“Something’s wrong with Cujo, Mom!” I guess you can call that an understatement. Dogs have a proud history in horror movies as both monsters and heroes. Here are some of the most notable pooches in the genre. WOOF!
The new release Love and Monsters features a frisky and fearless travel companion, protecting Joel from giant mutant critters. The generically named “Boy” exhibits everything you want from a horror movie dog: courage, loyalty, and spunk. Sadly, there is also a history of dogs in horror movies being used as sacrificial animals to display the monster or villain’s power. Such is the fate, often, for genre film canines. A sad and ignoble ending.
For this exercise, we’re looking at dogs who had memorable or significant roles within the movies. We were contacted by one of our fans, Scarlett Gold, who he spotted our Dead list of Animals in Horror. She has put together The Woof of Fame, a growing comprehensive list of famous dogs, from Laika, to Snoopy, to Bo and Sunny (The Obama’s Dogs), and Spuds Makenzie. Scarlett asked me if I had any other dogs in the horror genre.
Yes, yes I do. And here they are:
Be forewarned though, there is a tradition of discussing dogs and horror movies, and that is to warn people in advance if the dog dies in the movie. It can be a trigger for some folks, and in fact, there is a website entitled Does the Dog Die? which will provide the clues you would need going into the story. Because both “Dog Makes it!” and “Dog Doesn’t Make it.” are big horror tropes, we are including that helpful information for you here as well.
14. Honorable Mention: Scooby Doo
Breed: Great Dane. Role: Cowardly goofball, and has rudimental language skills. Easily fooled by costumed low level crooks. MAKES IT Lots of times.
Breed: Mixed Mutt (Probably some golden retriever in there) Role: Amy’s dog, who happens to have an undercover intelligence, after biting an agent who has the psychotropic “soy sauce” drug in their system. Bark Lee rescues Dave by driving a car into a drug den hideout. Bark Lee MAKES IT to the end of the film.
Breed: German Shepherds Role: The protective pets of a vacationing family who inexplicably decide to camp in a mutant infested nuclear wasteland. The dogs knew better, and heroically defend their owners from the horrible malformed hillbillies. Some of the best dog revenge in a horror movie. BEAST MAKES IT. BEAUTY DOESN’T.
Breed: Bichon Frise Role: Buffalo Bill’s prized toy pooch, who gets captured and held for ransom by abductee Catherine Martin, in a ploy to get her freedom. You might feel badly for Precious, but she inadvertently saves Catherine’s life. Precious MAKES IT.
Breed: Mixed terrier mutt (Maybe some schnauzer) Role: Sugar is Dave’s loyal companion, who risks life and limb to keep a wary eye on Dave and Haley while they try and escape from the invading alligators in Dave’s basement. MAKES IT… but is under a lot of threat.
Breed: Border Collie Role: Courier and messenger dog who can navigate through disinterested fast zombies in the zombiepocalypse. Unfortunately, Nicole panics thinking that while Chips is on a mission that he’s in trouble, and that triggers a collapse in the defense of their position. She should have trusted that zombies in this universe are uninterested in dogs. Chips MAKES IT? Maybe? Probably? Chips is still alive at the end of the movie, but things look really bad for the surviving humans.
Breed: German Shepherd Thor is actually the central protagonist in the book that this was based on, and he’s something of a co-lead in the movie. Thor knows that there’s something wrong with Uncle Ted, who is a werewolf. Too bad dogs can’t talk. Thor is the high watermark for dogs in werewolf movies, for which there is a proud tradition. Thor MAKES IT.
Breed: Australian Kelpie Role: Joel’s best friend and traveling companion through the monster-infested forests and fields of Queensland, Australia. Boy gets to do some significant hero time here, but also comes close to buying it multiple times. Boy MAKES IT.
Breed: Tibetan Mastiff Role: Max is the titular monster in this movie. He’s a genetically enhanced guard dog who is stolen and taken in as a pet, but who switches from loving to killing in short order. Max famously swallows a cat whole. DOESN’T MAKE IT. Max was a bad boy.
Breed: Bull Terrier Role: When Sparky gets hit and killed by a car, Victor brings him back to life. He comes back still a loveable dog, but is a rampaging destructive powerhouse upon his return from the dead. Did you know it was a short film also done by Tim Burton? Sparky KINDA MAKES IT.
Breed: German Shepherd Role: Loyal best friend, hunting partner, companion, and guard dog for the last man on Earth. One of the great dog acting performances, and one of the great tragic dog protagonists, for sadly, Sam DOES NOT MAKE IT.
Breed: Siberian Husky Role: Spoiler alert. It’s not really a dog. Watching a lot of YouTube reaction videos of people not familiar with the movie is a reminder how compelling that dog-thing was. Don’t hurt that dog! Why are they shooting that beautiful dog? Heh… heh… heh… DOES NOT MAKE IT.
Breed: Saint Bernard Role: You knew it had to be Cujo, right? Scariest horror movie dog EVER. But Cujo is also a tragic figure, as poor Cujo gets bitten by a rabid bat. It’s not really his fault. Pre-infection, Cujo was a lovable giant fluff ball. Rabid Cujo? Look out! But if Cujo was a chihuahua or a Yorkie? Not so scary even with rabies. For the sake of all involved, it’s probably for the best that Cujo DOES NOT MAKE IT.