Top 8 Dog Breeds for Readers

Book Dog Walk


Readers love dogs who like to lounge with them while they curl up with a favorite book, but that isn't the only quality that speaks to bibliophiles looking for a well-matched breed. Readers are creatures of imagination who are as drawn to what inspires them as to what's practical. Dogs that remind bibliophiles of canine characters from the pages of their favorite books have the power to make them feel like they've stepped into those very pages, which is an amazing feeling for a reader. The following breeds represent some of the most memorable dogs in literature and would make inspiring companions for anyone who loves books.

Mixed Breed

No story is better than an underdog story, which might be why so many literary canines are mixed breeds, strays, and mutts. Buck of Jack London's Call of the Wild might just be the most famous dog in literature and is a St. Bernard-shepherd mix. Jack Stoneley's Scruffy, Kate DiCamillo's Winn-Dixie, and Beverly Cleary's Ribsy are among the many lovable mutts in children's literature.


Many people first know Lassie from the television show, but the famous collie was a character in Eric Knight's Lassie Come Home first. This classic 1940 novel tells a tale of a heroic pup who journeys for hundreds of miles to reunite with the person she loves most. Readers love stories that emphasize dogs' remarkable devotion, and Lassie Come Home is one of the best.


Many of the best and bravest dogs in books are terriers. Literary terriers include Cairn terrier Toto in L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz, bull terrier Bodger in Sheila Burnford's The Incredible Journey, Scottish terrier Nathaniel in Clifford Simak's City, fox terrier Snitter in Richard Adams' The Plague Dogs, and One-Eye, the bold terrier mix in Sara Baume's Spill Simmer Falter Wither. 
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Soulful beagles make great characters. Shiloh stars in Phyllis Reynolds Taylor's heart-wrenching 1990s children's book series about a kid who rescues an abused beagle. For decades, Snoopy the beagle has been a mascot for writers as he strains away at the typewriter on top of his doghouse, unsure why his purple prose keeps getting rejected by literary agents.


While the books tag him as a "boarhound," many people know Hagrid's dog Fang from the Harry Potter series by the mastiff that plays him in the movies. This breed's distinctive size and appearance might be why this breed appears in so many books, from Cynthia Rylant's Henry and Mudge series, to The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut and Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis.

St. Bernard

While Jack London's Buck being half St. Bernard is enough to increase the literary luster of this breed, Stephen King's Cujo is easily the most recognizable St. Bernard in books. King's classic horror title has done little to dent the breed's popularity. Part of what makes Cujo work so well is the contrast between typically lovable St. Bernards and the title character's terrifying transformation.

Cocker Spaniel

Virginia's Woolf's Flush may not be the most famous dog in literature, but he might be the most distinguished. The modernist author took an unusual turn from her previous work when she wrote her fictionalized biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's cocker spaniel, Flush. The book features her stream-of-consciousness style and explores the travails of modern love and work through the eyes of a dog.


Nana, the nanny dog in Peter Barrie's Peter Pan, is based on the author's beloved Newfoundland, though she was played by a St. Bernard in the movie. Perhaps no dog has received a more moving literary send-off than Lord Byron's Newfie Boatswain, whom he eulogized as having "beauty without vanity, strength without insolence, and courage without ferocity."