What Breed of Dog Is Toto?

You wouldn't think a powerful, green-skinned witch would notice a little terrier, but one particular pooch drew her ire. Toto, Dorothy's pet in “The Wizard of Oz,” managed not only to tick off the Wicked Witch of the West but also to uncover the Wizard's secret identity all in a day.

The Great Terrier Debate

Toto's breed was actually not specified by author L. Frank Baum in “The Wizard of Oz”; the pooch was simply described as a “little black dog with long silky hair.” Popular opinion declares Toto a terrier of some sort, but the specific breed differs depending on which book of the “Oz” series you're reading. Illustrator W. W. Denslow drew the character as a cairn terrier for the first edition of “The Wizard of Oz,” but some readers believe he more closely resembles a Yorkshire terrier, a breed that was popular at the time the books were written. Inexplicably, Toto became a Boston terrier later in the “Oz” series of books, before returning to his earlier cairn or Yorkshire terrier appearance.

Terry the Terrier

You take the jobs you can get in Hollywood, and that goes for animals. The role of Toto in the 1939 motion picture was played by a female cairn terrier named Terry. She was paid $125 a week -- more than her human “Munchkin” co-stars earned -- and required a stand-in after one of the Winkie guards accidentally stepped on her foot. Her first movie role was in Shirley Temple's film “Bright Eyes.”

Cairn Terrier Facts

Toto was a spunky little handful for Dorothy and her friends as they skipped merrily down the Yellow Brick Road, taking full advantage of the cairn terrier's playful personality. Cairns are smart dogs who act bigger than they actually are. Stubborn, playful and energetic, cairns are always up for a run, a rough-and-tumble game or a challenge to figure out. No wonder Toto paid attention to the man behind the curtain.

No Toto for Kansas

The 1939 movie is full of memorable lines, one of which is Dorothy stating the obvious to her companion -- “Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.” In 2012, Kansas state Representative Ed Trimmer tried to make the cairn terrier, since it was the breed that portrayed Toto on film, an official state symbol. The bill failed to pass, but Trimmer vowed he would keep trying.

 

About the Author

Jane Williams began her writing career in 2000 as the writer and editor of a nationwide marketing company. Her articles have appeared on various websites. Williams briefly attended college for a degree in administration before embarking on her writing career.