Big Friendly Dog

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

    Girl with saint bernard 9030.jpg
    "I have just met you, and I love you!"
    Dug the Dog, Up

    The opposite of the Angry Guard Dog, this canine Gentle Giant is big, friendly and somewhat dim-witted, will only kill you by licking you to death, and is likely to knock you over because he's just so happy to see you. Slobber included free of charge. And Truth in Television, of course.

    Sometimes the "big" part can be taken to ridiculous extremes (see the mention of Clifford, below) or have the dog be big enough to ride on. In Real Life, large dogs tend to have shorter life spans than their smaller counterparts, but this is mostly glossed over in fiction.

    A Sub-Trope of Canis Major.

    See also Mega Neko, Precious Puppies. Mister Muffykins is generally the polar opposite in both size and temperament. Also contrast Bully Bulldog, and Hell Hound.

    Examples of Big Friendly Dog include:

    Anime and Manga

    • Tamaki's dog Antoinette in Ouran High School Host Club; she's pretty big, affectionate, and, when seen, usually pounces on Tamaki and licks him silly.
    • Mercury from Pumpkin Scissors qualifies, when he isn't biting people.
    • In Lucky Star, Minami has a pretty big white dog named Cherry (whom was featured quite a bit in the OVA). Hiyori is the only person she reacted negatively to.
    • Tadakichi-san from Azumanga Daioh is a Great Pyrenees, and Chiyo does actually ride him like a horse on occasion. How friendly is he? He's the first animal Sakaki can pet. He gets a little too friendly in one episode, where he tackles Chiyo-chan into the air out of sheer exuberance.


    • Shou Tucker's dog Alexander from Fullmetal Alchemist, who, sadly, becomes the object of a Moral Event Horizon crossing moment when Tucker combines the dog and his daughter Nina into a chimera. Scar then literally Shoots The Dog (or rather, splatters him) in a Mercy Kill.
    • Hilariously subverted by the very large Sadaharu from Gintama, most of whose appearances result in body parts getting chomped on, and only Kagura is strong enough that she is unhurt and takes his behavior as being playful. It's later revealed that he's a dog god, originally owned by a pair of miko sisters.
    • Ana's dog Frusciante from Ichigo Mashimaro is generally very friendly, although he likes to chase Miu around. Then again, who can blame him?
    • Alisa's mansion in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha has many of these, in contrast to her best friend Suzuka's, which is filled with kittens.
    • Kotarou's dog spirits in Mahou Sensei Negima occasionally act this way, such as the time when they "attacked" Asuna by playfully licking her to submission.
    • Soichiro from Maison Ikkoku. Especially around the dog-phobic Mitaka.
    • Kiba's dog Akamaru on Naruto fills the part about being big enough to ride on after the time-skip, though he also fights along side Kiba. This contrasts to earlier, when he could ride on Kiba's head and intentionally peed on Naruto at least once.
    • Baron from Noein.
    • In Wild Rose, Tranquilo is almost as tall as Camille is, and quite friendly as long as you're not threatening his boy.
    • Pluto from Black Butler. Subverted since he can turn into a naked guy when excited.

    Comic Books

    • Lockjaw, the Inhumans' teleporting dog in Marvel Comics. And Puppy, his offspring, who was briefly owned by Franklin Richards, before disappearing into Comic Book Limbo.
    • The Entity of Love, the Predator, despite its fearsome appearance, acts very much like a Big Friendly Dog after being set free in Brightest Day. Carol Ferris even keeps him on a leash.
    • Donald Duck's canine companion, Bolivar.
    • Hot Dog in Archie Comics. Unless you try to steal his food.
    • Dori Seda's dog Tona who is very stinky, but otherwise not too bad.

    Fan Works

    • Rob from Two Step, if you're human. To the Infected, he's not so friendly.


    • Beethoven of the Beethoven series of movies.
    • Digby, The Biggest Dog In The World
    • Must Love Dogs: Mother Theresa, a Newfoundland (translate - big shaggy black dog) who is afraid of water.
    • The Beast from The Sandlot turns out to be a big friendly dog by the name of Hercules.
    • As mentioned, Dug from Up provides the page quote and is a fairly sizable dog besides.


