Almost everyone knows that Lassie is a collie and Snoopy is a beagle. Unfortunately, not everyone knows the specific breed of dog of the funniest, most endearing, albeit skittish doggie cartoon character on the planet – Scoobert Doo, or more popularly known as Scooby Doo. So what type of dog is Scooby Doo?
A search through the ever-reliable internet reveals that Scooby Doo is a Great Dane. This will raise the eyebrows of avid fans and loyal followers of the breed since Scooby Doo is anything but a Great Dane.
Great Danes are confident, Scooby Doo is skittish, squeamish, and a real scaredy hound. Oftentimes he is depicted as being so cowardly that he’d jump straight into Shaggy’s arms or even cower at the mere mention of the word ‘ghost’. While confidence is not really a hallmark of Scooby-Doo, there have been numerous instances where its loyalty to the gang, especially to Shaggy, has never been questioned. On more than a few occasions, Scoobert saved the day, albeit purely by accident. Regardless, this is a hound that speaks volumes of the real purebred.
Scooby Doo is devoted, no question about that. He is friendly, too, especially if you’re the type of person who’s willing to give him lots of food. As a matter of fact, this has become the signature of the comic duo.
But why does Scooby Doo appear very different from the real breed?
The original Scooby Doo wasn’t really a Great Dane. When Ken Spears and Joe Ruby first created Too Much, the original name of Scooby, for the 1969 Hanna-Barbera animated series Scooby-Doo, Where are You!, Scooby was relegated more to the role of a bongo-playing sidekick sheepdog. The head of CBS’s daytime programming, Fred Silverman, opted for Scooby Doo to be forever immortalized as the cowardly Great Dane everyone knows today. The name was inspired by the syllables in Frank Sinatra’s immortal classic, Strangers in the Night, with its characteristic doo-be-doo-bee-do syllabification.
When we look at a real Great Dane, it stands proud and majestic especially with its paws firmly planted on the ground. It looks very regal, aptly deserving a spot at the Royal Guards in Buckingham. So what gives with the clumsy, odd, and outright funny stance of Scooby Doo?
You’d have to thank the comic genius of Iwao Takamoto. While they did have an idea of what a Great Dane looks like, they still asked for feedback from a recognized breeder of Great Danes. The meeting gave the creators an idea of what a standard Great Dane pedigree looks like. And since the character is basically for a children’s animated series, they thought to make the character appear really funny.
Scooby Doo is everything that is the diametrical opposite of a purebred. Scooby has a hump and sloped back, small sloping chin, bow legs, an unusually long tail, and spots – all the wrong physical characteristics of a Great Dane. Perhaps it is because of this purposeful negation of breed standard characteristics that made a lot of people ask what kind of dog Scoobert “Scooby” Doo really is.
The idea worked. People got interested in this canine. And when Ruby and Spears penned the different storylines to their canine character, they drew inspiration from the many horror-comic antics of Bob Hope. Many of those who watched Hope films are already very familiar with the genre. Putting the same trick into a children’s cartoon series was more a stroke of luck because of the prevalence of mainstream goody children’s shows at the time.
If you’re thinking that Scooby Doo is just a fictional character, think again. In Oldbury, West Midlands in the UK, a 2-year old Great Dane is now considered as the British Isles’ official Scooby Doo for being wimpy and skittish. Six-foot-tall Presley is even terrified of toy and small dogs. When confronted with another hound, like a West Highland Terrier, Presley will go hide and will never come out unless the coast is clear of any dog. But, like Scooby Doo, Presley is a softie inside a giant body of a dog. Children adore him and aptly call him The Gentle Giant; it pretty much summarizes what Scooby Doo has brought to the world.
Scooby Doo may be a scaredy, cowardly dog, but there’s no denying that he is the heart and soul of the gang of Mystery, Inc. And just like the loyal, dedicated, and friendly Great Dane, Scooby-Doo never fails to bring a smile to the faces of many kids and kids-at-heart across the globe.
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- Great Dane, The American Kennel Club