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File:Heroicdog 84.jpg

They say that dogs are man's best friend. Some dogs, however, go above and beyond simple loyalty and become full-blown heroes, protecting those in need, righting wrongs, and becoming crusaders for justice good enough to stand toe-to-toe with their human counterparts.

These are usually found in relatively realistic settings, and the dogs are not Funny Animals (with a few exceptions, see below). Depending on the medium and capability of the work in question, though, the audience may hear the dogs talk, or have some insight into the dogs' internal monologue. In the absence of any sort of character development for the dog, which is difficult to do in live-action, they will often be surrounded by several human characters.

Judging by all the lists of Real Life examples, this seems to be Truth in Television (and that also makes dogs a Crowning Species Of Awesome). Given humanity's talent for getting into trouble, it's certainly nice to know that someone's got our back.

Often needs to rescue Timmy in a Well, and may be an Angry Guard Dog. A cousin to the Evil-Detecting Dog, and something of an inversion of Dogs Are Dumb. May or may not be a Gratuitous Animal Sidekick or Action Pet. For a more subtle dog hero, see Hachiko.

Contrast evil dogs such as the Hell Hound.

Examples of Heroic Dog include:

Anime and Manga

  • Most of the main characters of the anime Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin (Silver Fang ~ Meteor Gin in English, known as Hopeanuoli in Finland) are Heroic Dogs, who band together to fight an evil bear who threatens to take over the local forest.
  • In Excel Saga Menchi usually acts as the emergency food supply, but in episodes that spotlight her she plays the hero.
  • Parodied in Azumanga Daioh, when Osaka is worried Chiyo will be kidnapped if she goes to America. Chiyo claims Mr. Tadakichi will protect her. Osaka's response: "BANG! Mr. Tadakichi has just been shot."
  • Tobimaru from Sword of the Stranger is a Heroic Dog played straight, protecting the main protagonist from poisoned knives and very nearly giving his life in the process.
  • Black Hayate from Fullmetal Alchemist saves Riza from a homunculus in the manga.
  • Zeke of Highschool of the Dead may not be the biggest dog, but he is fiercely loyal to Alice, even on their first encounter, he tries to protect her. Later, When Alice laments she has no weapons, Hirano points out that Zeke is her weapon. Also, Any Dog that survives the Zombie apocalypse has badass pumping through his veins.
  • Densuke from Dennou Coil plays a major role in the series, especially when he goes down fighting Nulls to protect Yasako. Can you resist his cuteness anyways?

Comic Books

  • Snowy, from the Tintin comics.
  • Examples from The DC Universe:
    • Although rarely the focus of the story, Krypto the Superdog and Ace the Bat-Hound are essentially Canine Counterparts to Superman and Batman, respectively, and even wear little dog-styled costumes similar to their masters'!
    • Rex The Wonder Dog is a boat-driving, skydiving, cattle-roping, dinosaur-fighting, skiing, fishing, decorated World War II veteran/investigative reporter Gary Stu as a dog. He probably knows more skills than Batman and Mr. Terrific combined. He gained the ability to talk and joined an association of magical beings- after doing all of the above.
  • The Phantom has Devil, who is wolf instead of a dog, but is no less loyal and heroic. In the movie serial he was even played by the real-life Wonder Dog, Ace.


