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: The Awful Orphan (January 29) and Often an Orphan (August 13). Jones also starred Charlie without Porky has to be a Labrador Retriever puts 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 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, is really a purebred Irish Setter.
Jones shelved the Charlie Dog series of films in the 1950s, along with other characters he had introduced, 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 The 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 seens, 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.