Plenty of stars, across many genres, have sang songs about dogs: There's Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog," the Beatles' "Martha My Dear," Cat Stevens' "I Love My Dog" and many more. But perhaps no genre is as flush with songs about man's best friend as country music.
Whether they're sing about loving their dog or losing their dog, adventuring with their dog or missing their dog, country artists have made songs about dogs into a sub-genre all its own. These are songs you can turn to when you want to laugh, cry or just think about your furry BFF.
Below, take a listen to The Boot's 10 favorite country songs about dogs. We think you'll be surprised to see which song is top dog -- sorry, we had to! -- on this list:
For the most part, Keith is just using “every dog has its day” as an idiom in this song. It's a song about getting lucky (or not) every once in a while; after all, he explains, “Every dog has its day when the big dog throws him a bone / One moment in the sunshine when your ducks line up in a row.” Still, this song is so steeped in dog imagery that it belongs on this list -- if only for Keith’s rattling off of all the dogs he can think of. “Fat dog, skinny dog, little itty-bitty dog / Hot dog, Kurd dog, weenie dog, bird dog, hound dog / Cow dog, bow-wow-wow dog, Wonder Dog, barkin’ dog / Chasin’-parked-car dog” -- that list alone makes this song a worthy dog tribute.
“Tennessee Hound Dog” is an old-fashioned bluegrass tribute to a pup who is a “dynamite, up-tight, outta-sight Romeo.” The Osbornes are singing, of course, about an ugly Tennessee hound dog who “looks like skin on a bone pile;” he’s known to the other dogs as a has-been, and his body is an “old-age home for fleas.” Still, this Tennessee hound dog loves the ladies: “When he gets a certain look on his face / She-hounds run for a hiding place,” they sing. Our Romeo doesn’t actually get any of the ladies in this song, but we’re still cheering him on!
Currington is in sketchy territory in this song -- because, really, it’s always dangerous when you start comparing women to dogs -- but its narrator is just looking for a woman who will love him like his dog does. "He never says, ‘I wish you made more money’ / He always thinks that pullin’ my finger’s funny,” Currington sings. His dog doesn’t fight with his sister, doesn’t care if he leaves the seat up and costs nothing to take out. We’re guessing the man in question didn’t find a girlfriend -- but the good news is, he still had a good dog.
“My Dog and Me” is a solid entry in the “dogs going on adventures with their human” song category. The narrator and the dog in this song are hunting buddies, and the song focuses on the loyalty of the dog: “She’d face the bullet, oh, she’d face the knife / Just to keep my butt from the fryin’ pan,” Hiatt sings. Thankfully, it never comes to that, and the two simply roam the hills, hunting and exploring. “I never felt so free,” Hiatt concludes. “It’s just my dog and me.”
“Move It on Over” was Williams’ first major hit, and it’s all thanks to a dog. At first, this song seems to be talking about “dogs” metaphorically: The narrator comes home late and gets in trouble with his girl, so, of course, he finds himself in the dog house. As the song goes on, though, it becomes clear that Williams means the literal dog house, in the backyard: He sings to his new roommate, “Move over, little dog, ‘cause the big dog’s moving in.” The song starts with a fight, but ends by becoming a tale of two roommates: one canine, one human.
“Cracker Jack” is a love song to an ugly dog: “His legs were way too long / And he was awkward as can be / He wasn’t much to look at / But he looked alright to me,” Parton sings. “Cracker Jack” is an ode to a childhood that would have been nothing if not for that pup: “The best friend I ever had was Cracker Jack / But he was more than that,” Parton explains. “A playmate, a companion / He was love and understanding.” Parton’s “Cracker Jack” is, simply, a pure love song from a woman to her childhood dog ... What else could you want from a dog song?
“The More Boys I Meet” is best known for its instantly iconic chorus lyric: “The more boys I meet / The more I like my dog.” Underwood ticks through the men she’s meeting -- bad boys, bad taste and big egos -- then compares them to her dog, who is “warm and loyal, open and friendly.” And, honestly, given the choice Underwood presents, most of us would choose the dog, too!
It’s clear from this song's title that it's a sentimental one. It follows a boy growing up with his black lab, Bandit: When they're young, they fish together, go on summer adventures and become best friends. “I don’t know if I raised him or he raised me,” Bryan sings, but at the end of the song, the narrator is leaving home, and Bandit is older and moving slowly. He gives Bandit a hug and one more “good boy” ... and we’re left to assume what happens. If you’re in the mood to cry, this is the dog song for you.
Before Shelton got to it, “Ol’ Red” had previously been recorded by George Jones and then Kenny Rogers, but it is Shelton’s version that became the most popular. Unlike most country songs about dogs, where the thesis is “I love my dog,” the story of “Ol’ Red” is much more complicated: It features a narrator serving 99 years in prison when he meets Ol’ Red, a dog that, if you try to escape, “will have you treed before the mornin’ comes.” As the narrator becomes friends with Ol’ Red, however, he’s simultaneously planning his escape. Does he makes it? You’ll have to listen to find out.
“It’s Just a Dog” is a tear-jerker: It follows the narrator from the time that he first sees a dog on the side of a road -- and, of course, pauses before stopping to get her. “It’s just a dog,” he thinks at first, but he brings that dog home, and she becomes his constant companion, his fishing buddy and his comfort in hard times. When the song ends, the narrator is going on another fishing trip, but when he remembers that his dog isn’t in the passenger seat (like the week before), he once more pulls over to the side of the road. This time he cries: “It’s just a dog, right?” he asks. As any owner will tell you, they're never just dogs.