  • Rin Tin Tin, another German Shepherd who starred in several films for Warner Bros in the 1920s and '30s, as well as later spinoffs. He even appeared in multiple radio series, where he provided his own sound effects. The real Rin Tin Tin has had several descendants, with the current one being the tenth. Quite a career for a dog.
  • The surviving dog, Beast, from the 2006 remake of The Hills Have Eyes not only manages to be more useful in the survival situation than any of the normal humans, but actually manages to rack up a higher body count than any other single living creature in the entire movie.
    • Of course, German Shepherds are pretty renowned for being great guard dogs. And thousands of years of evolution hasn't come close to undoing the instincts they got from wolves. If you put a confident, powerful, and intelligent dog in a situation where his human family is unable to defend themselves, he's going to revert to Papa Wolf mode and kill some bastards.
    • He also had his packmate, Beauty, to avenge. Dogs do hold grudges over things like that.
  • When the Frog brothers were cornered by a vampire in The Lost Boys, it was Nanook the husky (also an Evil-Detecting Dog) who jumped up at it and pushed it into the bathtub where the brothers' holy water supply was stored. (All the more impressive, in that Nanook may well have figured out that this would work, having just seen the brothers splash the vampire with water from the tub and burn its face!) Nanook also bravely guarded Sam from Michael when the latter became a half-vampire and was nearly overcome by Horror Hunger.
  • Thor, the German shepherd hero of the movie Bad Moon (and the book it was based on, Thor by Wayne Smith), fights a werewolf to protect his family.
  • Airplane 2 The Sequel: A boy and his family bring their dog, Scraps, along on the Lunar Shuttle. Naturally, when everything goes to hell and it's revealed that one of the passengers is carrying a bomb, the dog is the one who catches it before it can hit the floor.
  • Baxter from Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.
  • In the movie, Homeward Bound, when Shadow (Golden Retriever) and Chance (Bulldog) take care of a lost little girl in the woods and help her family/search party locate her; not to mention fighting and outsmarting A PUMA!!!
  • Double-subverted with Bolt, who in the in-universe Show Within a Show, was a canine superhero using his powers to fight evil, and thought it was all real, and even after finding out it was not, he saves his owner's life by barking into an air vent from inside a burning building such that firefighters can hear them.
  • In The Artist, George Valentin's dog alerts a police officer when he sets his house on fire and is unable--or unwilling--to escape. The officer outright states that George owes his life to the dog. Later, as George prepares to kill himself, the dog apparently senses his intent and barks ferociously to dissuade him.


  • To an extent, Buck, from Jack London's The Call of the Wild, and the titular White Fang. They do certain heroic things, and we are given insight into their thoughts, but they don't fit the trope exactly.
  • In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40000 Brothers of the Snake, the Space Marine Priad calms some Angry Guard Dogs and takes one with him to fight Dark Eldar. Years later, he dreams of it when the fight is showing its great significiance, and another Space Marine sends it to him as a psychopomp so he talk with him while they sleep. Even more oddly, when he arrives back on the planet, he is told the dog died years ago, but a dog exactly like it appears to help against the Dark Eldar again.
  • Huan from The Silmarillion is (most likely) a very minor deity in canine form, but he acts like an unusually intelligent dog for the bulk of the story. He is a brave and loyal companion to Beren and Luthien, and occasionally The Obi-Wan (he can speak only three times before he dies). Oh, and there's one other thing... he defeated Sauron in single combat. Yes, that Sauron.
  • Harry Dresden's dog Mouse, who over the course of the series repeatedly saves Harry's (and others) life, is a proximity detector for evil beings and powers, has the ability to wake an entire building all at once and get them to leave in an orderly manner when the building is set on fire, and mercilessly tears apart any evil being he gets ahold of. It is strongly implied that Mouse is far more intelligent than he usually acts. His presence also greatly intimidated a millenia old sorcerer powered by a Fallen Angel (the first time the usually inflappable Nicodemus seemed afraid of anything). Did we mention that he made Leanansidhe flinch by calling her bluff? He is also extremely loyal and friendly. It helps that Mouse is descended from a guardian dog spirit.
  • Gaspode the Wonder Dog in Discworld, especially Moving Pictures. He's a bit of a subversion, a scruffy mongrel who hates his doggy instincts and seriously resents having to save the day. He can talk, but hardly anyone believes him. Moving Pictures also has Laddie, who looks like a Heroic Dog, but is very, very, stupid. He does however, rescue Gaspode from his Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Dog, the dog in Two Caravans, spends much of the novel acting as a simple tracking device, which is less heroic and more practical. However, when the dramatic finale comes around, he leaps in front of a gun to save one of the protagonists
  • Old Dan and Little Ann, the protagonist's two hunting dogs in Where the Red Fern Grows die fighting off a mountain lion that was attacking their master.
  • Hank of the Hank the Cowdog series, having sworn an oath "to protect and defend all innocent children against all manner of monsters and evil things." Even though he's quite often Lord Error-Prone, he's always on call when someone's in real trouble.
  • The Tale of Gelert the dog, a Welsh fable, describes how Gelert saves the life of his master's son when a wolf enters their home. Sadly, when his master returns from a hunting trip he sees Gelert covered in the wolf's blood, assumes Gelert has mauled his son, and kills him, only to realise his mistake when he discovers the wolf's carcass. The Welsh town Beddgelert, Gelert's Grave, is named in his honor.
  • The children's book Bad Dog Marley! (based off the Marley from Marley and Me) has the previously troublesome Marley saving the baby from danger--he's crawled on top of a cabinet and could have fallen were it not for Marley's catching him and alerting the family with his incessant barking.
  • Pepper from The House on the Borderland. He helps his master fight off vicious monsters and later saves said master from falling into a chasm; later, however, he gets killed when the titular house ages his body billions of years in a single instant.

