Have you ever wondered what breed of dog Toto belongs to from the popular children’s book and motion picture “The Wizard of Oz?” Well, you’re not alone. This cute, scruffy little dog has piqued the interest of many movie watchers over the years, prompting the question as to what kind of dog he actually is.
Toto is Cairn Terrier. There is no official statement as to what his breed actually is in the book, but in the film, he was played by a female Cairn Terrier. Some have decided he was also a Terrier mix in the book, but that is not confirmed in any official capacity.
Even though it’s been difficult to pin down Toto’s exact breed in the book, we do know that he is a Cairn Terrier in the movies.
We’re going to take a closer look at what makes this breed special, and also examine his role as a character in The Wizard of Oz.
Keep reading to learn all you need to know about Dorothy’s cute little canine companion.
Cairn Terrier Temperament
Cairn Terriers are intelligent little canines, as are most dogs who were originally bred for hunting purposes. When Terriers were first bred, their primary use was to help hunters hunt foxes in their dens, among other types of small prey.
They originate from Scotland and make great family pets, as they are patient and gentle with children. Terriers of all kinds require lots of exercise and play, as they typically have high energy levels.
They also love to bark, and if they see birds or other small animals, they’re likely to start barking nonstop.
Even more than hunting small prey like foxes and birds, Cairn Terriers were used specifically to hunt vermin around the house. This includes all kinds of rodents, but especially rats and mice.
Cairn Terrier Colors
Cairn Terriers are known for their distinctive brindle pattern, which can often be strong in these little dogs.
This pattern appears a set of stripes running through their coats, faded a bit and only clearly visible when their fur is lifted. The coloring will often darken to black or silver as they grow older.
Cairn Terrier Size & Weight
These dogs generally have short, wideset heads and often stand around 10 inches tall and weigh about 13 or 14 pounds. Their brindle coats are always shaggy.
Who Played Toto In The Movie?
The dog that played Toto in the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz” was named Terry, a female Cairn Terrier that embodied all Terriers perfectly.
The movie producers didn’t have much to go off of for casting the dog, as Dorothy’s canine friend is only described as a “little black dog” in the book.
The only other named detail was that he had “long silky hair.” No specific breed was named for the dog in Frank Baum’s novel, so the producers simply cast the dog that they thought best fit the description from the book.
Even the illustrations from the cover of the novel made Toto look like some kind of Terrier, so that’s what they went with.
Terry’s owner was a professional dog trainer named Carl Spitz who provided well-trained animals for Hollywood around the time “The Wizard of Oz” was filmed.
The dog was around 5 years old at the time of the movie being filmed. She played her role extremely well, taking every scene seriously.
She even got injured on set, when one of the Witch’s guards accidentally stepped on her foot and broke it. Luckily, after receiving medical treatment, she was able to continue acting in the film as it was shot.
And even though the actress who played Dorothy, Judy Garland, wanted to keep the dog after the film, Carl Spitz did not want to part with her.
Why Was This Breed Chosen?
Beyond the obvious physical characteristics of the Cairn Terrier that fit the persona of Toto so well, there were also character and personality considerations to make.
The movie producers needed a dog that would be friendly and small but could also be ferocious and protective at the same time.
They found this personality combination in the Cairn Terrier, making this breed the perfect choice to represent Toto in the film. Whether Toto was snuggled warmly in Dorothy’s arms or fleeing the Witch’s castle to get help for his friends, only this specific breed could pull it off completely.
Toto is one of the most well-known and beloved canines seen in the movie industry, playing the role of a faithful canine companion to Dorothy as she made her way through the land of Oz.
In the film, shot in 1939, Toto was cast as a Cairn Terrier. In Frank Baum’s novel, though, it is never stated what his breed is. He is only described in a couple of short phrases, which the movie producers used to cast the dog in the film.
Cairn Terriers are fierce, friendly, and loyal little dogs, originally bred for the purposes of hunting small vermin and game, such as rabbits, foxes, rats, and mice.
This breed fits the personality and character of Toto perfectly, as he is both fierce and loyal to Dorothy on her travels.
We hope the information we’ve outlined in this article has answered all your questions about Toto and the kind of dog he is.
For more interesting animal facts and information, be sure to check out my other articles now.