13 Mark Twain Dog Quotes

“The more I know about people, the better I like dogs.” 

There’s no actual evidence confirming that America’s greatest humorist ever uttered this relatable sentiment, but there are plenty of Mark Twain dog quotes proving that he may as well have. Today, We round up every Mark Twain dog quote out there, favorable or otherwise! 

As a canine lover and Mark Twain enthusiast, I’m delighted by the author’s relationship with dogs. I’ve looked deep into some of his most famous quotes on man’s best friend. These musings, whether in his voice or that of his characters, not only reveal his feelings towards pups, but often his philosophies on people and society.

I grew up spending summers all over beautiful New England, where I frequented (more like overran) the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut. I always loved Twain, having read A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court more times than I’d like to admit. Naturally, I was fascinated by the space where he wrote all of his seminal work.

Twain was a notorious cat-lover. When you step into his perfectly restored home, however, his lesser-known relationship with canines is apparent in the details, from the dog figurine in the library to the charming picture of a young girl with dogs in the second-floor schoolroom. After all, most fans know about Twain’s St. Bernard, Prosper, from a well-known 1900s photograph.

Table of Content

Let’s get to the quotes! 

Quotes That Honor Dogs

dog wait for his owner - Mark Twain Dog Quotes
  • “If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.” The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson, Chapter XVI. 
  • “Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in. Of all the creatures ever made (man) is the most detestable. Of the entire brood, he is the only one… that possesses malice. He is the only creature that inflicts pain for sport, knowing it to be pain.” Mark Twain, a Biography. 

Quotes That Make Fun of Dogs

  • “Uncle Lem’s dog was there. Why didn’t the Irishman fall on the dog? Becuz the dog would a seen him a coming and stood from under. That’s the reason the dog warn’t appinted. A dog can’t be depended on to carry out a special providence.” Roughing It, Chapter 53.

Dogs vs Cats

  • “By what right has the dog come to be regarded as a “noble” animal? The more brutal and cruel and unjust you are to him the more your fawning and adoring slave he becomes; whereas, if you shamefully misuse a cat once she will always maintain a dignified reserve toward you afterward- you will never get her full confidence again.” Mark Twain, A Biography, Volume II, Part I.  
  • “If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much.” Mark Twain, His Words.

Dogs as Allegory

  • “Every time you stop a school, you will have to build a jail. What you gain at one end you lose at the other. It’s like feeding a dog on his own tail. It won’t fatten the dog.” During a speech, November 23, 1900.
  • In truth, man is incurably foolish. Simple things which the other animals easily learn, he is incapable of learning. Among my experiments was this. In an hour I taught a cat and a dog to be friends. I put them in a cage. In another hour I taught them to be friends with a rabbit.” The Lowest Animal, essay, section 16.
  • “My father was a St. Bernard, my mother was a collie, but I am a Presbyterian.”  A Dog’s Tale, Chapter 1.
  • “He wa’n’t no common dog, he wa’n’t no mongrel; he was a composite. A composite dog is a dog that is made up of all the valuable qualities that’s in the dog breed—kind of a syndicate; and a mongrel is made up of all riffraff that’s left over.” Autobiography of Mark Twain.

More on Mark Twain and Dogs

dog with a book - Mark Twain Dog Quotes

It’s interesting for us pup lovers to see how Mark Twain’s musings on dogs revealed his views on the world. I also think it’s interesting that, as an animal lover, he was able to honor and crack jokes about our canine allies! 

If you want to learn more about Mark Twain’s relationship with dogs, there are great reads out there. I highly recommend the following books:

Interesting other quotes? See our dog quotes category.

Karlton Tyack

Karlton Tyack

Karlton Miko Tyack is an outdoor enthusiast and a specialized dog trainer who is an experienced dog trainer for bird hunting. His best friend and companion dog was a giant chocolate Labrador named Mr. Jack.

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