Top 10 Dog TV Shows

Top 10 Dog Television Shows

Television has spawned its own dog heroes and characters. Some, such as K-13 on Get Smart and Dog on Columbo were not specific to the plot line but added to the main character’s personality. In other shows, however, the dog played an integral part of the family’s life or, even, was the major character. Below are listed the top dog shows of all time.

1. The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin (1954 – 1959, 1988-1993)

Rin Tin Tin, the savior of Warner Brothers, made it to the small screen. This was not the original Rinty. These were his offsprings, or at 3 of the performers were. In this series, Rin Tin Tin was a heroic dog with a small boy as his companion. Together with the cavalry they cleaned up the Old West.

The starting point was Fort Apache in Arizona. From here, the heroic dog battles natives and outlaws. He defends the townspeople of nearby Mesa Grande against all evil doers and helps bring law and order to the state. Reruns of the series became popular in 1976 with a new version: Rin Tin Tin K-9 Corps seeing Rinty as a police dog. This show ran 106 episodes and featured another descendent of the original Rin Tin Tin.

Rin Tin Tin

2. Lassie (1954 – 1971, 1989-1991)

Lassie always vied with Rin Tin Rin for the top dog position, usually winning because of the simplicity of the boy-dog plot. Rudd Weatherwax provided a number of Lassies (all male Collies) to play the role. Over the years the characters changed, but the dog remained a constant fixture. Weekly, "she" saved people, towns and livestock. Originally, there was no infamous Timmy. Lassie was the story of a young lad named Jeff and his widow mother, Ellen.

They lived on a modern farm with their grandfather. Timmy arrived as an orphan boy in 1957 and basically took over the storyline. The rest of the cast moved, died or simply vanished from the series.

In 1989, the New Lassie series appeared. Lassie reappeared, yet again another descendent of the original Lassie. The show lasted 48 episodes.

Lassie

3. The Littlest Hobo (1963 – 1965, 1979 – 1985)

The Littlest Hobo, Hobo or London is by far the most intelligent of the German Shepherd dogs on television without being unbelievable. Originally a movie then a Canadian series, the show went on to air around the world. The stories always focused on a wandering “hobo” dog, London.

He stopped in towns, villages, farms and other places making an impact upon the lives of all with who he came into contact. London showed people how to regain their lives, to life and to enjoy it. He helped them save themselves and saved others. The show always began with the theme song by Terry Bush. It ended with London once again declining to remain with humans and wandering off to the same theme song.

The Littlest Hobo was played initially by London, trained by Charles “Chuck” Eisenmann. During the 1979-1985 season London was joined by then replaced by 7 other relatives of London. These included Toro, Littlon, Thorn and Lance (males) and Venus and Roura (females).

TheLlittlest Hobo

4. Frasier (1993 – 2004)

It is impossible not to think of Eddie, the Jack Russell Terrier when you mention Frasier. This dog was the perfect foil to radio show host and psychologist, Frasier. Frasier’s stuffiest was put into place by a single stare of Eddie, Frasier’s father’s dog. While Daphne, Niles, Roz and Bulldog all had their following, Eddie had the largest. He received copious fan mail and spawned an interest in the breed. Eddie also made, at his peak, $10,000 an episode.

Eddie was played by two dogs. Originally, Moose (1990-2006) held the key role. He lasted some 192 episodes before his talented son, Enzo (1996 - ) took over. The 2 dogs also shared the role of Skip in the movie My Dog Skip.

Eddie & Frasier

5. Petticoat Junction (1963-1970)

Fans of Hooterville always remember the widow Kate Bradley and her 3 beautiful daughters: Billie Jo, Bobbie Jo and Betty Jo. Uncle Jo is also high on the list of memorable characters. Played by Edgar Buchanan, he was the perfect foil to the women on the set and Dog.

Dog is a recognizable character. He is the now famous Benji. Even then he was proving his ability to act for the camera and to interact with the human actors. Higgins appeared in several episodes and usually was included as part of a cast picture. Along with Edgar Buchanan, Higgins as Dog also showed up on another favorite show Green Acres.

Petticoat Junction

(c) BBC
(c) BBC

6. Blue Peter (1958 - )

Blue Peter is not so much a television show as an institution. It has been on air constantly since 1958, making it the longest running children's TV programme. It is directed towards children, providing them with information and fun. It is has an annual charity appeal, links to Dr. Who, the Blue Peter Garden and, of course the coveted Blue Peter Badge. The show is also excellent in its presentation and exploration of various pets. There are turtles and cats and, of course, dogs.

Over the years, the show has featured shelter and non-shelter animals. The first animal, Petra, died of distemper only to be replaced by a look-alike Petra II – to conceal the original Petra’s death. There is a bronze statue to her in Blue Peter Memorial Garden. Other dogs have been Patch, a puppy of Petra’s, Shep, a Border Collie, Goldie, a Golden Retriever, Bonnie, one of Goldie’s puppies, Mabel a Blue Merle Border Collie (or Collie Cross) and Meg.

The show has also hosted various guide dogs. These included Honey, Cindy, Prince, Honey II and Magic.

