I was reliving my youth with my daughter the other day while we were watching Scooby Doo reruns. Right when the gang was about to unmask Miner Forty-Niner she asks me, “Dad, what kind of dog is Scooby Doo?” “Good question, let’s look it up,” I responded. Well, we found the answer and a few other details that I never knew before the wee genius put me on blast.
Scooby Doo is a male Great Dane, though that was not the creators original intent. Originally, Scoobert Doo was a sheepdog named Too Much when Hannah Barbera pitched the show to CBS. Iwao Takamoto, a co-creator of the series claims the breed as the inspiration, though they do not have much in common.
If you’re surprised at the answer, you are not alone. There are a lot of differences.
We also found some things that not many people know about in our research.
Is Scooby Doo perfectly modeled after a prize Great Dane?
Absolutely not. Scooby has several things out of character from the iconic watchdog breed, but this was done on purpose.
In the late ’60s, one of Scooby’s creators, Iwao Takamoto interviewed a famous Great Dane breeder looking for the breeds ideal character traits.
Takamoto then promptly went the opposite direction with his vision to create the adorable pooch we all know and love. This was not only purposeful, but brilliantly done.
It is the anthropomorphic and comical traits that make Scooby the memorable and iconic character that endears us to him.
What does Scooby Doo have in common with a Great Dane?
Scooby has a few things in common with the Great Dane breed, but not as much as you might think.
Scooby has a long torso, long skinny legs, and floppy ears. That’s about it.
This lack of commonalities is one reason why many people don’t know he is a Great Dane. He simply doesn’t look much like one!
Scooby Doo Physical Traits vs. Great Dane
For one thing, the coloring of Scooby is much darker than a traditional Great Dane. A typical Great Dane has an almost blondish-light brown. Occasionally you will see a black or white Dane, but this is not as common. VERY rarely will you see a dark brown Great Dane.
Scooby also has a small chin, a stark contrast to the long lower jaw of the Dane. This feature makes Scooby look more human than his breed-mates, making him more relatable to children viewers.
Scooby also has a hump in his back. This hump is not indicative of the real-life breed at all as Great Dane’s are known to have very straight spines that slope slightly down at the end of their hindquarters.
Scooby’s tail is also very different from his real-life contemporary. Great Dane’s have very slender, straight tails. Scooby’s tail is not only thicker, but it could also open a jar of pickles for you.
It acts as a 5th appendage in the show at times and adds more comic relief to the show. With it, Scooby hangs upside down, presses buttons, and pulls levers.
Lastly, the cartoon hound has absurdly large paws. VERY different from the real-life Great Dane.
Dane’s are notorious for their long slender legs whose paws look like they come to a point where they meet the ground. Up close, they are of course substantial, but not in proportion to the actual size of the animal.
Not only are Scooby’s paws larger in proportion to his body, he can use his paws like thumbs. Like the jaw, this helps the audience see Scooby as relatable.
Scooby Doo Personality Traits vs. Great Dane
The Great Dane is thought of as being tough, intimidating guard dogs with a deep bark. One call from the intimidating companion makes me think twice about coming too close, that’s for sure!
The Great Dane is also known for not backing down. They are (for the most part) known to be bold, daring creatures that are willing to stare down potential threats and even run at them if their target doesn’t back down.
The public often perceives that they do not scare easily, and that they are fiercely loyal.
This is, of course, is dependent on their training. Great Dane’s can be fantastically lovable, friendly, timid companions depending on their home environment and nurturing families.
Scooby is the opposite of all of these common perceptions of Danes being assertive, aggressive protectors.
Scooby is skittish, afraid, and wouldn’t hurt a fly.
He frequently runs away at the sight of his own shadow. Sure he’s a large breed even by cartoon standards, but he comically bolts from literal shadows like every single episode at least once.
That said, Scooby is absolutely the heart and soul of the gang. He is a scaredy cat, but he is an extremely lovable companion to Shaggy. He has kept viewers engaged for decades, which speaks to his relatability and connection with his audience.
Was Scooby Doo always supposed to be a Great Dane?
Scobby’s so iconic. I always assumed that the original vision of the creators of Scooby was to be modeled after a Great Dane. My assumption, however, was not at all the case.
Scooby was initially imagined as a sheepdog named Too Much. Some still believe that Scooby is a bit “too much,” but his final likeness is far from the original intent of Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, the Hannah-Barbera co-creators of the original show.
After Spears and Ruby pitched the show to Ken Silverman, the daytime programming executive of CBS, Silverman put in his 2-cents and the image of Scooby you know and love began taking shape.
OK, so here’s what we learned today:
- Scooby Doo is modeled after a Great Dane
- Scooby has a couple things in common with a Dane, but not much
- Scooby was originally pitched as a sheepdog named Too Much
Thank you for reading!