If you’re a dog lover, chances are you’ve heard one of these songs about dogs. There are songs about black dogs, big dogs, and good dogs—and so many songs about when dogs get old (“Old Blue” by the Byrds and “Old Shep” by Elvis, for instance). Country music has claimed endless hits by appealing to the love people have for their dogs. Maybe you make up songs for your dog based on famous tunes, or you stick to singing one of these classic dog songs to your dog:
- Elvis Presley’s infamous “Hound Dog” or our preferred version by Big Mama Thorton
- The unremitting “Who Let the Dogs Out?” by Baha Men
- “I Wanna Be Your Dog” by The Stooges (admittedly, not really about a canine, but so good)
- The classic and many-times-recorded “Doggie In the Window”
- Harry Nilsson’s “Puppy Song”
- “Seamus” by Pink Floyd, which may have been about a real dog
- “I’m Gonna Buy Me a Dog” by The Monkees
- Carrie Underwood dissing men for dogs in “The More Boys I Meet”
- and Lobo’s hippy-pop “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo”
No matter what your musical taste, there’s a song about dogs that’s sure to appeal. It turns out, the best odes to four-legged friends are about the real-life best friends of the musicians. Check out these five songs about real dogs, along with the stories behind them.
1. “Martha My Dear” by The Beatles
The Real-Life Dog Tale: Paul McCartney’s first-ever canine companion, an Old English sheepdog named Martha, not only brought out his softer side, but also inspired her very own track on the Beatles’ infamous opus “White Album” in 1968.
McCartney said, “She was a dear pet of mine. I remember John [Lennon] being amazed to see me being so loving to an animal. He said, ‘I’ve never seen you like that before.’ I’ve since thought, you know, he wouldn’t have. It’s only when you’re cuddling around with a dog that you’re in that mode, and she was a very cuddly dog.”
Now that is our kind of muse.
Sample lyric: “When you find yourself in the thick of it/Help yourself to a bit of what is all around you/Silly girl.”
2. “Old King” by Neil Young
The Real-Life Dog Tale: Neil Young wrote this song for his hound dog, Elvis, who spent years traveling with Young on his tour bus. Young said that his hound dog was the only creature to whom he could confide in “about everything.”
If you’ve ever shared the highs and lows of your day with your always-attentive and nonjudgmental canine, you know exactly what Neil means.
Sample lyric: “That old King was a friend of mine/Never knew a dog that was half as fine/I may find one, you never do know/’Cause I still got a long way to go.”
3. “Man of the Hour” by Norah Jones
The Real-Life Dog Tale: This gorgeous, bluesy number is an homage to Norah’s poodle, Ralph, who the song tells us makes a much better companion than any of the men she’s seeing.
“I like to say that he’s a scruffy, manly poodle. Because you say poodle and people start rolling their eyes,” she explained. “My dog-ological clock started to tick. So I got a dog—it’s great. I’m madly in love with him.”
We’ll take a scruffy, manly poodle over a bad date any day.
Sample lyric: “It’s him or me, that’s what he said/But I can’t choose between a vegan and a pothead/So I chose you, because you’re sweet/And you give me lots of lovin’ and you eat meat.”
4. “Cracker Jack” by Dolly Parton
The Real-Life Dog Tale: One of the many songs inspired by Parton’s impoverished childhood, as much storytelling as songwriting, this sweet and moving tale about Parton’s long-lost devoted dog will have you sniffling as you remember the “best friend that [you] ever had.”
Sample lyric: “Cracker Jack would run to meet me after school each day/He’d jump and wag his tail and look at me as if to say/’I love you and I missed you and I’m glad you’re home again’/I knew just how he felt cause me and Cracker Jack was friends.”
5. “I Love My Dog” by Cat Stevens
The Real-Life Dog Tale: Cat Stevens acknowledged that the subject of his very first single probably seemed “very strange,” what with his first name and all, but he noted, “I meant it.” It’s yet another song weighing a love relationship against love for a dog. And the dog wins, every time.
Sample lyric: “All he asks from me is the food to give him strength/All he ever needs is love and that he knows he’ll get.”
Songs about Dogs: Can’t Get Enough
At some point, we’ve all created a ballad for our best dog. Alas, crooning “whooo’s a good doggieeee?” a dozen times in a row will never crack the Billboard charts, no matter how much tail-wagging excitement it generates.
Thankfully, these dog lovers with exceptional musical talent have paid tribute to the dogs that touched their lives.