10 Dogs that Made History

Loyalty is one of the best known traits of dogs, and this has led them to reach unthinkable limits and even sacrifice themselves. Thanks to actions like these, human history has been impacted on countless occasions.
10 Dogs that Made History
Cesar Paul Gonzalez Gonzalez

Written and verified by the biologist Cesar Paul Gonzalez Gonzalez.

Last update: 06 November, 2022

Dogs are wonderful animals that stand out for their incredible physical abilities. As if that weren’t enough, they have great loyalty to their owners, which has caused them to be recognized for their actions on so many occasions. Because of this, you won’t be surprised that several dogs have gone down in history. Find out about 10 dogs that made history in this article!

Their sense of smell and the perception of human body language are abilities that give incredible skills to dogs. Thanks to them, they’re capable of complex feats that people couldn’t perform on their own. If you want to meet some of the dogs that have managed to amaze and inspire us, continue reading and discover some of the dogs that made history.

Dogs that made history

1. Balto and Togo

In 1925, a diphtheria epidemic broke out in a remote village in Alaska. Due to violent snowstorms and its remoteness, it was almost impossible to deliver adequate medicine to save the population. The only hope was to send 20“mushers” – dogs trained to transport objects and people by sled.

The goal of these dogs was to travel more than 1000 kilometers and survive temperatures of 30 degrees below zero. All with the aim of getting medicines to the village on time. Against all odds, Balto (the leader) and Togo (second leader) managed to guide their companions successfully in what became known as the great race of mercy.

Due to their feat and great bravery, a statue was erected in Central Park, New York, where Balto is portrayed and the indomitable spirit of his companions is remembered. In fact, due to their popularity, several feature films were made that tell the incredible story of these dogs that made history.

Dogs that made history - Balto.


2. Barry the rescuer

The breed of Saint Bernard dogs has a peculiar and rather curious origin, since they were bred as specialized mountain rescuers. During the 11th century, some monks founded a shelter for travelers crossing the mountain pass of the Great Mount St. Bernhard (St. Bernard). However, the high altitude and blizzards made the site a constant risk for everyone.

To try to remedy the situation and prevent more travelers from getting lost, the monks raised a breed of dog with dense fur and a great sense of smell in their hospice. This dog would be in charge of going out in search of lost people and offering them warmth while the storm passed.

One of these dogs was named Barry, who stood out for saving more than 40 people during his short life. Because of this, he earned the title of “the legendary Barry” and it’s believed that his offspring were the basis for creating the St. Bernard breed we know today.

3. The dogs of the Amundsen expedition

The Norwegian Roald Amundsen expedition was the first to reach the South Pole and “conquer” it. However, this journey might have been impossible if it weren’t for the hundred or so dogs he took with him. He chose several Greenlandic dogs that were characterized by their large musculature and dense fur, which ensured that they would withstand the conditions of the area.

Of course, before reaching land and being able to make the journey by sled, Roald had to set sail from Norway to reach the “great ice barrier”. During the long journey, the team had to gain the dogs’ trust, as they were quite shy and any minor conflict could cost them all their lives.

As soon as they reached solid ground, Roald set up camp and set off with his dogs to reach the South Pole. Although they succeeded and the team had returned almost intact, the same could not be said for his dogs. Of the 100 that set out, only 39 returned home. In fact, despite their success, they all retained an enormous sense of sadness for their loss and the strong bond they had formed.

4. Hachiko

It’s clear that among the dogs that made history we have to include Hachiko, an Akita dog that was recognized in Japan for his great loyalty. In 1923, a university professor in Tokyo adopted him and took him home to take care of him. As he grew up, the dog became accustomed to going to Shibuya Station to wait for his owner to come home from work every day.

Although his life was uneventful for two years, in 1925 Hachiko’s owner died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage. Of course, the dog was unable to assimilate what happened, so he continued his habit of going to the station to wait for his owner to return.

Contrary to what one might expect, Hachiko went to the station for the rest of his life, hoping to see his beloved owner again. Because of this great act of loyalty and kindness, a statue was erected in memory of Hachiko, which stands just outside the entrance to Shibuya Station.

Hachiko the dog.


5. Lampo the traveler

Lampo was a dog that showed great intelligence and orientation skills. He suddenly appeared at the Campiglia Marittima train station, where the station master took a liking to him and adopted him as his pet. As time went on, Lampo began to interact with the train routes and even accompanied his owner’s daughter on her daily trips.