    • Clifford the Big Red Dog is, of course, the logical extreme of this trope, standing approximately as tall as a two story house. He actually started off as a small puppy who grew huge thanks to his owner Emily Elizabeth's "love"—at least, that's the official story.
    • The Good Dog, Carl! series of children's books feature a Rottweiler caring for a baby through various wacky hijinks. The baby often rides him like a pony, and Carl always manages to get the mess cleaned up before Mom gets home. (While a Rottie is an unusual fictional choice for this role it's actually Truth in Television. It takes hard work and dedication to make a Rottie truly mean; unfortunately the looks of the dog make it worthwhile for some owners.)
      • Carl does defy one aspect of the Big Friendly Dog stereotype—he's actually incredibly smart.
    • Mouse from Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files, although he's actually a very intelligent magical creature and as a puppy he was small enough that the protagonist carried him around in a jacket pocket for a whole book (Blood Rites). Mind you, it's hinted that Mouse may be an interesting subversion; his owner suspects that he's actually intelligent enough to be deliberately invoking this trope. As Harry puts it, "Really big dogs that aren't acting overtly friendly tend to make people nervous." Heck, when Mouse wants to be intimidating, a lot of the time he doesn't even growl. He just stops acting friendly and looks at you.Though a warning to you should you be evil or harm Dresden.

    "Restore them before I rip your ass off. Literally rip it off."

    • Kit's dog, Ponch, from the Young Wizards series. When Ponch is eventually revealed to be roughly the equivalent of Jesus, it proves to be quite jarring.
    • Stephen King's Cujo, twisted cruelly when he turns rabid. A portion of the horror of the book is seeing Cujo's simple thoughts warp as the rabies drives him mad.
      • Hilariously, the film version had a genuine problem with the Truth in Television: Try as they might, the filmmakers just couldn't make a real St. Bernard act convincingly aggressive, so they disguised a Rottweiler for the more aggressive scenes...and even then, they had to tape the dog's tail to his leg to that it wouldn't wag.
      • His novel Under the Dome, with its ensemble cast, contains a few. Audrey, a golden retriever, warns one family when their daughter has seizures. Clover, a german shepard, also plays happily with the children before he shows the darker side of this trope when his master is pushed down stairs...
    • The Disreputable Dog in Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series mostly falls under this, with the fact that she talks and is really the avatar of one of the most powerful beings in the universe.
    • Thcrapth- er, Scraps from Terry Pratchett's Carpe Jugulum. So aggressively friendly that Death allowed Scraps to return to life to keep him from fetching Death's scythe for eternity.
    • Runner Bean from the Children of the Red King series.
    • Fang, Hagrid's dog, in Harry Potter. Hagrid has odd naming sensibilities, since Fang isn't actually that fierce, while Fluffy actually has three heads and is very fierce.
      • Fang is said to be a coward, but also fairly intelligent for the trope, at least going to get backup when he runs away.
    • Nana from Peter Pan, also in the Disney animated version. Not so "dumb", at least for a dog given that she quite capably lived up to her name/job description.
    • Stephanie Plum, or rather her on-again off-again boyfriend Joe Morelli, owns Bob, a vaguely Golden Retriever-shaped blob of fur. He has an appetite to match his size and enthusiasm, and isn't very picky. Joe once left him in his car, and when he came back, Bob had eaten the front seat.
    • Mrs. O'Leary from Percy Jackson and The Olympians, a Hell Hound who used to belong to Quintus Read: Daedalus and was turned over to Percy at the end of Battle of the Labyrinth.
    • Sandry, Daja, Briar, and Tris have Little Bear.
    • Judge Benjamin, the title character in the Judge Benjamin: Superdog 5 book series.
    • Marley of Marley and Me. As it's a true story, this is Truth in Television.
    • The title dog of Kate DiCamillo's Because of Winn-Dixie. He's so called because the girl who adopted him first saw him running around inside a Winn-Dixie supermarket.

