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The 7 most famous dogs in the world: do you know all these canine celebrities?

Some dogs have made film history. Others are revered as heroes in their own countries. Still others have achieved worldwide fame thanks to their celebrity owners. TAG24 has compiled seven of the world's most famous dogs. Do you know them all?

1. Lassie, the world-famous movie dog

Lassie the collie acts alongside his friend Timmy, played by Jon Provost (archive image).
Lassie the collie acts alongside his friend Timmy, played by Jon Provost (archive image).  © IMAGO / United Archives

There's no question about it: when talking about the most famous canines in the world, Lassie the movie star dog is top in most people's minds.

The original Lassie short stories were generally attributed to writer Eric Knight in 1938. However, the character's roots may be traced back even further.

British novelist Elizabeth Gaskell wrote a short story called The Half Brothers featuring a helpful female collie of the same name as early as 1859.

Knight's stories were followed by a novel, movies, and a TV series broadcast not only in the US, but also in many other countries around the world.

The story revolves around Lassie the female collie, an animal companion and protector who helps her various owners out of trouble whenever she can.

The cinematic character's tireless efforts were eventually even rewarded with her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles.

Fun Fact: although Lassie is a female dog in the stories, she is traditionally played by males, who typically have denser and nicer fur, making them more camera-worthy.

2. Hachikō, the faithful companion

Richard Gere stars in the Hollywood adaptation Hachi: A Dog's Tale (2009).
Richard Gere stars in the Hollywood adaptation Hachi: A Dog's Tale (2009).  © IMAGO / Mary Evans

In Japan, there was once a dog that still touches people around the world with its loyalty.

We're talking about Hachikō of the Akita Inu breed.

Every evening, the dog would make his way to the Tokyo train station to pick up his owner after work, but when he passed away and his wife subsequently left the city, Hachiko was left with relatives.

After a short time, the dog ran away from his new home and made his way to the station again, waiting in vain for his beloved human to return.

Over ten years passed, during which Hachikō appeared at the station every evening, until he finally died of old age.

A statue dedicated to the faithful companion now stands in front of Tokyo's Shibuya Station in his memory.

Even Hollywood took up the touching story and filmed a movie starring Richard Gere in the leading role. Whoever watches the film should have tissues handy!

3. Rascal, the ugliest dog in the world

Rascal poses with his owner Dane Andrew after once again winning the title of ugliest dog in the world.
Rascal poses with his owner Dane Andrew after once again winning the title of ugliest dog in the world.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Press

Did you know Petaluma, California, hosts an annual World's Ugliest Dog Contest?

The cute four-legged contestants go by names like Rascal, Sam, Quasi Modo, and Sweepee Rambo. Some are pedigree dogs, while others are mixed breeds or even come off the streets.

But as macabre as the competition may sound, there's probably no other contest where the dogs are as loved by their owners and celebrated by their fans.

One winner, in particular, caught judges eyes: Rascal, a seven-pound, almost-hairless Chinese crested, has managed to win over 11 ugliest dog first-place titles in various competitions.

Rascal has since scored several TV and movie appearances, thanks to his unmistakable look.

Through their unique appearance, Rascal and the other annual winners achieve an incredible degree of acclaim, which is why they are included among the most famous dogs in the world.

4. Laika, the very first astronaut

The then two-year-old Laika posed during tests in a pressurized cabin (archive image).
The then two-year-old Laika posed during tests in a pressurized cabin (archive image).  © IMAGO / United Archives International

It has been more than 60 years since the Russian street dog Laika became the first living being to be launched into orbit.

She was part of the Sputnik 2 mission and was launched into space on a small rocket in November 1957.

Unfortunately, the dog died shortly after the launch, but her return to Earth was not planned anyway. The original plan was to end the dog's life after a few days in space with poisoned food.

The Soviet Union sent a total of 29 dogs into space through 1962. Aside from Laika, 17 more of died.

At that time, the animals provided important knowledge for human space flight.

Even though the strategy is considered more than dubious by today's standards and has long since ceased to be practiced, Laika is still considered a space pioneer.

She is revered by many as a hero to this day.

5. Bo, Obama's "First Dog"

Bo, former President Barack Obama's pet dog, became an international media sensation.
Bo, former President Barack Obama's pet dog, became an international media sensation.  © EPA/White House/ChuckKennedy

If you're looking for the most famous dogs in the world, you can't miss Bo, ex-President Barack Obama's pet.

When Obama ran as a presidential candidate in 2008, he promised his daughters a dog if he won.

He kept his word: in 2009, Bo, a black-and-white Portuguese water dog, moved into the White House. The pup was a gift from the late Senator Edward Kennedy.

As a joke, Bo was referred to as "First Dog" in the media. As the pet of the presidential family, he certainly enjoyed some special liberties.

He was supposedly allowed to move freely throughout the entire White House, including the Oval Office.

Bo was later joined by a sister of the same breed, Sunny.

Since his adoption, Bo has become the subject of various children's books and toys. He even appeared as a guest in some of the most famous US talk shows!

6. Barry, the alpine lifesaver

Barry the avalanche dog reportedly saved the lives of over 40 people in the Swiss Alps (stock image).
Barry the avalanche dog reportedly saved the lives of over 40 people in the Swiss Alps (stock image).  © 123RF/Fedor Selivanov

The famous St. Bernard named Barry was a real lifesaver. As an avalanche dog, Barry is said to have saved the lives of over 40 people by rescuing them from the snow in the Swiss Alps.

However, it's not clear whether he actually wore a keg of liquor around his neck to help the rescued people warm up, as is often portrayed. Many believe that story is more likely a modern myth.

After Barry finally passed away at the proud age of 14, a special exhibition was dedicated to the brave dog at the Natural History Museum of Bern in Switzerland.

Barry was stuffed and mounted after his passing. He can still be admired by museum visitors today.

The courageous work of the Swiss rescue dog has been made into two films, including an animal drama produced by Walt Disney.

7. Balto, the intrepid sled dog

A bronze statue of Balto the dog stands in his memory in New York's Central Park (archive image).
A bronze statue of Balto the dog stands in his memory in New York's Central Park (archive image).  © IMAGO / UPI Photo

After Barry, the heroic avalanche dog, we can't go without mentioning the intrepid husky named Balto, who is one of the most famous dogs in the world for his tremendous stamina.

The Siberian husky once led a pack of sled dogs tirelessly through ice and snow in order to deliver an urgently needed serum to a small town in Alaska. Many children, in particular, had fallen victim to the local diphtheria outbreak.

Despite strong winds, temperatures down to minus 23 °F, and poor visibility, the sled dog team, of which Balto's team was the last, managed to cover the 674 miles.

The strength and endurance of the entire sled dog squadron prevented a diphtheria epidemic.

The press followed the journey with the help of telegrams. They celebrated Balto and his driver like heroes.

After a natural death at an old age, Balto was stuffed and can still be admired today in Cleveland's Museum of Natural History. There is also a statue of him in Central Park in New York.

Whether for their looks or deeds, these seven canine celebrities will be remembered for generations!

Cover photo: 123RF/Olga Yastremska

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