A Top Ten List of Disney Canine Companions
This article appeared in the August 11, 2020 (#1091) edition of ALL EARS®
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A TOP TEN LIST OF DISNEY CANINE COMPANIONS
We finally made it to August and the dog days of summer. It is the perfect time to take a look at my top ten list of Disney’s animated pups. All of them can be found on Disney+.
I must start with Pluto, Mickey’s best pal and a bone-a fide member of the Sensational Six.
His first appearance was as an unnamed tracking dog in 1930’s The Chain Gang. Later that year, in The Picnic, he was Minnie’s dog and named Rover. It was not until his third role, in 1931’s The Moose Hunt, that he became Mickey’s dog, Pluto.
Pluto is officially a mixed-breed dog. He is very loyal and well-trained but does have a streak of grumpiness. He dislikes cats, and very often has run ins with a certain pair of chipmunks.
Pluto made 24 Mickey Mouse shorts before getting his own series in 1937. His films were set in a variety of locations including a Beach Picnic, a Hawaiian Holiday, on a golf course in Canine Caddy, and with the elite at a Society Dog Show. Pluto appeared in more than 85 cartoons between 1930 and 1953.
Pluto was one of the first examples of character animation, expressing his personality through his gestures. As a result, his cartoons rely on physical humor rather than dialogue.
Fun Fact: Pluto is an Oscar winner. His film, Lend a Paw, was the Academy Award winning short for 1941.
2. Bruno – Cinderella (1950)
Bruno is a Bloodhound who was a gift to young Cinderella from her beloved father. After her father died, Cinderella and Bruno were forced to live under the thumb of Lady Tremaine, Cinderella’s evil stepmother, and her wicked daughters, Anastasia and Drizella.
Bruno is very protective of Cinderella and her mouse friends. He also hates Lady Tremaine’s pet cat Lucifer.
This loyal bloodhound plays several key roles in the story. First, the Fairy Godmother turns Bruno into a human footman, so that he can escort Cinderella safely to and from the ball.
More importantly, Bruno is instrumental in saving the day at the end of the film. Lady Tremaine has Cinderella locked in her bedroom. The mice have stolen the key, but are trapped by Lucifer. It is up to Bruno to chase Lucifer away, allowing the mice to free Cinderella so that she can try on the glass slipper.
Fun Fact: Bruno is the ‘grandad’ to a long line of Disney bloodhounds including Trusty (Lady and the Tramp), Towser (101 Dalmatians), Copper (The Fox and the Hound, below), Napoleon (The Aristocrats) and most recently, Stella from The Princess and the Frog.
3. Nana – Peter Pan (1953)
Nana is a Saint Bernard, who serves as nursemaid to the Darling children. She gives them their daily medicine and keeps the nursery tidy. Wendy, John and Michael love her dearly. When their father, George, trips over Nana causing them both to fall, the family rushes right past George to comfort “poor Nana”.
Michael sprinkles Nana with pixie dust so that she can come with them to Neverland. Unfortunately, she is leashed to her dog house and must wait for them at home.
Fun Fact: In the original book, Nana is not a Saint Bernard but rather another large working breed, a Newfoundland.
4. Peg – Lady and the Tramp (1955)
Peg is a Pekingese stray who Lady meets after she is sent to the pound. She is a sassy talented performer from the dog and pony show. Peg sings the catchy song He’s a Tramp.
Peg’s saucy demeanor and name come straight from her voice actor, Peggy Lee. A famous singer and composer, Lee co-wrote the movie’s songs and also worked on the score. In addition to Peg, she voiced Darling, Lady’s human, and the mischievous cats, Si and Am.
In the 2019 live action film, Peg was portrayed as a Lhasa Apso, and was voiced by Janelle Monáe.
Fun Fact: Peg makes cameo appearances in two other dog themed Disney movies. In 101 Dalmatians, she is in the Twilight Bark scene. She can also be spotted on the streets of New York during Dodger’s song Why Should I Worry? in Oliver and Company.
