songs about dogs

Songs About Dogs: Unleashing the Melody

Dogs, often celebrated as man’s best friend, have been a source of inspiration for musicians across genres and eras. Whether it’s the loyalty of a family dog or the playful antics of a puppy, the canine companionship has been immortalized in music, creating a unique sub-genre: songs about dogs.

From rock and roll hits like “Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley to country ballads such as “Old Shep,” also by Presley, these songs not only tell stories about dogs but also reflect human emotions and experiences. Let’s delve into some of the most iconic dog songs, exploring their stories and the emotions they evoke.

A brown and white puppy.

“Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog” is not just a song; it’s a cultural phenomenon. Originally recorded by blues singer Big Mama Thornton, the song was adapted by Elvis and became one of his biggest hits. The track’s catchy rhythm and Elvis’s dynamic delivery turned this song about a cheating lover, metaphorically depicted as a roaming dog, into a rock and roll anthem. It’s a perfect example of how dog imagery can be used to express more complex human emotions and situations.

“Atomic Dog” by George Clinton

George Clinton revolutionized funk with the track “Atomic Dog,” a song that interweaves canine motifs to address concepts of loyalty and primal instincts against a backdrop of compelling rhythms. This funk anthem is distinguished by its catchy chorus, “Bow-wow-wow, yippie yo, yippie yay,” which has become an iconic element in popular culture, resonating across decades. “Atomic Dog” thrives on its vibrant beats and quirky sound effects, making it a staple in dance settings and a fundamental piece in the evolution of funk. Its pervasive influence is evident in numerous samples and covers, solidifying its status as a timeless classic.

“Hey Bulldog” by The Beatles

“Hey Bulldog” by The Beatles emerges as a standout track from the sessions of their famed “White Album.” Featuring a robust piano riff and vibrant, playful lyrics, this song encapsulates the inventive spirit of the band. The inclusion of actual barks and howls within the track adds a layer of auditory intrigue, blending seamlessly with the song’s dynamic energy. The Beatles showcase their musical versatility in “Hey Bulldog,” turning the simple theme of a dog into a deeper exploration of emotion and creativity. It’s a testament to their genius, transforming ordinary concepts into extraordinary pieces of music.

“Old Shep” by Elvis Presley

“Old Shep” by Elvis Presley is a deeply moving narrative that explores the bond between a boy and his dog through their shared experiences and inevitable farewell. The song recounts the life and ultimate passing of Shep, drawing a poignant picture of unwavering loyalty and companionship offered by a beloved pet. Presley’s emotive performance, coupled with heartrending lyrics, renders “Old Shep” a powerful ode to dogs everywhere. It resonates profoundly with anyone who has experienced the joy and sorrow of loving a pet, making it a staple in the repertoire of heartfelt animal tributes.

“Feed Jake” by Pirates of the Mississippi

“Feed Jake” by Pirates of the Mississippi is a compelling country ballad that delves into the themes of friendship and loyalty through the story of a man’s final requests concerning his cherished dog, Jake. The song narrates the deep connection and enduring bond between the man and his dog, emphasizing that Jake was far more than a pet; he was a faithful companion. With its rich narrative and emotional depth, “Feed Jake” strikes a chord with listeners, highlighting the profound relationships that can form between humans and their canine friends, and the lasting impact they leave on our lives.

“Black Dog” by Led Zeppelin

“Black Dog” by Led Zeppelin, named after a wandering black dog seen around the studio during its recording, serves as a powerful example of rock’s dynamic range and depth. This song is marked by its intricate guitar riffs and the compelling lead vocals of Robert Plant, creating an electrifying hard rock anthem. The driving beat and raw energy make “Black Dog” a monumental track in Led Zeppelin’s catalog and a favorite among fans for its intense performance and complex musical structure. It exemplifies how rock music can channel vibrant energy through the inspiration of even a stray dog.

“Old King” by Neil Young

Neil Young’s “Old King” is a touching tribute from his “Harvest Moon” album, dedicated to his beloved dog, King. The song features a lively banjo that underscores the narrative of companionship and eventual loss, reflecting Young’s personal feelings of nostalgia and sorrow. “Old King” is a poignant reflection on the bond shared with a pet, characterized by Young’s emotive storytelling and rustic musical style. This folk song not only illustrates a softer, more introspective side of Neil Young but also resonates with anyone who has ever loved and lost a four-legged friend.

“Black Eyed Dog” by Nick Drake

“Black Eyed Dog” by Nick Drake is a deeply emotional and introspective song, reflecting the artist’s personal battles with depression. Through the metaphor of a ‘black-eyed dog’, which symbolizes his mental struggles, Drake delivers a powerful message on the burdens of psychological distress. The song is minimalistic in its musical arrangement, emphasizing the raw and haunting quality of Drake’s voice and acoustic guitar. This stark simplicity enhances the song’s impact, making “Black Eyed Dog” a poignant exploration of the darker aspects of human emotion, rendered more evocative through its canine imagery.

