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What Is Special About Dogs in Paintings

Dogs enjoy a special place in paintings because they are showcased for their qualities. Historically represented for their role in hunting, artworks represent dogs as loyal companions. These pets reflect love and affection and are often a significant part of wealthy families.

Considering several ways in which they are painted, let us look at some of the paintings showcasing dogs.

Dogs Playing Poker by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge

A cartoonist and illustrator, Cassius Marcellus, was passionate about art. While talking about the most famous dog paintings, Dogs playing poker tops the list. It is a series of art based on 18 paintings and is a famous art with dogs. The series started with the painting the ‘Poker Game.’ Many cigar companies reproduced this.

Then, the artist was commissioned by Brown & Bigelow to produce more work. There were 9 out of the total commissioned paintings that showcased dogs playing cards. The remaining showed dogs in different settings. Critics suggest that the Dogs Playing Poker paintings mock the upper class. This artwork has also been given masonic reference as the attire of dogs symbolizes masonic circles.

The Dogs Playing Poker made its way to Pop Culture. It was seen in video games, television ads, and series (like The Simpsons) and became a part of card games. Unfortunately, this piece of art has been criticized by many and seen as kitsch. This is because it was considered a parody of genuine art or something that would be publicly available.

the most famous dog paintings

The Luncheon of the Boating Party by Pierre Auguste Renoir

The Luncheon of the Boating Party is one of the most visited and most famous paintings in The Phillips Collection. It is a blend of landscape, still life, and portraiture. This artwork showcases French society and its changing nature due to the Industrial Revolution while representing the impressionist movement. The painting shows a floating restaurant named Maison Fournaise of Chatou. His love for this place was immense as he produced 30 paintings around this location.

Renoir paints fourteen real individuals, including his good friends, amiably chatting over food and wine. The girl, Aline Chariot, holds a puppy. She is his girlfriend and is supposed to be his future wife. There are several examples of dogs in paintings. There appears to be a loving bond between Alanine and the fluffy dog. This also points to the critical concept of dogs being a part of wealthy families, as mentioned earlier.

Renoir exhibits his feelings for Aline by separating her from the crowd. He has also used brighter colors, especially for her clothes, that distinguishes her from others.

A Friend in Need by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge

A Friend in Need is part of the Dogs Playing Poker series painted by Coolidge and is an example of famous art with dogs. The popularity of this famous dog painting goes back to its use in the famous TV Series The Simpsons’. The painting showcases dogs enjoying cigars and whiskey/beer as they play poker with friends. The painter shows the transparent relationship between man and dogs.

The company Brown & Bigelow commissioned the painting A Friend in Need. Soon, it was a part of several promotional materials and quickly made its way into the homes of America. It was an anthropomorphic piece that became very popular.

Dogs in paintings have a special place in art as they are said to be a man’s best friend. Coolidge perfectly painted this loyal relationship. The wit and humor of the artist were reflected in his work.

The painting perfectly displays an upper-class society where men love to gamble over cigars and drinks. It is shocking to see the painting belong to the olden times as it perfectly represents the current modern era.

A careful selection of big dogs at one side outnumbers the underdogs. The themes of deceit and cheating are explicitly conveyed through the painting. Also, it shows that poker is a universal means of leisure.

A Carriage Horse by Jacques Laurent

A solid brown horse with a small white dog at a side that is almost negligible is an oil painting on canvas by Jacques-Laurent Agasse. Though powerful, the dog appears feeble and powerless in front of the horse. The horse is a passion for affluent individuals in society. The painting speaks a lot about the imbalance of power and disparity in society.

The painter could have chosen a ferocious breed of a dog compared to a horse, but he deliberately uses these two different animals. Both are similar in terms of understanding the theme of companionship. The painting can be interpreted in several ways.

Hunting Dogs by Edmund Henry

Edmund Henry is a well-known sporting-dog painter who is known for his sketching of farm animals. Courbet shows two dogs and a hare that is dead in the woods. It is instead a gloomy artwork where the brushstrokes set a low, depressing mood. The painting is indeed a story in itself and is a perfect example of realism, which Courbet has been famous for.

The depth of this artwork is seen through the lightning and the vivid landscape. It shows the dogs are at an edge. The more you stare at it, the darker the image appears to be. The painting shows that as the dogs are out to hunt, they find an already dead hare. Or maybe it was already hunted by a dog earlier. Dogs have played an important role in hunting, as represented through paintings. They have consistently assisted humans as hunters.


Dogs have always enjoyed a special place in art. They represent different characteristics ranging from that of a hunter to a lovable pet. In both cases, it has always been a loyal companion to humans, a reason enough to be depicted through artwork.

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