    Live-Action TV

    • Barkley, a Muppet dog featured on Sesame Street.
    • Carmine, Chris's dog on Human Target. He's supposed to be a guard dog. He'd prefer to sleep and eat.
    • Jade from Victorious mentions them in her "Stuff I Hate" video.

    Jade: "I hate it when I go to someone's house, and their dog jumps all over me, and the owner says: "oh, it's okay, he's friendly". Guess what; I'm not. Get your dog off me!"



    • The Red Hot Chili Peppers song "Death of a Martian" is about the death of guitarist Flea's dog, Martian, who was this type of dog.

    Newspaper Comics

    • Marmaduke is one of the classic examples, also fitting the "dumb" description.
    • Howard Huge qualifies, I think.
    • In Cul De Sac, Alice's grandma has Big Shirley, who is more benign (to the point of inertia), but Alice is terrified of her.
    • Farley, followed by his son Edgar, in For Better or For Worse.
    • Woofie in Mutts was explicitly described as such the week we met him.

    Tabletop Games

    • In Warhammer Fantasy Battle the Beasts of Nurgle have this sort of personality, desiring only to meet new people and make friends with them. Unfortunately, where most dogs have slobber, Beasts of Nurgle have acid. They jump up at you, knock you over, and crush and burn you as they crawl over with acidic slime. Of course, because their new friends stop playing with them so quickly, they have to find new ones.
    • The Dungeons and Dragons adventure EX 1 Dungeonland had a giant dog nearly as big as an elephant. It will attempt to play with the PCs, and will play "tug of war" and "fetch the stick" with any stick-like objects the party may have (staff, pole, etc.).
      • D&D also has Riding Dogs, which are Exactly What It Says on the Tin: dogs big enough to be ridden, at least by small characters.
      • Blink dogs, while not as big as some examples, are larger than average for real-world dogs, and were among the first Lawful Good monsters in the D&D game.

    Video Games

    • People tend to think that Okami's Amaterasu is a big friendly dog: she's Big, she's friendly with muggles... She is NOT a dog.
      • The Canine Warriors are straighter examples, with a few of them even retiring from their jobs due to bonding with humans that they met.
    • The aptly-named Woof from Beyond Good and Evil. An Old English Sheepdog the size of a refrigerator. His tongue is always hanging out of his mouth, and he loves to cuddle, play, and chase insects. One of the end credits photos shows the aftermath of him bowling Jade over while chasing a ladybug.
    • To Heart 2 has Genjimaru, Konomi's Old English Sheepdog. Despite being very friendly, he scares Tamaki to death by chasing after her (mainly because she's afraid of dogs; after the chase he stops and sounds apologetic when she trips and hurts herself and starts crying), and in To Heart 2: Another Days he tackles Silfa on sight, causing her to talk in gibberish when he licks her face (of course, she hides in her box after that, only to get tackled again when she comes out). He also keeps Konomi company as she ponders on her relationship with Takaaki in her story path, seemingly talking to her as she is rambling.
    • Subverted by Half Life 2. D0g is big and friendly to the protagonists, but he's a robot that has no resemblance to a 4-legged mammal in any way. (Though he can play fetch with an electric ball, and will valiantly defend his loved ones. And he is adorable.)
      • Alyx has been adding modifications to him for years. It's possible that he originally did look like a dog.
    • Dragon Age Origins has a Mabari war hound named...Dog. Despite being a trained war hound and attack critter, in cutscenes and conversations this is exactly how he comes across.
      • The only members of your party that Dog doesn't get along with are Oghren, who thinks Dog stole his pants (he didn't) and thinks Dog is perfectly-sized to pull a chariot bearing him into battle; Alistair, who keeps forgetting that Dog is sentient and can understand everything he is saying (and even then things end up well enough after some initial problems); and Shale, who used to be a living statue and whose sole interaction with Dog is to warn him not to mark his territory on her. Even Loghain gets along very well with him, if he's allowed to join. He isn't too crazy about Wynne since she insists on giving him baths and wants to tie a pretty pretty bow around his stubby tail.
      • The sequel's "Black Emporium" DLC gives Hawke a Mabari war hound that can be summoned into battle. Party members will visit Hawke's home throughout the game just to see the Mabari. Anders, being a cat person, is the only one who doesn't particularly like the dog—but the dog lavishes affection on him anyway.
    • Urz, of Mass Effect 2, basically fits all the criteria... except that he's not a dog. He's a varren, a creature colloquially known as a "fishdog," and is just as Ugly Cute as that name implies. However, he still allows Shepard to pet him and, if fed some pyjack meat, will happily follow Shepard and company around Tuchanka, generally being adorable, in complete contrast to other examples of his breed, who all try to rip your head off.
    • The Monster Rancher series gives us the Baku, a large, blonde dog whose size and features remind one of a hippopotamus. Its attacks include deafening barks, messy licking, and falling asleep, among more traditional attacks like biting and ramming. As an additional fun point, in the 4th game they can actually be ridden inside dungeons to go trampling through barricading underbrush like a big, happy elephant. It is awesome.
    • The Elder Scrolls series has Barbas, the familiar of the pactmaking Daedra Prince Clavicus Vile. He also serves as his master's much-needed conscience, and usually attempts to talk people out of his deals, much to Vile's irritation. In Skyrim, he recklessly banishes Barbas to the mortal plane after getting fed up with him, but since Barbas contains a measure of Vile's power, this trapped himself as well. He joins the Dovahkiin as a temporary companion, right up until finding Vile's temple. There, the Dovahkiin can (temporarily, given how he's a daedra) kill him in return for one of Vile's axes (since while Barbas is reforming, Vile has full ownership of his powers).
      • You can actually adopt your own Big Friendly Dog in the form of Meeko, a stray whose owner died from Rockjoint. There are also other stray dogs that you can allow to travel with you if you find them through random encounters.
    • Poochie from Yoshi's Island.

