The Story of Toto, The Wizard of Cairn Terriers

The Wizard of Oz – well, the original film, anyway – is beautiful, enjoyable, enduring, frightening, and so much more, all in one film. It had a huge impact on peoples’ lives and our culture, and continues to stay with us to this day. The characters, in particular, are very iconic, right down to Toto, Dorothy’s little dog. Few know the actual story behind that dog, however. Today, we’re here to tell it.

The Real Deal

The real name of Toto is Terry, a cairn terrier that lived from 1933 to 1945, and who didn’t just appear in the Wizard of Oz but in fact was in fifteen different films throughout her career. Terry was owned and trained by Carl Spitz, and quickly found her first role in Ready for Love, a 1934 film that was released just a month before Terry’s first truly major film appearance with actress Shirley Temple in Bright Eyes. With that, Terry’s career was off to a great start.

Terry did her own stunts in her films, including in the Wizard of Oz, where in fact she almost lost her life when a Winkie guard accidentally stepped on her and broke her foot. While recovering, she stayed at Judy Garland’s home, where Garland grew incredibly attached, and she even attempted to adopt the dog, though Spitz wasn’t interested!

Behind the Scenes

Terry’s work on the Wizard of Oz was a very lucrative position, as well. Her salary was $125/week, which was more than most of the human actors on the film, as well as most working Americans in that era! She went on to great success, with the film’s success being so great that her name was changed to Toto to capitalize on her role there. She went on to reunite with Oz director Victor Fleming in the 1942 film Tortilla Flat, another famous film of the time. Terry’s career is certainly a stellar one, and she won’t soon be forgotten; an adorable dog with a lot of spunk, she was the perfect Toto!