“Cracker Jack” by Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton’s “Cracker Jack” is a heartwarming tribute to a cherished childhood pet. Through her song, Parton recounts fond memories with her dog, Cracker Jack, infusing the narrative with her characteristic warmth and vibrant storytelling. The melody is sweet and comforting, mirroring the joy and innocence of youth, while Parton’s tender vocals draw listeners into a reflective journey back to simpler days. The song not only celebrates the special bond between a child and their dog but also highlights the lasting impact such relationships can have on our lives, filling them with love and cherished memories.

“Four Legged Friends” by Hank Snow

Hank Snow’s “Four Legged Friends” is a charming tribute to the diverse and joyous world of dogs. Through his song, Snow celebrates the myriad breeds and the unique traits that make each one special. The tune is upbeat and the lyrics are richly descriptive, effectively capturing the endearing qualities of canine companions. Snow’s affection for dogs shines through each verse, making it a feel-good anthem for dog lovers everywhere. This song encapsulates the happiness and variety that dogs bring into our lives, highlighted by a melody that’s as engaging as the tales it tells.

“Old Blue” by Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash’s “Old Blue” is a heartfelt folk tale set to music, chronicling the life and loyalty of a cherished hunting dog. The song’s narrative unfolds with Cash’s deep, soothing voice, set against a backdrop of simple acoustic guitar, which emphasizes the rustic and timeless feel of the story. “Old Blue” is a testament to the deep bond between a man and his dog, exploring themes of loyalty and companionship that are central to many songs about dogs. The track stands as a classic example of how music can capture the essence of life’s simple, enduring relationships.

“Little Boys” by George Thorogood

George Thorogood’s “Little Boys” playfully explores the parallels between the mischievous antics of young boys and their canine friends. With a lively rockabilly beat and humorous lyrics, the song captures the energetic spirit and innocent trouble that both puppies and children bring into our lives. Thorogood’s engaging delivery and the upbeat rhythm make this track a joyful celebration of youthful exuberance, highlighting the shared characteristics of playfulness and curiosity found in both little boys and dogs. This song is a delightful reminder of the simple pleasures that these relationships embody.

“Me and You and a Dog Named Boo” by Lobo

Lobo’s “Dog Named Boo” beautifully captures the special bond formed with a first pet through its gentle melody and sentimental lyrics. This soft rock anthem details the adventures and shared moments with a beloved dog named Boo, evoking a sense of nostalgia and pure joy. The song’s straightforward, catchy tune and the emotional depth of the lyrics resonate deeply with anyone who has experienced the love and companionship of a puppy. “Dog Named Boo” is a heartfelt tribute to the innocent and joyous times spent with a furry friend during one’s youth, making it a classic in the genre of songs about dogs.

“The Puppy Song” by Harry Nilsson

Harry Nilsson’s “The Puppy Song” articulates a whimsical desire for the companionship of a dog, capturing the idealistic joy that comes with pet ownership. With its charming melody and lighthearted lyrics, the song reflects on the simple pleasures and unconditional love that a puppy can bring into one’s life. Nilsson’s tender vocal delivery enhances the song’s dreamy quality, making it resonate with listeners who yearn for the pure, uncomplicated affection that only a dog can provide. This track serves as a delightful conclusion to any collection of songs about dogs, celebrating the special bond between humans and their canine friends.

“Dog Song” by Nellie McKay

“Dog Song,” by Nellie McKay, captures the joys and quirks of dog ownership with a cheerful, bouncy tune and witty lyrics. Featured on her debut album “Get Away from Me,” the song showcases McKay’s playful piano skills and distinctive vocal style. The lyrics narrate various humorous scenarios involving her dog, emphasizing the loving, albeit occasionally chaotic, relationship between a dog and its owner. McKay’s song strikes a chord with pet owners, celebrating the unconditional love and companionship dogs provide, wrapped in her signature blend of jazz and pop sounds.

“A Dog’s Life” by Elvis Presley

“A Dog’s Life” by Elvis Presley, from his 1966 movie “Paradise, Hawaiian Style,” offers a light-hearted look at life from a dog’s perspective. The song features Elvis crooning about the simple pleasures of being a dog—like eating, sleeping, and playing. Though not as critically acclaimed as his major hits, the song showcases Elvis’s ability to bring charm and levity to even the most whimsical subjects. “A Dog’s Life” may not stand out in Presley’s discography for its musicality, but it remains a fun, novelty piece reflecting the less serious side of his career.

“Was Dog a Doughnut” by Cat Stevens

“Was Dog a Doughnut” by Cat Stevens is an instrumental track from his 1977 album “Izitso.” This track stands out as an early example of electronic music in mainstream pop and rock, utilizing synthesizers to create a futuristic, almost otherworldly sound. While the title whimsically questions whether a dog might be a doughnut, the song itself is devoid of lyrics, leaving the interpretation open to the listener’s imagination. The piece is notable for its innovative use of electronic instruments, showcasing Stevens’ versatility as an artist willing to explore new musical territories.