    Web Comics

    Western Animation

    • Dinky Dog from The All-New Popeye Hour.
    • Runt from the "Rita and Runt" segment of Animaniacs.
    • Pluto, from the old school Disney shorts.
      • He's based on a bloodhound; bloodhounds are almost always BigFriendlyDogs in real life.
      • One short, Donald's Ostrich, had a female ostrich named Hortense portray this role, except with kisses instead of licks, which she showered Donald with while eating everything in sight.
    • Dino from The Flintstones (although not technically a dog, and quite small for a dinosaur)
    • Toby from The Great Mouse Detective. He's large partly because all of the other familiar characters are mice. He's also based on a dog Sherlock Holmes picked up in The Sign of Four.
    • Max in the Disney version of The Little Mermaid. He's Prince Eric's dog, and is fond of jumping around and licking Eric and Ariel's faces on various occasions.
    • Dinah from the My Little Pony episode "Pony Puppy".
    • The ironically named Great Dane, Einstein, from Disney's Oliver and Company.
    • Two words: Scooby Doo.
    • Spike from Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas.
    • Bronx from Gargoyles is both this AND an Angry Guard Dog, depending on situation or who is around.
    • Rollo, a sheepdog Bold befriended in The Animals of Farthing Wood.
    • Belle from Belle and Sebastian (the cartoon, not the indie band).
    • Odie from Garfield and Friends doesn't have a big body, but his tongue is huge and he likes using it.
    • A giant dog seen in the Over the Hedge movie appears to be a stereotypical non-talking menace, but he just really, really, really wants to play ("Play! Play! Play? Play!").
    • Two more Disney examples: The wolves from the movie of The Jungle Book and the two castle dogs from The Sword in the Stone.
    • The Disney version of the film Hercules has Pegasus (a big friendly flying horse) fill this role. As Zeus puts it, he has the heart of a horse and the brain of a bird. He still helps the main characters by flying them around and helping fight against Hades, and even licks Hercules and Phil's faces a few times.
    • The ghost dog in Danny Phantom. When it turns big, that means its aggressive. However, the pup always makes an exception for Danny whom reminds affectionate towards.
    • AQUAMAN's pet dolphin Fluke in Batman the Brave And The Bold acts like this (much to Batman's irritation).
    • An old Looney Tunes short about dogs featured a doberman pinscher. He was actually a fairly calm chap...but it didn't take long for the guy named Doberman to sour on him.
    • Luis from Rio.
    • Puggsy from Tom and Jerry: The Movie.
    • The Legend of Korra has Canis Major Polar Bear Dog Naga, Avatar Korra's Familiar. Naga's Establishing Character Moment is licking Korra's face over and over. Her friendliness extends to licking a police attendant's hair.
    • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "It's About Time", Cerberus looks fierce, being a three-headed Hell Hound as big as a house, but the only reason he shows up in Ponyville is because he wants to play. Granted, since he's the size of a house, even his play can be dangerous to the average pony, but Fluttershy pacifies him with a tummy rub easily enough. Later Twilight leads Cerberus back to the Gates of Tartarus by playing fetch with him during the entire trip.

