We’re going to spare you a “where no-man’s-best-friend has gone before” joke and just cut to the chase. Cute dogs are pretty much the best, and if you combine them with science fiction, there is literally not anything better. (It’s SCIENCE.) Space dogs can make a bad show good, a weird book slightly more humane, and generally help us believe a science fiction world might actually have a little love in it. Here are our picks for the best dogs in science fiction.
10. Krypto (Superman)
Though Kal-El was initially believed to be the lone survivor of the doomed planet Krypton, he’s been joined over the years by a lot of folks, but the best unexpected Krytponian of them all is easily Krypto the Super Dog! Though there have been various iterations of Krypto, his powers are generally the same as Superman’s: flight, x-ray vision, super-hearing etc. Curiously, Krypto appears to be a white Parson Russell Terrier, which means that breed of Earth dog is far more well-traveled than we thought….
9. Astro (The Jetsons)
Gifted with the ability of faux-speech, Astro from the Jetsons might be one of the more advanced dogs on this list. Sure, he appears to be stupid, but perhaps he’s just manipulating George and the other members of the Jetson family for his own purposes while conspiring with Rosie the Robot to destroy the whole family. Further, how did Astro gain his strange, almost Scooby-Doo knock-off speech powers? Is it from all the radiation that clearly exists on the surface of the Earth, forcing everyone to live in stratosphere-hugging apartment complexes? These questions will never be answered.
8. Blood (A Boy and His Dog by Harlan Ellison)
Both a novella and a film by Harlan Ellison, A Boy and His Dog concerns Vic and a dog named Blood, who just happens to be telepathic. The telepathy of Blood is handy in the Mad Max-esque world Vic lives in, as Blood can warn his friend of impending attacks, and also communicate with him via the powers of the mind! (This comes from some genetic modifications and injected dolphin spinal fluid.) In the film version Blood was played by a dog-named Tiger, was voiced by Tim McIntire, and is part Bearded Collie and part West Highland White Terrier. In the novella, Blood is half German Shepard and half Puli.
Interestingly enough, Patrick Ness’ recent Chaos Walking trilogy also features a telepathic boy and his dog in a post-apocalyptic world. Although that’s only where the story starts….
7. Kazak the Space Hound (The Sirens of Titan, Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut)
In The Sirens of Titan, William Niles Rumford—the great orchestrator of the war between Mars and Earth—is jumping through time thanks to Chrono-Synclastic Infundibulation. But his dog is time jumping with him too! Kazak is described as “the space hound” making one think he is a Bloodhound, however, in another Vonnegut novel, Breakfast of Champions, Kazak shows up as an angry junkyard dog in the form of a Doberman Pinscher. The latter Kazak actually attacks the author, as Vonnegut makes an appearance as himself towards the end of the book. Is one Kazak the Kazak of fiction and the other of reality?
6. Muffit (Battlestar Galatica)
In the classic 1978 version of Battlestar Galatica, everything has to have a screwy name. Minutes are microns, a year is a yaren, and dogs are called daggits. When little Boxy’s daggit is killed by the Cylons, the scientists on Galactica know what to do! Even while picking up the pieces after their entire civilization was wiped out, they have plenty of time to make a robot dog, which they name Muffit II, in honor of the now-dead Muffit I. The robot Muffit is nothing like a real dog, and mostly gets the Colonial warriors and their friends into various kinds of troubles. The original Muffit’s breed looks to be some kind of Sheep Dog, while the robot version was actually played by a chimpanzee named Evolution.
5. Seymour (Futurama)
Fans of Futurama are familiar with the heart-ripping story of Seymour, the stray dog Fry befriended before being trapped in a cryogenic chamber. In the future, Fry actually finds his beloved dog’s remains but turns down an offer to revive him once he finds out Seymour lived for 12 years after Fry left. His beloved companion must have lived a full life after him, Fry reasons, and probably forgot all about the brief time they had together.
Only then do we find out the truth: Seymour had spent those 12 years waiting for Fry to return, ever faithful. The story was so devastating that the Futurama writers eventually wrote a follow-up where Fry sends a version of himself back to the past so Seymour could live out his days with the love and attention he so obviously deserved.
4. Dug (Up)
“I was hiding under your porch because I love you!”
Dug is what happens when you take a playful Golden Retriever puppy and give it a collar that translates its thoughts into spoken word. This sci-fi touch somehow makes Dug even more of what we visualize when we think of dogs: boundless, adoring, and idiosyncratic. Dug is a good dog and a faithful companion and he will prove it to you even if he…SQUIRREL!
3. K-9 (Doctor Who, The Sarah Jane Adventures, K-9 And Company)
In the Doctor Who universe there have been four version of the Time Lord’s awesome robot dog. The most recent version, given to Sarah Jane Smith by the Tenth Doctor was K-9 Mark IV, though the personality and abilities of each K-9 are essentially the same. Other than saying “affirmative” all the time in a high-pitched voice, K-9 also can laser-blast stuff with his nose and occasionally fly. K-9 briefly got his own show with Sarah Jane Smith called K-9 and Company, which mostly depicted Sarah Jane jogging, drinking wine, and fighting cultists. Proof here:
2. Einstein and Copernicus (Back to the Future)
Technically the world’s first time traveler, Einstein is the Sheep Dog, possible Bearded Collie/West Highland White Terrier hanging out with Doc Brown in 1985. In the original film a dog named Tiger, the very same dog who played Blood in A Boy and His Dog, portrayed Einstein. By the time the sequels were filmed, another dog named Freddie was brought into play Einstein and also Copernicus; Doc’s dog in 1955. Obviously both dogs are of a similar breed, but we think Copernicus looks to be a little smaller. Either way, even though Copernicus doesn’t get to time travel, both dogs are awesome.
1. Porthos (Enterprise)
Possibly the cutest dog in all of science fiction, Captain Jonathan Archer’s Beagle is chronologically, the first space pet in all of Star Trek. Porthos serves as a kind of nifty foil to Archer’s moods, frequently letting the intrepid starship captain know just how wrong or right he is about various decisions involving intergalactic intrigue and adventure. Porthos also likes cheddar cheese. (So Archer’s quarters probably get pretty smell.) His legacy also lives on in the J.J. Abrams Star Trek, as Simon Pegg’s Scotty bemoans an incident in which he tried to beam “Admiral Archer’s prize beagle” over a ridiculous distance. Porthos was played by three different beagles; Prada, Breezy, and Windy.
It was really hard to figure out just who were the best in show for all of the dogs in science fiction, and we’re sure we excluded someone’s favorite space pooch. Let us know in the comments below.
Stubby the Rocket is the voice and mascot of Tor.com.