With college basketball in full swing, we thought we’d have a little March Madness of our own–Just Dog Madness. College canine mascots will face off with each other and ultimately, one will win from each match!
They will be judged based on their origin stories, how well they encourage school spirit, and sheer cuteness. Obviously, a lot of this will be subjective, so if you disagree with the winners, comment and let us know who “should” have won!
Before we begin, I want to mention those who didn’t make it to the elite eight:
- University of Albany’s Great Dane was beat out by Washington Huskies
- University of Indianapolis Greyhounds were outplayed by Texas A&M Reveilles
- Sienna Saints St. Bernards were blindsided by the Boston University Terriers
- Tulsa University Golden Retrievers met their match with the Tennessee Bluetick Coonhounds
- Lewis and Clark College Newfoundland almost pulled a come from behind win over the NC State Tamaskan. But almost doesn’t count.
- Northern Illinois Siberian Husky was taken by the Georgia Bulldogs
- Wofford Terriers just didn’t have as much heart as the Carnegie Mellon Scottish Terriers
- Southern Illinois Saluki couldn’t take the toughness that NC A&T Bulldogs brought to the game
Now, our winners are brought together, matched by similarity of breed to begin.
Bracket 1: Georgia Bulldogs “Uga” vs NC A&T Bulldogs “Aggie”
Georgia Bulldog (Uga)
Origins. In 1956, Sonny Seiler brought Uga to the first Georgia Bulldogs game of the year. The UGA head coach, Wally Butts, noticed Uga and asked Seiler if his bulldog could be the official team mascot. The rest is history. So far, there have been 10 Ugas since that fateful year in ‘56. Each dog carries the same name and is descended from the original Uga.
School Spirit. Uga’s standard uniform includes a spiked collar and red jersey with varsity letter. He attends every home football game, as well as many away games. That puts a lot of miles on a dog. When each successive Uga is ready to retire, the University of Georgia conducts a passing of the collar ceremony during pre-game festivities. Fans chant “Damn Good Dog” as the previous dog steps down and the next rendition of Uga takes his place in line.
Fun Facts. Uga has his own dog house at Sanford Stadium–it was custom-built with air conditioning! And before you think that’s just a little too far, remember that bulldogs are susceptible to heat stroke, and those Georgia summers can pose a real threat! Uga even has his own bags of ice that he can sit near during games!
NC A&T University Bulldogs (Aggie)
Origins. In the early days of the school, around the late 70s, a bulldog was kept on the college’s farm to help herd cattle and other animals. As an agricultural school, this was common practice. According to oral history, this bulldog did much more than herd cattle to win the title of mascot for the university. It’s said that during a football game, the Aggies had become disheartened. In the last few minutes of the game, a fullback broke through and scored a touchdown. However, one referee deemed it no good. In that moment, someone untied the bulldog on the sidelines. He rushed the referee and attacked! From that day on, the bulldog has been the football team’s mascot, thanks to this act of vindication.
School Spirit. Aggie makes appearances at all men’s football and basketball games, as well as social events for the university and the surrounding community.
Fun Facts. While North Carolina A&T has had several live bulldog mascots through the years, the college eventually decided to use a humanized version to better match its logo. That probably makes it easier when it’s time for him to go on TV to boost community awareness of Homecoming Week at the college!
The winner of Bracket 1: Uga with the University of Georgia! Winning points for being a live dog descended from a long line of Ugas as well as becoming an integral part of student life (as indicated by the retirement ritual), Uga beats out Aggie in this match!
The bulldog is by far the most common canine mascot. Nearly 50 schools across the nation consider this jowly dog a symbol of tenacity and strength, including Yale (that’s one smart puppy) and the Citadel (keeps his collar pressed). See a comprehensive list at the end of this article.