However, several workers didn’t think it was right for a dog to travel on trains so they locked him on a freight train bound for Naples. They were amazed when they realized that Lampo made it back to the station on his own without any problems.

To prevent Lampo from going through the same ordeal again, his owner decided to send him to a friend of his who lived in Barletta (about 385 miles away). However, 5 months later the dog had found its way back! Apparently, the dog had learned to use the train lines, which made the trip easier for him.

From this point on, most of the workers resigned themselves to the situation and adopted Lampo as the station’s official mascot.

6. Laika the astronaut dog

Laika is perhaps one of the most famous dogs on earth, as she was the first canine astronaut to exist. In the middle of the 20th century, the Soviets planned to use different species to learn about the effects of special travel on living organisms. Cruel as it may seem, the only way to arrive at this knowledge without risking a human life was animal experimentation.

7. Old Drum and the recognition of animal rights

The origin of the phrase “dogs are a man’s best friend” is confirmed in the case of the dog Old Drum, who died in 1869 from a gunshot wound caused by a neighbor of his owner. Because animal rights were not recognized at that time, many people scoffed when his owner tried to get justice under the law.

Of course, the first complaint wasn’t taken seriously and was easily dismissed. However, as soon as a prestigious lawyer in the area became aware of the case, he began to turn the tables and succeeded in getting it to trial.

Thanks to his skills, the lawyer remarked in his speech on the qualities of dogs, their faithfulness, loyalty and affection, and this was when the famous phrase “dogs are a man’s best friend” was born.

Contrary to all expectations, the lawyer and the owner won in court and obtained justice for Old Drum. Without seeking it specifically, the case would also serve to open a door to the recognition of animal rights. A clear example of how a single specimen has made canine history.

8. Sergeant Stubby

Although it sounds unbelievable, some dogs have even participated actively in wars and even obtained decorations. In Stubby’s case, a soldier took him to the U.S. military while he was in training, and there he gained the appreciation of the main commanders.

Over time, the dog began to take an active part in the attacks, because, thanks to his sense of smell, he detected and warned about the enemy’s gas attacks. Once he had become an expert, his popularity increased dramatically when he discovered a German spy among the military forces. That feat was enough to earn him the rank of sergeant and add another medal to his uniform.

9. Frida the rescuer

Frida is one of the dogs that were trained for search and rescue activities by the Mexican Navy. During the 7.1 earthquake that Mexico suffered in 2017, which caused many building collapses, this little dog stood out for carrying out her rescue activities diligently.

After this event, Frida’s popularity grew even more, when it was reported that she would also participate in rescue operations in Haiti, Guatemala, and Ecuador. Due to her actions, she was decorated by the Mexican Navy and a statue was erected in her honor.

Frida the dog.
Source: http://www.eluniverso.com

10. Chonino, the hero dog

Although most of these stories of dogs that made history ended with a happy ending, the case of Chonino is an exception. This beautiful dog was part of the Federal Police of Argentina, where he had been trained as a security dog.

One night on June 2, 1983, Chonino was on his rounds with his two handlers, who noticed two people behaving strangely in the area. As soon as they approached to confirm their identity, the suspects refused to cooperate and started a shootout that wounded both dog handlers. As a result, one of them gave the order to attack and the dog lunged at the assailant.

Unfortunately, the second suspect shot Chonino at point-blank range, who died as the criminals escaped. However, during the bite, the dog had managed to tear a pocket of his killer where an identity document was found. Thanks to this, five days later, the killers were found and captured by the justice system.

Chonino’s sacrifice would serve not only to bring the killers to justice, but also to highlight the importance of police dogs in society. In commemoration, Argentina celebrates June 2 as Dog Day in honor of Chonino’s sacrifice.

Dogs that have made history will forever be remembered through the stories and records of their feats. However, it’s clear that, like them, in the future, there’ll be many more dogs that stand out for their feats and abilities. In the end, all dogs are impressive beings, each in their own way.

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  • FEDERATION CYNOLOGIQUE INTERNATIONALE. (2018). San Bernardo: Estándar-FCI N° 61. Recuperado el 15 de octubre de 2022, disponible en: https://www.fci.be/Nomenclature/Standards/061g02-es.pdf
  •  Missouri Office of the Secretary of State. (2022). Missouri State Archives Man’s Best Friend: The Old Drum Story. Recuperado el 15 de osctubre de 2022, disponible en: https://www.sos.mo.gov/archives/education/olddrum/StoryofBurdenvHornsby
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