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What Kind of Dog Is Scooby-Doo?

Whether you’ve just watched the movie or cartoon, you may have been left wondering exactly what kind of dog Scooby-Doo is. And don’t worry, you’re not the only one because this is an extremely common question!

The fictional character Scooby-Doo is largely based on a male Great Dane. The original artist, Iwao Takamoto, drew inspiration for the character by consulting with another member of the Hanna-Barbera staff who happened to be a Great Dane breeder. Using their description as a baseline for Scooby-Doo, he then chose to modify several classic characteristics of the Great Dane.

Rather than leave it at that, let’s take a look at some of the changes that Iwao Takamoto made to a typical Great Dane’s appearance!

How is Scooby-Doo different from a Great Dane?

The biggest question that you may be wondering is why exactly the creator modified the look of a traditional Great Dane?! Unfortunately, because he passed away over a decade ago we won’t get the chance to ask him.

However, my best guess is that he wanted to make Scooby-Doo’s character a bit goofy, and therefore more relatable.

Great Danes have a noble, majestic, and even somewhat imposing stature at times. By softening some of these features and toning them down, helps add to the allure of a friendly, slightly dorky, but still downright lovable character for the show.

Without further ado, let’s jump in to see exactly what changes Iwao made!

Difference #1 – Coat

When comparing Scooby-Doo to that of a show-worthy Great Dane, the most obvious place to start is his coat! While his base coat is very similar to that of a fawn, there were some other changes made as well.

Take a look at the two comparison photos below and see if you can spot them!

First off – ignoring differences in the shades of their base coat colors, the addition of Scooby’s spots is the most obvious change!

What’s interesting here is we’ll never know if the creator intentionally mixed features of two different Great Dane coats i.e. fawn and harlequin, or if drew inspiration from a completely separate breed like the Dalmatian.

Since he was consulting with a Great Dane breeder, the likelihood that he was told about all of the different coat colors is high. However, I’m leaning towards the conclusion that he wanted to blend in the appearance of a different breed to make Scooby appeal to a broader audience.

The second change is the lack of a black mask. As you can see from the picture of the fawn Great Dane puppy above, their muzzle is black and it extends up to their eye rims and eyebrows. Hence why it’s called a mask 😉

Difference #2 – Face

Since we’re on the topic of Scooby’s head, let’s take a closer look at that muzzle!

Take a close look at the images below and try to figure out what was changed before reading on!

To help you out, here is a portion of the AKC standard.

The correctly chiseled head, with the strong square jaw, broad muzzle and parallel planes of skull and foreface, all in proportion to the size and gender of the Dane, is indispensable to the achievement of true breed type.

AKC Standard for Great Dane head

Do you see the change now?!

Alright, I’ll let you off the hook… It’s the shape of Scooby’s jaw!

Looking back at the AKC standard, a Great Dane should have a strong square jaw. Look at Scooby – notice how his chin slopes back in towards his neck.

Now I’ll admit that this image isn’t a perfect side profile shot, but these were surprisingly hard to come by! In either event, you can still tell that Scooby’s jaw is nowhere near square as is shown in the photo from the AKC.

Difference #3 – Legs

Continuing the trend of odd shapes, let’s take a look at those legs on ole Scooby!

I’ll give you a hint – this one is more obvious than the jaw 😉 Do you see it?

Compared to the AKC standard, Scooby-Doo has quite the set of bow legs!

Now, from watching the cartoon or movie, we all know that the creators used these bow legs to Scooby’s favor.

They make for all kinds of wacky and goofy running, jumping into people’s arms, and a wide assortment of entertaining movements.

Watching a classic straight-legged Dane perform the same movements wouldn’t be nearly as funny!

Difference #4 – Back

You should be starting to see a trend now. While Scooby’s overall form resembles that of a Great Dane, there are some clear physical differences.

Moving up from the legs, another area to take a look at is Scooby’s back. Let’s start by re-examining our previous two photos.

Notice anything different between the backs? In particular, take a look at the back slope.

According to the AKC standard:

One should be able to draw a smooth line from the skull, down the strong, tapered, clean neck, over the withers to the short, level back, broad loin and very slightly sloping croup.

AKC Standard for Great Dane Topline

While there were some fancy canine anatomy terms thrown around there, the key takeaway is that the back should be level. While he’s rarely still in the cartoons and movies, you’ll notice that Scooby’s back has quite the slope to it!

One of the keys to a Great Dane’s elegance is its symmetry and angularity. In many regards, this is what allows them to have such as regal appearance even at such a large size.

By playing with these size relationships, the creator once again was likely trying to make Scooby more of an “every-day” dog that could play into his silly personality all the better!

While I’ve gone through and talked about 4 key differences between Scooby-Doo and the Great Dane breed standard, there are many more that could be found given enough time!

While Scooby may not be a “perfect” Great Dane by breed standards, he’s certainly one of the best-known and most loved ones ever. And that’s a funny thing to say considering that he was just a fictional character!

It’s also easy to see why many people are thrown off by his appearance. There are so many aspects that just scream out “Great Dane”, while others make you question what type of dog Scooby-Doo really is.

Is Scooby-Doo a Mastiff?

No, Scooby-Doo is not a Mastiff. However, because Mastiffs are related to Great Danes this is not an unreasonable question!

Technically, Great Danes are not part of the Mastiff family. However, Great Danes are believed to be descendants of Mastiffs and have been cultivated as their own distinct breed for at least the last 400 years.

Therefore, explaining many of the similarities seen between them!

The four breeds that officially comprise the Mastiff family include:

  • English Mastiff
  • Bullmastiff
  • Neapolitan Mastiff
  • Tibetan Mastiff

Scooby-Doo Related Questions

Since this was such a fun topic for me to dig into, let’s answer a few more common Scooby-Doo-related questions.


Based on everything that we’ve previously discussed, the closest approximation that Scooby has to a single Great Dane will be that of a fawn.

Aside from the spots, his coat color is pretty darn close to that of a fawn Great Dane. Granted, he is missing his black mask, but maybe that got scared away on one of his fright nights!


As the name might imply, Scrappy-Doo is a relation of Scooby-Doo’s. In fact, he is Scooby’s nephew! Therefore, making him also a Great Dane.

As is apparent from much of their interactions, Scrappy is still a puppy, hence his much smaller stature.

Is Scooby-Doo a Vizsla?

Although the fawn coat has some similarities, Scooby-Doo is not a Vizsla. His character was based on that of a male Great Dane.

Is Scooby A real dog?

Scooby-Doo is a fictional character, however, his appearance and characteristics were modeled after that of a Great Dane.

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