Dog Stereotype

Often, animation writers use a dog's breed to determine its personality by making it a kind of voiced ethnic or nationality stereotype, especially if the name of the breed has a country in it. This has little to do with how the breed really acts, as anyone who has dogs will attest.

Common Dog Breed Stereotypes:

  • Mongrels are often street-smart and heroic.
  • Poodles are dainty and spoiled, ideal for the Rich Bitch. And almost Always Female. Occasionally sports a French accent (playing on the "French Poodle" National Stereotype).
  • Bulldogs often have English accents (playing on the "British bulldog" National Stereotype) or are big and dumb. The big part may be due to confusion with two bigger breeds - the boxer and the English mastiff - since English bulldogs are, for the most part, relatively small.
  • Great Danes are big and friendly, perhaps boisterously clumsy, and also dumb (the archetypal example being Scooby-Doo).
  • Dobermans are often fiercely disciplined soldiers when they aren't Angry Guard Dogs. They are almost always evil.
  • Old English Sheepdogs are lovable goofs who are half blind with their fur covering their eyes.
  • Pitbulls (Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, and American pit bull terriers) are portrayed as invariably savage and ferocious. That stereotype is the very reason they are (sadly) the biggest targets of breed-specific legislation (BSL) in Real Life.
  • Rottweilers are portrayed as being somewhat friendlier than pitbulls, but are dangerous if provoked with jaws that being like a steel trap.
  • Saint Bernards are lovably stoic heroes who will brave the fiercest blizzard to save the day. A brandy barrel attached to their collar is optional.
  • Very small dogs, especially Chihuahuas and Pomeranians, have a reputation for taking on more than they can handle and/or being overly spoiled (similar to the poodle). Frequently Mister Muffykins.
  • Chihuahuas are often portrayed as The Napoleon, Plucky Comic Relief, and/or being overly spoiled. Often portrayed with a Mexican National Stereotype.
  • Dalmatians are stereotyped as firehouse mascots.
  • Thin, graceful dogs with flowing, feathery features such as the Saluki or Afghan Hound are invariably portrayed as females, possibly portrayed as The Chick. Stockier dogs with long fur (like the shih tzu) will also get this treatment.
  • Sled dogs like Huskies and Samoyeds are generally merry energetic fellows, eager to be on the go for whatever reason.
  • Golden Retrievers and Laborador Retrivers are Fun Personified.
  • German Shepherds are often portrayed as either The Ace or The Hero. Sometimes they are Angry Guard Dogs in works where they are not a main character or not even much of a character at all.
  • Collies are often portrayed as The Ace.
  • Scenthounds, especially bloodhounds and Basset Hounds, are often portrayed as low-energy and laconic. At least in the case of bloodhounds, this is definitely not Truth in Television. No matter how sleepy they may look, bloodhounds actually have a very high energy level and with it, high exercise requirements.
  • Beagles are often portrayed as Friend to All Children.
  • Scottish Terriers are often portrayed as are plucky, scrappy little fellows who speak with a Scottish accent.
  • Cairn terriers, West Highland White terriers (Westies), and similar are plucky, scrappy little fellows.
  • Greyhounds, canine speed personified. Often hyper and usually racers.
  • Pugs are either The Klutz or The Load, but always the Plucky Comic Relief
  • If an unusual breed (in the public's eye) is featured, this usually means one of the writers specifically had such a dog, and it might be specifically mentioned.

(This is rarely done with cats since breed variations aren't always as striking and well known compared to dogs. However, it's interesting to note that while cats are often strongly identified with femininity and grace, many cats in comic strips and cartoons are male and vaguely clownish. Also, while Cats Are Mean has exceptions, none of these exceptions seem to be Siamese, who are portrayed as mean even by cat standards.)

See also Angry Guard Dog, Big Friendly Dog, Dogs Are Dumb.


Anime and Manga
  • Excel Saga had an "animal story" episode featuring a Scottish terrier and a dog of a Chinese breed, both with appropriate accents in the North American dub. (The mutts, though, had generic American accents.)
  • Subverted and played straight in Honey and Clover, where a pet poodle is getting spoiled and treated as the cutest thing alive by the girl, but to the hero and the audience it looks downright frightening!
  • Subverted with Ben the Great Dane from Ginga Nagareboshi Gin. He may be a big dog and have the regular Great Dane looks, but he's very clever and a powerful fighter. Not to mention ungodly durable.
  • Ginga Densetsu Weed:
    • Horribly subverted with Hougen and Genba. They may be Great Danes, but they're pure evil.
    • Played straight with Lecter and Thunder. Both are evil, as dobermans tend to be in media.

