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What Kind of Dog Is Scooby-Doo? Cartoon Origins & Backstory

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove


There are a few questions that have plagued humanity for as long as we’ve walked the Earth. Why are we here? Is there a higher power? Are we alone in the universe? And what kind of dog is Scooby-Doo, anyway?

Scooby-Doo is a Great Dane. So why is Scooby so unlike the magnificent Great Danes of the real world? Keep reading to learn the story behind Scooby Doo’s creation, as well as the answers to more of your questions!

Divider 1Scooby-Doo: Great Dane With a Twist

So now we know that Scooby-Doo is a Great Dane. After all, he’s clumsy, cowardly, and spends all his time daydreaming about eating—sounds about right, actually.

The story behind Scooby’s creation is that Hanna-Barbera designer Iwao Takamoto attempted to learn from a colleague, about all the positive things that made a prize-winning Great Dane, and then proceeded to give Scooby-Doo the exact opposite traits.

So, does that make Scooby a Great Dane or an anti-Great Dane? Or is he something else entirely? Let’s take a deeper look to find out.

Image Credit: Characters by Hanna-Barbera, property of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All rights reserved to the copyright owners.

What Do We Know About Scooby-Doo?

You don’t watch as much TV as we do without learning a few things about Scooby-Doo in the process. We’ve even gone so far as to put together a little dossier on our favorite cartoon pup:

  • Real Name: Scoobert Doo. This seems like an odd name for a Great Dane, especially one in the professional arena.
  • Height: This one’s tricky. He comes up to Shaggy’s shoulder while sitting, and Shaggy seems like a tall drink of water. We’re going to say Scooby is at least 6’6” on his hind legs. That’s tall for a Great Dane, but it’s not impossible.
  • Weight: On the one hand, he spends most of his time eating. On the other, he spends the rest of his time running from danger. All in all, he looks fairly trim, so we’ll put him right at about 120 pounds. That’s a bit light for a full-grown male Great Dane.
  • Age: On the show, they say he’s 7. He looks to be in his prime, so we’d put his life expectancy at 10–12 years—a little ambitious, but not impossible.
  • Languages Spoken: The show has been translated into 15 different languages. It’s incredibly rare to find a Great Dane who can speak even one language competently.

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What Do Great Danes Look Like?

According to the American Kennel Club, Great Danes are “the picture of elegance and balance, with the smooth and easy stride of born noblemen.”

Scooby-Doo, on the other hand, often runs in place for several seconds before taking off in a flash. Also, his knees often knock together loudly, especially when frightened, and he makes a distinct screeching sound when he stops running.

None of this suggests elegance, balance, or a noble gait.

Great Danes also come in a few “official” colors: merle, brindle, fawn, blue, black, mantle, and harlequin. It doesn’t say anything about brown with a few liver spots on the back.

European Great Dane
Image Credit: JumpStory

What Is Great Dane Behavior Like?

The AKC says that Great Danes are spirited, courageous, and never timid. They also claim that “those who mistake the breed’s friendliness for softness will meet a powerful foe of true courage and spirit.”

Scooby-Doo generally hides from danger in wicker baskets.

To be fair to our cartoon pal, most Great Danes don’t have to face down ghosts, monsters, goblins, and other unspeakable evils. However, after about three or four cases, Scooby probably should’ve known that it wasn’t really a monster that he was dealing with—it was just that creepy hotel concierge, Mr. Wickles.

Great Danes and Scooby-Doo are both friendly and loving, though. We can’t argue that.

How Smart Are Great Danes?

According to Stanley Coren, a professor of canine psychology at the University of British Columbia, Great Danes are the 12th-smartest dog breed. According to us, professors of Scooby-Doo at the University of YouTube, Scooby-Doo is the second-smartest member of Mystery, Inc., trailing only Velma.

This would seem to make a compelling argument for Scooby being a Great Dane!

great dane
Image Credit: Pikist

How Are Their Problem-Solving Skills?

According to Professor Coren, Great Danes have excellent problem-solving skills. They’re quickly able to distinguish between intruders and friends, for example.

Scooby-Doo also has great problem-solving skills. He can fit dozens of layers of meat, cheese, and condiments on a single sandwich, and he’s great at escaping from a werewolf when he’s in a hall featuring three sets of opposing doors.

However, he rarely solves any of the actual mysteries (that’s almost always Velma). To be fair, though, he’s excellent at taking credit for solving the mystery after the fact. It’s looking more and more like Scoob might be a Great Dane after all!

How Much Do They Respect Personal Space?

Despite their massive size, Great Danes consider themselves lap dogs, and they won’t hesitate to share your La-Z-Boy with you. They do this without consulting you and look confused when you protest. Similarly, Scooby-Doo will often jump directly into Shaggy’s arms when frightened. Does he ask permission first? Does he give any consideration to the health of Shaggy’s back? He does not.

It would appear this is yet another point in favor of the Great Dane comparison. Let’s take a look at one last category.

How Much Do They Eat?

A full-grown Great Dane can eat roughly as much as an Army battalion, and it costs about the same to feed them.

Scooby-Doo, on the other hand, can eat a sandwich as tall as he is and will do anything for a Scooby Snack. He has also been known to demolish entire buffets when everyone’s back is turned.

Okay, we’ve seen all that we need to see—let’s call it.

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The Verdict

While it’s not a perfect match, Scooby-Doo has too much in common with a Great Dane to possibly be anything else. We’re open to counter-arguments, of course, but what other breed makes sense? Not a single one that we can think of.

Again, there’s also the fact that Scooby’s creator, Iwao Takamoto, did say that he based the dog on a Great Dane, albeit with a few changes.

Now that we’ve solved this problem, let’s unmask one final mystery, shall we?

Does Anyone Like Scrappy-Doo?

Image Credit: Characters by  Hanna-Barbera, property of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All rights reserved to the copyright owners.

It seems odd that Scooby-Doo could be one of America’s most beloved dogs, while his nephew, Scrappy, is almost universally hated.

It’s probably because of Scrappy’s arrogance. Or maybe it’s because he always got the entire team in trouble.

Whatever the cause, we think that we can all agree: Scrappy-Doo is an Average Dane at best.

See Also:

Featured Image Credit: Characters by  Hanna-Barbera, property of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.  All rights reserved to the copyright owners.

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