Bracket 2: NC State Wolf (er, Tamaskan) “Tuffy” vs. University of Washington Huskies (er, Alaskan Malamute) “Dubs”
NC State Tamaskan (Tuffy)
Origins. We’re based in North Carolina, and everyone here knows that NC State is the Wolfpack. So where did this “tamaskan” come from? Long story short, real live wolves just didn’t seem to work out…beyond the obvious reasons. The first wolf mascot was attempted in the 40s, but he cringed and cried during games and was eventually sold to a traveling circus. Then came a string of several wolves they named Lobo I, II, and III. Lobo I died not long after arriving at State. Lobo II ran away after being terrified by thousands of screaming fans at a game. Which is not surprising. Wolves are nocturnal and are afraid of humans. When they found Lobo III, everyone was excited because he would howl on the sideline and was comfortable around people. Unfortunately, he turned out to be a coyote and fell from grace with the students and fans.
In 2010, NC State officials learned of a new breed of dog that looked just like a wolf: a Tamaskan! It’s part German shepherd, Alaskan malamute, and Siberian husky. The mascot used today is named Wave and he goes by Tuffy when on the job–the name of the NC State wolf in the logo!
School Spirit. Tuffy is great with people, unlike his wolf (and coyote) predecessors. He’s been NC State’s mascot for five seasons.
Fun Facts. Tuffy’s family has to remain anonymous for security purposes. There have been instances of threats because he’s so wolf-like. Tuffy weighs about 110 pounds. Enough to really take on his competitors…but he still gets scared when the cannon fires after a Wolfpack touchdown!
University of Washington Huskies (Dubs)
Origins. Prior to 1922, the University of Washington were the Sun Dodgers–a reference to the weather of the region. In favor of something more tangible as a mascot, the student committee that year chose the husky. UW started out with a non-hereditary line of Siberian huskies, but in 1961 they began using a hereditary line of Alaskan Malamutes…basically the same I guess. But it makes them the only NCAA team whose mascot is different from its live counterpart…wait, except for NC State, who they happen to be up against.
School Spirit. Dubs leads the UW football team onto the field at every home game. Because he’s so big, travelling and logistics become…hairy. So Dubs typically can’t attend away games.
Fun Facts. Dubs is the 13th dog in line. Those who came before him were cared for first by the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, then by the Cross family (a UW professor and then his son).
The winner of Bracket 2: This is a close call. They both are technically a different breed from their respective school’s actual mascot. Tuffy has a truly interesting origin story and Dubs has been the mascot for 9 years. I’m gonna have to go with Dubs, whose caretakers tipped the scale. They are so woven into the fabric of the university with the fraternity and the Cross family, that Dubs (and his previous Alaskan Malamute relatives) win this round!
Bracket 3: Boston University Academy Terriers “Rhett” vs. Wofford Terriers “Blitz”
Boston University Terriers (Rhett)
Origin. In 1922, BU students got to choose their mascot. Their options: a moose, or a Boston terrier. There really was no choice–the Boston terrier was the obvious choice. Eventually, the dog was given the name of Rhett, in reference to Gone with the Wind. It’s a bit of a stretch, but BU’s color is scarlet, and “No one loves Scarlettt more than Rhett.” So there’s that. It gets cuter though: Rhett wears a scarlet superhero cape to athletic events!
School Spirit. During a women’s soccer game against Vermont, a Vermont fan sat a little too close to Rhett. Ordinarily, he would have let her pet him, but she kept cheering for Not Boston, so Rhett looked at her and growled! She then left the BU section and Rhett was very proud of himself.
Fun Facts. Rhett became the mascot when he was two years old, and that was eight years ago. By now, he knows his way around the campus. His owner, Cal, says: “When we are on our walks, I will ask him where he would like to go. If we are sort of near GSU and I ask him if he wants to go, he will lead me right there.” Pretty impressive!
Carnegie Mellon Scottish Terriers (Scotty)
Origin. The Scottish terrier became the official mascot of Carnegie Mellon in 2007, but students have been dressing as the Scottish terrier for athletic events for 50 years! Most students believed the dog was already the mascot, even before its official debut. The dog fits well with Carnegie Mellon’s Scottish roots and its tartans. While they have a costumed Scotty dog, they also have a live Scottish terrier that arrived in 2008.
School Spirit. Scotty helps students better identify what their mascot is. Before, it was an ambiguous tartan–a specific type of plaid. While Scotty wears a tartan to illustrate this aspect, it’s much easier for students to explain a dog.