7. Mad About You (1992 – 1999)

The television show featured a young unmarried couple, Paul Buchanan (Paul Reiser) and Jamie Stemple Buchanan (Helen Hunt) living and working in New York. After a false start with another dog, Smiley, the couple chooses Murray. Murray is a memorable canine.

A little thick skulled, he steals the scenes when he appears, drinking from the john or chasing an imaginary mouse. In true “modern” fashion, Murray is chosen by Paul as a way to perhaps deflect any possible maternal feelings Jamie might have.

Unlike other supporting characters, Murray lasted the entire run of the show. Murray is played by Maui. He is a Collie-mix found by trainer Boone Narr at the Castaic Animal Shelter.

Mad About You & Murray

Blue's Clues

8. Blue’s Clues (1996 – 2006)

Blue Clues was a show designed to reach out and instruct pre-school children. Unlike others of this genre, the creators of this television show wanted to have audience participation. To create this level of involvement, they created a series of Blue’s Clues. These were the pawprints of the dog Blue. In fact, the only human actor on the set was the host, originally Steve Burns. The rest are animated animals and figures.

The show challenged the viewers in a way children shows on television had not previously done. Every day objects came alive and children sought to actively participate by helping to solve the daily adventure. The popularity of the show is attested to by the adoption and adaption of the show world-wide.

9. Scooby-Doo (1969 - )

Of all the zany animated animals to hit the small (and big) screen is the Great Dane Scooby-Doo. Scooby- Doo not only makes a hit with the younger set but appeals to adults with his psychidelic adventures.

Scooby-Doo is a talking dog somewhat brighter and braver than some of his human partners. In the way of cartoons, you need to suspend your belief system and go with the flow of the Mystery Van. Every day he joins Daphne Blake, Norville “Shaggy” Rogers, Velma Dinkley and Fred “Freddie” Jones as they fight off supernatural beings and discover the evil doings of real crooks. Each show is a romp, not to be taken seriously.

Scooby Doo

10. Muppet Show (1976 – 1980)

While people may argue for Santa’s Little Helper in the Simpson’s or Pluto or Goofy from the various incarnations of the Wonderful World of Disney last place on the Top 10 List goes to the dogs of the Muppet Show. Simultaneously appealing to both adults and children, this show featured a number of memorable dogs. There was Rowlf the Dog brought to life by Jim Henson and Foo-Foo, Miss Piggy’s real or animated dog.

Rowlf was always making clever quips as he played piano or danced around the floor with Fonzie. Rowlf also played the clueless Dr. Bob in the take-off of a daily soap opera “Veterinarian’s Hospital”. Rowlf, however, got his start in commercials then moved on to The Jimmy Dean Show. He next appeared with Kermit the Frog on Sesame Street before moving appearing as a regular on The Muppet Show. There was also a Baby Rowlf in the movie The Muppet’s Take Manhattan.

Rowlf the Dog

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6 comments

Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 6 years ago from Canada's 'California'

Great hub - I remember waaaay too many of these shows...ok, all but one! Enjoyed the walk down memory lane ;)


sabrina 5 years ago

love dogs


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

I love Dog on Columbo! An integral part of Columbo's character that he lets him do everything and yet still doesn't name him. I wonder why his unseen wife didn't name Dog. Perhaps Dog belongs only to his Master, no Mistress.

as for the actual list of dog-themed TV shows, I have seen at least some episodes of (in reverse order) The Muppet Show, Scooby Doo, Mad About You, Petticoat Junction, Fraser, the littlest Hobo, and Lassie. I haven't been able to find Rin, Tin, Tin.

My favourite is The Muppet Show. I saw all of Fraiser for the first few seasons. Then when it appeared that Grammer was continuing the show despite the quality not being as good just so he could tie James Arness, I got annoyed. Most recently, I've seen episodes of The littlest Hobo.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

I will vote up. Not a bad list. I really liked The Littlest Hobo but it was the earlier version of the show. It was years later that I discovered it was a Canadian show and not from the USA. I always thought the humor in some of the episodes was a bit too quirky to be from the USA. Good times had by all, though.

I do remember Rin Tin Tin with great fondness. Eddie often upstaged the other actors in Frasier proving the old saying of 'never work with dogs or children' (W. C. Fields). I read somewhere that the original dog they had in mind to play Murray blew it when he growled at one of his co-stars. Well, the Murray they ended up with might not have been all that bright but he was lovable. I also liked Agent K-13 better known as Fang from Get Smart. He was sensible if nothing else. And then there was also Doctor Who's pet computer dog, K9.

Yes, a nice romp with some of our favorite pooches.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 4 years ago from Mississauga, ON

Our first dog (I was 12 then) was named Scruffy after the character in TV series 'The Ghost and Mrs Muir'. I think my father named him and I think that was the TV series.

Btw, these days I am reading the new book by Susan Orlean - Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend.

Thank you for a very nice to read hub that sent me down the Memory Lane.


KatieJ 4 years ago

OMG I used to love that dog on Frasier – it’s why I rescued my Jack Russell! Dogs on TV make me so happy – I couldn’t live without Animal Planet to get my fix. Just saw a new show on it this Saturday morning called Who Let The Dogs Out starring a skateboarding bulldog – for real – it was amazing! More dogs on TV please!

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