    Real Life

    • Newfoundlands, almost ridiculously so.
      • Truth in Television - the original Nana from Peter Pan was a Newfoundland. They are incredibly gentle, especially with children, and make excellent babysitters. Despite their dopey, laid-back personalities they are also quite clever, and can be trained as lifeguard rescue dogs.
    • The ultimate Real Life example (as of 2006) is Hercules, a 282-pound Mastiff. According to his owner, Hercules isn't very bright, and once a bird landed on his head without him noticing.
      • And as of 2007, another Mastiff took his place: Moose, who used to weigh 291 lbs. Used to, because the "pup" passed away a while later.
    • Utonagans are specifically bred to look like Big Badass Wolves but are some of nicest, friendliest dogs one could ever hope to meet
      • Seriously, Utonagans were specifically bred from three breeds (Huskies, Malamutes, and German Shepherds) in order to create something that had a wolf's lean and threatening appearance but in all that Badassness something broke and they came out ridiculously friendly. They are great family dogs but quite possibly the worst guard dogs in the world, because rather than chase burglars they're more likely to roll over and ask for a belly rub.
      • See also: Tamaskans.
    • Despite common misconception, a majority of medium and large breeds are very nice by nature.
      • Not only that, but because of their sheer size, people are more likely to train bigger dogs more carefully than small dogs. Imagine a small dog jumping to put its front paws on your leg - aw, how cute! Now imagine a big dog doing that. Instead of on your leg, the paws wind up on your shoulders, and you can bet that any owner who doesn't want to deal with that will teach their dog not to. That sort of training trickles down into general temperament.
      • Especially the biggest ones, which tend to be very laid-back and friendly. Great Danes, for example, will lean against visitors or sit on laps to be petted. (They're also... well, they're not very bright.)
      • German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and Dobermans are supposed to be this, as long as they have proper breeding and good training (which people tend to forget). German Shepherds are good at pretty much everything, Dobermans were bred to defend people and places, and Rottweilers were bred to pull carts before draft horses came along. Nowadays most of them are pets, and generally described as "giant teddy bears."
      • Rottweilers really do get a bad rep.
    • Golden Retrievers aren't quite as big as some of the others (although they're close) but make up for it by being some of the friendliest dogs out there. Sadly, this, combined with their beautiful coats, has led to over-breeding, which means you have to worry about proper breeding, much like the aforementioned dogs.
      • Golden retrievers are terrible guard dogs. Just give them a few scratches behind the ear and they'll try to give you their tennis ball!
    • Labradors are also not one of the biggest breeds (but can still be pretty impressive) but still one of the friendliest.
      • Similarly, the bigger spaniel breeds in particular are some of the most affectionate dogs you will ever meet.
    • Ramsey and Pablo.
    • The American Alsatian (aka: The Shepalute) was bred to embody this trope.
    • Lady Gaga owns two Harlequin Great Danes, Lava and Rumpus, and they appear in several videos. Unfortunately Rumpus died in October 2009.
    • Alaskan Malamutes are larger than Siberian Huskies, trained to pull thousands of pounds on sleds, and generally just BIG dogs. But they are also generally BIG teddy bears, loveable, cuddly, and ranked as one of the worst guard dog breeds (they'd rather show the thief all the jewels, because they want to get praised!).
      • Most pet dogs will be bad guards by definition, even the German Shepherds and Dobermans, because they lack the specialized training needed for the job.
