Hello canine lovers and enthusiasts. It’s time for #ThrowbackThursday and our own version of throwing back a glimpse at canine history and some of its legendary characters.
All dogs are legends simply because their sole purpose is to make our life better; however, throughout history, there have been some dogs that have done truly incredible things and shall be remembered.
Let’s meet the most famous dogs in history and learn more about their stories and those paws that once made history.
#1 Balto, The Bravest Dog Ever
It all started with a deadly infection, a lifesaving serum, and the Great Race of Mercy.
Unfortunately, deadly infections and pandemics have always been a part of human history, and January 1925 was no exception.
The city of Nome, Alaska, was suddenly left without supplies of lifesaving serum (the closest one was miles away) and sled dogs were the only ray of hope. 674 miles of Alaskan wilderness and brutal winter made the journey impossible, but not for Balto and his remarkable bravery.
Despite his inexperience and various obstacles, he managed to stay on course and deliver the precious cargo that saved so many lives. Balto will forever be ingrained in American history for great teamwork and courage.
#2 Hatchikō, The World’s Most Loyal Dog
I remember watching a movie about Hatchikō, (Hachi: A Dog’s Tale) and bawling my eyes out. Although it was a long time ago, the story about this certain dog is still close to my heart. It’s an amazing, very real, and very sad story that will make you appreciate dogs a little bit more.
Hatchikō was a purebred Japanese Akita Inu dog that belonged to the university professor, Eizaburo Ueno. They were inseparable, so much that this beautiful dog would wait for him to come back from work every day at a train station.
One day, though, Ueno sadly never showed up… he had died unexpectedly at work, but Hatchikō continued to wait for his beloved owner. For nine years straight, he never missed a day, which rightfully earned him the nickname — “Hachikō — the faithful dog”.
#3 Barry, Saint Of Saints
“Barry, the Saint Bernard. He saved the lives of 40 people… and was killed by the 41st.”
If you visit the memorial for Barry, in Paris, you’ll find this inscription alluding to the popular legend about this dog. According to this legend, he was killed by the soldier of Napoleon’s army who mistook him for a bear.
The actual story is a bit less dramatic, but it does not detract from the value of this incredible pup.
Barry, who lived at the Hospice on the Saint Bernard Pass, earned a worldwide reputation after saving more than 40 people over a twelve-year career. He is now regarded as one of the most famous avalanche rescue dogs and the ancestor of the modern breed of St. Bernard.
#4 Endal, Service Dog Ambassador
Hope, companionship, loyalty, support, and independence… these are all the words that can describe the wonderful dog named Endal.
This yellow Labrador was voted — Dog of the Millennium — and was given both the PDSA Victoria Cross award after saving his owner’s life, and a Gold Blue Peter badge. Endal was an amazing service dog that helped his owner get back on track after a serious head injury.
This dog represents everything that a service dog should be and is. I could write about this dog on and on, but if you truly want to see why Endal was so special, I highly recommend watching this video.
#5 Apollo, The Hero Dog Of 9/11
September 11 is the day that we all wish had never happened, but unfortunately, it did. It brought a lot of pain and sadness, but also a lot of heroes the world needed to know about.
Beautiful Apollo, an NYPD K-9 Urban Search and Rescue German Shepherd dog, and his handler, Peter Davis, were the first to answer the call on this unfortunate day. Undaunted by the task, this courageous dog worked tirelessly 18 hours a day for weeks.
During the service, Apollo nearly lost his life to flames and falling debris, but he miraculously survived after falling into the water. Not even a near-death experience stopped him from saving many lives trapped beneath the rubble.
#6 Laika, The First Space Dog
The story of Laika, the stray husky mix, is actually a really sad one. Laika was the first space dog with a one-way trip into orbit.  Yes, you read it right…
Frightened to death and with a pounding heart, this poor dog rode the rocket, Sputnik 2, into Earth orbit, but never came back.
The scientists sacrificed Laika’s life for an experiment and their pursuit of mastering the cosmos, but the real question is, “Was it worth it?” Just imagine how frightened and stressed this dog must have been…
#7 Greyfriars Bobby, Edinburgh’s Most Loyal Dog
Let me tell you a beautiful story of two faithful friends. Once upon a time, there was a night watchman called John Gray, who had a Skye Terrier watchdog named Bobby. They were inseparable… so much that Bobby always accompanied him on his night shifts.
