The phrase “all dogs go to heaven” has been tossed around a lot. Most notably, the popular 1989 animated film of the same name leads us to believe that all dogs, regardless of behavior or upbringing, are deemed “good” in the eyes of society. This is simply and unequivocally false. Some dogs are good. Others aren’t. Today, I’d like to review the profiles of some recognizable canine characters throughout popular culture in order to deduce whether or not these childhood icons are worthy of our reciprocated affection. 

Toto from The Wizard of Oz

The Cairn Terrier that portrayed Dorothy’s companion Toto in the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz” was in fact a dog actress named Terry. In classic prima donna fashion, Terry was paid a salary of $125 per week for her work on the film. I’m pretty sure that’s more than what the Munchkins got offered. Surprisingly enough, her toe was accidentally stepped on and broken by a Munchkin actor, so they didn’t even use her for the whole movie shoot – lame. After the film’s success, her owner had an autobiography published for her titled “I, Toto,” which is pretty egotistical, even for a dog. Terry passed away in 1945, but her grave was later demolished to free space for the ventura highway in Los Angeles.

Evaluation: Terry was a classic Hollywood elite, and is therefore a Bad Dog.


The 1995 animated movie “Balto” is inspired by the real life story of a Siberian Husky of the same name. A sled dog belonging to musher Leonhard Seppala, Balto gained fame in 1925 after leading his sled team on a medicine run from Anchorage to Nenana, Alaska, in order to combat a diphtheria outbreak. Ten months later, a statue of Balto was erected in New York’s Central Park, where he was present for the statue’s unveiling. After Balto died in 1933, his remains were mounted by a taxidermist and donated to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, where his body still resides today (creepy).

Evaluation: Controversy still surrounds whether or not Balto was actually the lead dog on his own sled team, based on other mushers’ claims about the dog’s track record. Still – it’s much easier to live in blissful ignorance and assume that Balto is in fact a Good Dog.

Clifford the Big Red Dog

Clifford is a big red dog. What more is there to say? He is a menace to society. His size is often inconsistent: While he is shown being about 25 feet tall from paws to head, Clifford can appear much larger in picture books and television. His owner, Emily Howard, often rides him like a horse. The two live in New York City, where keeping a dog of normal proportions is already a logistical nightmare. The creators of the show of the same name have confirmed that Clifford can grow and shrink depending on the life force of the children around him. I can only deduce from this information that Clifford must be a mutant.

Evaluation: Clifford is a monstrosity, a mistake of human hubris. He must be stopped. He’s a Bad Dog.

McGruff the Crime Dog

McGruff the Crime Dog is an anthropomorphic animated bloodhound created by advertising agency Dancer Fitzgerald Sample in the 1980s to spread crime awareness and personal safety information, usually through the ad council. The same advertising agency is famous for inventing the Wendy’s commercial tagline “Where’s the beef?”. McGruff sounds like he smokes two packs of cigarettes a day and labels himself as a crime “Pre-tective,” which is not a job. Aside from being a total narc, I don’t think McGruff ever prevented any real crimes, and was merely a totem to deal with manufactured public fear over rising homicides in the late 1970s.

Evaluation: As much as I’d love to follow his advice and “Take a bite out of crime,” I am admittedly very frail. No amount of preparation could equip me to defend against a home invader. And for the most part, I trust my neighbors – Bad Dog.

Air Buddy

After some research, I discovered that Air Buddy is the true name of the athletic golden retriever featured in the 1997 sports comedy film “Air Bud.” Prior to being given his franchise name, he was known as “Old Blue,” and serves as the companion of an alcoholic clown. I wish I was making that up. After being given to and consequently rescued from the pound, his new owner Josh discovers his uncanny ability to play basketball. Buddy ends up leading Josh’s middle school team to a championship victory. The movie grossed $28 million dollars, and the rest is history. In the 1998 sequel, “Air Bud: Golden Receiver,” it turns out Buddy is also incredibly skilled at American football. 

Evaluation: I am glad this dog is not real because he’s clearly much more coordinated than me. Good Dog.


Scooby-Doo is the eponymous character and protagonist of the animated television franchise “Scooby-Doo,” created in 1969 by the American animation company Hanna-Barbera. He is a male Great Dane and lifelong companion of his owner, amateur detective Shaggy Rogers. The duo love to eat tall stacks of club sandwiches and run away from monsters. He can also talk sometimes, which is pretty cool. The 2002 live action film “Scooby-Doo” — y’know, the one where the gang travels to a haunted resort island, and Scooby’s pure protoplasmic soul is nearly sacrificed via cult ritual — remains a hallmark of early 2000s cinema.

Evaluation: How can you not love Scooby? Good Dog.


Take everything you love about Scooby-Doo and throw it out the window. Scrappy-Doo is the complete opposite. Introduced to the franchise in 1979 as Scooby’s nephew, Scrappy is quite possibly the most annoying addition to any children’s cartoon franchise. Scrappy has no basic, subtle, relatable or even recognizable character traits with which viewers can connect. His whole schtick is that he can talk without a speech impediment, unlike his uncle Scooby. While his smarts often help to advance the plot, Scrappy’s shrill and high-pitched voice gets easily rattled into your brain. Even after encountering hundreds of life-or-death situations, he still thinks he can beat up the monsters himself as per his signature one liner: “Let me at ’em!”

Evaluation: The idea for this dog should’ve stayed in the boardroom. Bad Dog.


If you have no clue who Snoopy is, I don’t know why you bothered to get this far into my article. Snoopy is a beagle who belongs to Charlie Brown, the main character from a comic strip franchise that hasn’t made anything new in a very long time. I digress. Snoopy is a black and white beagle who spends his free time imagining alternate lives, including being an author, a college student known as “Joe Cool,” an attorney and a British World War I flying ace. He constantly refers to his owner as “that round-headed kid” and has seven brothers. Snoopy’s red doghouse defies the laws of physics, and is shown to be bigger on the inside than the outside.

Evaluation: Snoopy might be a dog, but his acuity for extreme wonder and boredom encapsulates the vast expanses of the human condition. Begrudgingly, he’s a Good Dog.


Marley from “Marley and Me” – BAD

Blue from “Blue’s Clues” – GOOD

Old Yeller – GOOD

Spuds Mackenzie – GOOD

Dogbert from “Dilbert” – BAD

Gromit – GOOD

Beethoven – GOOD

Beethoven 2nd-5th – BAD

The Dog from “Duck Hunt” – BAD

Beverly Hills Chihuahua – BAD

Dalmations 1-79 – GOOD

Dalmations 80-101 – BAD

Pluto — GOOD

Goofy — BAD

Marmaduke – BAD

Muttley from “Wacky Races” – BAD

Snoop Dogg – GOOD

Daily Humor Columnist Maxwell Barnes, a senior studying Communication and Media and the proud owner of a Betta fish named Lebron, can be reached at mxwell@umich.edu.

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