Famous Terriers To Make You Smile

We love our terriers, and reading about famous terriers through the decades is just a joyous way to pass some time and put a smile on your face. Make a cuppa, and let’s talk famous terriers to make you smile!

All terriers demand recognition. I’m pretty sure they’re all famous in their own way and perhaps even in their towns, villages, and cities! Terriers certainly aren’t shy and retiring or likely to allow themselves to be ignored, are they?!

Did you know that a 4lb Yorkshire terrier was the first-ever therapy dog? Or that Jack Russells are the highest-earning breed in show business? Whether these dogs found fame in films, TV, or as historic icons, we have a selection of some of the most famed terriers through the ages for you!

Terriers Who Made History

Nipper

Nipper was the iconic dog painted by Francis Barraud in 1898 in a piece titled His Master’s Voice. This famous terrier became a well-recognised trademark used by many record companies, probably most notably HMV records. He was named Nipper because of his penchant for nipping the backs of visitor’s legs. How very terrier of you, Nipper! 

Go analog or go home https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nipper

Caesar

Caesar was a wire fox terrier belonging to King Edward VII. This regal terrier had his own footman and slept beside the King’s bed. Known affectionately as ‘Stinky’ by courtiers, his collar was inscribed with ‘I am Caesar. I belong to the King’ 

Dilyn

Dilyn, the Downing Street Dog. Dilyn, a little Jack Russell terrier cross, was adopted by Boris Johnson and his girlfriend Carrie Symonds in 2019. He was a 15-week old puppy at the time and had been saved by the charity ‘Friends of Animals Wales’ after a rough start in life on a puppy farm. 

He was born with a misaligned jaw and therefore served to bring no profit to the illegal breeder and was destined for the scrap heap before the Welsh charity took him in, no questions asked. It was not long after ‘Lucy’s Law’ had been passed, and the PM and his girlfriend were keen to home a rescue dog, so vet Marc Abraham suggested Friends of Animals Wales, and they fell in love with Dilyn.

Eileen, the founder of the charity, said, “It’s great that Carrie and Boris have picked such a normal, scruffy little terrier rather than some designer pooch.” 

After Johnson won the 2019 election, Dilyn was on the front pages of newspapers around the world, the puppy farm pup who found fame!

Smoky

Smoky, the world’s first therapy dog, was a tiny Yorkshire terrier weighing just four lbs…. awwww! She was found by army troops in a foxhole in World War II. She was credited with saving the lives of hundreds after she ran communication wires through a narrow pipe, helping establish telephone contact at an airfield in the Philippines. 

This was just the beginning of a life filled with adventure and remarkable achievements. 

After 12 combat missions together, her owner was taken to hospital, and when his comrades brought her to visit him, her work as a therapy dog began! You can read her full story here, she is certainly evidence of the spirit, tenacity, and joy of terriers. 

Greyfriars Bobby

Greyfriars Bobby was a very famous Skye terrier, with an incredibly heartwarming tale. He belonged to John Gray, who was a night watchman for the Edinburgh police. Greyfriars bobby worked by his side for two years before Gray sadly passed away due to Tuberculosis.

In an incredible display of the true bond between dog and human, Bobby stayed at the grave of his best friend for 14 years, leaving only for food once a day. People would come from far and wide to see this loyal and loving terrier. What a dog! 

Photo: Iain Lees

Trump

Trump was the founding terrier for the Jack Russell’s we know and love today. The breed was named after her owner Reverend John Russell who was a keen fox hunter and dog lover. Russell purchased Trump in 1819 from the milkman and was quoted as saying she was the dog of his dreams! 

He believed her to have the perfect traits for a hunting dog; stamina and courage, which would sow the seeds for a new type of terrier to work alongside those who enjoyed fox hunting in the British Countryside.

She was the basis for a breeding program to rear the perfect hunting terrier to flush out foxes. By the 1850s, Jack Russell Terriers were recognised as their own distinct breed. 

Wikimedia

Old Ginger

Old Ginger, the founding father of Dandie Dinmont Terriers, every Dandie Dinmont on earth can trace their heritage back to Old Ginger! Remarkably, the kennels in which he was born still exist; in fact, they are said to be the only kennels in existence that can be linked to any breed founder’s birth. 

The Old Ginger statue at the Haining, Selkirk

Famous Terriers On The Big Screen

With Jack Russell’s recently found to be the highest-earning pups in the film industry, netting a whopping £700 million for moviemakers, we thought it would be fun to look back in time at some of the most famous terriers that have graced the big screen!