5. Copper – The Fox and the Hound (1981)
Copper is a Bloodhound/Coonhound mix. As a puppy he becomes best friends with Tod, an orphaned baby fox, who should be his natural enemy. Copper grows up to be a skilled hunting dog. As an adult he is forced to track Tod. But in the end, Copper choses their friendship. He protects Tod from the hunter’s bullet.
Fun Fact: Copper was voiced by Corey Feldman as a pup, and Disney Legend Kurt Russell as an adult.
6. Toby – The Great Mouse Detective (1986)
Toby is a Basset Hound and tracking dog. He lives with the famous detective, Sherlock Holmes at 221B Baker Street. Basil, the great mouse detective, lives right downstairs.
Toby is playful, smart, and brave. He loves cheese crumpets and belly rubs. His biggest dislike is his arch nemesis Felicia, the evil Ratigan’s pet cat.
All the characters in this film, except Toby and Felicia, are anthropomorphic animals; in other words, they speak and behave like humans.
Fun Fact: Toby does more than just track down the villains. He is a mode of transportation. Toby can turn his long ears into stairs, allowing Basil and friends to climb aboard his back and explore the streets of London.
7. Dodger – Oliver and Company (1988)
Dodger is a Jack Russel Terrier who lives in New York City. He is based on the Artful Dodger from Charles Dickens’ novel, Oliver Twist. This wily hustler is the leader of Fagin’s gang of dog thieves.
Dodger becomes Oliver’s best friend. He says that he chooses not to eat cats because they have “too much fur.”
As with many other canines on this list, Dodger is a hero. He is the one who helps free Oliver from the villains’ clutches, allowing the kitten to live his best life with his human, Penny.
Fun Fact: If Dodger’s voice sounds familiar, it should, he was performed by “Piano Man” Billy Joel.
8. Max – The Little Mermaid (1989)
This lovable Old English Sheepdog is Prince Eric’s pal. He is gray with patches of white, blue eyes and a short tail. He is incredibly friendly and likes to give kisses.
Max is different from the other animals in this film, like Scuttle or Sebastian, because he is not anthropomorphic. He acts like a dog, walks like a dog, and barks like a dog.
Max is also a true hero. He sees Vanessa for exactly what she is—Ursula disguised in human form. At the end of the film, when the animals are trying to stop the wedding, Max bites her forcing her to release Ariel’s voice.
Fun Fact: Max is the only name character of the original film who did not appear in 2007’s The Little Mermaid stage production.
9. Footstool – Beauty and the Beast (1991)
This piece of furniture was originally a dog named Sultan. He was turned into a footstool by the Enchantress when she cursed the Beast. As a dog, he appears to be a light brown mutt with dark brown spots and ears. As a footstool, he is red and yellow with tassels. His movements mimic those of a dog. He is loving and playful.
In the 2017 live action version, Sultan was replaced by a Yorkshire Terrier named Froufrou who was turned into a piano bench.
Fun Fact: Sultan is not the first Disney canine/footstool. In the 1936 short Thru the Mirror, Mickey Mouse falls on a doglike ottoman, setting off a barrage of barking.
10. Dug – Up (2009)
Dug is a chunky Golden Retriever, who originally belonged to bad guy, Charles Muntz. He wears a special collar that gives him the ability to speak to humans. He is friendly and sweet and very loyal. He is instrumental in helping Carl and Russell get Kevin back to the wild.
Dug has his own short, Dug’s Special Mission. It tells the backstory of what Dug was doing just before we meet him in Up. It is Dug’s birthday, and he wishes for the happiest day of his life. Instead he gets in trouble with Alpha and the pack. Just when things look their darkest, he finds Carl and Russell, and gets his wish—a new master.
Fun Fact: Dug won the Palm Dog Award in 2009. It is given annually to the best film performance by a canine by the British film critics at the Cannes Film Festival. The name “Palm Dog” is a play on the name of the festival’s most prestigious prize, the Palme d’Or.
That’s it, my top ten Disney Dogs. And no, I did not forget about Goofy. According to Bill Farmer, the host of the Disney+ show It’s a Dog’s Life, “He is not a dog…. He’s just Goofy.” And, as the voice of both Pluto and Goofy, he should know!