  • 1960s L.P. record comedian Vaughn Meader and his troupe did a routine about a canine trial where the defendant was a German Shepard in the employ of the Alabama State Police, acting like a Nazi war criminal who was "just following orders" when he attacked children. An English Bulldog, French Poodle, and Russian Wolfhound are all in attendance.

  • In the Nova comic book series, the hero meets Cosmos, a telepathic cosmonaut dog with a Russian accent.
  • Marmaduke is the quintessential big, clumsy, lovable Great Dane, even moreso than Scooby.
  • One of the narrators in The Gingerbread Girl is an English Bulldog; contrary to the stereotype, he's extremely cultured and intelligent.
  • Dogs of C-Kennel plays this straight with Will being a tough streetwise pit bull and Kenny being a hyperactive yet scatterbrained husky, however, it is subverted with Iggy, who is a Nervous Wreck chihuahua and Oliver the Great, who is a stiff-upper-lipped Great Dane.
    • Not so much a subversion in the case of Iggy, just a stereotype not specifically mentioned above. Certain small breeds really do tend to be very nervous, and Chihuahuas in particular are virtually the poster child for "tiny neurotic rat-dog".

  • This trope is played pretty straight in All Dogs Go to Heaven. Charlie is a German Shepherd and is generally portrayed as The Hero of the movie, while Carface is a pitbull who is an aggressive, murderous mob boss and is the main villain of the movie.
  • Bolt is a German Shepherd who is protective, heroic, and serious.
  • Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey uses this trope subtly, as the animals speak with regional accents rather than racial ones. Shadow, the Golden Retriever, is a wise dog who lived much of his life in the country. Sassy the Himalayan cat is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Chance the American Bulldog speaks with a young and naive accent, owing to his status as the kid. In the sequel, we are treated to a slew of dogs that were raised in the inner city and have accents reflecting that. There's also a very prissy Toy Poodle who speaks like a French diva.
    • Homeward Bound's predecessor The Incredible Journey (1963) had Luath the young, energetic Labrador Retriever, Tao the Siamese cat, and Bodger the wise, noble old Bull Terrier. (These versions, however, didn't speak.)
  • Subverted in the Open Season sequel. The poodle Fifi, despite the name and Tertiary Sexual Characteristics (including a dainty blue bow), is a male (and voiced by Crispin Glover no less!) He's neurotic but no less spoiled.
  • Sid Phillips had a vicious toy-chewing Bull Terrier in Toy Story who would attack Buzz and Woody when ever on screen with both of them.
  • Almost played straight in Oliver & Company. Dodger is a fast-talking, street-wise mutt Jive Turkey, Tito is a chihuahua with a Hair-Trigger Temper, Georgette the poodle is a spoiled literal Rich Bitch, the Ironic Nicknamed Einstein exemplifies the Great Dane's Good Is Dumb stereotype, Rita the saluki, as per the Smurfette Principle is the only female of Dodger's gang, and dobermans Rosco and Desoto are the classic Angry Guard Dogs. Only Francis violates the rule, being a well-educated bulldog with an appreciation for the arts and a British accent (Irony).
  • Played with in Hulk, in which two of the Hulked-out dogs are a pit bull and rottweiler, as expected for scary aggressive canines. The third is a scary, vicious poodle.
  • Cats & Dogs has the World Dog Council, where, among others, the Chinese delegate is a Shar Pei and the German delegate is a German Shepherd.

Video Games
  • The Point-and-Click Adventure Game Jolly Rover is a pirate story with a full cast of dogs. The protagonist is a nimble, carefree Dachshund named James Rover, who aspires to be a circus clown. He is captured by a gang of brutish Bulldog pirates. The authority figures are played by Great Danes, dumb door-guards Rottweilers and Bull Terriers, and lady pirates collies and cocker spaniels.
  • The most common dog in Harvest Moon is a hound, likely a beagle, which are a must have for Farm Boy's.
  • Dogs Life:
    • Jake is an American Foxhound. He's from the rural countryside.
    • Killer is an aggressive Doberman who works with the Diabolical Dog Catcher. On the other time they're only doing their job so Killer might be subverting the "Scary Dobbie" cliche a bit.

