Dog actors have appeared on-screen in television shows for decades. The 1990s was an especially friendly decade for canines. The number of 90s TV shows with dogs seemed to increase with each passing year.
Below, Circa 98 examines the 17 best TV dogs in 90s television history. Aside from ranking the characters, Circa 98 also dives into the backstory of the dog actors and the characters they portrayed.
Take a look at the 17 best dogs of the 90s.
1) Comet (Full House)
Comet was a beloved Golden Retriever in the iconic 90s TV series Full House. Joining a star-studded cast with John Stamos, Bob Saget, and the Olson twins, Buddy the Wonder Dog appeared as Comet in 6 of the 8 Full House Seasons.
The talented canine first appears in Season 3 and serves as an integral part of the cast for the remainder of the series. The writers even devoted an entire episode to Comet, Comet’s Great Adventure, which revolves around his escape and chase.
Later, the retriever starred in his feature film Air Bud in 1997, shortly before his death in 1998. Initially discovered as a stray in 1989, Buddy moved to San Diego with his trainer, who taught him to play basketball.
Buddy workshops his Air Bud character in the Full House episode, Air Jesse (3 years before the Air Bud movie release). Though he plays his regular character, Comet, he showcases his basketball talent on-screen for the first time.
Note: In 2023, Jodie Sweeten revealed on the How Rude Tanneritos Podcast that a different dog named Bob The Dog replaced Buddy in some Full House episodes.
2) Eddie (Fraiser)
Eddie, played primarily by Moose, was a Jack Russel Terrier and an integral part of the critically acclaimed 90s TV series Fraiser. Moose appeared in at least 77 episodes as a regular cast member across each of the show’s 11 Seasons.
By Season 8, Moose was older and could no longer perform the physical acts from earlier seasons. As a result, Moose’s son Enzo took over more physically demanding parts of the role. Enzo otherwise served as a stand-in for Moose on set.
Between seasons 6 and 7, Enzo and Moose filmed the feature film, My Dog Skip, which first hit theaters early in 2000 (during Season 7 of Fraiser). Enzo was credited as the primary actor for Skip, while Moose played “Old Skip.”
Despite being blood relatives and playing the same character in two successful projects, the two dogs reportedly despised each other. Still, most viewers could not distinguish between Moose and Enzo in either Fraiser or My Dog Skip.
Moose’s sire closely resembled his father in both looks and mannerisms, allowing Fraiser to avoid referencing Eddie’s deteriorating physical abilities within the plot.
3) Wishbone (Wishbone)
One of the few TV dogs to have an entire series built around his character, Soccer The Dog, portrayed Wishbone on the PBS show of the same name. Wishbone ran from 1995 through 1997, lasting two seasons.
The show’s premise was to insert Wishbone into famous literary tales like Frankenstein and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. As a result, viewers could reimagine these infamous plots from the canine’s perspective.
Soccer The Dog went on to star in a TV Movie, Dog Days of The West which reprised the Wishbone character in a feature film. He also appeared as a playable character in the freeware PC game MUGEN.
4) Happy (7th Heaven)
The fluffy canine from 7th Heaven was portrayed by a dog actress named Happy, who shared the same name as her character. Happy serves as a significant part of the pilot’s plot when Simon prays for a dog and ends up with Happy.
Happy the canine went on to appear in the remainder of the show’s 11 seasons, including 242 of the 243 total episodes. Only Stephen Collins, Catherine Hicks, and Beverly Mitchell appeared in more episodes.
Happy the actress was rescued from a dog pound by Shawn Webber, who trained her and enrolled her at Boone’s Animals for Hollywood. After a long, fulfilling life, she died in 2010 at age 15, about three years after the 7th Heaven finale.
5) Buck (Married With Children)
Buck the Dog appeared in 177 episodes of the sitcom Married With Children, which ran from 1987 through 1996. The writers gave Buck’s character the same name as the actor, a Briard, making it easier for him to respond to commands.
Buck retired from acting in 1995, one year before his death, prompting the decision-makers to write him off the show and replace him with a different dog character played by Lucky the Dog.
Married With Children wasn’t Buck’s first taste of show business. In 1986, he made a cameo in Janet Jackson’s music video, When I Think of You. Buck also appears in two films, The Best of Times (1986) and Scrooged (1988).
6) Murray (Mad About You)
Murray first appears in Mad About You’s inaugural season, a series that initially ran from 1992 through 1999. Maui, a Collie mix, portrayed the character for all seven seasons of the original series. He had long passed away by its 2019 reboot.
Mad About You wasn’t Maui’s first show-biz experience, as he served as a stand-in for the dog in the movie Bingo. Maui also appeared in several commercials before his TV stardom.