“Salty Dog Blues” (folk song)

“Salty Dog Blues” is a classic folk song deeply rooted in the American musical tradition, often covered in the country and bluegrass genres. The song uses the term “salty dog” as a metaphor, commonly referring to an experienced sailor, but it’s playfully adapted to describe a trusted, beloved old friend or partner in the lyrical context. Its catchy melody and repetitive chorus make it a staple in the repertoire of many traditional country artists. This track is a fine example of how folk themes seamlessly blend into country songs, celebrating personal ties with a spirited, lively tune.

“Dogs” by Pink Floyd

“Dogs,” from Pink Floyd’s concept album “Animals,” is a progressive rock masterpiece that metaphorically compares the cutthroat nature of business to a dog’s life. The song is an integral part of an album that critiques societal and psychological conditions, using different classes of animals to represent human behavior. “Dogs” features complex guitar solos and synthesizer segments, delivering a dark, introspective look at betrayal and societal decay. While not a typical representation of country songs, it demonstrates the versatility of songwriting, extending the canine metaphor to human social dynamics.

“Diamond Dogs” by David Bowie

David Bowie’s “Diamond Dogs” transports listeners to a dystopian future where societal norms have broken down, and canine-like creatures roam free, embodying survival and cunning. This title track from Bowie’s 1974 album blends glam rock and narrative storytelling, painting a grim picture of urban decay through vivid imagery and Bowie’s distinctive vocals. Although “Diamond Dogs” does not fit into the country songs category, it exemplifies Bowie’s talent for fusing rock with complex conceptual themes, including the metaphorical use of dogs to explore themes of chaos and transformation.

“Rain Dogs” by Tom Waits

Tom Waits’ “Rain Dogs” from the album of the same name, evokes the imagery of stray dogs wandering the wet city streets. This song is a centerpiece in an album that explores the underbelly of urban life with a mix of blues, jazz, and folk music. Waits’ gravelly voice and the eclectic instrumental arrangements create a raw, atmospheric sound that captures the essence of disoriented, lost souls, akin to rain-soaked dogs. While distinctly different from traditional country songs, “Rain Dogs” shares the storytelling aspect that is central to the country genre, portraying vivid urban tales through a musical lens.

“Dirty Old Egg-Sucking Dog” by Johnny Cash

“Dirty Old Egg-Sucking Dog” is a humorous and somewhat satirical song by Johnny Cash, featured on his iconic live album “At Folsom Prison.” In this tune, Cash addresses his mischievous dog that has been stealing eggs, with lyrics delivered in Cash’s characteristic deep, resonant voice. The song’s light-hearted approach to dealing with a problematic pet showcases Cash’s ability to infuse humor into his music, making it memorable for its playful storytelling and catchy, simplistic chorus that audiences can easily sing along to.

“How Much is That Doggie in the Window?” by Patti Page

“How Much is That Doggie in the Window?” performed by Patti Page, became a quintessential pop hit in the 1950s. This song features a charming melody and lyrics that inquire about the price of a dog in a pet store window, reflecting post-war consumerism and the idealized pursuit of a happy, domestic life. Page’s clear, soothing vocals made this song a staple of its era, resonating with listeners who sought the comfort and companionship of a family pet. It remains a nostalgic piece, often associated with childhood and simpler times.

“Shannon” by Henry Gross

“Shannon” by Henry Gross is a poignant ballad written in memory of Beach Boy Carl Wilson’s beloved Irish Setter of the same name. The song captures the heartache and loneliness following the loss of a cherished pet, with Gross’s tender vocals and soft guitar strumming enhancing its emotional depth. Released in 1976, it struck a chord with many pet owners for its sincere and touching portrayal of grief. “Shannon” remains one of the few songs that directly addresses the pain of losing a dog, making it a significant, heartfelt contribution to the genre of songs about dogs.


An image of a dog peeking at the viewer.

As we wrap up our musical tail-wagging tour, it’s clear that the world of hit songs about dogs is as varied and vibrant as a dog park at peak hour! From Harry Nilsson’s dreamy “The Puppy Song” to Elvis Presley’s tear-jerker “Old Shep,” each tune on our dogs playlist offers a unique wag of the tail to the profound bond between humans and their furry sidekicks.

Though the Pet Shop Boys might not have a pup in this fight, the diverse tracks we’ve explored—from George Clinton’s funk-infused “Atomic Dog” to Nick Drake’s soul-stirring “Black Eyed Dog”—show that when it comes to capturing the essence of our canine pals in song, artists can really unleash their creativity. So, whether you’re cruising with your “dog blue” or simply chilling at home, these songs are sure to keep both tails thumping and feet tapping!