Bob Clampett minted the scenario that Charlie Dog would later inherit in his cartoon short "Porky's Pooch", first released on December 27, 1941. A homeless hound pulls out all the stops to get adopted by bachelor Porky Pig (eventually failing). Mel Blanc and Joe Alaskey would provide the dog's gruff Brooklyn -Bugs Bunny- like voice and accent, giving him a sly and clever disposition.
However, as he did for so many other Looney Tunes characters, Chuck Jones took Clampett's hound and transformed him into something new. Jones first used the dog in "Little Orphan Airedale" (October 4, 1947) which saw Clampett's "Rover" renamed "Charlie." The film was a success, and Jones would create two more Charlie Dog/Porky Pig cartoons in 1949: "Awful Orphan" (January 29) and "Often an Orphan" (August 13).
Jones also starred Charlie without Porky in a couple of shorts: "Dog Gone South" (August 26, 1950) which sees Yankee Charlie searching for a fine gentleman of the Southern United States, and "A Hound for Trouble" (April 28, 1951) which sends Charlie to Italy where he searches for a master who speaks English.
In these five cartoons, Charlie Dog is defined by one desire: to find himself a master. To this end, Charlie is willing to pull out all the stops, from pulling "the big soulful eyes routine" to boasting of his pedigree ("Fifty percent Collie! Fifty percent Irish Setter! Fifty Percent Boxer! Fifty percent Doberman Pincher! But, mostly, I'm all Labrador Retriever!"). However, he is really a fast-talking obnoxious mutt.
Jones retired Charlie Dog in the 1950s, along with other humorous minor characters he had introduced in the 1940s, such as The Three Bears and Hubie and Bertie. He was turning his efforts to new characters, such as Pepe Le Pew and Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner. However, recent Warner Bros. merchandising and series and films such as episodes of Tiny Toon Adventures, the movie Space Jam (1996) in the crowd scenes, and Tweety's High-Flying Adventure (2000) in Italy have brought Charlie back out of retirement.
The Frisky Puppy character that Jones paired with Claude Cat in several '50s shorts bears a close physical resemblance to Charlie, although both Charlie and Frisky were intended to be two separate characters and not to be confused for each other.
The 1953 Bugs Bunny cartoon "Lumber Jack-Rabbit" (the only Looney Tunes cartoon in the "classic" era produced in 3-D) featured a dog similar in appearance to Charlie known as "Smidgen", although not the same character.
- "Porky's Pooch" (prototype)
- "To Duck or Not to Duck" (prototype) (see Laramore)
- "The Eager Beaver" (prototype, cameo)
- "Little Orphan Airedale" (First "official" appearance of Charlie Dog)
- "Awful Orphan"
- "Often an Orphan"
- "Dog Gone South"
- "A Hound for Trouble" (Final "official" Charlie Dog cartoon)
- "Lumber Jack-Rabbit" (not actually Charlie Dog, but uses a similar-looking dog character named Smidgen. Only WB "classic" cartoon produced in 3-D)
- "Dog Tales" (cameo, via reused animation from "Often an Orphan")