Maui studied dog movies on tape to perfect his craft, including Beethoven and Old Yeller. Having been discovered by animal trainer Boone Narr in a California animal shelter, Maui emerged as one of the most famous TV dogs of the 90s.
The collie shared a TV guide cover with Moose (Eddie from Fraiser) in the summer of 1994.
7) Lassie (The New Lassie)
To understand the significance of the show’s title character, you must remember its original series.
Lassie ran 17 Seasons from 1954 to 1973, requiring six different dog actors to portray the lead character. First was Pal, AKA the MGM Lassie, who starred in the pilot and several feature films in the same franchise.
After the pilot, five of Pal’s relatives starred as the title character. Lassie Jr. was up next, appearing in the series until 1959, when he retired due to a cancer diagnosis. Then, Lassie Jr’s’ son Spook replaced his father.
However, his run lasted only through 1960 after an on-set incident startled the animal.
Spook’s brother Baby took over for the next six years. Unfortunately, Baby passed away earlier than expected at the age of 8, prompting his replacement Mire to portray the character for the remainder of the series.
The New Lassie ran from 1989 to 1992, reviving the iconic television series in modern form. The collie that portrayed the character was reportedly a 5th-generation descendant of Pal (the original Lassie).
However, the dog’s name was never publically revealed, likely because the show failed to match even a fraction of the original’s fanfare and was canceled in 1992 after just two seasons.
Despite its relative lack of success, the series featured guest roles from well-known actors like Leonardo Dicaprio and Todd Bridges.
8) Chester (The Nanny)
Chester appears on 14 episodes of The Nanny, a popular 90s sitcom that aired from 1993 to 1999. The character, a tiny Pomeranian, gifted to C.C. from Maxwell in the show’s storyline, is played by a dog of the same name, Chester.
The real Chester contrasts other dogs on this list because he was never a professionally trained actor. Instead, the sitcom starred Chester’s owner Fran Drescher who wanted to integrate her pet into the series.
Fran Drescher describes how the show crafted scenes around Chester’s general behavioral tendencies. These deliberate scenarios allowed the show to leverage the dog’s natural behavior to serve the show’s storyline.
For example, Chester would growl whenever co-star Lauren Lane grabbed him, creating a perfect plotline to highlight Chester’s dislike of his on-screen owner, C.C. Babcock.
9) Lucky (Married With Children)
Lucky, played by Lucky the Dog, replaced Buck in the 90s sitcom Married With Children in Season 10. Because Lucky was a different breed (Cocker Spaniel), the storyline made him a heaven-sent reincarnation of Buck, who passes away.
The show wrote Buck’s character off because of his pending retirement and replaced him with Lucky the Dog, who appeared in 48 episodes of the show, spanning over its last two seasons.
Lucky was only a puppy when he landed the role on Married With Children. The Cocker Spaniel lived until 2006, when he died at the age of 10, nine years after the sitcom concluded.
10) Kingston (Living Single)
Kingston is an uncredited dog actor who appeared in a Season 5 episode of Living Single, Reconcilable Differences. A small breed, Kingston co-stars as the beloved pet of Norwood, Regine’s boyfriend.
Initially, Regine tries to act friendly to Kingston to appease her boyfriend. Still, she finds the arrangement increasingly peculiar, especially as Kingston stares at her while she makes out with Norwood.
In one scene, Kingston even gets into the bed with Regine and Norwood, which prompts Regine to feed him chocolate and lock him into the bathroom (unbeknownst to Norwood).
When Kingston gets chocolate poisoning the next day, Norwood asks Regine for help, not realizing she was the one who poisoned him. After the vet saves Kingston’s life, Regine dumps Norwood permanently.
The dog actor who portrayed Kingston is unknown, but he never appears in another episode of Living Single.
11) Wolf (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Buck is a real wolf who appears in Season 7, Episode 7, Dark Page, of Star Trek: The Next Generation. While this is Buck’s only appearance on Star Trek, his acting career was not limited to television, as he also appeared in films.
Buck worked on several other projects, including the 1994 Lassie film, Dances With Wolves (1990), and The Jungle Book (1994). His fellow wolf inmate Teddy appears in the same Stark Trek episode.
Buck was born in 1983 to captive timberwolves in California, after which Steve Earl Martin’s Working Wildlife adopted him for their cinematic animal sanctuary. He retired to a wolf mountain sanctuary in 1995, where he lived until his death in 1998.
12) Wally (Beverly Hills 90210)
In a Season 1 episode of Beverly Hills 90210, Spring Training, Brenda Walsh finds a stray dog, whom she names Wally, scrounging in the garbage behind her house. Wally is portrayed by Magic the Dog.
