Was Toto Judy Garland’s Real-Life Pet? The Truth About the Wizard of Oz Dog

Introducing Judy Garland and Toto

Judy Garland skyrocketed to fame for her starring role as Dorothy Gale in the 1939 musical film The Wizard of Oz. Garland was already an established child star in Hollywood by that point, known for films like Babes in Arms (1939) and Little Nellie Kelly (1940). However, it was her performance as the Kansas farm girl swept away to the magical Land of Oz that made Judy Garland a household name.

Alongside Garland on the iconic yellow brick road was her canine co-star, Toto. Toto was Dorothy’s loyal pet dog who accompanied her on the entire journey from Kansas to Oz and back again. Though a small black Cairn Terrier, Toto had an outsized presence in the film. The dog was Dorothy’s closest companion and often got the group out of scrapes using his clever instincts. Toto cemented his legacy in cinema history for pulling back the curtain to reveal the true identity of the Wizard. The character of Toto was instrumental in making The Wizard of Oz a truly memorable and beloved film.

The Dog Who Played Toto

The dog who played Toto in The Wizard of Oz was a female Cairn Terrier named Terry. She was trained by renowned Hollywood animal trainer Carl Spitz and cast for the role when the film’s director, Victor Fleming, spotted her running loose on the MGM studio lot. Spitz worked closely with Terry to train her for the many scenes with Judy Garland. According to the Wikipedia article on Terry, Spitz said “Terry showed sparks of brilliance in her training and learned her routines easily.”

toto dog actor named terry who was a female cairn terrier

Terry had prior experience working in films, having appeared previously in Bright Eyes starring Shirley Temple. But her role as Toto would become her most famous. Terry developed a close bond with Judy Garland during filming and production went smoothly. In the end, Terry’s performance as Toto was hugely popular with audiences and became an iconic character from the classic movie.

Judy’s Bond with the Dog Actors

Judy Garland developed close bonds with the dog actors who played Toto on the set of The Wizard of Oz. According to the Dogster article, the first Toto was a female Cairn Terrier named Terry who was trained by renowned Hollywood animal trainer Carl Spitz. Terry spent two weeks living with Judy Garland prior to filming, during which time Judy fell completely in love with her. Garland even tried to buy Terry from Spitz, but he refused to sell his prized performer.

Terry was injured during production and had to be replaced by a male Cairn Terrier named Gae. Judy and Gae also developed a close friendship, with the dog often seen curled up in her dressing room. Throughout filming, Judy relied on Spitz to provide support and training for the Toto actors. She formed a strong bond with Spitz as well, and he later said Judy was “wonderful with my dogs” and “absolutely great with animals.”

Judy’s affection for the dogs who played Toto helped create a natural chemistry that made their on-screen relationship feel authentic. Her real-life friendship with the Toto actors translated into the enduring cinematic bond between Dorothy and her loyal canine companion.

Life After The Wizard of Oz

The dog who played Toto, whose real name was Terry, enjoyed a successful career in Hollywood after The Wizard of Oz wrapped filming. She went on to appear in several other movies throughout the 1930s and 1940s, including Tortilla Flat, starring Spencer Tracy and Hedy Lamarr, and Bad Little Angel with Virginia Weidler (Wikipedia).

Terry worked steadily until she was 11 years old, when she suffered an injury. After recovering, she lived out her retirement in California. Her trainer and owner was Carl Spitz, who ran a famous Hollywood dog training facility. While Judy Garland developed an affection for Terry during filming, she did not end up adopting the dog after production ended (Dogster).

toto dog actor terry living retirement after wizard of oz movie

However, Garland did go on to have many beloved canine companions of her own throughout her life. She was a passionate dog lover and owner. After The Wizard of Oz, Garland had several other dogs that she absolutely adored.

Judy’s Other Dog Companions

Although Toto was Judy Garland’s famous on-screen companion in The Wizard of Oz, she had many beloved canine pets throughout her life off-screen as well. According to The Judy Garland Experience Facebook page, Judy “always had pets, mostly dogs, her entire life.”

Some of her other dog companions included a Boston terrier named Rags, a cocker spaniel named Clankers, and a poodle named Droopy. She also had a German shepherd named Brandy later in life that she got as a gift from her fifth husband, Mickey Deans [1].

judy garland's dog named brandy who was a german shepherd

Judy clearly had a soft spot for dogs of all breeds and loved having them as cherished pets throughout her life. While Toto holds a special place in film history, Judy’s real life was filled with many other beloved furry friends as well.

The Legacy of Toto

Toto from The Wizard of Oz became one of the most iconic canine figures in film history and major pop culture star. Though Toto was played by a female Cairn Terrier named Terry in the 1939 movie, the character took on a life of its own (Source).

Images and mentions of Toto have been used extensively in advertising and merchandising for decades. Toto’s popularity has led to toys, books, comics, and other products bearing the dog’s image. Toto also inspired the name of the rock band Toto in the 1970s.

