Clifford the Big Red Dog's Breed Might Surprise You

Clifford teaches life lessons and has become a worldwide sensation, but his breed history isn't always so well defined.

Published May 15, 2023
Clifford The Big Red Dog Lights The Empire State Building

Clifford the Big Red Dog is an American icon. His enormous appearance and loving personality keeps attracting audiences of all ages, but he's particularly captivating to children. Let's dive into the world of Clifford and understand the enduring appeal of this larger-than-life character.

What Kind of Dog Is Clifford?

Vizsla looking to the side

Clifford is thought to have the characteristics of a giant Vizsla. However, there is no particular breed Clifford is based on. His creator, Norman Bridwell, originally drew Clifford to look a little like a horse-sized Bloodhound, but the character model changed over time. Some people also see a little Labrador Retriever in Clifford's breed history.

The choice to depict Clifford as a giant red Vizsla might be purely creative, but it also serves a practical purpose. Clifford's size allows him to interact with the world in unique ways, often leading to humorous or exciting situations that captivate young readers and viewers.

Fast Fact

The reason Clifford is red is somewhat of a coincidence. When Bridwell was first drawing the character, he happened to have red paint handy, so that's the color he picked!

Clifford's Personality Traits

Clifford is known for his distinctive red color and enormous size. He's about 25 feet tall, which means he's as big as a two-story house! Despite his intimidating size, Clifford is incredibly gentle, friendly, and loyal, embodying all the traits that make a dog man's best friend. Clifford lives with his owner, Emily Elizabeth, where he often gets into minor trouble becaus of his size, but always manages to make things right by the end.

Fun Facts About Clifford

Clifford The Big Red Dog

Clifford is an unusual character. Who would have thought a giant dog would gain so much hype? Here's a rundown that includes interesting tidbits about the character:

  • Clifford was originally drawn to be the size of a pony. It wasn't until later that he grew to the size of house!
  • Norman Bridwell originally named his star dog "Tiny," but changed the name when his wife suggested the name of her childhood imaginary friend Clifford.
  • The character of Clifford's best friend, Emily Elizabeth, is named after and inspired by Bridwell's daughter.
  • The stories featuring Clifford often carry messages of kindness, friendship, and acceptance, making them both entertaining and educational for children.
  • The series cleverly uses Clifford's enormous size as a metaphor for the big feelings and challenges that children often face.
  • The show has won numerous awards for its educational content.

What You Need to Know About the Vizsla

A Vizsla running fast through a forest

Most people think Clifford has some Vizsla in his breed history, and it's no wonder. These are wonderful dogs, even if they don't grow to be the size of a house. Vizslas normally weigh in between 45 to 65 pounds.

The breed has a beautiful, short, rusty red coat. Vizslas are often referred to as Velcro dogs because they're so stuck on their owners (something Emily Elizabeth learns first hand in the stories!) Vizslas are also known for their high energy levels, but they are also highly trainable.

Quick Tip

Viszlas need a lot of exercise, so plan to offer daily walks and training sessions to keep them fit and stimulated.

History of Clifford

The history of a show is always interesting. How the creators went from point A to where the show is now is astonishing. Here are some interesting tidbits about the history of Clifford:

  • The creator of Clifford, Norman Bridwell, was told his cartoons would never catch on because his art style wasn't good enough.
  • The series was initially published by Scholastic Books and quickly gained popularity among young readers because of its charming illustrations and heartwarming stories.
  • The first book featuring Clifford, titled Clifford the Big Red Dog, was published in 1963.
  • The animated television series based on the book first premiered in 1988.
  • The setting for the Clifford series is a fictional place called Birdwell Island. The name is a playful twist on Norman Bridwell's own last name.

Clifford Remains Popular

Clifford the Big Red Dog is more than a character; he's a timeless friend who helps children navigate their world while providing plenty of laughs and smiles along the way. His stories, while simple, are rich in values and lessons that are relevant to all. This giant dog with his giant heart has become a timeless treasure.

Clifford the Big Red Dog's Breed Might Surprise You