Eight Great Dog Mascots of College & Professional Sports
Sports and dogs naturally go together - after all, who doesn't love a great game a fetch with a pup? However, there's another area where sports and dogs overlap. Many college and professional teams have doggies as their official or unofficial mascot to the delight of fans and dog-lovers
With so many amazing dog mascots, it was tough to limit our list. Check out our eight favorite sports dog mascots:
- CAPTAIN (Washington Capitals) - One of the more recent doggos on this list, the Washington Capitals hockey team made "Captain" their head pooch in 2019. A thoroughly charming yellow Labrador puppy, Captain quickly charmed everyone in D.C. - especially superstar and team captain Alexander Ovechkin. Check out Captain walking the red carpet with the Russian goal scorer for opening night! It's not a long-term deal with the Capitals; Captain is training as a service dog while he's with the Capitals, and will eventually leave the team to live with a veteran or disabled first responder.
- BARCLAY (St. Louis Blues) - The most recent Stanley Cup-winning hockey team has one of the most adorable dogs in all of sport. Barclay is an enormously cute yellow lab adopted by the St. Louis Blues organization in late 2018. A few months later, they captured the franchise's first championship. Coincidence? Maybe - but just look at all the cuteness! You can't tell us that good karma didn't play some part in the win. Barclay has plenty of followers on Instagram and a devoted following in St. Louis (along with plenty of love from the team's players). Even better, Barclay is training to become a service dog once he finishes his "contract" with the Blues!
- HANK (Milwaukee Brewers) - How's this for a great story. A lonely and hungry stray wanders into a major league spring training facility, gets rescued by the team's third-base coach, charms the team members, and quickly becomes a fan-favorite dog mascot. Sounds too Hollywood to be true, right? Well, this actually happened! Check out the story of Hank, the ballpark dog of the Milwaukee Brewers. There's an even happier ending to the story, as Hank is now living with a loving family in Milwaukee, and his presence (and merchandise) helped to raise thousands of dollars for Wisconsin-area dog rescues. He even got his own bobblehead!
- SWAGGER (Cleveland Browns) - The Browns might not be the most successful franchise out there - but at least they've got a great dog. Swagger Junior is the new bull mastiff mascot of the Browns (home of the "dawg pound," replacing his retired father Swagger. The original Swagger is a huge, 145-lb. beast of a dog that patrolled the sidelines of FirstEnergy stadium before every home Browns game, firing up the fans. He served the team faithfully for half a decade before retiring and handing the "leash" over to this son. Maybe a new dog will bring them playoff luck!
- SMASH (Nashville Predators) - One of the newest great sports dog mascots is also one of the cutest. The dog of the NHL's Nashville Predators - a three-month-old pup - is one of the great dog mascots in sports out there today. Introduced in February of 2019, Smash is now one of the main attractions to one of hockey's most successful modern franchises. There's plenty of Smash merchandise around for Predators fans to enjoy and wear. Smash hangs around the Predators offices as an "office dog" during his life. The dog - whose full name is "Lord Banner of Smashville" - is a local rescue, and the team does several events to bring attention to local pet rescue shops.
- UGA X (Georgia Bulldogs) - We can't just stick with professional sports here! How about some love for our friends in the college ranks? Of all the great sports mascot dogs at the college ranks, the top one might be Uga, the famous bulldog mascot of the University of Georgia athletic teams. This friendly but ferocious pooch is one of the most recognizable figures in all of college football. The tradition of having a live bulldog mascot goes all the way back to 1956; we're currently on the tenth "Uga." Uga travels with the team, has his own jersey, and plays an important role in the pregame ceremonies. His most famous moment? Famously, Uga got in a tiff with the Texas Longhorns mascot "Bevo" at the Sugar Bowl once.
- JONATHAN (Connecticut Huskies) - The beautiful live husky mascot for the UConn Huskies, Jonathan helps drive the school's famously-successful men's and women's basketball teams to victory. Something cool about Jonathan the Husky? The dog mascot is actually cared for by a fraternity on the UConn campus - Alpha Phi Omega. We're currently on the 14th Jonathan, which gets its name from the first governor of Connecticut.
- SMOKEY (Tennessee Volunteers) - On old Rocky Top, the pride of the Tennessee Volunteers is their bluetick coonhound mascot named "Smokey." Like Jonathan the Husky, Smokey gets cared for by a fraternity on campus and cheers on the team during football games. As detailed in that Tennessean article, Smokey has an intriguing backstory for a dog mascot. The first Smokey cane to Tennessee in 1953, has been "dognapped" by rival students, and actually got listed on the Tennessee football injury report at one point.
- Holly W