Top 10 famous screen dogs

SIOBHAN DOWNES
Last updated 05:00 10/06/2014

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There is no supporting role greater than that of man's best friend. We bow-wow down to the top 10 dogs of the small and silver screens.

1. Lassie
Everyone wants a heroic, loyal collie to call their own. The character was created by Eric Knight in a short story in 1938, turned into a novel in 1940 and adapted into a feature film - Lassie Come Home - in 1943. Lassie quickly became an icon, with several sequels, a radio show and a television series. The first onscreen Lassie was played by a dog actor called Pal, and according to dogactors.com, eight generations of Pal's progeny continued to portray the character over the years.

2. Rin Tin Tin
The story is as Hollywood-worthy as the dog himself. Rin Tin Tin was a German Shepherd rescued from a bombed-out dog kennel in France during World War I. His saviour, an American soldier named Lee Duncan, taught him tricks and became convinced the dog could be a star. He appeared in 27 movies, and was even nominated for Best Actor at the 1929 Academy Awards. He died at the age of 14 in 1932.

3. Snoopy
Perhaps the most recognisable dog in cartoon history, Snoopy originated from the Peanuts comic strip as Charlie Brown's pet dog. He went on to become so much more with his hundreds of alter egos - from Joe Cool to the World War I Flying Ace. Snoopy has been firmly established as the most popular cartoon dog in history, appearing in TV specials, movies and even a broadway musical, You're A Good Man Charlie Brown.

4. Beethoven
Forget Ludwig van. Most people would associate Beethoven with the giant, trouble-making St Bernard from the classic 1992 comedy. The original film was so popular it spawned six sequels and an animated TV series. Sadly, the first dog actor to play Beethoven - the comparatively plainly named Kris - died shortly after the making of the first two movies.

5. Toto
He was Dorothy's faithful sidekick in the Wizard of Oz. But Toto was actually played by a girl, a Cairn Terrier named Terry. Terry appeared in several Hollywood films during her life as a dog actress, and even did all her own stunts. She was injured during the making of Oz when one of the Wicked Witch's guards accidentally stood on her paw, breaking it. Terry passed away in 1944 at the age of 11.

6. Brian Griffin
Creators of Family Guy sparked global outrage when they decided to kill off the popular talking dog. When the eloquent, martini-sipping Griffin family pet (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) was struck by a car and killed in season 12, fans threatened to boycott the show. But so beloved was Brian that he was resurrected just three weeks after his death.

7. Wishbone
Yet another favourite dog of the 1990s, Wishbone was the star of the TV show about a talking dog who went on literary adventures. He played so many characters on the show that he had to have almost 200 doggie costumes especially made for him. The Jack Russell Terrier character was played by a dog star called Soccer, who made a name for himself appearing in commercials for Nike and Mighty Dog dog food.

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8. Air Bud
How cute was this slam-dunking Golden Retriever from the 1997 family flick? He was played by a dog actor called Buddy, who also featured as the family pet, Comet, in the TV series Full House. Sadly, Buddy's sporting career was cut short when he developed a rare form of cancer and had to have a leg amputated. He passed away a year later.

9. Scooby-Doo
He's the cowardly, mystery-solving Great Dane named after a line from a Frank Sinatra song which went, "doo-be-doo-be-doo". The longest-running cartoon on TV, Scooby-Doo began in 1969 and became an instant Saturday morning success. Scooby's creator, animator Iwao Takamoto, researched the character by speaking to a breeder about the desired characteristics of a pure-bred dog. He then proceeded to draw him the exact opposite.

10. Hachiko
You might not have heard of Hachiko, but in Japan he is a national treasure. In 1924, a university professor in Tokyo took an Akita dog named Hachiko as a pet. At the end of each day, the loyal dog would greet his master at Shibuya station. Though the professor died a year later, Hachiko continued to make the trek to the station every day for the next nine years. A blockbuster film about Hachiko's life was created in Japan in 1987, and in 2009 an English version was released.

- Stuff

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