Dogs in cartoons

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Some comic strip dogs have become so popular that their adventures have been made into animated films.

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The many faces of the dog

One such character is Dingo, a dog that stands on two legs like a human but has a dog’s head with long, droopy ears. He has often appeared as a “spokesdog” for educational purposes, including car safety campaigns targeting young children. Sad-looking Droopy, the dog in Tex Avery’s cartoons, repeatedly announces his presence with the famous line, “You know what? I’m happy!”. Pluto is the only Walt Disney animal character not given the power of speech or humanised to an extreme degree.

Other cartoon dogs live with humans, just like real pets or watchdogs. This is true of Lady and the Tramp, who live with their owners but share a romantic dinner and lead their own lives among other dogs. When Lady’s owners bring home a new baby, they ignore her and humiliate her by forcing her to wear a muzzle.

This serves as a brutal reminder that she is “just” a dog.

Perdita and Pongo, the leading dogs in 101 Dalmatians, perhaps the most famous cartoon canines, are also companion animals to humans. But they become romantically involved with each other, just like their owners.

Nana the Saint Bernard protects the children in Peter Pan, while leading a life like that of other dogs.

Sometimes, the dogs in animated features are almost caricatures in their appearance and actions. They may look generally like dogs, but one of their physical characteristics is exaggerated. Rarely the main character, they are more likely to serve as a watchdog for their owner or for another animal. Cartoons featuring a cat and mouse often include a big, burly, unfriendly dog that seems to do little but lie around lazily and chase the cat. In Tom and Jerry, for example, a bulldog defends Jerry by getting Tom into trouble.

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By giving dogs many human qualities, both good and bad, the creators of comic strips and cartoons use canines to depict our changing society.

Loyal dogs

Lion-heart or scaredy-cat, brainiac or lamebrain, dogs are always loyal. Tintin’s little Fox Terrier Snowy is always right there with his master when he needs a way out of a bad situation. They are an inseparable couple and the indefatigable Snowy is always there to help. Snowy’s barking is an easily understandable means of communication for Tintin and for viewers and readers.

Rantanplan, the loyal companion of Lucky Luke and his clever steed Jolly Jumper is another example. Rantanplan is not the quickest dog in the West, but he does bring the out the best from his master.

Another faithful friend is Dogmatix, a dog who never lets his master down.

Dogs can also be loyal to each other, of course. Lady and the Tramp, the Fox and the Hound, and Perdita and Pongo from the 101 Dalmatians are perfect illustrations. Regardless of the tribulations they have to face, these dogs always retain a strong bond, doing their utmost to find their friends even when that means putting themselves in deadly danger.

Disaster waiting to happen

Mickey Mouse’s dog Pluto constantly pesters Donald Duck. Lacking any predisposition to obedience, Pluto is a canine calamity; the kind that plays with a magician’s hat when told not to, generating a string of beasts from doves to rabbits.

Greedy chops

Scooby-Doo sprang from the imagination of character designer Iwao Takamoto. This 7-year-old Great Dane, brown with black spots, first hit the small screen in the United States in 1969. “Scoob” is a dog that can talk and read with one main passion: Scooby snacks. Adorable but cowardly, Scooby-Doo sticks close to his best buddy Shaggy, who is just as wimpy and greedy.

Wallace’s faithful friend Gromit is another gluttonous dog. Gromit is happy to help the hair-brained inventor, but is actually dreaming of Corn Flakes all day long.

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Heroes

The lead character in Balto, an animated live action movie based on a true event directed by Simon Wells and produced by Steven Spielberg, is a Husky that bravely ensures a cargo of serum gets to the children of Nome in northern Alaska to save them from a diphtheria epidemic when the musher is incapacitated. The route taken by this character is followed in a major annual dog sled race from Anchorage to Nome known as the Iditarod. Loyal, indefatigable and courageous are the words that best describe this dog, which has his own memorial statue in New York’s Central Park.

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Dogs in cartoons
    Dogs in cartoons

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