Dogs in Popular Culture -the 80′s

Popular Dogs of the 1980s

Ah the 80′s, a decade of Madonna, Live Aid and the Rubik’s cube. But the decade also saw a burgeoning middle class courtesy of a relatively strong economy. With more money and time available to the masses advertisers, marketers, and entertainment companies attempted to tap into this wealth, which is why our favorite dogs of the 80′s are…

McGruff the Crime Dog

This cartoon Bloodhound, the work of advertising giant Saatchi & Saatchi and funded by the Advertising Council, was created to help drive crime awareness among children by “Take[ing] a Bite out of Crime”. While not stated, perhaps McGruff was a reaction to the crack fueled crime spree of the decade.

Either way, McGruff has appeared in countless Public Service Announcements and has made hundreds of appearances in comic books, on the radio, and even at live events (there are over 4,000 active McGruff costumes). Still used today, this crime fighting dog’s staying power has certainly carved a place in America’s comprehensive lexicon.


In my humble opinion, no cartoon better encompasses the 80′s than Inspector Gadget, a walking cyborg like detective chock-full of James Bond inspired tools who solved mysteries not by skill but rather fortuitously sprinkled with the help of his niece Penny and his uber intelligent dog Brain. Bipedal and able to verbally communicated ala Scoobie Doo this faithful canine has never let his master down. Sounds like a pretty good dog,no?

While only running from 1983 to 1996, Inspector Gadget remained in syndication and was even named by IGN named as the 54th animated TV show.

Spuds MacKenzie

A Bud Light mascot -and ‘original party dog’- this bull terrier was one popular pup, what with a plethora of prominent commercials and an entire merchandise line. But the campaign wasn’t without its detractors -temperance related groups regularly attached the ads. Additionally, the Center for Science in the Public Interested, along with Mothers Against Drunk Driving charged Anheuser-Busch with marketing to children. Subsequently the ads were dropped in the early 1990s.

What did we miss? What’s your favorite dog of the 1980s?

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Dogs in Popular Culture -the 70′s

Popular Dogs of the 1970s

Ah the 70′s -chock full of personal hedonism and often referred to as the ‘me decade’. From leisure suits and disco to the birth of modern computing the 70s are a decade that’s often forgotten, whether intentional or not. But the decade did feature a number of dog stars, from the silver screen to advertising and everything in between. Here are a few of our favorite dogs of the 1970s:


We’re in full Olympic mode, so our first choice was fairly easy -Waldi. Wait, Waldi?

Nowadays Olympic mascots tend to be amorphous creatures with odd names. Yes, think this years’ Wenlock and Mandeville. But that wasn’t always the case. Recognized as the first official Olympic mascot, the 1972 Munich Summer Games canine by the name of Waldi was a multicolor dachshund representing the qualities of a true athlete: resistance, tenacity and agility. No offense dachshund fans, but agility? Tenacity?

Waldi’s pastel like colors were said to express the gaiety and joy of the Olympic festival. Apparently it worked to an extent -West Germany captured a total of 40 medals that year, good enough for 4th after the Soviet Union, the US, and East Germany. Remember, this was the heart of the cold war.


Starring in a number of movies and roles, this loveable mix breed dog really won over the hearts of Americans. A feel good story, in real life Benji was rescued from a California animal shelter and trained by famous dog trainer Frank Inns. His real name is just as adorable as his surname -Higgins.

In the original Academy Award nominated 1974 film Benji is a Texas stray who befriends and is taken care of by many of the locals. Across his travels he becomes close with another fluffy haired stray (Tiffany) and, in Lassie style, helps free two children that were kidnapped.

Cap’n Crunch’s Seadog

If you were like any good kid of the 70s your breakfast consisted of some sort of sugary cereal. King, er…captain of the breakfast cereals was and can be argued still remains Cap’n Crunch, an animated sea captain who pushed sugar laden product on America’s youth.

Looking to expand their product portfolio and capitalize on the popularity of the Cap’n, in 1971 Quaker introduced Vanilly Crunch, a cereal that “tastes like a crunchy birthday cake”. Yum? Like any self respecting cereal a good mascot was in order and the torch was passed to Seadog, a clumsy sea dog with a neat little sailor hat. This particular product extension was later discontinued, but Seadog lives on as a mascot of cereals’ past.

What is your favorite dog from the 1970s?

