Naperville Animal Hospital: Historical Article – Toto the Dog

The name Toto is synonymous with the adorable black cairn terrier who accompanied Dorothy Gale on her adventures in the famous 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz. Toto, who was played by a female dog named Terry, earned $125.00 a week during the filming of the movie that would make her on-screen master, Judy Garland, a household name. As Toto, Terry earned a strong following herself; in addition, she made a salary that was about 75 percent more than the Singer Midgets, who played Munchkins in the movie and only earned a weekly salary of $50. During the filming of scenes with the guards of the Wicked Witch of the West, an actor stepped on Terry’s foot and broke it. Another dog took the role of Toto while Terry’s foot healed. Later, Terry’s owner changed the dog’s name officially to Toto. Toto appeared in 13 different films over the course of her film career before dying at the approximate age of 10. The dog’s life was chronicled in a ghost-written autobiography called I, Toto.

In the books by L. Frank Baum, Toto was described as a “little black dog, with long, silky hair,” merry eyes, and a funny, wee nose. While the books describe Toto with silky hair, the illustrations in the first book of Baum’s series indicate that Toto may have been a Yorkshire terrier, a popular breed at the time, or a cairn terrier. Some later versions of the book described Toto as a Boston terrier, a breed whose looks would be distinctly at odds with the portrayal in earlier books.

It is interesting to note that while other animals were able to speak when traveling to Oz and its regions, Toto never spoke until the book, Tik-Tok of Oz. At that time, Toto admitted that he always was able to talk but purposely refrained from doing so. Following books in the series show Toto speak often, as well acting as the intellectual equal of any of the other characters in the book.

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