Dogster is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

What Breed of Dog Was Old Yeller? Famous Movie Dogs

Written by: Jessica Kim

Last Updated on June 25, 2024 by Dogster Team

OLD YELLER, Kevin Corcoran, 1957

What Breed of Dog Was Old Yeller? Famous Movie Dogs

Old Yeller is a beloved classic American book that experienced much success. It depicted post-Civil War frontier life and touched on coming-of-age themes that significantly impacted its generation. A Disney movie adaptation was produced a year after the book was released, and it was also met with tremendous success.

Your image of the dog, Old Yeller, may differ depending on whether you’re more of a fan of the book or the movie. In the book, Old Yeller is described as a “Yellow Cur” and was modeled off the Black Mouth Cur. In the movie, the dog that played Old Yeller is a Labrador RetrieverEnglish Mastiff mix.


Old Yeller’s Characteristics and Temperament

Based on both the book and movie, Old Yeller is a large dog breed with a yellow coat. He’s large enough to fight off big wild animals, like bears and wolves. He has a very brave nature and a strong protective instinct. While Old Yeller has many noble traits, he also has a bit of a mischievous side, as he’s known to steal meat. His sneakiness is also an indicator that he’s very intelligent.

One of Old Yeller’s most beloved traits is his loyalty. He grew a strong bond with his new family and was willing to get into risky situations to protect them. It ultimately cost him his life, and the heartbreaking scene of his death is a tearjerker in both the book and the movie.

Old Yeller The Walt Disney Company
Image By: Characters by  The Walt Disney Company.  All rights reserved to the copyright owners.

divider-dog paw

Black Mouth Cur Characteristics and Temperament

The Black Mouth Cur is a strong and dynamic dog originating from the southeastern US region. It’s a reliable working dog known for its strength and endurance and often works as a herding dog. It’s named after the black coloring around its muzzle.

Like Old Yeller, Black Mouth Curs are known to be very protective and loyal. They also have strong intuition and become very good at reading their owners and becoming in tune with their emotions.

Labrador Retriever Characteristics and Temperament

Labrador Retrievers have been America’s most popular dog for over 20 years. These affectionate dogs are wonderful companion dogs that have friendly and outgoing personalities. They don’t tend to be as protective as Old Yeller. Instead, these dogs enjoy being around people and tend to be friendly toward strangers and other animals.

Despite their easy-going nature, Labrador Retrievers are very loyal dogs and are highly intelligent and hardworking. While they’re happy to lounge around the house, they’re also very athletic, high-endurance dogs. Many can be seen working as hunters, assistance dogs, and search and rescue dogs.

Labrador retrievers in nature
Image By: McCann Michelle, Shutterstock

English Mastiff Characteristics and Temperament

English Mastiffs have quite a fierce past as war dogs, but despite their intimidating size and appearance, the English Mastiffs you’ll encounter today tend to be gentle giants. These dogs share the loyalty and protectiveness displayed by Old Yeller. While they can be very docile and sweet to their families and children, they have a strong protective instinct and may require some time to warm up to strangers.

English Mastiffs have moderate exercise needs. While they’ll love accompanying their families everywhere, they do need to refrain from strenuous physical activities. They tend to have hip and joint issues, especially as they get older, so it’s essential to prevent them from overworking their joints.



Overall, Old Yeller became a famous dog in American culture for several reasons. He drew out nostalgic feelings and reminded people of the special ways dogs can connect with humans.

Old Yeller is also known for his bravery, loyalty, and strong protective instincts. While he’s a fictional dog, he was inspired by real dogs, and you can see many dog breeds that share similar admirable qualities. This character is a celebration of the special bond between humans and dogs and will remain a classic in American literary history.

See also: 

Featured Image Credit: Characters by  The Walt Disney Company.  All rights reserved to the copyright owners.

Get Dogster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.
Dogster Editors Choice Badge
Shopping Cart


© Pangolia Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.