Dogs rank up there with trains and mothers on the list of lyrical cliches in country music, so there's no surprise that ol' hound dogs dominate the handful of country songs about beloved family pets.
Examples of dogs-focused country songs include breakthrough hits by such historic heavyweights as Hank Williams and Elvis Presley, with the tradition continued by Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley and others.
That said, a little digging turns up a cat George Strait pretended to love, a parrot Jerry Reed tried to bird-nap and a stable-full of horses ridden by drifting cowpokes and rodeo competitors. Thanks to these songs, National Pet Day isn't only a dog day of spring in country music!
Who knew a character in one of Stevens’ goofier songs would share a pet preference with Piggy Smallz’ mom, pop star Ariana Grande? In all seriousness, this track is a fun nod to owners of less-likely four-legged friends.
Some may have vague memories of this crossover hit without even realizing that it’s about a pony. Murphey later named his own palomino mare after the song.
This song is one of several cuts from LeDoux’s storied career that celebrates the men and women of the professional rodeo and equestrian circuits — where animal care and sports meet for riders dedicated to the cowboy way of life.
For whatever reason, cats rarely get their due credit in country songs. Even in this chat-topping example, Strait doesn’t seem too jazzed about his girlfriend’s pet of choice.
Cash’s husky, instantly recognizable delivery was ready-made for this standard penned by the great Jimmy Driftwood. It’s a reminder that our Stetson-wearing heroes used to arrive on horses, not in pickup trucks.
In what’s likely the only Top 5 country hit about a talking parrot, Reed uses the song’s titular character as an excuse to show off his spot-on impersonations of George Jones and Willie Nelson.
“Ol’ Red," a dog introduced to country music fans by Kenny Rogers and George Jones, daydreams nowadays about eating those delicious poutine tots from the restaurant chain (on Lower Broadway in Nashville; in Gatlinburg, Tenn.; and in Tishomingo, Okla.) bearing his name.
Although the sentimental “Cracker Jack” normally makes these lists, it’s not the only song by Parton that stars a trusty pet dog. In this heartbreaker, a hobo outlives both her boyfriend Joe and their loyal pup, Gypsy.
For guaranteed tears, give the little kid in your song a puppy. In this heart-breaker, age catches up with a black lab named Bandit around the time his owner moves to Nashville.
A lot of county singers use dogs to describe characters who act and feel low-down when it comes to life and love. In one of Williams’ best-known hits, a sorry-as-a-dog husband finds himself in a literal doghouse with man’s best friend.