After convincing her parents to let her keep Wally until they find his rightful owner, Brenda brings him around to meet her friends. But unfortunately, Wally soon escapes from the Walsh house.
Later, while attending a Little League baseball game, Brenda notices Wally running towards the field. Initially, she is excited that he’s still alive and calls out to him.
However, Wally runs past Brenda to one of the Little League players, who we learn is his actual owner. As it turns out, the dog’s name is Ruppert and not Wally, which is why he never responded to commands.
Though he only appears in a single episode, Magic the Dog earns an IMDB credit for his work as Wally. Later, the canine co-starred alongside Paula Abdul in the 1997 TV movie Touched by Evil.
13) Frisky (Moesha)
Frisky is an uncredited Pitbull mix that appears in the Season 6 episode of Moesha, The Nutty Moesha. The storyline consists of Dorian pet-sitting for his neighbor, Mr. Joynes, who leaves for a vacation trip.
Frisky is a significant part of the episode’s plot and appears in multiple scenes performing complex on-screen commands. However, as part of the storyline, Moesha wrestles the dog down after Dorian forgets Frisky’s stop command.
Frisky never appears in another episode. As a result, we don’t know whether or not he stars in any other TV shows or movies, as the actor’s name is never revealed in the credits.
14) Buford (Seinfeld)
In a Season 6 episode of Seinfeld, The Doodle, Kramer unleashes a Bulldog named Buford to chase Newman. The postal worker had mocked Kramer by eating the last Mackinaw peach, a type of fruit that only stays ripe for two weeks.
Buford only appears in one scene during the episode. However, some believe he was initially intended to be a more significant part of the plot. The scene where Newman confesses to having fleas originally included his account of the attack.
Because of Newman not referencing Buford in the fleas scene, Buford’s attack on Newman seems unprompted. However, the old cliché of dogs attacking mailmen was enough for the viewers to buy the motive without additional context.
As with some other dogs on this list, Buford’s appearance goes uncredited. As a result, we don’t know the dog’s name or whether he appeared in other on-screen projects. We do know he never again appears in Seinfeld.
15) Lassie (Lassie 1997 Series)
Yet another Lassie series featured two descendants of Pal (the original Lassie) in 1997. However, unlike The New Lassie, a sequel to the original series that first aired in 1989, Lassie ’97 was a modified remake.
A Rough Collie named Howard played Lassie in Season 1 of the 1997 series, which aired for three seasons before its 1999 cancellation. Howard is an 8th-generation descendent of Pal, the original Lassie.
Howard left the show after the inaugural season for unknown reasons.
Critics of the show complained that, unlike the original series and its sequel, Lassie served primarily as a bystander and complimentary character rather than the focus of the storylines and on-screen action.
After Season 1, the show’s producers initially replaced Howard with a collie outside Pal’s lineage. However, after fans protested the change, the show brought in Hey Hey, Howard’s son, to play Lassie in the remainder of the episodes.
16) Pup Daddy (The Jamie Foxx Show)
In Season 2, Episode 8 of The Jamie Foxx Show, Dog Pounded, Jamie agrees to bend the hotel rules to accommodate a celebrity dog. The small breed, Pup Daddy, is played by an unknown and uncredited actor.
Jamie ends up having to dog-sit him while his owner goes to Mexico to meet Steven Spielberg about a part for the dog. However, Pup Daddy tears up the room and stains the carpet.
Later, the dog jumps to his death out of the hotel window after Braxton accidentally tosses his chew toy through the aperture. Jamie tries to find a look-alike dog and re-stage his death to trick the owner.
Of course, the dog actor wasn’t actually harmed during this episode, though he never reappears in the series. It is unknown whether the actor ever appeared on-screen in other projects.
17) Rinty (Rin Tin Tin: K-9 Cop)
From 1988 to 1993, a French and Canadian TV series called Katts and Dog was re-dubbed and rebranded for the U.S. viewers as Rin Tin Tin: K-9 Cop. One of the show’s executive producers purportedly owned the original Rin Tin Tin trademark and wanted to capitalize.
As a result, the dog’s name in the Canadian version, Rudy, is re-dubbed as Rinty in the U.S. version. Americans recall the original TV Series The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, which aired from 1954 through 1959 and was named after Rin Tin Tin, a legendary dog actor from the 20s and 30s.
In the ’88 series, Rinty is portrayed by a dog named Rudolph Von Holstein III. Like the original Rin Tin Tin, Rudolph is a German Shepard; however, he has no known affiliation to the famous actor from the 20s or Flame Jr., the unrelated German Sheppard who most frequently appeared in the ’54 series.