Updated - Sep 3rd, 2020
In choosing the “best” dog songs, one can end up going down quite a rabbit hole. There can be an overload of criteria to examine. Are the best dog songs the sad ones? Sometimes. Are the best dog songs the puppy songs? Not always. Do you go deep on country music? Do you explore the entire dog catalog of a country artist?
You could almost do an entire playlist of songs about boyfriends being in the dog house.
Of course, there are clear-cut choices like “Hound Dog” by either Elvis Presley or Big Mama Thornton; “Black Dog” by Led Zeppelin; or even “I Wanna Be Your Dog” by The Stooges. There’s also the pure irony of a dog song by Cat Stevens – remember “I Love My Dog?” But ultimately, I wanted to go beyond the expected with this particular list.
What I wanted were songs that captured the human condition as it relates to dogs. I was looking for songs that reflect the connection between human and canine.
My sonic sojourn led me to uncover some artists who wrote songs about genuine love, affection, and connection they have for their best friend. Except for one, these are what I consider to be the best songs about the unique bond between a dog and their human.
Without further adieu, here are the 8 Best Songs about dogs:
“Who Let the Dogs Out”
I mean, come on, it’s obvious that this song was going to be first. How could it not be? As well known as this song is, it’s highest chart position on the Billboard Top 40 was #21.
Besides posing one of the most confounding existential questions in decades, it’s one of the happiest songs to sing along to. Any dog song list that excludes this song would be a grave injustice.
“Everything Reminds Me of My Dog”
Candian born singer-songwriter Jane Siberry wrote this happy little ditty as an homage to her furry friend. She’s definitely a dog lover because, well, this song screams, “I love my dog!”
Her narrator is a lot like Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense, but instead of seeing dead people everywhere, Siberry sees her dog everywhere:
“The guy in the store reminds me of my dog”
“Telephones remind me of my dog”
“Smiling at strangers reminds me of my dog”
“Guys in bars remind me of my dog”
“Sunsets remind me of my dog”
“Einstein reminds me of my dog”
“Skyscrapers remind me of my dog”
Well, I think you get the idea, Jane Siberry loves her dog.
Is it possible to find any more awesomeness with Dolly Parton? Yes. Once you listen to “Cracker Jack,” you’ll find Miss Dolly has taken another chunk of your heart.
Aside from responsibility, a dog teaches a child about friendship and unconditional love. And that’s a lesson that never gets old. Even as an adult reflecting, you’ll always remember the lessons your dog taught you as a child:
“The best friend that I ever had was Cracker Jack
But he was more than that
A playmate, a companion
He was love and understanding.”
“Cracker Jack” is the song that pays tribute to the saying that “little boys grow up and dogs get old.” Well, in this case, little girls. But the lessons these furry best friends teach us never leave us.
“Man of the Hour”
Relationships are work. Have you ever wanted your partner to be as open, loyal, and honest as your dog? Well, you are not alone.
In Norah Jones’ “Man of the Hour,” she seems to be saying “the more boys I meet, the more I’ll stick with my dog.”
Her good dog doesn’t “have any baggage,” and he may “never bring me flowers,” but what makes her doggie the “Man of the Hour” is that he will “never lie” and he “don’t cheat.” What sets this song apart is how Jones contemplates if she’s worthy of the relationship with her dog:
“Do I deserve, to be the one, who will feed you breakfast, lunch, And dinner and take you to the park at dawn.”
“Me and You and a Dog Named Boo”
This song is the only “classic” song I selected. It’s also the only song to have reached #1 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart, and #5 on the Billboard Top 40.
Written in 1971 by Kent LaVoie and performed by him using the name Lobo – now that’s a great dog name, too. “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo” is cut from the same cloth as a Shel Silverstein song, but with a touch more saccharine. This is a road song about love, freedom, and a dog. It doesn’t get much better than that.
I picked this song for purely sentimental reasons. My first girlfriend, as a teenager, had a dog named Boo, and I used to sing this to her. She loved me, her dog Boo loved me, but her parents? Not so much. I didn’t even have tattoos back then.
“The Dog Song”
Nellie McKay worked the New York City club scene channeling her inner Mose Allison and Joni Mitchell before segueing over to traditional musical theater on Broadway. McKay is as committed to her career in music as she is to animal rights because she knows firsthand the immense influence pets can have on your life.
For McKay, this little ditty is an ode to the dog who helped get her life on track. It’s polished and raw, honest without being sad, but mostly it’s just a lovely song about the power that a dog can have over our lives:
“My life was tragic and sad
I was a pageant gone bad
Then there was you on time
I said woof, be mine
And you gave a wail
And then I was no longer alone”
It’s no secret that musical genius George Clinton lives on a different planet, but lucky for him, and for us, it appears as though they have dogs on that planet, too.
It would seem like the dogs on Clinton’s planet behave similarly to dogs on ours:
“Yeah, this is a story of a famous dog
For the dog that chases its tail will be dizzy
These are clapping dogs, rhythmic dogs
Harmonic dogs, house dogs, street dogs
Dog of the world unite
Why must I feel like that
Why must I chase the cat
Nothin’ but the dog in me”
This wonderfully odd song makes the list because it’s fun to put this on, sing along, and dance around with your best friend. I suspect you’ll find they enjoy it just as much as you will. With “Atomic Dog,” George Clinton found the perfect rhythm to synch humans and dogs.
“My Dog and Me”
John Hiatt & the Goners
In these days of Covid-19, there ain’t a whole lot to do except go hiking. And few living creatures are as much fun to go on a hike with than good old Shep (or whatever your dog’s name is).
Dogs possess up to 50 times more olfactory receptors in their noses than humans – 300 million to six million. Basically, the part of a dog’s brain devoted to smell is much larger than ours which makes it safe to say that dogs live and love to smell. Hiking with your dog is like a buffet for them.
As Hiatt points out, while you may not be able to smell like your big dog, when you’re hiking, you can see the world through their eyes.
“It’s a different world I see
When it’s just my dog and me.”
And if you’re lucky enough to have the space to let them off-leash – if your dog is anything like my dog – they’ll run ahead. They’re not running from you, but securing the path for you.
To know the love of a dog is to understand the very definition of unconditional love.
Taking a hike and getting in touch with nature is great; doing it with one of your best friends is even better.
And just when you thought you knew everything that there was to know about The Beatles, their 1967 masterpiece, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, contains an extraordinary homage to every good dog. After the song “A Day in the Life,” Paul McCartney and crew placed a unique frequency that only dogs can hear.
Aside from “Who Let the Dogs Out,” these songs encapsulate the joy, value, and love that dogs bring into our lives. Having a four-legged “barky” companion can make you reflective, make you see things from a different perspective, and help you get through tough times. But more than anything, dogs will teach you about love in its purest form.
Your canine companion will live their best life while helping you live yours.
Photographer, radio personality, author, and dog lover, Roger Caras, said it best: “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”