The Magical Journey of Toto in The Wizard of Oz

Introducing Toto, Dorothy’s Faithful Companion

Toto is a fictional dog from The Wizard of Oz story and movies. He belongs to protagonist Dorothy Gale and joins her on her journey through the magical land of Oz. Toto is best known for perching in a wicker basket on the front of Dorothy’s bicycle as she rides along the yellow brick road.

In the original 1900 book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, Toto is introduced as Dorothy’s small black dog. He is described as “a little black dog, with long silky hair and small black eyes that twinkled merrily on either side of his funny, wee nose” (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz). Toto protective of Dorothy and loyally accompanies her to the merry old Land of Oz.

In the beloved 1939 Hollywood movie adaptation starring Judy Garland, Toto was brought to life by a female cairn terrier named Terry. With her curly black coat and expressive face, Terry perfectly embodied the role of Dorothy’s adorable canine companion (Terry (dog)). The image of Toto poking his head out of the basket on Dorothy’s bike has become one of the most iconic scenes from The Wizard of Oz.

toto in basket

Toto’s Origins and Breed

Toto first appeared in L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. In the book, Toto is described as a small black dog with long silky hair. While Baum never specified Toto’s exact breed, the dog is often depicted as a terrier mix similar to a Cairn Terrier in later Oz films and adaptations.

In the original novel, Dorothy finds Toto in the Kansas farmyard when he is still a puppy. She adopts him and he becomes her loyal companion on the journey to Oz and beyond. When casting the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, producers searched for a breed that resembled Toto’s description in the book. They ultimately chose a female Cairn Terrier named Terry to play the iconic role onscreen.

The Cairn Terrier breed originated in Scotland and was bred to hunt vermin. They are intelligent, lively little dogs that make excellent family companions. Standing only about 10 inches tall and weighing 13-14 pounds, Cairn Terriers have a shaggy coat that comes in colors like black, cream, gray, and red. Their affectionate nature, size, and appearance made them a fitting match for playing Dorothy’s beloved Toto.

While Toto is not confirmed as a specific breed, the feisty and faithful personality of the Cairn Terrier has helped cement Toto’s place in pop culture history. Generations of fans have come to recognize those traits as the definitive essence of Dorothy’s darling dog.

Toto’s Role in The Wizard of Oz

In The Wizard of Oz, Toto serves as Dorothy’s loyal protector and companion. As a small terrier, Toto may not seem like much of a guard dog. But he repeatedly saves Dorothy from danger throughout their adventures in Oz.

One of Toto’s most heroic moments comes when he exposes the Wizard’s true identity. While Dorothy and her friends stand before the giant, intimidating image of the Wizard, Toto wanders behind the curtain and knocks over a screen. This reveals the man controlling the Wizard’s facade. Toto’s actions give Dorothy the courage to stand up to the fraudulent Wizard.

Toto also helps lead Dorothy down the Yellow Brick Road towards the Emerald City. He remains faithfully by her side as they encounter witches and magical characters. Toto’s presence keeps Dorothy grounded and prevents her from losing hope.

Overall, Toto acts as Dorothy’s anchor in the strange land of Oz. His companionship and loyalty help see her through the journey to meet the Wizard and find her way home. Toto proves it only takes heart – not size or might – to be a true hero. [1]

toto with dorothy

Behind the Scenes: Training and Caring for the Toto Dogs

Several different dogs have played the role of Toto over the years in The Wizard of Oz movies and related films. The original Toto in the 1939 classic Wizard of Oz was actually a female Cairn Terrier named Terry, trained by renowned Hollywood animal trainer Carl Spitz ( Spitz used positive reinforcement and treats to train Terry to hit her marks and stay in the basket during filming.

According to the American Humane Society, Terry earned a salary that was more than twice what the human actors who played the Munchkins made. The dog was pampered on set with her own dressing room and beauty salon. A trainer was required to be on set at all times to care for Terry between takes and make sure she was happy and comfortable while filming.

Other dogs have since taken on the role of Toto, with trainers using similar techniques to get them used to being in the basket and following cues. Treats and praise are used to reinforce desired behaviors so the Toto dogs know exactly where to walk and sit during filming. It takes a lot of practice and repetition to get the dogs to reliably hit all their marks while staying calmly in the basket amid the noise and commotion on set.

While the role of Toto may look simple to movie audiences, it actually requires very specialized training and handling behind the scenes to bring the character to life onscreen. The hard work and natural talents of the Toto dogs have helped make them iconic cinematic canine companions.

Why Toto is So Important to the Story

As Dorothy’s beloved pet from Kansas, Toto serves as her only remaining link to home throughout her adventures in Oz. He provides her with great comfort and familiarity in an otherwise strange and fantastical land. Dorothy clearly adores Toto, and her devotion to protecting him helps demonstrate her kind and caring nature.

Toto also complicates Dorothy’s encounters with both good and evil witches. When the Wicked Witch of the West threatens to harm Toto after Dorothy’s house crushes the Witch of the East, Dorothy immediately turns defiant and protective. Later, Toto pulls back the curtain to reveal the true identity of the Wizard, foiling his grand illusions and forcing him to admit his tricks. According to Shmoop, “Toto brings light into Dorothy’s life, and he loves her with all his heart.”