Unfortunately, an awful disease took John’s life way too soon, and little Bobby was left without his owner. But, he still remained loyal to his master. For fourteen years, this little fella did not leave John Grey’s grave, even in the worst weather conditions.
Bobby is now widely known as Edinburgh’s most faithful dog and the symbol of devotion. Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all.
#8 Nemo, The Most Heroic Dog
Nemo, a German Shepherd who served for the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War, is one of the most heroic dogs of all time. Brave beyond words. Loyal till death. Ferocious without self-regard.
This brave pup sacrificed his life for his wounded handler. When the U.S. station was attacked, both Throneburg (Nemo’s handler) and Nemo were severely injured.
Nemo suffered gunshot wounds to his nose and right eye, but that did not stop him from protecting Throneburg and shielding him with his own body. The level of love and bravery this dog showed is simply over the roof.
#9 Sergeant Stubby, The Most Decorated War Dog
Meet Stubby — the first canine sergeant and military dog that won several decorations during the Second World War.
This pooch was the official mascot of the 26th Yankee division in the First World War, and was involved in many battles. His sense of smell was a powerful tool that helped in many ways during the war, especially in saving the soldiers from a gas attack and catching a spy.
For the enormous bravery shown on the battlefield, Stubby was honored with a medal of heroism and the rank of sergeant — a rank even higher than his owner’s.
#10 Soter, The Savior Of Corinth
It was the year 456 BC and the ancient city of Corinth, Greece, was guarded by 50 brave dogs. One night, something awful happened. The city was attacked by invaders… the Persians. They killed 49 out of the said 50 dogs, and only one brave dog named Soter survived.
He managed to escape and alert the city and sleeping soldiers of danger; thus, saving them all. This faithful dog was so beloved in Corinth that a silver collar was made for him bearing the inscription: “Soter, the defender and savior of Corinth”.
#11 Buddy, America’s First Seeing Eye Dog
“Buddy delivered to me the divine gift of freedom” — Frank Morris
Before Buddy, Americans with disabilities had a tough time navigating society. They were marginalized and relied heavily on others for help.
Buddy was a German Shepherd trained in Europe and brought to America by Frank. She worked ceaselessly for guide dogs to be accepted and on establishing the first Seeing Eye School that would help many people later on.
Without Buddy and Frank, none of this would have been possible. They played an important role in the history of the guide dog movement, and will forever be remembered as heroes.
#12 Frida, The National Hero Of Mexico
Mexicans will always remember Frida, a yellow Lab, as the dog who made a lasting impact on their country’s history.
This beautiful search and rescue dog saved 12 lives and helped uncover more than 40 bodies after a 7.1 earthquake struck the country.
“Frida, you’re a hero without a cape… more than Superman, no doubt”, says the song written in honor of this beautiful soul. Amidst all the darkness and sorrow, Frida was truly a spark of hope that brought relief to many people.
#13 El Negro Matapacos, Dog Of The Decade
In 2011, the streets of the Chilean city of Santiago were alive with the spirit of revolution. The university students were asking for free public education, but were met with the riot police and the military.
However, much to their disbelief, protestors gained a powerful ally — a stray canine named El Negro Matapacos (loosely translated to “police-killing black dog”). Fighting with the protestors, and with a red bandana tied around his neck, Matapacos soon became the icon of the movement.
This black and red dog became the natural symbol of the tendency to stand up and fight back, and he is definitely the dog that marked the decade.
The Final Note
Many will say that the number 13 is unlucky, but in this case, I would disagree. We should be very grateful that these 13 famous dogs existed at all. Each one of them has left an incredible mark in the history of both canine and human existence.
I wrote this article to commemorate their stories and tell the world about their brave actions because this is the least we all can do.
If you ever doubt a dogs’ loyalty and its impact on our lives, just remember these famous dogs that you once read about on a dog blog that you love so much.
 Garber, S., Gray, T. (2004), Animals in Space. NASA. Retrieved March 17, 2023, from https://history.nasa.gov/animals.html