Sandy

Sandy, a mix breed terrier of Annie fame. Sandy had his very own hard-knock life before being saved and enjoying Broadway fame! Sandy was abused as a puppy and wound up in a pound in Connecticut, USA. Just one day before he was due to be put to sleep, he was adopted by a trainer named William Berloni. 

At just 18 years old Berloni was undertaking an apprenticeship at Goodspeed Opera House and was tasked with finding and training a dog for the role in Annie. He adopted Sandy for the grand sum of $8, with not a clue whether this sad stray would be up to the task. But he trained Sandy to perform 20 different cues, including barking on-demand and searching for Annie across the stage in front of thousands of people. 

Sandy went on to perform for Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan at The White House, and even had his own autobiography published. 

Wikimedia

Max

Max, the Jack Russell who played Milo in The Mask. Starring alongside Jim Carey needs a character who has energy, a sense of humour, and enthusiasm, and Max did not disappoint. 

After years of being turned down for the big screen, Max’s terrier determination paid off when he landed the part after going up against a Corgi and a Scottie dog for the role. The director, Chuck Russell, described him as ‘the most perky and alive’ of the auditioned pups! 

He was paid handsomely for his tenacity, earning $2000 a week for his role. He will always be remembered for the famous scene where he heroically retrieves the mask from the bad guys and slips into it!

Mr. Famous

Mr. Famous, the Yorkshire terrier, belonging to Audrey Hepburn, inspired somewhat of a Yorkie craze in Hollywood. He traveled the world with Hepburn and was often seen riding in her basket on her bicycle. He even starred alongside her and Fred Astaire in ‘Funny Face’ and appeared on many a magazine cover! 

Mr. Famous was sadly run over on Wilshire Boulevard during filming for ‘The Children’s Hour,’ but his memory undoubtedly lives on in Hollywood with many fans devoted to the breed, including Johnny Depp, Natalie Portman, Roberto Cavalli, and Missy Elliott! 

F63MCE AUDREY HEPBURN (1929-1993) British film actress in 1964 with her Yorkshire Terrier Mr Famous while she was filming My Fair Lady on the Warner Bros Burbank studio lot. Image shot 1964. Exact date unknown.

Spike

Spike, the Yorkshire terrier who Joan Rivers credits with saving her life. Joan Rivers had two Yorkies, Veronica and Spike. After her husband, Edgar Rosenberg took his own life, Rivers herself became suicidal. Spike stood on the gun she planned to use, stopping her from following through. She said, ‘dogs know when you’re in pain.’

Ok, he may not have made it to the big screen, but with a loyal and loving commitment like that to his famous mum, we think he’s worth a mention!

Toto

  “A place where there isn’t any trouble. Do you suppose there is such a place, Toto?”

Dorothy, Cairn Terrier Mum.

Toto, the trusty Cairn terrier that wouldn’t leave Dorothy’s side. There’s no place like home, but Toto was with Dorothy every step of that yellow brick road, and for all the adventures along the way.

The Wizard of Oz is one of the most iconic films in history, and it wouldn’t have been the same without Toto, would it? 

Toto was played by Terry, a female Cairn Terrier, was born during the Great Depression. She starred in 16 movies throughout her life, including ‘Bright Eyes’ with Shirley Temple. She is most famed for her role in The Wizard of Oz, where she was injured during filming when a cast member trod on her foot, breaking it! She spent two weeks recovering at Judy Garland’s home and won over her heart with Garland keen to adopt her, but her owner declined.

She was paid well for her role, earning $125 per week which was more than many of the human cast and a higher wage than a lot of Americans made at that time. What a true terrier icon!

Slammer

Slammer, the border terrier who played Puffy in Something about Mary, was the inspiration behind us getting our very own Scruffy Little Terrier. Slammer was an incredibly plucky and courageous dog full of character, much like Barney!

Kim Lindemoen, her owner and trainer, worked with many dogs over her fifty-plus year career training dogs for TV and movies. Slammer was trained to lick incessantly and to perform her own stunts, with a lot of help. Don’t worry; they used three fake dogs for the action scenes! 

Famous Terriers In Soaps and Popular TV Shows

Eddie

Eddie in the hit TV series Frasier was a very famous little Parsons Russell indeed; he received the most fan mail of the entire cast! Eddie was originally played by a Jack Russell named Moose and was then replaced by his son Enzo. 

Eddie was famed for his terrier stare, practically taunting Frasier over the years, while remaining ever loyal to his Dad, Martin Crane.  

At just two and a half years old, Moose’s original owners could take no more of his terrier antics. He would always try to escape to chase cats and climb trees! So he was shipped off to an animal trainer, and after just six months of training, he landed his role in Frasier. 