References to Toto pop up frequently in movies, TV shows, songs, and other media. The dog’s name is often invoked when referring to loyal canine companions. Toto remains firmly entrenched in pop culture more than 80 years after The Wizard of Oz premiered.

Toto demonstrates how animal characters in film and television can take on significance beyond their original roles. Though Terry the dog passed away shortly after the movie released, the character of Toto lives on as an icon of both The Wizard of Oz and pop culture overall (Source).

toto dog legacy and influence becoming pop culture icon

Separating Fact from Fiction

There are many myths and misconceptions that have circulated about Judy Garland’s relationship to the dogs who played Toto in The Wizard of Oz. Some claim that Toto was actually Judy’s personal pet dog, while others say she treated him cruelly on set. However, the truth is that Judy did not own any of the dog actors, and seems to have had positive relationships with them.

Multiple dogs played Toto during filming, including a female Cairn terrier named Terry and a male Cairn terrier named Carl. None of them belonged to Judy – they were owned and trained by Hollywood animal trainer Carl Spitz. According to Spitz’s biography, Judy treated the dogs very well and grew fond of them during filming. There are no reports of her mistreating them.

One of the myths stems from an unfortunate accident on set. Actor Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch of the West, exited her dressing room and accidentally stepped on Terry’s paw, causing an injury. However, this was not due to any intentional harm by Judy or the production. In fact, Judy was reportedly very worried about Terry afterward and wanted to make sure she was okay.

While Judy developed an emotional connection to the dogs on set, she did not get to take any of them home or own them privately. The bond between Judy and Toto remains strictly within their iconic on-screen relationship, which continues to delight audiences even decades later.

Why Toto Still Captivates Audiences

Despite only appearing on screen for a few minutes throughout The Wizard of Oz, Toto became an instantly beloved canine star. According to the American Kennel Club, Toto continues to be one of the most famous dogs in cinematic history [1]. There are several reasons why this diminutive black Cairn Terrier has enthralled audiences for over 80 years.

Firstly, Toto acts as Dorothy’s sole companion on her dangerous journey through Oz, providing comfort and protection. Toto is loyal and brave, barking when danger is near and even pulling back the curtain to reveal the true identity of the Wizard. Without Toto exposing the Wizard’s trickery, Dorothy and her friends may not have been able to return home [2].

Secondly, Toto represents the love between owner and pet. Dorothy refuses to abandon Toto at the start of their adventures, despite pressure from Miss Gulch. Their strong bond resonates with viewers who see their own pets as family. Toto provided Dorothy with an emotional anchor to reality in the fantastical land of Oz.

Finally, Toto’s cute appearance and playful personality added some lightness and comic relief to the film’s tense moments. His curious nature led him to pull back the curtain, and seeing the “great and powerful” Wizard threatened by a little dog helped humanize the man behind the curtain. Toto’s popularity over the decades is a testament to the impact even small supporting characters can have.

Judy’s Love of Dogs

Throughout her life, Judy Garland had a well-known and profound love of dogs. She frequently adopted dogs as companions, forming especially close bonds with many of them.

In a Facebook post, the Judy Garland Experience page notes that “Judy Garland always had pets, mostly dogs, her entire life.” Garland’s appreciation for dogs began early and lasted her whole life.

One of Garland’s closest canine companions was her German Shepherd named Brandy, who she had in her later years. According to the Judy Garland Experience Facebook page, Brandy was “her last dog” that she had with her husband Mickey Deans in the late 1960s.

Throughout her life and career, Judy Garland’s great fondness for dogs translated into deep bonds and loving relationships with her own pets. Her affinity for canines shone through in her close relationships with dogs like Brandy and Toto, the dog star of The Wizard of Oz.

The Wizard of Oz’s Iconic Canine Star

Toto, the small black Cairn Terrier who played Dorothy’s loyal companion in the 1939 film adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, has cemented his place in cinematic history as one of the most iconic canine characters of all time. Though Toto was played by a female dog named Terry in the film, he left an indelible mark as Dorothy’s constant protector and closest friend in Oz.

Toto was Dorothy’s only familiar connection to home after the tornado transported them to the magical land of Oz. As Dorothy navigated her journey down the Yellow Brick Road and encountered the Wicked Witch of the West, Toto remained steadfastly by her side. His presence provided comfort and reminded Dorothy of the love waiting for her back in Kansas.

Some of Toto’s most memorable scenes include pulling back the curtain to reveal the true identity of the Wizard, growling at the Wicked Witch, and jumping out of the hot air balloon basket to return to Dorothy after she decides to go back home. Toto’s intelligence and loyalty make him instrumental in many plot points throughout the film.

Eighty years later, Toto remains one of the most recognizable canine characters in movie history. He encapsulates the special bond between dogs and their human companions. Toto demonstrates that often the best comfort in times of adversity comes from the unconditional love of a devoted pet. The enduring legacy of this diminutive Cairn Terrier is a testament to the indelible paw print he left on cinema.

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