5 of the Greatest Famous Dogs in History

(source: wikipedia)

We know – as far as great pups are concerned, it truly doesn’t get better than the loyal companion who is waiting to snuggle up with you at the end of a long day. Maybe he’s even curled up by your feet or relaxing in your lap while you’re reading this. But there are a few notable historical pooches that just might give Fido a run for his money! Dig in to learn more about the five historical pups that recently caught our eye.

1. Balto 

(source: wikipedia)

Arguably one of the most well-known hero dogs of all time (thanks to the 1995 animated film of the same name), Balto was a purebred Siberian Husky who led the last leg of the journey to deliver diphtheria antitoxin to Nome, Alaska. While the film takes some artistic liberties, the reality of the story is this: in 1925, Alaska was experiencing a diphtheria epidemic, and when a supply of diphtheria medication expired and was no longer effective, multiple teams of sled dogs – called a relay – were tasked with bringing new diphtheria antitoxin from Nenana to Nome. While Balto lead the last leg of the seven-day journey (known as the "Great Race of Mercy") and delivered the serum to Nome, we’d be remiss not to mention Togo, the dog who lead the pack through the most treacherous leg of the journey.

2. Apollo

(credit: akc pet insurance)

While there were many brave dogs who worked tirelessly during rescue efforts after the September 11th attacks, Apollo was the first search-and-rescue dog at the South Tower, arriving just 15 minutes after the towers fell. Accompanied by his handler, Peter Davis, German Shepherd Apollo risked his own life to search for survivors, working as much as 18-hour days for weeks on end – even facing his own brush with death as he was hit by falling, flaming debris. He received the AKC Humane Fund Award for Canine Excellence, as well as the Dickin Medal, which he accepted on behalf of all search-and-rescue dogs. 

3. Bosco

(credit: Hayley Nielsen)

“I love a dog,” said actor and humorist Will Rogers. “He does nothing for political reasons.” Well, Will must have never met Bosco Ramos – a black lab and rottweiler mix that was elected the honorary mayor of Sunol, California! Although Bosco was originally nominated as a joke, he actually beat out both human nominees and went on to hold the seat for 13 years until his death in 1994.

4. Brownie

(credit: @hexenkult on Instagram)

Much like Bosco, Brownie once lived an unassuming life. A mixed breed stray pup living in California, Brownie generally avoided people… until the day he was hit by a car and left by the side of the road. Knowing he needed help, he dragged himself along the train tracks to the Victorville train station before collapsing. The crew nursed Brownie back to health and began taking him along on train rides and sharing their scraps of meat with him. Brownie was there to meet every train and became something of a celebrity, eventually even being promoted to stationmaster! Brownie sadly met his end in 1945, under the wheels of one of his beloved trains. Although he was buried in front of the station, today you’ll find his grave in a lot across the street from where the station once stood – his old friends and crew refused to allow his grave to be bulldozed when the station was destroyed.

5. Sun Yat-Sen

People will do just about anything for their pups… and deception is, apparently, no exception! When the Titanic went down in 1912, there were at least 12 dogs on board. Because dogs were not allowed in lifeboats, many passengers chose to stay behind with their pups and meet their fate together. Three dogs did survive; Sun Yat-Sen, a Pekingese, was one of those pups, who sailed to safety inside lifeboat number three. The small stature of the surviving dogs allowed them to be easily disguised as babies and snuck aboard lifeboats! 

Dogs are amazing, and these are only a handful of the many brave and interesting pups who have earned themselves a place in history. Do you have a favorite story of a special pup? Share it with us in the comments!

Related Stories

Game of Throws: 9 Backyard Games that Reinforce your Dog's Skills

In this time of social distancing, we are all looking for fun things we can do at home to provide...

Is Your Dog Ready for the Backyard Barbecue?

A BBQ brings with it quite a bit of excitement, lots of new people to greet and play with, as well as amazing smelling (yet off-limits) food and drink.

3 Ways to Make the Most of Camping with Your Pup

You don’t need to let hotels and pet policies limit your travels...


  • Balto wasn’t a full blood Siberian Husky. He was a full blood Seppala Siberian Sled Dog brought from Russia by Robert Seppala. They are actually 2 different breeds. Also, Robert Seppala blew by the last checkpoint. Another team of dogs were supposed to take the last leg of the trip. That isn’t to put down Balto. He did a fantastic job!!
    We own a Seppala. They are wonderful dogs. All those on the North American continent are said to have been brought in by Mr. Seppala.

  • Diane Corns – What a courageous pup! It sounds like she saved many lives – and probably kept morale up, too!

    SpotOn Fence
  • Hi Diana – we’ve received quite a few comments regarding this, and we love that everyone feels so passionately about Togo!

    Don’t worry, this list of notable pups is by no means definitive; we’ll be writing more about other pups – including Togo – soon.

    SpotOn Fence
  • Balto deserved time be mentioned but should not be #1. He is not the true hero of that run for the medicine. I dare you to do your research and find the real hero.

  • Judy,a German shorthair, was the only dog to be classified as a prisoner of war and survived Japanese prison camps. A book called No Better Friend chronicles her story.

    DIane Corns

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published