The MUTTS Story



The MUTTS Story

Created by Patrick McDonnell in 1994, MUTTS follows the heartwarming adventures of Earl the dog, Mooch the cat, and an endearing cast of animal and human pals. It has captured the hearts of millions, garnering international recognition for its gentle humor and powerful themes of kindness, compassion, and friendship.

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It Started With a Dog Named Earl

Patrick McDonnell published the first MUTTS strip on September 5, 1994, with a pair of main characters who were based on real animals. Earl the dog, an innocent pup who loves belly rubs, was inspired by Patrick's late Jack Russell terrier, who lived with him for over 18 years. Mooch the cat, a canny feline with a funny way of talking (“Yesh!”), is based on several cats from Patrick’s own life.

"In retrospect, it's clear to me that the first MUTTS comic strip is autobiographical. From the start, it felt like it was what I was meant to do. I was home."

— Patrick McDonnell

At the Heart of Everything, Compassion.

Compassion for all creatures is at the heart of MUTTS. Throughout their adventures, Mooch and Earl befriend an adorable array of creatures, including neighborhood pets and their guardians, wild animals, adoptable shelter pets and rescue workers, animals at farm sanctuaries, and more. 

Plus: Every year since 1998, Patrick has dedicated two weeks of the strip to his ongoing “Shelter Stories” series, created to raise awareness for shelter animals and the people who care for them. 


An Award-Winning, 30-Year History

Since its debut in 1995, MUTTS has appeared in over 700 newspapers and 20 countries around the world, with an estimated readership of 80 million.

MUTTS has received multiple awards, both for comic strip excellence and for its themes of animal protection. In 1999 Patrick won the Reuben, the highest honor given by the National Cartoonists Society. 

One of the best comic strips of all time.

Charles M. Schulz, "Peanuts"

Patrick McDonnell is a compassionate champion for all animals, particularly dogs and cats, and through his comic strip MUTTS, he captures magically the personalities of some of our best friends.

Dr. Jane Goodall

Patrick McDonnell's MUTTS is up there with Peanuts, Pogo, Krazy Kat, and Calvin and Hobbes — cartoons that are smart, funny, brilliantly drawn, and full of heart.

Matt Groening, "The Simpsons"

Tipping a Hat to Classic Works of Art

Within the MUTTS strip, Patrick often pays tribute to other works of art — from classic cartoons and comics to paintings, music album covers, movie posters, playbills, and books. 

These tributes have often appeared in his Sunday comic strip title panels (also known as "throwaway" panels, since some newspapers choose not to run them). Since the early days, Patrick has aimed to make each of his title panels unique, usually doing an homage to a piece of classic art or pop culture that has a connection to subsequent panels of that Sunday storyline. 

The first MUTTS title-panel tribute ran on October 1, 1995, with a reference to one of Patrick's favorite painters, Jean-Michel Basquiat.  


MUTTS Books: Turning Another Page

After ten years of drawing MUTTS, Patrick fulfilled another lifelong dream — publishing picture books. In 2005, Mooch and Earl made their book debut in "The Gift of Nothing," a holiday story about the gift of presence (not presents). It soon became a bestseller and has since become a perennial favorite. 

Since then, Patrick has published multiple MUTTS picture books — along with multiple books featuring non-MUTTS characters, like the Caldecott Honor book "Me...Jane," the award-winning bedtime story "Thank You and Good Night," and more.


More About MUTTS


Meet the Cast

Read all about Mooch, Earl, and their furry (and human) friends!


About Patrick

Learn more about Patrick's books, art, interests, and his journey to becoming an award-winning  cartoonist.


How We Give

Explore our nonprofit partners, and our commitment to helping animals and the earth.