Live Action TV

  • Lassie, of course, who had a regular human sidekick in the form of Timmy.
  • The Littlest Hobo is similar to Lassie, but London is perpetually Walking the Earth rather than tied down to one owner.
  • An episode of Wishbone has Wishbone see a news story about a heroic dog who saves a child from being hit by a car. Wishbone fantasizes about being heroic himself (as in every episode).
  • The Bundy men and Steve take the neighborhood kids camping. Of course things go south, so Al gives Buck a note to take to Peggy. As Al predicted, Buck braved the journey and made it home...but refused to give Peggy the note.
  • Parodied in the SCTV sketch "Alice", which featured a "heroic" dog that just ... basically sat there. Everyone around Alice credited her with saving their lives, fending off burglars, etc., but ... she just sat there.
  • Rex, in Inspector Rex, is a police dog who often does as much hard policing as the rest of his team put together.
  • In MASH, the doctors treat a dog named Private Cupcake, who deliberately tripped a land mine to save his human partner.
  • If Robot Dogs count, K-9's Heroic Sacrifice in the Doctor Who episode "School Reunion" certainly qualifies him.


  • The video for Save The World by Swedish House Mafia features dogs dealing with a mugger, a carjacker and an armed robber. It also appears that they've got organized about their heroics.

Newspaper Comics


  Suddenly, amidst of all the confusion, little Misty seized the control and saved the day.


Video Games

  • Hewie from Haunting Ground is the embodiment of this trope. Without him, Fiona would not have a chance in hell of escaping as one bad ending demonstrates.
  • Koromaru, from Persona 3, who fights interdimensional hellbeasts with the best of 'em.
  • In Resident Evil 4, a wolf/dog comes and helps Leon fight a monster - if Leon frees him from a trap earlier in the game, that is.
  • Blanca from Shadow Hearts: at some point, you start to wonder if Yuri is the hero or the dog's sidekick.
  • Fable II. When Lucien has you trapped, a pistol aimed at you, and is about to pull the trigger, you dog leaps in front of you and takes the shot. The dog that has been with you since the beginning of the game. Of course, he shoots you right afterward, but it was pretty awesome and gives you extra motivation to kill the bastard.
    • Fable 3 continues the tradition - though his successor is thankfully never forced to make a Heroic Sacrifice, he'll follow your hero through seven hells and back again, loyally defending you (and available for snuggles) all the way.
  • Boney of Mother 3. He's also Flint Norris's dog, and can phase through a speeding train.
  • The Mabari hound party member of Dragon Age, popularly called Rabbit, Barkspawn or Dog.
  • The hero's dog from Secret of Evermore.
  • Dogmeat from Fallout 1, 2 and 3 if the player recruits him. He is almost always the only party member who will never leave you under any circumstances save death.
    • Rex in Fallout: New Vegas; a cybernetic dog with a... colorful history. He is also very old - a pre-War K9 police unit.
  • Pokémon: While Growlithe is the most prominent example, every Pokemon based on a dog is this to some degree. Even Dark-Type ones like Houndour and Poochyena. Stoutland, the final evolution of Lilipup, is described in the 'dex as being highly skilled at rescuing people in snowstorms or lost at sea.
  • Radium Dog from Defenders of Dynatron City.
  • Missile from Ghost Trick. Follows his mistress into danger and dies, but when he's offered a chance to come back to life he refuses, because he's inherited ghost powers that allow him to protect his mistress better.
  • Repede from Tales of Vesperia. He's able to handle a short sword and items extremely well for a dog, and goes up against foes both human and monster alike on a regular basis for the good of the world.

