Disney Six, which made him an effective foil against all of them. It's actually rather brilliant on Disney's part.

I honestly don't tend to see him much these days due to Disney's lack of cartoons featuring Mickey and his friends since they transitioned into being brand icons almost exclusively, but I definitely remember watching classic Disney cartoons and shorts where Pluto was featured quite extensively. And with the advent of Disney+, many others are now able to enjoy the exploits and misadventures of Disney's most popular pet.

3. Goddard (Jimmy Neutron)

I know this might feel like stretching the rules to most people, but I have a soft spot in my heart for Goddard from Nickelodeon's Jimmy Neutron series. Yes, I know that he is not technically a living biological dog, but Goddard is described as Jimmy's dog and treated like one throughout the series, even with his immense intelligence and other usual features. The fact that he is a custom-built, hyper intelligent lab assistant only helps to add to Goddard's overall character.

Goddard is a nice twist on the usual pet in children's cartoons of that era, though given the general tone and focus of Jimmy Neutron as a whole, Goddard serves as a rather important part of the titular boy genius's crew, alongside the hyperactive idiot Sheen, and the well-meaning doofus Carl; Goddard might be the only regular on the show that can truly keep up with Jimmy (besides Cindy) and it helps to really push the story along.

He might very well be the most unique member of the lineup, given his nature, but I truly think that Goddard played a large role in making the Jimmy Neutron franchise as identifiable as it is.

4. The Tramp (Lady and the Tramp)

In choosing the Disney franchise character (not cartoon), I was initially wishing to choose Dodger from Disney's 1988 classic Oliver & Company, the street suave New York canine played by Billy Joel. However upon further reflection, I actually realized that Dodger is something of a remix of a much earlier Disney character, that being The Tramp from the 1955 musical romance Lady and the Tramp.

The wise-cracking, free-spirited mutt, voiced by the late Larry Roberts (who only had a short film career in the early and mid 1950s), has become a classic Disney character, with many of his titular film's scenes becoming famous moments in cinematic history and often duplicated. He has some of the best lines and funniest moments in the entire film and is almost always in control, though it is precisely when he relinquishes that control and helps out Lady in the final sequence of the film that his true heroic nature comes forward.
Nowadays, certain elements which have not aged well have made this movie rather troublesome to watch but the relationship between Tramp and Lady remains a beautiful romance story, even between to dogs. The Tramp as a character is just so fun and good-humored, even as the very obvious class commentary goes on in the background, that you are drawn into his interactions with Lady, another really good choice that doesn't make the list only because she is comparatively passive in her own story. If I had to say what my favorite scene with Tramp is, it would easily have to be his scam on the Beaver to get Lady's muzzle removed. It so succinctly and humorously explains his character to the audience while endearing him as well.

5. Charlie (All Dogs Go to Heaven)

I'm going to be completely honest, I never really grew up watching All Dogs Go to Heaven and was never really of fan, preferring other Don Bluth works like The Secret of NIMH, The Land Before Time and Thumbelina (yes, even though it is kind of terrible). This film just kind of felt really dark, grim, and mean spirited; even by Don Bluth's usual standards of animated films. All that being said, even I cannot deny that the scheming German Shepard from Don Bluth's 1989 All Dogs Go to Heaven is undeniably a fantastic animated canine.

Voiced by Burt Reynolds, Charlie B. Barkin lives in a world where every dog that dies immediately goes to heaven, despite the fact that Charlie is kind of unforgivable asshole and a con artist. He takes advantage of Anne-Marie, voiced by Judith Barsi in what was tragically her last role before her murder, who is a young girl with the ability to talk to animals. Despite his continuously scummy actions throughout the film, they are all in service of redeeming Charlie. It also doesn't help that Charlie is surprisingly charming and well-performed, due to the talented voice work of Reynolds.

Thankfully, Charlie is somewhat better in the 1996 sequel film All Dogs Go to Heaven 2, which I am much more familiar with. In that film, Reynolds was replaced with Charlie Sheen and Charlie B. Barkin is sent on a mission to retrieve an important artifact from Heaven that was stolen. While maintaining his usual brash and hedonistic ways, Charlie really shows a genuine progression of character throughout the franchise and truly embodies the sentiment that "dog's are inherently good and loyal" that the first film preaches.

6. Courage (Courage the Cowardly Dog)

From arguably the worst dog morally speaking to the dog that might very well beat out all others for being the most loyal dog in entertainment history. I was never much of a Cartoon Network kid growing up, as my parents and I really disliked many of the shows like Ren & Stimpy, Rocko's Modern Life, and others in that kind of subversive headspace that late 90s and early 2000s Cartoon Network was at at the time. Even with that understanding, I still found myself catching a few shows when I could, like Dexter's Laboratory, The Powerpuff Girls, Samurai Jack, and Courage the Cowardly Dog.

