What You Didn't Know About the Real Toto from 'The Wizard of Oz'

Posted by Stacey Venzel

The "Wizard of Oz" premiered on television 77 years ago, but what do we know about the real Toto?

On August 12, 1939, "The Wizard of Oz" premiered as a black and white musical film adaptation prior to its reworking as a Technicolor novelty. The film was released a couple weeks later on August 25.

The iconic movie was nominated for six Academy Awards, snagging two of them. However, Dorothy Gale's memorable furry shadow, Toto, didn't win any Oscars. But we think Terry, the brindle Cairn Terrier who was billed as Toto, was worthy of a golden statue.


Terry was born on November 17, 1933 in Chicago, Illinois. The pooch's human and trainer was Carl Spitz. While the on-screen canine was male, Terry was actually a female.

While filming "Oz," Terry suffered a broken foot when accidentally stepped on by a Winkie guardsman--known for their marching gibberish anthem "O-Ee-Yah! Eoh-Ah!"--at the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West. The canine recovered under the watchful TLC of Judy Garland in the actress's home. During the two weeks of recuperation, a stand-in Cairn Terrier was hired to continue filming.

Not surprisingly, the acting duo developed quite a bond. Garland's attachment was so strong that she repeatedly asked to adopt the dog, but Spitz refused. Terry's owners did pay homage to her film role, though, renaming her Toto after the movie's debut.


Just how much was a dog paid to "act" on set? More than the Munchkins! Terry raked in $125/week, grossing more than most Americans made at the time.

In addition to Terry's role in "The Wizard of Oz," she played bow-wow Rags alongside Shirley Temple in the 1934 feature "Bright Eyes." Terry also starred in "The Women" and "Tortilla Flat" where she reprised her on-stage chemistry with Frank Morgan, the actor who played the Wizard in "Oz." She appeared in 16 films total.

Terry lived to be 11 years old. She remains one of the most popular dog actresses in film history.

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