Toto was pivotal in the plot of the Wizard of Oz. In the 1939 movie classic, The Wizard of Oz, it’s clear that Toto was a Cairn Terrier. But the book that inspired the movie, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, features illustrations of Toto that make him look a lot like a Yorkie.

amazon book the wonderful wizard of ozTHE BOOK

  • published in 1900
  • written by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W. W. Winslow
  • a tremendous success; critics loved the lavish illustrations and full color printing
  • 13 sequels followed but the first was by far the most successful
  • the first edition, a total of 10,000 copies, quickly sold out. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz sold three million copies by the time it entered the public domain in 1956


the wizard of oz original movie poster


  • released in 1939
  • produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and directed by Victor Fleming
  • a sensation; the first Technicolor movie
  • the film stars Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale alongside Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Frank Morgan, Billie Burke and Margaret Hamilton with Charley Grapewin, Pat Walshe, and Clara Blandick,
  • dozens of versions followed over the years including The Wiz, starring Diana Ross as Dorothy and Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow


Toto was pivotal in the plot of Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz movie starts with a bang when Dorothy’s nasty neighbor, Miss Almira Gulch, threatens to have the young girl’s dog, Toto, put down for biting.

The dog manages to escape the clutches of Miss Gulch and run back to Dorothy. At this point, Dorothy and Toto run away from home, just as a tornado hits….and the fun begins!

How Toto compares in the book and in the movie

In the book

In Denslow’s illustrations, Toto was a scruffy-looking little dog. Many fans argue that in the book, Toto was clearly a YORKSHIRE TERRIER. His personality matches a Yorkie too: brave, protective and smart!

Supporting this theory is the fact that Denslow himself owned a Yorkie. The breed was quite popular at the time, so it’s possible.

The Oz books don’t spell out Toto’s breed, but the illustrations certainly look a lot like a Yorkie.

In the movie

Toto in the movie was a female Cairn Terrier called Terry.

Owned by Carl Spitz, Terry was in 10 other blockbusters, including some with Shirley Temple.

In the Wizard of Oz, Toto made more than many of the actors, earning $125 per week (equivalent to $2,200 a week today).

The little dog lived to be 11 and has a memorial stone in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles 

You have to admit it - Toto was a YORKIE in the book

The strange life of W. W. Denslow

An American illustrator and caricaturist remembered for his work in collaboration with author L. Frank Baum, especially his illustrations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.


After the phenomenal success of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, written by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by Denslow, the artist and the writer managed to quarrel with Baum,  and refused to work with him ever again. Baum, always desperate for money, went on to publish 13 more volumes of the Oz saga, but without Denslow’s wonderful drawings. 

KING Denslow?

Denslow (and Baum) made so much money from the Wonderful Wizard of Oz book royalties, that he was able to buy an island off Bermuda, called Bluck’s Island in the Great Sound, and build himself a turreted castle-like house, pictured here.

He then proclaimed himself King Denslow I.

Denslow was married and divorced three times. Go figure.

The most iconic line in the movie is spoken to Toto

Though most people say ‘Looks like we’re not in Kansas anymore,’ or ‘Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore,’ those quotes aren’t quite right. Dorothy actually says ‘Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.’

Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.