Western Animation

  • Balto, both the animated version and the real dog he was based on.
  • Underdog, who was The Cape when not in his civilian identity of Shoe Shine Boy.
  • Hong Kong Phooey, a karate-chopping "number one super guy", with an equally humble secret identity, ordinary janitor Penrod Pooch.
  • Super Goof, Goofy as The Cape.
  • The Simpsons, in the episode Homer's Enemy, has Mr. Burns make a dog his executive vice president, due to the dog pushing a baby from in front of a moving vehicle and pushing a criminal in front of it.
    • Subverted with Santa's Little Helper, in the episode Homer the Heretic, the house is on fire, Homer is asleep on the couch, Santa's Little Helper takes a candy bar from his pocket and escapes.
    • Another aversion occurs in one episode where Bart gets stuck in some cement and Bart tells him to go for help he just sits there licks his face and walks away.
    • When Homer is stuck in Bart's burning tree-house, he's saved by the Heroic Cat Snowball II instead when Santa's Little Helper runs away from the scene. For the most of the episode Homer starts spoiling Snowball and scolds the dog for being a coward.
  • Played to the extreme in Gargoyles, where the Gargoyle Hound Bronx, and later another hound from Avalon, who shows up at least twice, help their 'masters'. Bronx exhibits above-average intelligence for a dog - he's no astrophysicist, but can understand basic commands in human speech, and often helps pull his friends to safety. In one episode, {{spoiler Lexington and Brooklyn are trapped in electrified cages, as is Bronx. Out of boredom, Brooklyn pokes repeatedly at the bars, following each spark with a monotone "Ow". Lexington notices the lights flicker, and tells Bronx to escape; he and Brooklyn grab the bars, diverting enough power that Bronx can bend the bars of his cage and run off for help.}}
    • Gargoyle Hounds in general are much smarter than canines, actually being about as smart as a chimpanzee.
  • In Batman Beyond, Ace (not the Bat-Hound, just a normal dog) does his fair share of rescuing, and does it in the way you'd expect an ex-dog fight contender to do it.

 Terry: (after Ace chases off a hyena Half-Human Hybrid) Good bat-dog.

  • In Garfield's Halloween Special, as Garfield and Odie jump into the lake to escape the evil ghosts chasing them, Garfield quickly sinks under and is swept away by the current (he can't swim). A frantic, whimpering Odie immediately dives underwater to find him and pulls him to safety. As they reach the shore, Garfield tells him with complete sincerity "I owe you one, old buddy". It's especially touching considering that Garfield is always ridiculing and tormenting Odie — he only even brought him along for trick-or-treating in order to get more candy for himself — yet Odie didn't hesitate to save him.
  • When Courage the Cowardly Dog sees danger, he always cowers in fear. Then he always rescues his family, in spite of being scared.
  • This trope is mentioned in "My Hero Zero" in Schoolhouse Rock's Multiplication Rock series.
  • Naga from The Legend of Korra definitely counts...since she's a Heroic Polar Bear Dog.