Fun Facts. The founder of the university, Andrew Carnegie, owned a pet Scottish terrier–making the long overdue mascot decision make that much more sense.
Bracket 3 winner: Both dogs were the obvious choice for their respective schools. But due to longevity, and therefore a stronger sense of school spirit, the winner of this match is Rhett the Boston terrier!
Bracket 4: University of Tennesee Bluetick Coonhound “Smokey” vs. Texas A&M Rough Collie “Reveille”
University of Tennesee Bluetick Coonhound (Smokey)
Origins. The first bluetick coonhound howled his way into favor in 1953. The University of Tennessee Peb Club held a contest to select the best “Houn’ Dog” around. Several dogs were lined up during halftime at a football game. The announcer went through the line introducing each dog one by one. Blue Smokey was the last to be announced, but when he was, he barked in recognition. The crowd cheered and he howled and howled until he was sure he was the winner.
School Spirit. Smokey is cared for by the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity when they have home games and he leads the Volunteers (Vols) onto the field at football games.
Fun Facts. Since the first Smokey in 1953, there have been nine more. And until the most recent, each was descended from the original Smokey bloodline. Smokey X (the tenth) began his official mascot duties in 2013 and is the first dog from a new Tennessee-born and bred bloodline.
Texas A&M Rough Collie (Reveille)
Origins. Reveille was a mixed-breed dog who was adopted by Texas A&M students who were members of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band in 1931. They accidentally hit her with their vehicle on the way back to school, so they smuggled her into their dorm with the intent to take her to the vet the next day. In the morning, she made her presence known when “Reveille” was blown by a bugler and she started barking–and the name was decided. Reveille was given the honorary title of Cadet General by the U.S. Army since Texas A&M contributes so many officers and soldiers. When she died in 1944, she received a formal military funeral in the center of the football field. They buried her at the north entrance so she could face the scoreboard.
Years after Reveille died, a graduate donated a Shetland Sheepdog as Reveille II. The first Reveille to be a purebred Rough Collie was Reveille III in 1966, and that’s what Reveille has been ever since. The current mascot is Reveille IX, who assumed her role in 2015.
School Spirit. The Reveilles may be the most respected canine mascot of them all. She is cared for by Corps of Cadets Company E-2, which is known as the mascot company, and she is assigned to a sophomore corporal whom she must accompany everywhere–including to class and on dates. She’s the highest ranking member in the Corps of Cadets as a cadet general, and Freshmen have to address her as “Miss Rev, ma’am.”
Fun Facts. Traditionally, if Reveille barks during class, that session is canceled. Speak, girl, speak!
Bracket 4 winner: This is another tough one! The origin stories are both great, but the edge has to go to Reveille here. It was more than a vote, it was fate that brought this mascot to Texas A&M. The care, attention, and respect she garners from her cadets is unparalleled. Congrats, Miss Rev, ma’am!
All schools with bulldog mascots:
Adrian College (Mascot name: Bruiser)
Allan Hancock College (Mascot name: Spike)
Arkansas Tech University (Mascot name: Jerry)
Barton College (Mascot name: Bully)
Bowie State University (Mascot name: Butch)
Bryant University (Mascot name: Ironclad Tupper)
California State University, Fresno (Fresno State) (Mascot names: Timeout, Victor E.)
The Citadel (Mascot names: General, Boo V)
Dean College (Mascot name: Boomer)
Drake University (Mascot name: Spike)
Ferris State University (Mascot Name: Brutus)
Fresno State University
Gonzaga University (Mascot name: Spike Q. Gonzaga)
McPherson College (Mascot name: Ben the Bulldog)
University of Minnesota Duluth (Mascot name: Champ)
University of Montana Western (Mascot name: Charge)
North Carolina A&T State University (Team name: Aggies)
Union University (Mascot Name: Buster)
University of North Carolina at Asheville (Mascot Name: Rocky)
University of Redlands (Mascot name: Thurber)
Samford University (Mascot name: Spike)
Southwestern Oklahoma State University (Mascot names: Brandi and Duke)
Truman State University (Mascot names: Spike, Simone)
Wingate University (Mascot name: Victor E. Bulldog)