Dogs have long been the subject of paintings, sculptures, and other art forms. Artists have often turned to their canine companions for inspiration— capturing the unconditional love, loyalty, and companionship that they offer.
Today, famous dog paintings can be found among the collections of prestigious art museums worldwide. From playful puppies to royal hounds, famous art with dogs can be fun and quirky, yet dignified and aristocratic at the same time.
Whether you’re an aspiring art collector, a history buff, or just a fan of dogs like we are, here’s your curated list of the most famous dog paintings of all time.
- ‘Saved’ by Sir Edwin Landseer
British artist Sir Edwin Landseer is known for his considerable body of work, most of which is situated in the historic surroundings of England. He often chose animals as the subjects for his artworks. ‘Saved’ is one of the most famous dog paintings completed in 1835, portraying a St Bernard rescuing a child from drowning in the icy waters surrounding an area high in the Alps. This depiction reflects the painter’s characteristic style and technique, presenting vivid and intense feelings of heroism, pride, and accomplishment. The painting was admired for its accuracy and realism, reflecting Landseer’s fascination with nature and animals.
Today, the 19th-century oil on canvas painting is displayed at Tate Britain in London, England. Every time you look at this painting, you will feel a range of emotions ranging from pride to tears.
- ‘Dogs Playing Poker’ by C.M. COOLIDGE
You might not know Cassius Marcellus Coolidge’s name, but the odds are good that you’ve seen at least one of his paintings. Born in 1844, he’s best known for a series of 16 oil paintings called Dogs Playing Poker, which have become pop culture icons since first exhibited in 1903.
This classic art collection features anthropomorphized dogs sitting around a card table, smoking cigars, drinking liquor, betting money, and playing poker. Through their facial expressions and gestures, Coolidge captured the humor and humanity of dogs mid-game with furrowed brows and intense concentration.
A staple of American households, its popularity dates from its purchase by the ad agency D’Arcy Advertising in the 1920s, who made versions on postcards, calendars, and posters popular for decades. It is now on display at Spencer Museum of Art in Lawrence, Kansas.
- ‘The Dog’ by Francisco Goya
‘The Dog’ is one of the most famous dog paintings and is a sequence of ‘Black Paintings’ created by artist Francisco Goya sometime between 1819 to 1823. Currently exhibited at Museo Nacional Del Prado, Madrid, this masterpiece was initially oil painted directly on the wall and later transferred to canvas.
This profound artwork shows a dog’s head that is gazing upwards at a dark ascending mass. An accurate representation of letting go of life and accepting death, Goya’s painting portrays death as peaceful and full of innocence instead of horrifying. The dog looks up towards the heavens as if awaiting its arrival to eternal rest — a simple yet powerful message that can resonate with any generation or culture.
Widely interpreted as one of the earliest symbolist paintings in western art, ‘The Dog’ is crafted with subtle variations in tone and texture that are only found with the authentic brushstrokes of Goya. Evoking emotions on every level – from light to dark.
- ‘Dogs in a Boat’ by Winslow Homer
Winslow Homer, a central figure in 19th-century American art, is recognized as one of the world’s greatest marine painters. Produced between 1874 and 1875, “Dogs in a Boat” is one of his best-acclaimed artworks that celebrates the exuberance and excitement of dogs at play.
The painting depicts an unusual aquatic encounter featuring a crew of five dogs lounging lazily in a rowboat, overlooking the vast water and tranquil landscape. In between this serene setting, one can witness the dogs in paintings facing away like proud captains while one of their pup companions sits on its haunches, looking directly at us with bright eyes.
Above all, the dogs’ unparalleled attention towards the horizon rather than on one another signifies their mental and physical resolve to take on any fish-catching challenge. The painting has been interpreted as representing the fundamental American spirit: self-reliant, resilient, enterprising, and resourceful in confronting a challenging environment.
- ‘Going for Cover’ by Heywood Hardy
English painter Hardy enjoyed painting animals of all breeds, particularly those involved with sporting subjects. He is revered as one of the famous animal painters, second only to Sir Edwin Landseer. Known for his famous art with dogs, horses, and livestock, Hardy also specialized in farming subjects.
Many of his compositions featured detailed depictions of the British way of life and surrounding countryside during a time when foreign artists produced most sporting arts. His favorite subjects were foxhounds and horses, as evidenced in this work, capturing the quintessential English hunt scene, complete with horses, riders, and dogs in paintings.
The scene is rendered realistically by the artist with rich color, bold brushstrokes, and exhilarating action. A master colorist, Hardy’s treatments of lush green landscapes to bright blue skies demonstrate that he was a brilliant observer of nature.
Hardy studied horse anatomy, so there is always an extraordinary accuracy to his paintings of horses—their muscles and emotions captured in every brushstroke. With its expertly rendered details and bright colors, it’s easy to feel the thrill of the hunt in this romantic painting.
This set of famous art with dogs captures the unique character of each canine. It is fascinating to see the broad palette of colors employed in the many different breeds in these charming masterpieces, signifying that each represents a unique blend of traits and temperament. Also, intimate close-ups are complemented by depictions showing dogs at work, fanciful settings, even hunting alongside their human counterparts. No wonder, these pretty dog paintings you’ve ever seen draw you into the canine world.