Real Life

  • A dog charged into traffic to rescue another dog that had been hit by a car. *sniff*...
  • gives us 7 Dogs That Accomplished More Than We Ever Will. Particularly notable is number six on the list, who was reduced to a footnote in the story of Balto despite technically being the bigger badass (comparatively speaking).
    • Actually, he and his team got huskies recognized an official breed, and are now ancestors of most of the huskies in the US. Balto, on the other hand, had been neutered at a young age, and so contributed nothing to the bloodline.
  • Twenty Five Heroic Dogs. Highlights include a bulldog that rescued a sack of kittens from a lake, a chihuahua who saved a toddler from a rattlesnake, a mutt who fought off pirates, and a blue heeler who fought an alligator. Caution: reading this page is likely to induce an urge to find the nearest dog and hug it.
  • A Golden Retriever saved a boy from a cougar.
  • A Jack Russell in New Zealand was killed protecting five children from a pair of aggressive pit bulls.
  • An untrained German Shepherd saved his owner's house from being burnt down. The guy said that he needed help and the dog ran off and got it.
  • Two wonderful books, "Dog Miracles" and "Puppy Miracles" depict the heroic exploits of numerous dogs. They both brought me to tears.
  • Go to a bookstore, a newspaper stand or a public library and pick up an issue of National Geographic Kids. In almost every trio of Amazing Animals stories, which is a section that is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, there's a story about a dog saving a person from something.
  • Ace The Wonder Dog, who was not only a movie star but just as brave and heroic as the parts he played.
  • Another real life example, this time a Rottweiler who chased off a scumbag who was attacking a woman. Good dog.
    • And another who spent the entire night in a city park guarding a baby who had been accidentally abandoned by her irresponsible mother when she decided to go out drinking with some friends.
  • Laika, the first animal in space.
  • Just about any police dog or military dog would count as an example, but here are some standouts:
    • There was Target, a female shepherd mix who saved the lives of dozens of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan by alerting them to the presence of a suicide bomber. According to one of the soldiers, "She got her name because the Afghans we lived with were constantly trying to off her. She's been shot in the leg...The Afghans actually ran her over....There's no killing this dog for sure. She's pretty much been through it all." One of the soldiers adopted Target and brought her back home to Arizona with her. Unfortunately, Target subsequently disappeared from her new home, was picked up by Animal Control...and in a cruelly ironic twist, was accidentally euthanized by a shelter employee.
    • Sir Peers Legh brought his English Mastiff along with him during the battle of Agincourt. He was wounded, and the dog protected him for hours until the battle was finally won. Legh never recovered from his injuries, but the dog returned to England and became one of the prime contributors to the modern breed. In Legh's home, a stained glass window depicting the knight and his dog can be found to this day. Oh yeah, it was a girl, too. One tough lady.
    • Dogs that earned the Dickin Medal , the animal version of the Victoria Cross. Includes a German Shepherd who saved his handler from drowning while under heavy shell fire (it's not mentioned on the site, but the dog had made it to shore, realized his human was missing, and dived back in to find him), another German Shepherd who found Air Raid casualties in a burning building, a Pointer who's the only known canine POW, and two Boxers who attacked an armed man, saving the lives of two British officers and being both wounded in the process. Good dogs.
    • Gander, a Newfoundland dog who was an army mascot in WWII, died after basically Jumping on a Grenade (specifically, he picked it up and ran off with it) to save his friends.
    • Nemo A534, a German Shepherd who served in the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War and saved the life of his wounded handler despite sustaining gunshot wounds to his eye and nose.
    • A Belgian Malinois dog named Cairo--to this day, the only member of the team who has been identified--was among the group of elite Navy Seals that conducted the fateful raid on Osama bin Laden's compound. Considering that a police dog was among the many officers killed on 9/11, this almost doubles as a And This Is For moment.
      • Speaking of whom, Sirius was a 4-year old golden labrador, a bomb-detecting canine for the Port Authority Police Department. His partner, Officer David Lim, left him in his kennel in the basement of the South Tower when he dashed off to aid in evacuating the buildings, but promised to come back for him. He was unable to rescue him before the collapse (ironically, partly because he himself was trapped in the rubble of the North Tower), but he still kept his promise--returning to the site to search for victims. When Sirius' remains were found on January 22, 2002, he was given all the respect that had been bestowed to his human counterparts. A memorial service in April of 2002 was attended by 400 people, including 100 K-9 teams, and a dog park was named after him.
  • 9/11 resulted in numerous examples of this trope as well:
    • Omar Eduardo Rivera (who is blind) was on the 71st floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Fearing that he would never make it down the stairs in time, he released his dog Dorado from his harness so that the animal might have a chance to escape. The dog came back, nudged at him until it was finally obvious he was not leaving without his master, and led him down 70 flights of stairs to safety. A nearly identical story played out with Micheal Hingson and his guide dog Roselle, detailed in the book Thunder Dog.
    • To say nothing of the countless dogs who participated in the rescue and recovery efforts, one of whom, as mentioned above, found the last survivor. Read the book Dog Heroes of September 11 for more details.
  • Chief, a pit bull in the Philippines, performed a Heroic Sacrifice to save two women in his master's household from a cobra while his master was at work. He stood between the women and the snake and killed it, sustaining a fatal bite. He clung to life long enough for his master to come home, just for a last glimpse and a wag of the tail.