Jim Davis’ classic comic strip Garfield follows the titular fat cat on his daily misadventures, which can range from being forced out of bed too early to – gasp! – being put on a diet. And at the heart of his meanest shenanigans is the lovable pooch Odie, a yellow pup whose slobbering tongue rarely stays in his mouth. But what exactly is Odie, beyond Garfield’s punching bag? More specifically, what kind of dog is Odie from Garfield?
Odie was introduced to the Garfield comic strips on August 8th, 1978. He was originally depicted as belonging not to Jon – Garfield’s owner – but Jon’s roommate, Lyman. As Lyman’s character was slowly phased out from the comic, this was retconned in future strips, and Odie became Jon’s pet exclusively.
Odie is often depicted as being dim-witted but generally harmless. Garfield even occasionally admits to being endeared to him, though this is usually followed by the cat beating up Odie shortly after.
Odie’s breed is unconfirmed by Jim Davis. Based on Odie’s appearances in the live action 2004 Garfield movie, some online investigators have speculated that he is a mix between wire-haired Dachshund and terrier.
While the canon of the live action Garfield movies in relation to the comic strip is questionable, this theory may hold some water.
Wire-hair terriers are known for their long, skinny snouts, at the end of which a rather flat black nose sits. This is certainly in line with the contours of Odie’s face, even with their cartoonish roundness. The curvature of his body also hints at Dachshund genes, with the so-called “weiner dogs” having backs that are similarly low to the ground. Odie’s unusually pronounced head and neck in combination with a stubby, low body may be the natural end result of these two breeds in combination.
One attribute about both the dachshund and wire terrier that Odie does not share is their intelligence. Both tend to be slightly more intelligent than the average dog, yet Odie clearly lacks their brains. Could Odie simply be an abberation? Or could it be that Odie doesn’t let onto his true intelligence? In some comic appearances, Odie can be seen enjoying Mozart and outsmarting Garfield at fetch. Perhaps he doesn’t feel the need to let onto his true intelligence, and prefers the simple life of a dumb mutt. But there’s also the matter of that gargantuan tongue, a feature neither breed has. In fact, the only dog with a tongue even comparable to Odie’s is Mochi the St. Bernard, who currently holds the world record as “Longest Tongue On A Dog“. This condition is known as macroglossia, which Odie might share with Mochi.
Odie adheres well to the breed standards of the dachshund and the wire terrier, despite not sharing their intelligence. Beyond appearances, it’s possible that he may be afflicted with macroglossia. Whatever the case, it doesn’t stop him and Garfield from being some of the most recognizable characters in comic strip history!