Western Animation
  • Road Rovers used specific dog breeds with accompanying stereotypes as a Multinational Team, with the likely intentional subversion of Shag the sheepdog having a sheepish personality.
  • The trope may have gained popularity with Lady and the Tramp. It has a pound full of colorful ethnic stereotypes, including a rare American example of an English bulldog with an English accent (Think cockney, not posh.).
  • The Aristocats features the rare example of colorful ethnic cat stereotypes (with a Russian Blue, a Siamese, etc.)
    • The cat variant was used in Cats And Dogs as well, with the Russian Blue cat not only having the accent but acting like a spy movie villain.
  • Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers has a couple of examples of this trope: the Doberman from To the Rescue part 4 is an Angry Guard Dog, Frenchie from the same episode, a French poodle with a French accent, is zee leader of zee Pound Underground. And yes, there is also the stereotypical pair of mean Siamese cats two parts earlier who happen to be twins.
  • American Dragon Jake Long's mutt shar pei character has him with a very stereotypical Brooklyn accent, whilst the setting takes place in New York City.
  • The Life and Times of Juniper Lee's Pug character has a heavy Scottish accent.
  • Krypto The Super-Dog's "Dog Star Patrol" includes a British Bulldog and a French-Canadian-accented Husky, while "Ace the Bat-hound" is an Alsatian, presumably playing on their use as police dogs.
  • Over the Hedge had staff who consciously decided to play against this trope by having the Rottweiler be energetic and ultra-friendly instead of mean and vicious, as per the usual stereotype.
  • Old cartoons from the forties almost without exception fall into the Bully Bulldog category, as both Warner Bros. and MGM had a surfeit of bulldog characters. Generally they were vicious guard dogs or bullies, esp. towards cats and littler dogs.
  • And then there was Hemlock Holmes from The Dick Tracy Show - a british bulldog with his own support team who... well... solved cases for Mr Tracy in the cartoon series.
  • In Angela Anaconda, Angela's dog King is a stereotypical mutt, but Nanette's (male) purebred poodle Ooh-La-La likes to roll around in mud and garbage, much to Nanette's annoyance.
  • Ren is a Chihuahua and The Napoleon... with a voice based on Peter Lorre.
  • Several examples from Mr. Bogus:

Real Life
  • A weird Truth in Television—Chihuahuas apparently fit the Latin Lover stereotype, with a dash of's common to find truly absurd Chihuahua crosses, often with breeds that make you wonder if the little guy used a stepladder. Of course, artificial insemination helps.
  • In a inversion of the evil dog stereotype, Rottweilers, Dobermans, and other standard movie guard/attack dogs are bred for good temperament. They are supposed to be trained well (to avoid nipping, roughhousing, and being overprotective due to their excessive loyalty) and are actually very playful. Of course, they seem to forget they weigh so much, and tend to act like literal lap-dogs when it comes to their master or mistress. The stereotyped breeds are typically reported in the news much more than others when bad something happens. In contrast, little dogs statistically attack more often due to lack of training, while bigger dogs actually attack LESS often, due to the fact that responsible owners train them early and thoroughly.
    • On a related note - Pomeranians being stereotyped as obnoxious and suffering from "little dog syndrome" can also be inverted by responsible owners who socialize them and train them early: Most people don't realize Pomeranians are actually simply bred-down versions of other Spitz breeds - working dogs. Pomeranians tend to be just as eager to please as any other working dog, despite being small. They also won't bark just to bark - usually, if they are trained right, they will only bark when there's something worth barking at. Amusingly, sometimes that means not barking until someone has already walked into the house.
    • Dobermans though, have a nasty predisposition towards meningitis, which in early stages makes them snippy, then extremely bad tempered and finally furiously mad.
  • The term "dog" is usually used in a negative way in The Bible. This is probably in reference to the feral scavanger dogs common in Middle Eastern cities for a long time.

Alternative Title(s):

All Bitches Are Poodles