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Dog Books: Top 10 Literary Classics About Dogs

dog books

Long before dogs took over our Instagram feeds, they were sparking imaginations. They were the first animal species – ever – to be domesticated. So it’s no surprise these lovable creatures are a favorite topic for authors all over the world. These are the top 10 books about dogs of all time. These are classic dog books that have lived on our bookshelves for decades and likely will for decades to come.

1. “Clifford the Big Red Dog” by Norman Bridwell

“Clifford” is the 1963 tale of a little red dog who grows to be the size of a house. The book spawned a huge book series. Clifford videos released between 1988 and the mid 1990s, and an animated TV series aired on PBS kids from 2000 to 2003. Paramount Pictures has a live-action film in the works, but has yet to announce a release date. And it’s no surprise that the iconic red pup is Scholastic’s official mascot.

2. “Where the Red Fern Grows” by Wilson Rawls

“Where the Red Fern Grows” is a 1961 children’s novel. It’s the story of Billy and his two pet Coonhounds. The book inspired a 1974 film and later a remake in 2003, and every year there’s a Red Fern festival in Tahlequah, OK, where the story takes place.

3. “Old Yeller” by Fred Gipson

This 1956 children’s novel is about a boy named Travis Coates and his aptly named yellow dog. The heroic pup saves his family on several occasions. This popular book led to more books in the series and a Disney film adaptation in 1957.

4. “The Call of the Wild” by Jack London

This classic was written by Jack London and was published in 1903. The story was first turned into a movie in 1923, but filmmakers didn’t stop there. Remakes were released in 1935, 1972, 1976, 1993, 1997, 2000 and 2009!

5. “White Fang” by Jack London

This 1906 novel is also written by Jack London and is about the adventures of a wolf-dog hybrid in Yukon territory. Unlike most of the books on this list, it’s written from the dog’s point of view. This popular book has been adapted in numerous films and sequels, as well as a television series.

6. “Shiloh” Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

A more contemporary classic is a 1991 novel by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor called “Shiloh.” The book is about the adventures of a Beagle rescued by Mary Preston. The book led to three sequels and a 1996 live-action movie.

7. “Lassie Come-Home” by Eric Knight

The tale of Lassie originated as a 1938 short story and later became a full-length novel in 1940. It has since inspired numerous radio, film and television adaptations, making the female Collie one of the most famous fictional dogs of all time.

8. “The Incredible Journey” by Sheila Burnford

“The Incredible Journey” was written in 1961 and tells the story of two dogs and a cat that get separated from their family (too bad they weren’t microchipped!) and need to make their way back home. It was made into a movie in 1963 and later another Disney adaptation in 1993 called “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey.”

9. “Sounder” by William H. Armstrong

“Sounder,” a 1961 young adult novel, explores important themes like race. It went on to win the Newbery Award in 1970 and was made into a critically acclaimed movie in 1972.

10. “101 Dalmatians” by Dodie Smith

Who can forget this story of Dalmatian puppies stolen by the evil Cruella de Vil? This 1956 children’s novel inspired the unforgettable Disney cartoon. “101 Dalmatians” is now an entire franchise including television shows and a 1996 live-action film starring the incomparable Glenn Close.

While we love dog social accounts and movies, sometimes it’s good to unplug and dive into a great book. We included links so you can get your hands on these titles and read them at home with your favorite four-legged bestie. Enjoy!