Right about now, you’ve probably watched every show on your list of lists—best thrillers, top 10 crime procedurals, the freshest rom-coms—and are considering working your way through documentaries ... WWII battles anyone?
Well, for your viewing pleasure, we’ve put together a list of our favorite television shows with a canine theme, all available via streaming. We’ve focused on dramas and comedies, omitting the popular realm of reality programming (if that’s your cup of tea, you’ll find several animal-rescue and veterinarian-focused shows).
In no particular order, here are our memorable TV dog moments:
King of the Hill (Dances with Dogs) 2002, Season 7/Episode 5
Hank and son Bobby embrace “dog dancing,” a Canadian craze sweeping the U.S. The satirical animated series portrays their foray into dog dancing with a sweet sincerity, and the scenes of the rotund boy dancing around his living room hand in paw with Ladybird, the family hound, are unironically heartwarming. Available on Hulu.
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Wilfred (Happiness) 2011, Season 1/Episode 1
Though this incredible FX series (based on an Australian series of the same name) proved a little too strange for American tastes, we found it to be extremely funny, and surprisingly effective at imagining the canine mind of its lead character, Wilfred (a man dressed in a dog suit), and the bond he shares with his neighbor, played by Elijah Wood. Suspend reality and approach it with an open mind! Available on Hulu, YouTube, Prime.
Twilight Zone (The Hunt) 1962, Season 3/Episode 19
Shortly into this classic tale, Rod Serling voices the story’s teaser in his inimitable style: “An old man and a hound dog named Rip, off for an evening’s pleasure in quest of raccoon. Usually, these evenings end with one tired old man, one battle-scarred hound dog … but as you may suspect, that will not be the case tonight. These hunters won’t be coming home from the hill. They’re headed for the backwoods—of the Twilight Zone.” Available on CBS All Access.
Downward Dog (The Full Package) 2017, Season 1/Episode 4
For those who missed this short-lived ABC sitcom, you can watch all eight episodes and ponder why it never got picked up. The show follows the adventures of Martin, a philosophizing dog, and Nan, his human. Despite the “talking dog” gimmick, the show is highly entertaining. Available on Prime, YouTube.
Leave It To Beaver (Beaver and Poncho) 1958, Season 1/Episode 23
Beaver makes a trade with Larry Mondello: a glass doorknob for a Chihuahua. When Beaver brings the little dog home, Ward tells him that someone’s probably looking for the dog, and he’ll need to place an ad in the newspaper’s lost-and-found section. Not surprisingly, Beaver tries to find a way to keep the pup. Available on dailymotion.com.
Andy Griffith Show (Dogs, Dogs, Dogs) 1963, Season 3/Episode 30
A state inspector is on his way to visit the Mayberry courthouse in order to determine whether the sheriff’s office needs additional funds. Before he arrives, Opie brings in a stray dog who’s followed by 10 of his four-legged friends. Luckily, the inspector happens to raise dogs himself. He befriends the dog-loving sheriff and deputy and sees to it they get the money they need. Available on Netflix.
The Dick Van Dyke Show (The Ugliest Dog in the World) 1965, Season 5/Episode 4
In a parody of My Fair Lady, which had been released the previous year, Rob and Laura temporarily adopt an extremely scruffy dog, but are unable to keep her. All ends well, as a dog salon owner pretties up the dog, then asks to keep her. Available on dailymotion.
Special Moments: The scene in the back of a cab in Seinfeld’s ninth season, when Elaine points out an example of an aggravating pet peeve—a dog with its ear flipped up—then screams out the window, “Fold your dog’s ear back!” Inside Amy Schumer’s “Doggy Daycare” skit, which captures women dropping off their pooches and comparing notes on how unfortunate their pets were before they rescued them. Jack Paar exiting his final Tonight Show (1962) appearance with his dog (at 54.48 min. in the retrospective), and a much later Tonight Show (1981) appearance by James Stewart, who recites his poem, an ode to his departed dog Beau, bringing the audience and host Johnny Carson to tears. All viewable on YouTube.