Batley

Batley, of Emmerdale fame, made soap opera history!

Batley was Edna Birch’s Yorkshire terrier who was actually played by a female dog, Bracken. Batley was the catalyst that finally showed Edna the terrible ways of her granddaughter after her friend saw her brutally kicking her beloved dog.  

Sadly, Batley had to be put to sleep after being diagnosed with a cyst on the show, but the performance won Bracken the accolade of a British Soap Award for Best Exit back in 2002. 

She was the first-ever animal to be nominated for a British soap award and came out trumps against Martin Kemp and Amanda Barrie, who looked on in shock as they were pipped to the post by a Yorkie! She surely made history for terriers on prime time telly!

Eccles

Ecclesthe Border terrier who brought tears to fans across the country when she left corrie!Eccles moved about a bit, originally belonging to Lena, a friend of Dierdre’s Mum Blanche. When Lena passed away, Eccles was left to Blanche in her will, and on the day of the funeral, she bit Ken Barlow! Little did she know that she would eventually form a very close bond with him.

Eccles had many an adventure on the cobbles of Coronation Street, but when she was put to sleep after the vet found a tumour, people across the country worried that the ‘real Eccles’ was dead. Eccles was, in fact, played by not one but two border terriers, who are both still very much alive and kicking!

Hacker T

Hacker T is a Border Terrier TV presenter who has true terrier naughtiness and cheek coursing through his fur! He began his journey to fame as a character in a CBBC show called Scoop before he rose through the ranks to become a weekday children’s TV presenter. He was so popular that he was then given his own talk show, Hacker Time, which ran for six seasons. He interviewed celebrities from Anton Du Bek to Sue Barker and in 2009 he was the Mascot for the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. He even appeared on Celebrity Mastermind in 2018 with his specialist subject being The Pet Shop Boys!  

With over 152k followers on Insta and over 42k on Twitter, he is without question a very famous and popular Terrier! 

Adventurous and Naughty Terriers

In a 2017 survey by Pets at Home, Jack Russell’s and Yorkies were found to top the naughty list for our terriers! Jack Russell’s may make the most in movies, but they also came second on the naughty list only to Labradors, with Yorkies scraping in at number 10!

Pici

Pici, a Jack Russell, was awarded Britain’s naughtiest dog in a competition by Country Life and Lily’s Kitchen after she summoned armed police to her owner’s home with her mischievous antics! 

Her owner describes her as ‘confident, kind, and gentle,’ but when she decided to destroy the house phone one day, she inadvertently caused quite a commotion. The clever pup dialed 999, and the call reportedly sounded as though someone was being strangled… the first her poor owners knew was when armed police arrived at their front door!

This competition was pretty rife with terriers, to be honest, from the Jack Russell–Lakeland cross Archie, who maimed all the garden gnomes to Ted the Westie who destroyed Christmas, not forgetting Teddy the Parsons who invited himself to two weddings and an archaeological dig no less! You can read about all the naughty terriers and their comrades here.

There is only one terrier we can end this piece with, Bothy the Polar Dog!

Bothy

Ranulph Fiennes, the explorer, took his scruffy little terrier Bothy along for a three year expedition travelling the globe via the North and South Poles.

“A mongrel, he undoubtedly is. And a stubborn-minded, non-house-trained, contrary-souled, yappy-voiced one at that.

Ranulph Fiennes

Bothy was the first and only dog to set paw on both the North Pole and South Poles,flying the flag for adventurous terriers everywhere!

He came face to face with a moose, polar wolves, and Antarctic penguins. The 52,000-mile adventure earned him celebrity status. He returned home to dog-loving admirers far and wide, showering him with praise and adoration.

You can read the full tale of Bothy and his adventures in his book; Bothy, The Polar Dog. What an incredible Jack Russell to end our list of wonderful terriers of fame. 

Could Barney and Sandy Be Famous Terriers?

This got me thinking about what Barney and Sandy would be famous terriers for. I think Barney would be famous for being the dog that is slowest ever on walks, because he takes so long as he wants to sniff and pee everything! I think Sandy would be famous for being the most reluctant to go out on dog walks, although she loves them once she’s out. You will of course understand this being a terrier owner, why not have a read of our Ten Things Only Terrier Owners Understand blog.

Of course, Barney and Sandy will both be famous for inspiring Scruffy Little Terrier.

Do you think your terrier should be on the list! I’d love to know what terrier antics your very own pups are famed for.

woofs & licks signature from Michelle Barney & Sandy

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