Back in the decade when children’s programming was limited to whatever the TV antennae could pick up, we still had quite a few animated canine companions to entertain us. Some were crime-fighting heroes, one was a villain, a few were pets with lovable personalities and others had lives independent of people. While most shows were set in the present, one was in the future, and one took place in the old American West.
So, here’s my top 8 countdown based purely on my memories of how much I liked them as a child.
8. Muttley –Snickering, Outlaw Dog
Muttley is partners with Dick Dastardly, a human villain who has frequent mishaps in their 1969 -1970 show Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines. He is a mixed breed dog who is characterized by his raspy, menacing laugh. He doesn’t talk much, but when Dick is mean to him, he gets angry and says what sounds like, “Snazza frazza rashin fashin Rick Rastardly!”
7. Droopy Dog – Sad, Smart, and Strong
This Bassett Hound, Droopy Dog, has a slow speaking style, depressed mood, and saggy appearance and was created in 1943. While he may be droopy, this dog outsmarts his enemies and has a fierce temper when provoked. He typically warns his foes that they will be attacked by saying, ‘You know what? That makes me mad.” His physical strength and aggressiveness are a surprise given his small size and demeanor.
6. Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy- Father and Son Duo
These dachshunds originally appeared on The Quick, Draw McGraw Show. This show focuses on Doggie Daddy trying to be a strict parent to his rambunctious son who wants to make his father proud. Doggie Daddy has a Brooklyn accent that’s based on a Jimmy Durante impersonation. When proud of Augie Doggie, he says, “Dat’s my son who said dat!” When disappointed, he says, “Augie, my son, my son.” Augie Doggie likes to wear a green shirt and refers to his father as “dear old Dad.”
5. Snuffles – Old West Bounty Hunter Dog
Snuffles, a bloodhound, was on The Quick Draw McGraw Show starting in 1959. Quick Draw McGraw, a sheriff and talking horse who walks on his back legs and wears a cowboy hat, bandana, and gun, hires Snuffles to find outlaws in the old West. Snuffles only takes payment in dog biscuits and insists on being paid in advance. He requests payment by opening his mouth, pointing to it, and saying, “Ah, ah, ah.” What I remember most about this show, is that the biscuits had a magical effect on Snuffles, and I always wondered what was in them. When eating a biscuit, Snuffles hugs himself, shoots up into the air, and floats back down as he sighs.
4. Astro – Dog from a Future World
Astro, a Great Dane, is living with The Jetsons in a world full of spaceships, flying cars, robots, and lots of inventions not available at the time it originally aired from 1962 to 1963. He originally lived with a millionaire, J.P. Gottrockets, but chose to live a simpler life with Elroy Johnson, son of George Jetson. Astro is affectionate and loyal to George and Elroy, but a bit clumsy. He speaks by substituting “r” for the initial sound in words and often says “I ruv roo, Reorge.” Astro gets exercise when George walks him on a treadmill. While it was canceled after one season when it was aired opposite Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, it became more popular after moving to Saturday mornings.
Astro appears at the end of the clip below at 1:22.
3. Scooby-Doo – Reluctant Dog Detective
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! was originally broadcast from 1969 to 1976 and featured Scooby-Doo, a fearful detective dog who solves mysteries with his human gang. His best friend was human, Shaggy Rogers, also a cowardly detective. Scooby-Doo, a Great Dane, is motivated to help find the villains when given dog biscuits called Scooby Snacks. He was voiced by Don Messick, the same person who voiced Astro, and Scooby has a similar speech pattern of starting words with “r.” Scooby’s common phrases are “Rooby-Rooby-Roo” for “Scooby-Dooby-Doo” and “Ruh Roh” for “Uh Oh.”
2. Underdog – the Canine Superhero
Underdog is both the name of the dog and the show and has an extremely catchy theme song that explains the premise of this dog who wears a cape and flies like Superman. Shoeshine Boy is a mild-mannered worker who turns into Underdog to fight crime. He is in love with Sweet Polly Purebred and regularly saves her from the villains. Underdog likes to speak in rhymes and his motto was, “There’s no need to fear, Underdog is here!” Underdog came up against bad guys named Riff Raff and Simon Bar Sinister. This American Saturday morning animated TV show originally aired from 1964 to 1967 and then ran in syndication until 1973.
1. Snoopy – Lovable, Quirky Beagle
Snoopy is an imaginative dog who has lots of fantasies, most memorably of being a British World War I flying ace who wore goggles, a helmet, and a scarf while sitting on top of his doghouse trying to shoot down his enemy, the German flying ace, the Red Baron. He also dreams of being an author and Joe Cool, a college student. I mostly watched Snoopy on repeats of holiday specials, like A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) or It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966). In the specials, Snoopy doesn’t speak but communicates with gestures and sounds.
Snoopy is a complex dog, sometimes helping Charlie Brown, like preparing a Thanksgiving meal of toast and popcorn for the gang and at other times he laughs at Charlie. Snoopy has adventures apart from the kids and spends time with his best friend, a yellow bird named Woodstock.
Snoopy was my favorite as a child and the only animated dog that I practiced drawing and the reason why I read books of Peanuts comic strip collections. I also asked for and got homemade Snoopy birthday cakes for several years in the ‘70s.
While these are the most memorable dogs that I watched on television in the 1970s, I have left a few out who didn’t make my top 8 list. These include Mumbly, Huckleberry Hound, Dynomutt, Beegle Beagle, and Deputy Dawg. Have I left anyone’s favorite animated canine off the list?