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. In older works they tend to be portrayed as good with kids and are often portayed as patriotic, much like modern American works portray German Shepherds.
- 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.
- Pembroke Welsh Corgis are often Plucky Comic Relief.
- 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, with Lassie being the archetype.
- Scenthounds, especially Bloodhounds and Basset Hounds, are often portrayed as low-energy and laconic.
- 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
- Spaniels (especially cavalier spaniels) are soft and pampered, but desperately devoted to their owners—usually both the dog and the owner are female. Expect them to find hidden resources if Mistress is in danger.
- 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
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. Played straight with Sniper the Doberman however, who is pure evil.
- 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 as ruthless as Sniper was.
- Shiba Inu are often described as a "cat-like" breed. Taroumaru from School-Live! is a stubborn, independent little puppy.
- Tadakichi-san from Azumanga Daioh is a Great Pyrenees (think of an all-white Saint Bernard and you're not far off), and is characterized exactly as you'd expect.
- 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.
Films — Animated
- 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".
Films — Live-Action
- 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 mostly-shepherd mutt who is protective, heroic, and serious.
- 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).
- In Up, Muntz's dogs match the sides they're on. Dug is a loveable if dumb golden retriever who immediately makes friends with the protagonists, while Alpha is a ruthless doberman who hunts down the protagonists and the Living MacGuffin.
- The Secret Life of Pets: The poodle is a subversion. Not only is he male, but he's into rock music.
- 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.).
- Played straight in the sequel where Scamp, Lady and the Tramp's son runs away to join a pack of wild dogs whose leader is a Doberman. While he acts like a decent guy at first, he eventually turns out the villain.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- Invoked in The Doberman Gang, where a group of gangsters uses trained dobermans for a bank job specifically because they're scary. Also played straight, as they are well disciplined enough to rob a bank under the direction of training whistles.
- Petey from The Little Rascals is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and uses the old "Nanny Dog" portrayal. He's a nice dog who is friends with the children.
- The title character of Marley and Me is quite possibly the stereotypical backyard Labrador: a Big Friendly Dog with far more enthusiasm than sense.
- 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 or Foxhound, which are a must have for farmers.
- Dog's 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 as it's a job instead of being mean.
- Many Pokémon that are based on dogs will often follow the general stereotype the breed is known for, but at the same time also subvert it. For example, Houndoom is a Dark and Fire typed doberman who also resembles a Hell Hound, and Furfrou is a french poodle who can be clipped to be stylized. At the same time, both of them are fiercely loyal to their trainers at not typically evil or snooty as their breeds might suggest.
- There are several characters in the Animal Crossing series that are based on dogs: Isabelle is a Shih Tzu who is not only very cute, but is loyal to the mayor (aka you) to a fault, Harriet is a Poodle who is in charge of Shampoodle, a hair salon, and Cooper and Booker are bulldogs that work as the police force.
- Averted in Valiant Hearts. Walt, a Doberman Pincher, is a Heroic Dog who serves as an Animal Companion to the main characters . He even narrates an entire trailer.
- 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.
- 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 Sharpei 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.
- 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:
- Dawn from Danger Mouse (2015) is a Rich Bitch Spoiled Brat and thus a poodle.
- Mad Dog, Bunny's abusive boyfriend in Courage the Cowardly Dog is a scary looking Doberman. The heroic (if often cowardly) Courage is either a mutt or some sort of hound breed.
- Feast is about a happy lil' Boston Terrier with a huge appetite.
- A weird Truth in Television—Chihuahuas apparently fit the Latin Lover stereotype, with a dash of Casanunder...it'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.
- Bloodhounds are stereotyped as sleepy and laid-back but that's incorrect. They're actually very active dogs even if their wrinkles make them look drowsy.
- Poodles being seen as prissy and lame is ironic as they're a hunting breed. They're also known as one of the smartest dog breeds. There's a Broken Base amongst Standard Poodle owners though, as the smaller Toy and Miniature versions have been known to have more behavioral problems (possibly due to improper breeding due to their popularity).
- Greyhounds are always associated with being energetic and excitable but real Greyhounds are the opposite. They're bred for being fast for short spurts. Greyhounds are notorious couch potatoes and it's not uncommon to see Greyhounds who barely even play with their toys.
- The term "dog" is usually used in a negative way in The Bible. This is probably in reference to the feral scavenger dogs common in Middle Eastern cities for a long time.