College Football Dog Mascots: Our Top 10 Canine Cheerleaders
With college football in full swing, we can’t help but get excited about our favorite canine college mascots. Perhaps we’re biased, but we think that dogs make the perfect mascot: they’re loyal, they’re enthusiastic, and they’re natural team players.
We’ve rounded up some of our favorite dog mascots. From bulldogs to greyhounds, these 10 canines are always ready for an energetic pep rally—go team!
1. Yale—Handsome Dan the English Bulldog
Arguably the most famous of canine college mascots, Handsome Dan made history when Yale adopted him as the country’s first live animal mascot in the early 1890’s. Legend has it that student Andrew B. Graves bought the English bulldog from a local blacksmith for $5. The pair became inseparable, with Dan tagging along to events all over campus. Graves’s fellow classmates grew fond of his new shadow and swiftly appointed Dan as Yale’s official mascot.
When the original Handsome Dan passed away in 1898, the owner had him taxidermied and put on display in the school’s gymnasium. Since that time, 17 more bulldogs have assumed the role of mascot, keeping Handsome Dan’s legacy alive and well for generations.
Today, Handsome Dan continues to inspire confidence and collegiate pride within the Yale community. His popularity keeps him on his toes with a jam-packed schedule of sporting events and fundraisers. He’s even appeared in student films and led Yale’s Commencement procession in 2017.
2. Boston University—Rhett the Boston Terrier
We can’t think of a more fitting mascot for Boston University than the college’s beloved Boston Terrier, Rhett. Named after Rhett Butler, Scarlet O’Hara’s love interest in Gone With the Wind, this black and white charmer is the face of devotion and unceasing loyalty. Rhett has held his position as the school’s mascot since 1922.
3. University of Tennessee—Smokey the Bluetick Coonhound
It doesn’t get more “Tennessee” than a coonhound. In 1953, the University of Tennessee’s Pep Club held a contest to select the perfect mascot to represent their athletes. They were determined to find the best “houn’ dog” for the job.
One by one, the hounds were introduced, and the students cheered for their top picks. When they came to a lively bluetick coonhound named Smokey, the crowd went wild, and the choice was clear.
Unfortunately, the original Smokey met an early end in 1955 when he was fatally hit by a car. But the hound’s gig as team mascot, however brief, kicked off a tradition that continues to this day. Before games, Smokey can be found leading the school’s football team onto the field or cheering on players with his costumed sidekick. He resides on-campus with members of the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity.
4. University of Indianapolis—Grady the Greyhound
In the 1920’s, students at the University of Indianapolis decided it was high time to ditch their stale “Warrior” mascot in favor of something sleek and new. They landed on the greyhound because of the breed’s athletic prowess: these dogs are fast runners, able jumpers, and determined competitors.
After a long hiatus, the university decided to reintroduce a live canine mascot to their sporting events in 2019. Grady, a three-year-old retired racing dog from Florida, made the cut and leads his team with pride.
5. North Carolina State—Tuffy the Tamaskan
They may call themselves the Wolf Pack, but the athletes of North Carolina State didn’t actually choose a wolf to represent their teams. While Tuffy resembles a wolf, with his silver fur and pointed ears, the mascot is, in fact, a Tamaskan dog. Hailing from Finland, this breed is a cross between the Siberian husky and the Alaskan malamute. Tamaskans are known for being agile, intelligent, and friendly, making this wolf-like breed a solid mascot choice.
6. Texas A&M University—Reveille the Rough Collie
Known as “The First Lady of Aggieland,” Reveille has made quite a name for herself since her first appearance in 1931. Adopted by a group of students after she was struck by a car, the dog became the school’s official mascot for 13 years. After her death, several unofficial mascots filled the role until Reveille II hit the scene eight years later. Reveille III was the first purebred Rough Collie to serve as A&M’s mascot, and the school has stuck to that breed ever since.
Every year, the school assigns one lucky Mascot Corporal to look after Reveille, and they take the job very seriously. Reveille attends classes with the student, goes on dates with him or her, and joins the student’s family for holidays.
Reveille I—and every Reveille since—is buried near the football field, where the school has erected a special scoreboard for the former mascots to keep tabs on their beloved team.
7. Siena College—Bernie the Saint Bernard
When Siena College decided to choose a mascot, they looked to their namesake, Saint Bernardino of Siena. What better way to represent their school than a noble Saint Bernard? A costumed Bernie made his debut in 1989, entertaining the crowd with his comedic acts.
Siena College isn’t the only university to choose a Saint Bernard as their symbol. The Saints of Emmanuel College in Massachusetts are also led by an enthusiastic Saint Bernard in costume.
8. Agnes Scott College—Scotty the Scottish Terrier
With their proud Scottish history, it’s no surprise that the students at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia settled on a darling Scottish terrier for their school mascot. Dubbed “Victory,” the endearing Scottie is a fan favorite, and she gets the crowd cheering at every home game.
9. University of Washington—Dubs the Alaskan Malamute
While the sports teams at the University of Washington may call themselves “The Huskies,” their live mascot is actually an Alaskan malamute. Similar in appearance to the Siberian husky, malamutes hit high marks for strength, speed, and endurance.
The school’s current malamute mascot, Dubs, lives with a family of UW Alumni in Sammamish, Washington. Not only is Dubs a pro at revving up the crowd at game time, but he’s also an accomplished show dog.
10. University of Georgia—Uga the Bulldog
Handsome Dan isn’t the only famous bulldog in the world of college sports. Uga (named for the university’s initials) first hit the spotlight in 1956. Since then, nine bulldogs have taken on the role as mascot, sporting their own official jerseys and traveling with the team to attend games.
Each Uga is honored after their death with a burial in a marble vault at the school’s stadium. The gravesite is visited by hundreds of fans every year.
We love our football, and we love our dogs. Put the two together, and it’s a perfect match. What about you—do you have a favorite canine mascot?