4 Dog Advertising Legends

Meet the dogs that stole the show in advertising and live rent-free in most of our memories! These four dogs are advertising legends.

Jan 12, 2024By Natasha Elder
dog advertising legends

Get ready to meet (or be reintroduced to!) a pack of dog advertising legends who are iconic in their own right. From the controversial Spuds MacKenzie to the beloved awww-inducing Andrex puppy, this article will explore four famous dogs and the brands they’ve helped through celebrated advertising efforts. Which ones live in your mind (or heart!) rent-free?

1. Bullseye (the Target Dog)

bullseye the target dog toy
Image credit: Flickr

What better way to kick off this list than with one of the most famous advertising dogs ever: Bullseye! That’s right, it’s the one and only Target Dog. Bullseye is a white bull terrier that has been the official mascot of Target Corporation since 1999. Bullseye is so famous that he is immortalized in wax at Madam Tussauds New York – the first animal to ever receive such an honor!

The first dog to bring the character of Bullseye to life was an American Kennel Club champion by the name of Kingsmere Moondoggie, who was affectionately known as “Smudgie.” Since then, various dogs have portrayed this character.

These days, the legendary white bull terrier with a red bullseye logo painted around its left eye that has long featured in Target’s signage and ad campaigns isn’t just one pup, but rather three dogs that share the responsibility and take turns playing mascot. The trio of dogs all live and train together on a ranch near Los Angeles.

2. The Andrex Puppy

andrex toilet paper labrador retriever
Image credit: Amazon

Cue the “Awww,” because the Andrex Puppy is next on the list. The iconic Labrador Retriever puppy that has been associated with the Andrex toilet roll brand since the 1970s is now synonymous with the brand – to the point where the puppy’s silhouette is printed on every single sheet of toilet paper!

Since its first media appearance in 1972, the Andrex Puppy has been the star of more than 130 adverts for the brand, ranging from TV commercials to print ads. A range of Andrex puppy plushies is even released every few years. It’s impossible to think of the Andrex brand without picturing this adorable puppy, but this almost wasn’t the case.

In 1972, Andrex filmed a TV commercial that featured a little girl happily running through her house with a roll of toilet paper trailing behind her. This advert, however, was not approved by the television regulators of the time who felt that the advert promoted wastefulness. In light of this unexpected rejection, a last-minute decision was made to change the girl to a Labrador Retriever puppy, and the rest is history.

3. Spuds MacKenzie

original spud mackenzie advertisement bud light
Image credit: Joey Urtez

Another amazing bull terrier has earned its spot on the list of legends in advertising, this time a dog called Spuds MacKenzie. The “Super party animal named Spuds MacKenzie” was first introduced at the 1987 Super Bowl for the Bud Light brand. It became an instant classic. Bud Light sales increased by 20%, and this success was directly attributed to Spuds MacKenzie.

Although the Spuds MacKenzie character was a male, the dog playing him wasn’t. She was a female bull terrier by the name of Honey Tree Evil Eye, and many people were upset when they discovered her true gender. Spuds MacKenzie lived the high life on our screens (and T-shirts, toys, posters, lamps, and just about anything else you could plaster his picture on!) for a few years, but controversy plagued the beloved character.

spuds dog poster
Image credit: Katie Leede & Co.

To some, namely a Republic Senator named Strom Thurmond and the Mothers Against Drunk Driving association, Spuds MacKenzie was seen as a tool to glamorize underage drinking and encourage alcohol consumption. The mascot was officially retired by 1989 but was briefly brought back in 2017 as Ghost Spuds for a Super Bowl advert. Talk about a full circle moment.

4. Gidget

gidget the taco bell chihuahua
Image credit: Wikipedia

And last but by no means least is Gidget, but you probably know her better as “The Taco Bell Chihuahua,” and that would make sense because this was her official job title during the years 1997 to 2000.

Gidget was used as the official mascot for Taco Bell and appeared in numerous television commercials for the brand. She was so popular that the brand began producing talking dog figures at restaurants during her reign. The tiny dog had a hilariously deep voice (courtesy of Carlos Alazraqui) and was known for her catchphrase "¡Yo quiero Taco Bell!" which translates to “I want Taco Bell!”

taco bell dog
Image credit: Ebay

As was the case with Spuds MacKenzie, not everyone was a fan of Gidget, and some people accused the brand of being insensitive to the Latin American culture in their representation of Gidget in specific commercials. Gidget was retired in 2000, but the controversy didn’t end there.

In 2003, the Taco Bell brand lost a $30.1 million lawsuit against the true creators of “The Taco Bell Chihuahua” character – Thomas Rinks and Joseph Shields – who first pitched the brand the idea of a “psycho chihuahua” in 1996. Gidget passed away from a stroke in 2009 at the age of 15, making her one of the longest-living dogs. What a legend.

Do You Want Your Dog to Be the Next Advertising Legend?

small puppy staring tv screen
Image credit: sq lim on Unsplash

The four dogs mentioned in today’s article are the top dogs of the advertising industry. Do you think your dog has what it takes to become a dog actor or even a doggy TikTok star? They might just have a shot, provided they meet certain requirements.

To get into the world of dog acting, you must identify your dog’s unique talents and make sure they’re trained in basic obedience and are well socialized. After that, try teaching your dog fun tricks or get them trained in a specialized skill (like fake dialing a telephone or even playing the piano) if you really want your them to stand out.

Then, create a portfolio to showcase their abilities and physical appearance. Join a reputable canine talent agency and keep your eyes peeled for casting calls. If you’re serious about your dog’s career as an actor, you should consider working with an animal agent to boost their chances of success. Good luck!

Natasha Elder
By Natasha Elder

Natasha is a mother, a wife, a writer, and a serial cat owner. Though she is currently in mourning, her heart not ready for another feline family member just yet, she has always lived life with four paws beside her. She loves – you guessed it – cats, as well as creatures of the fluffy, scaly, and finned variety. Natasha longs to meet Sir David Attenborough one day and is passionate about responsible pet ownership