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Dogs In Popular Culture -the 1960s

Popular Dogs in the 1960

From the counterculture hippie movement to the start of the civil rights movement to putting a man on the moon, the 1960s represented a period of rapid change in America. Like in the 1950s, a number of dogs infiltrated popular culture either mirroring or directing the social conscience of the time. A few of our favorites include:

Astro the Dog

The Jetsons is a fictional animated sitcom taking place in 2062, 100 years in the future from when the show was originally produced. Perhaps representing the sheer possibility of the space age, and completely opposite of the Flintstones, the Jetsons’ fictional world is one of robots (think house maker Rosey), computers (R.U.D.I.), and flying cars.

Astro, the family dog, was able to speak a rough English, though he was a bit clumsy. Like most dogs, what he lacked in finesse he more than made up for in family loyalty. Perhaps speculating a world of more intelligent dogs, Astro was smarter and more advanced than 1960′s era dogs. While we still have a few more years to go, thus far it’s not looking like a more intelligent Astro type dog is likely to become a reality..!


Scooby-Doo originally ran from 1969 to 1976, so it technically was born -and even ran for a season- in the 1960s! Famous to this day, each animated episode featured Scooby, a talking Great Dane, and his four teenage friends (Fred, Shaggy, Velma, and Daphen) running into trouble with ghosts, villains, and the like. Like any smart canine, Scooby had a major role in solving each mystery.

Well, not *that* smart. Scooby, along with Shaggy, was fairly cowardly and seemingly always hungry, just like my dog. His ability to solve mysteries was usually fortuitous and based on luck, not sheer ‘skill’. But like any good dog he was loyal and lovable, becoming the star of the show.


Rounding out our list is Axelrod, a Basset Hound for Flying A service and gas stations (in the late 1960s the company was purchased and dissolved into the parent company). Known as the Flying A Dog with a worried look from his long in the face expression, Axelrod starred in many print and broadcast ads with slogans like “When it comes to your car…oooh, do we worry!” and “The house that worry built.”.

Axelrod was not the only automotive related mascot of the time. Both Esso -later rebranded as Exxon- and Pontiac -for their GTO muscle car- used tigers in their ads.

Animal mascots were huge in the 1960s. What did we miss? What was your favorite dog mascot or character from this decade?

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Dogs in Pop Culture –the 1950s

Popular Dogs in the 1950s

When you think the 1950s postwar prosperity, Ike, and design influenced by the limitless nature of space (think tail-fins that grew and grew, the popular tube radios of the day, etc.) come to mind. With more leisure time, dogs were peppered through the nation’s conscience from TV shows to movies to advertising. Here are a few of our favorites:


First appearing in Charles Schultz’s Peanuts comic strip on October 4, 1950, Snoopy started off as a regular dog, owned by the infamous Charlie Brown, but as the comic evolved began to take on a larger, more cartoon like persona and role. Famous for lying on top of his dog house, here’s something we bet you never knew: Schultz was originally going to name him Sniffy. We’re glad it didn’t stick.

Peanuts became hugely popular with wide distribution across newspapers large and small and a number of animated televisions specials including A Charlie Brown Christmas. Snoopy has been a money machine, to say the least.



Lassie has its roots in the 1940s where Eric Knight, the creator, authored the fictional Collie for a short story. But let’s be honest: everyone knows Lassie for the Emmy Award winning TV shows which debuted in 1954 and lasted, surprisingly, a whopping 19 years. Wow.

The show focuses on the tales of master Timmy (the show went through quite a few Timmy’s and even a girl), Lassie, and her companions both animal and human. A reoccurring plot, and one I certainly remember is Timmy getting into some sort of trouble and Lassie being the hero. In true Leave it to Beaver style, Timmy was always fine, receiving a short lecture/lessons learned post traumatic event.


Lady Greyhound

I love old advertising mascots –they bring back a ton of nostalgia and are making a big comeback as people long for days long passed. One of our favorites from the 1950s is Lady Greyhound –as the name implies a Greyhound that was created by Grey Advertising for use by the Dallas based Greyhound bus company in the late 50’s (whew, that’s four greys in a single sentence…).

Shortly after opening its doors for business the company used the Greyhound name and advertising mascot. However, it wasn’t until the late 50’s when an actual animal mascot was used. Ms. Greyhound was a bit of a diva, often wearing a rhinestone collar and tiara and traveling across the country to push the brand by appearing on TV, visiting the New York World’s Fair, and even pose for photos in the Miss Universe Beauty Pageant. Lucky…dog. All good things must come to an end and the campaign was retired in the 1970’s.

What did we miss? What are some of your favorite dogs from the 50s? –Stay tuned as we’ll be posting about all of the decades!

Lady Greyhound

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