10 Things You May Not Know About Pluto
1. Pluto was discovered in 1930 while scientists were searching for a new planet beyond the orbit of Neptune. Once known as the ninth planet, Pluto has since lost its planetary status and is now considered to be a dwarf planet. Pluto has three moons and, hold on a minute; this is supposed to be an article on the Disney dog, not the astronomical body…!
2. But that does beg the question, was the one-time planet named for the dog or was the dog named for the planet? Pluto made his film debut in 1930 (the same year as the planet’s discovery) in the cartoon short The Chain Gang, though at the time he was unnamed. It would be another year before he was formally called Pluto the Pup (in the cartoon The Moose Hunt). So the first part of the mystery is that the planet came first (and was in fact named for the Roman God of the Underworld). But how was the dog named? No one is quite sure. It’s possible, and likely, that the recent discovery of the (then) ninth planet was the inspiration, but no one remembers for certain.
3. Unlike Goofy (who is also a dog), Pluto was not given human characteristics when he was animated; he appeared more or less like a regular dog. Why? In the classic Disney hierarchy, Pluto is a notch below Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy, seeing as he is clearly Mickey’s pet. As a result, he shows many dog traits such as walking on all fours and not being able to speak…apart from the occasional growl or bark.
4. Well, that’s not quite true. Pluto did speak on one occasion in the 1931 short The Moose Hunt (which you may recall was the first short in which he was referred to by his proper name). He has been silent ever since. And what were those infamous words? “Kiss me.”
5. Astute observers will also note that, unlike real dogs, the Pluto we see in the theme parks walks on two legs rather than four. Good thing too, or that would make for some awfully dirty autograph books.
6. Even more astute observers will also recall that Mickey wasn’t always Pluto’s owner. His first owner was actually Minnie Mouse, and at the time he was called Rover (he might not have had his final name yet, but at least he wasn’t nameless!). We learn this from Pluto’s second appearance in the short The Picnic.
7. Wait, Rover? Hmm, where have we seen that name before…why, at the Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland of course (look on the dog bowls throughout the presentation if you don’t believe us)! Let’s see, Rover the dog can be found inside a futuristic building at the end of the Avenue of the Planets…dog, Disney, planet…a coincidence? Perhaps, but then how do you explain the photo that we dug up?
8. In his early days, Pluto was voiced (OK, “barked”) by Pinto Colvig. If those barks sound familiar, well, you have better hearing than the rest of us. But to give you the benefit of the doubt, you might have heard traces of the “house of bricks” pig, the dwarfs Sleepy and Grumpy, and even a Munchkin from The Wizard of Oz in Pluto’s growls. They were all voiced by Colvig, who was also the original voice of fellow Disney dog Goofy.
9. Did you know that Pluto has a son? Yep! While the astronomical Pluto has three moons with the mysterious and exotic names of Charon, Nix, and Hydra, our canine pal’s son goes by the simpler name, Pluto Jr. (Which, for our money, still would have been a better name for the dwarf planet’s biggest moon.)
10. Pluto also paved the way for a couple of other cuddly Disney characters. His 1943 short Private Pluto introduced Chip ‘n’ Dale to the world. Like Pluto, however, they were unnamed in their first cinematic appearance.