Topical Reference Page
Owney the dog with tags

Owney was a scruffy mutt who became a regular fixture at the Albany, New York, post office in 1888. His owner was likely a postal clerk who let the dog walk him to work. Owney began to ride with the bags on Railway Post Office (RPO) train cars across the state . . . and then the country! The RPO clerks adopted Owney as their unofficial mascot, marking his travels by placing medals and tags from his stops on his collar.

July 11, 2011 - August 5, 2012

Art of the Stamp: Owney the Postal Dog featured Bill Bonds’s original painting of Owney that was produced for the stamp. It was accompanied by 6 sketches illustrating various poses of Owney that Mr. Bonds created as he developed his...

Learn more

1894 Davenport gold Owney tag shaped like a doghouse
These historic images of Owney and his tags are for your use. Please include credit line, "Image courtesy of the National Postal Museum, Smithsonian Institution."

The National Postal Museum devised this virtual exhibition with the dual purpose of telling the story of Owney and allowing contemporary cachet artists the opportunity to showcase their artwork to the public, inspiring new collectors.

Learn more

Object Spotlight

On July 27, 2011, one of the museum’s most interesting objects was commemorated with a United States postage stamp. During his lifetime a scruffy mutt named Owney was the nation’s most famous canine. From 1888 until his death in 1897 Owney rode with Railway Mail Service clerks and mailbags all across the nation.

Owney the dog
Owney was a scruffy mutt who became a regular fixture at the Albany, New York, post office in 1888. His owner was...
Owney the Dog sitting for a photograph
An interactive GIS StoryMap showing some of the cities Owney the Railway Dog traveled to as well as the daily life and postal operations he may have witnessed while there.
Interactive map showing town and city location pins which are related to online object records.
Click the town and city pins on this map to find more information about Owney. The links will take you to the online records in the collection database.
Postal workers standing in front of a mail car with Owney
Owney was a scruffy mutt who was adopted by postal workers in the Albany, New York, post office in the late 1880s. The clerks let him stay, and he fell asleep on some mailbags. Owney was attracted to the texture or scent of the mailbags and followed them when they were placed on a Railway Mail Service train. 
cartoon of Owney sitting on a mail bag
The Smithsonian National Postal Museum has brought the true story of Owney to “life” with beautiful animation, a fun (and historically accurate) story, the deep grandfatherly baritone of Trace Adkins, and a catchy theme song.

From local celebrity to world traveler, this scrappy dog's story touched hearts and fired imaginations across the Nation and around the world.

Learn more


Related Blogs

Dog Days of Summer Family Festival this Saturday!

Inspired by our beloved mutt Owney, world-traveler and informal postal mascot from 1888-1897, the National Postal Museum will host the Dog Days of Summer Family Festival 

Preservation Celebration!

Join the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum as we celebrate National Preservation Week! Founded in 2010 by the American Libraries Association, National Preservation Week (April 24-April 30) is dedicated to the preservation of our personal and shared collections, which aid us in our understanding of history, culture, and each other. With over 6 million objects, the National Postal Museum has among the largest collections within the Smithsonian Institution. Our trusty preservation team has preserved a wide range of artifacts – from stamps and covers to vehicles to Owney the Dog! – and kept them safe since the Postal Museum opened in 1993.

Bon Voyage Owney

Owney, the postal dog already famous for his travels across the United States set out on August 19, 1895 for a trip around the world. Owney left from...

Owney e-Book Now Available on the Web and iPad

Owney is joining the ranks of the beloved characters now telling their story via e-book. The adorable portrayal and animated illustrations invite readers to discover more about this globe-trotting dog. He crisscrossed the country in the 1890s riding on mail train cars and collecting tokens for his harness along the way.


Object Search

Owney Collection Objects

Discover all the Owney objects in our collection, including the many tags and the souvenir spoon commissioned by a group of Cleveland, Ohio, postal clerks for Owney.

Related Content

Toy Owney the Dog For Sale at Museum Shop

Now you can buy an Owney! Approximate size is 12 x 6 x 6 inches. 
To order, please contact the Museum Shop.

Owney's Facebook Page

Owney shares photos, fun facts, answers questions, and more. Find out where Owney traveled on today's date in history. Many of Owney's posts are useful for classroom teachers.