Given my notorious propensity for wimpiness and skittishness when it comes to creeps and horror, I really have no idea why I actually watched this last show as it genuinely freaked me out as a kid in a really bad way. Airing from 1999 until 2002, Courage the Cowardly Dog followed the horrific adventures of Courage, a pink beagle voiced by Marty Grabstein who lived with his owners in a lone cabin in the middle of nowhere. The cabin's owners were Muriel, who is kind, and Eustace, who is cruel and selfish. An enormous coward, Courage is often forced to face off against untold horrors that seek to hurt his owners or himself that he must stop.

Courage really is the best example I can think of in media of the loyal dog. For four seasons, Courage puts up with a hell of a lot. With all the weird shit this poor son of a bitch (literally) would have to face, the fact that he would brave it all to protect Muriel and her husband (who regularly mistreats Courage) just shows the level of love that Courage has.
Courage often relies on his luck, intelligence, and sheer determination to make it through the many challenges he faces and this really places him at the heights of animated canines in my book. He, perhaps more than any other dogs, shows us why dogs are a man's best friend.

I know for that I wouldn't go through half the shit that Courage does, let me tell you.

7. Balto (Balto)

Now for the dog that inspired this list in the first place. Balto is the wolfdog protagonist from the 1995 Universal Pictures film of the same name. Based on the very real story of the 1921 Alaskan diphtheria outbreak and the dogsled run that took place, Balto takes a great deal of liberties with the story, specifically with regards to Balto himself.
The real Balto was a purebred Siberian husky, as would have been expected of dog sledding teams. And in truth, Balto's team didn't even run the longest part of the journey, only the final stretch. However, the animators and filmmakers decided to make the animated Balto much more of an underdog, if you'll pardon the pun. And honestly, I don't really mind it all that much.

The story of Balto is filled with incredibly powerful moments of survival and personal triumph and it is in part due to Balto, voiced by Kevin Bacon of all people, who forms the narrative heart of the film. We as an audience very quickly grow to feel for Balto's plight and his desire to truly understand what exactly he is (wolf or dog) and how that can be used to save the people that he cares for, even if not all of them care for him.

It's a powerful message and movie, with some really dark moments (the coffin scene is still chilling to watch when we remember that it was based on real history) that only really works because Balto is such a lovable and motivating character. While he can be somewhat bland at certain points and actually stops speaking towards the end of the film, the skill of the animators and his visual acting more than makes up for the relative silence from our main lead.

Balto is a story of triumph and sacrifice in the face of prejudice and a personal quest for identity. A story that can easily be empathized with, especially when prompted by man's best friend.

8. Ein (Cowboy Bebop)

When making this list, I knew that I needed at least one representative from an anime on the list and there was absolutely no other choice I could make as a great representative than Ein from the masterpiece that is Cowboy Bebop, which ran from 1997 to 1998.
A main character from my absolute favorite anime of all time, Ein is a Welsh corgi that is secretly revealed to be genetically engineered to be super intelligent; though he doesn't ever express that intelligence beyond a heightened awareness of his surroundings and his occasional ability to use technology that a dog obviously wouldn't be able to use, though he is capable of talking with other animals as seen in Episode 17 "Mushroom Samba". He is easily the most traditionally dog-like of all the entries on the list and thus needed to be last.

Ein was introduced in the second episode of the series "Stray Dog Strut", and became the third member of the Bebop crew. He would soon team up with the team's technical expert and hacker Ed and the two would become an almost inseparable pair. So much so, that the two actually leave the crew together towards the end of the show's run.

Ein saved the Bebop crew on several occasions and provided a majority of the comedic relief in a show that was almost notoriously grim and quiet (not from a musical perspective at least). He showed his capacities and was eventually beloved by both his crew and the audience.
Ein was the perfect dog to end my countdown on, as there are few better examples of a loyal and good dog as Ein.



Not going to lie, this was actually a lot of fun. I love dogs as pets, even if I have decided that I really don't want any of my own to take care of. The opportunity to talk about some of my favorites from movies and television was an opportunity I simply could not ignore.

I think it is very likely that I will explore this topic with other animals in the future.

...yes, even cats, despite my general dislike of the allergy-causing furniture destroyers. I suppose it is only really a matter of time.
But I will leave that up to you guys. If there are any of you out there that have a specific animal that you want to see counted down, or any other topic; feel free to comment down below or go to my Patreon and support me over there.

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