As both a beloved pet and a catalyst for major plot turns, Toto plays a vital role in the story. His presence highlights Dorothy’s inherent goodness, and their close bond helps give her strength throughout her journey.

Toto’s Personality and Relationships

Toto is characterized by his fierce loyalty and devotion to Dorothy. As her constant companion in both Kansas and Oz, Toto serves as Dorothy’s protector and closest friend. Despite his small stature, Toto is brave and cautious, always on the lookout for potential threats to Dorothy’s safety 1. When Miss Gulch threatens to take Toto away, he gets anxious and hides, knowing she means harm. Toto even snarls and snaps at the Wicked Witch of the West when she tries to hurt Dorothy.

toto growling

Though wary of strangers, Toto warms up to Dorothy’s new friends in Oz, reflecting her own open and kind nature. He bonds with the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion as they journey together. Toto’s acceptance of them mirrors Dorothy’s ability to look past appearances and see the goodness within. When they are threatened, Toto comes to their defense just as he would for Dorothy.

Above all, Toto offers Dorothy unconditional love and companionship. In return, she protects him and treats him with great tenderness. Their affection and mutual care is a touchstone of hope in the story, and part of what makes their journey so poignant.

Toto’s Memorable Movie Moments

Some of Toto’s most iconic and memorable scenes in The Wizard of Oz include:

– Running away from Miss Gulch in the beginning: In the very first scene, Toto jumps out of Dorothy’s basket and runs away when the mean neighbor Miss Gulch arrives to take him away. This sets up the tensions around Toto being taken to the pound.

– Exposing the Wizard: At the Emerald City, Toto accidentally pulls back a curtain revealing the “Wizard” as just an ordinary man manipulating machines. Toto plays an important role in exposing the truth behind the Wizard’s illusions.

– Jumping from the hot air balloon at the end: As Dorothy and the Wizard try to escape in a hot air balloon, Toto jumps out of the basket and runs back to Dorothy. This underscores Toto’s loyalty and bond with Dorothy.

– Best scenes and quotes: Some of Toto’s other memorable moments include when he yelps and hides during the tornado, when he growls at the Scarecrow, and when he barks at the Cowardly Lion. An iconic Toto quote is “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore” showing their shared adventure.

Overall, Toto is key to many of the film’s memorable and emotional moments, demonstrating courage, heart, and undying loyalty to Dorothy.

Significance and Legacy of Toto

Toto from The Wizard of Oz is considered one of the most iconic animal characters in film history. The scruffy black Cairn terrier won over audiences with his antics and loyalty to Dorothy throughout the classic 1939 movie. Toto helped popularize the use of dog actors in movies, paving the way for other famous dog stars like Lassie and Benji to capture hearts on the big screen.

According to an analysis on, “Toto probably represents a dog. In the story, Dorothy is swept away from Kansas in a tornado and arrives in a mysterious land inhabited by ‘little people.’ Her house falls on the Wicked Witch of the East which angers the Wicked Witch of the West.” (

Over the decades since the release of The Wizard of Oz, Toto has inspired numerous cultural references and tributes across TV shows, movies, music, and more. Fans just can’t seem to get enough of Dorothy’s faithful companion. Toto remains a testament to the way small side characters can sometimes steal the spotlight and leave an outsized imprint on pop culture.

Fun Facts About Toto

Toto was played by a female Cairn Terrier named Terry in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. Terry earned a weekly salary of $125 for her starring role, which was a generous sum at the time (Source). She was trained by renowned Hollywood animal trainer Carl Spitz.

Terry’s understudy was another female Cairn Terrier named Gwinn. The two dogs got along well behind the scenes and kept each other company (Source).

The Toto dogs were required to hit very specific marks during filming, which involved an extensive training process. Meat was tied to nails in the set to get them to run to specific spots (Source).

While the Toto role was originally written for a male dog, Terry’s energetic performance won over the producers. Her natural charm shone through on screen.

Toto reportedly earned more than the actors who played the Munchkins. Her paycheck per week was more than many people earned during the Great Depression.

The basket that Toto rode in while Dorothy was dreaming had a false bottom, so Terry could comfortably lay down during the scene. She was very calm and relaxed in the iconic basket.

Why Fans Still Love Toto

Toto remains one of the most enduringly popular characters from The Wizard of Oz over 80 years after the beloved film’s release. Generations of viewers have a special place in their hearts for Dorothy’s faithful companion. Part of Toto’s universal appeal comes from the unconditional love, loyalty, and courage he represents.

Throughout the film, Toto stays loyally by Dorothy’s side no matter the danger or obstacles they face. He bravely follows her into a strange new world and helps protect her when threats arise. Toto’s devotion never wavers. This reflects the ideal mutually caring bond between a dog and their human. Toto’s affinity for Dorothy shows viewers the joy of that special relationship.

Yet Toto is more than just Dorothy’s pet. His perceptiveness and quick actions at key moments drive the story forward. Toto pulling back the curtain to reveal the true Wizard helps unmask the illusion and deception pervading Oz. The dog’s inquisitiveness and pluck make him an unlikely hero that fans root for.

Ultimately, Toto has become an iconic character that encapsulates why dogs hold such an important place in many people’s hearts. His role represents the true spirit of a beloved family pet – intelligent, empathetic, brave, and unwaveringly loyal. More than eight decades later, Toto still captures the imagination and evokes the warm feeling of the special bond between dogs and humans.

toto figurine

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