        • There's more to guarding than attacking intruders. Deterring an attack by looking scary works pretty well, so any dog from a breed commonly used as "guard dogs" can scare away burglars even if that individual dog was never trained to guard. Fantastic Racism at work, you might say.
    • Pit bulls as a whole usually fall into this category; while they were originally bred for dog fights, they were also bred to avoid hurting humans who broke up the fights before things got too nasty. The end result is a dog that's great with kids.
      • Shorty Rossi of Pit Boss has two service dogs, Hercules and Geisha, who definitely fit this role.
        • However, take this in consideration: please train them well. A lot of the bad rep that the Pitbulls get is because stupid/malicious owners either abuse or specifically train them to be the angriest dogs ever - unsurprisingly, they're very popular among mobsters, gang members and/or drug dealers.
      • Ginger the pit bull, who got a bit out of control during an Adopt-A-Pet segment on a news channel.
        • Ginger doesn't seem to understand that if you're more than half the size of the person whose face you're slobbering all over, you are not a lapdog.
          • Trust me, that little hurdle only invites her to try harder.
      • This pit bull, who apparently doesn't even let his owner breathe whenever he licks her face.
      • Staffordshire Bull Terriers have a similarly bad reputation in the UK, though they are probably harder to break than Pit Bulls.
    • The Irish Wolfhound? Originally used to defend flocks of sheep, they're now some of the world's biggest teddy bears.
    • English Sheep Dogs
    • Saint Bernards were bred as hunting, search and rescue, and watch dogs. In the meantime, it serves as a floor warmer and the perfect multiuse toy for small children.
    • Afghan Hounds.
    • Dalmatians are on the smaller end of the big dog scale, but they are plenty friendly
    • Perhaps the crowner is the American Alsatian, a dog bred to look like a Dire Wolf. Its very big, but its very friendly.
    • Anatolian Shepherds are among the sweetest dogs you can find, and the biggest. Also, they make adorable puppies.
      • The breed also averts the Dogs Are Dumb trope by being very intelligent and independent. Bred in Turkey to protect sheep and goats, the dog stays with the flock and chases off predators, with Turkish shepherds going on record saying that three of these dogs can hold back a full pack of wolves and even hurt or kill two or three. The trouble is that this independence and intelligence means that it can be a little challenging to train for city life, as it can choose to just not obey.
      • The breed is currently being used in Africa to protect the Cheetah from extinction.
    • Bernese Mountain Dogs, which can weigh upwards of 100 pounds (if male), are some of the friendliest, cuddliest dogs you could ever hope to meet. Don't expect a Berner to be a good guard dog, since he's more likely to sit on a burglar's feet and not leave until the burglar gives him behind-the-ear scratches.
    • Any large dog raised from an early age with cats will often develop catlike mannerisms. This can be distressing when your 60-pound-plus dog forgets how big he is and decides he wants to sit in your lap or climb up on furniture and tables.
    • To pretty much summarize everything mentioned above, large dogs in general and in particular, any breed from the Working Class. Their purpose of directly serving humans (usually by guarding) makes them extremely devoted to their families. If you look at official standards, many breeds typically considered Angry Guard Dogs actually require a temperament that is affectionate, devoted, and fun-loving when they aren't working. Their sheer size and power also require a strong focus on temperament and training, so they tend to have a more stable temperament than smaller dogs. Without them, there simply isn't any way an owner can manage them since they tend to be stronger than a human. Larger dogs also tend to be more confident (and tougher!) than smaller dogs, so will trust and welcome humans more readily, as well as tolerating rough play from children.