The Nine Dogs Character Analysis

Stephanie Smith & Jordan Scott


In Animal Farm, the nine dogs enforced the rules and orders given by Napoleon, which Orwell uses to portray the secret police of NKVD.

Overview of the Nine Dogs and NKVD

The nine dogs of the farm were vicious and brutal, but they didn't start out that way. As puppies, they were happy-go-lucky and enjoyed running around the farm, sometimes even getting under the feet of the other animals. Once Napoleon insisted to be in charge of the puppies' education and growth, we did not see or hear about them for a long period of time, all the way up until they were big dogs. As soon as they chased Snowball away, the entire story was changed and included much more violence and evil than the first half of the book. The nine dogs enforced the rules of Napoleon, no matter how crazy they were, from reducing food rations except for the pigs, to keeping the work speed up. In addition, if any animal questioned the rules or statements of Snowball, the nine dogs would be there to scare and threaten them. If any rule was disobeyed in a small way, the dogs would execute the rule-breaker, slashing and tearing out their throats.

The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD) was a law enforcement agency of the Soviet Union that directly executed the rule of power of the All Union Communist Party. It is known for its political repression during the time of Joseph Stalin's rule. It acted and was closely associated with the secret police of the Soviet. The NKVD included regular police force including traffic police, firefighting, border guards and archives. They were responsible for mass deportations of entire nationalities, ran systems of forced labor, and conducted mass extrajudicial executions. They placed a major role in the protection of Soviet borders, influencing abroad governments by enforcing Stalinist Policy within communist movements.

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Quotes and Analysis

"When they had finished their confession, the dogs promptly tore their throats out, and in a terrible voice Napoleon demanded whether any other animal had anything to confess. And so the tale of confessions and executions went on, until there was a pile of corpses lying before Napoleon’s feet and the air was heavy with the smell of blood, which had been unknown there since the expulsion of Jones.” (Orwell 34)

Analysis- Napoleon raised the dogs to listen to his every command and show no mercy to the other animals. When a multitude of animals confess their crimes and collaboration with Snowball to Napoleon, the dogs instantly kill them in a very violent fashion, with no hesitation. The nine dogs executed tons and tons of animals that were considered "enemies" because of their betrayal of Napoleon. The NKVD brought enemies of the people and the state to camps, where they conducted mass executions, killing up to thousands of people. Some of the executed did not have actual convictions and court trials; they were told on by someone and immediately taken to be executed. Similar to the huge piles of bloody bodies in Animal Farm, there were hundreds of graves for those executed by the NKVD.

Silent and terrified, the animals crept back into the barn. In a moment the dogs came bounding back. At first no one had been able to imagine where these creatures came from, but the problem was soon solved: they were the puppies whom Napoleon had taken away from their mothers and reared privately. Though not yet full-grown, they were huge dogs, and as fierce-looking as wolves. They kept close to Napoleon. It was noticed that they wagged their tails to him in the same way as the other dogs had been used to do to Mr. Jones."

Analysis- Even though the animals did not know what had chased off Snowball at first, they were scared to death and followed orders so as not to be hurt or killed. They realized that these were the happy puppies that Napoleon had educated and trained to be ferocious, relentless killer dogs. The nine dogs listened to every order Napoleon made without hesitation or thought. The NKVD was made and trained by Joseph Stalin. They ran out many groups, especially ethnicities, and were commanded to kill hundreds and thousands of people. The secret police did not speak up or hesitate before doing each terrible act; they just did what they were told and accepted their malicious orders.

"But suddenly the dogs sitting round Napoleon let out deep, menacing growls, and the pigs fell silent and sat down again. Then the sheep broke out into a tremendous bleating of "Four legs good, two legs bad!" which went on for nearly a quarter of an hour and put an end to any chance of discussion." (5.17)

Analysis: The dogs now have a reputation of fear and consequence associated with them. The animals are intimidated by them, therefore they obey Napoleans rule without hesitation. Napoleon had made them so vicious and threatening that the other animals in the farm did not even recognize the puppies they used to be. The people involved in the secret police or NKVD are not only used as enforcers, but prevent rebellion due to psychological fear of what consequences there were to face.


Orwell included the nine dogs to represent the NKVD because Animal Farm represents the Soviet Union. Like the NKVD, the nine dogs removed any threats, stopped rebellion or questioning, and performed tons of executions. The nine dogs also protected Napoleon and got rid of Snowball like the secret police protected Stalin and got rid of Trotsky. The author exaggerates the actions of the nine dogs in Animal Farm to show the gravity of what the NKVD did in the real world.

Discussion Questions

What other events in history are similar to the nine dogs?

What effect was Orwell going for by imitating the secret police with the dogs?

In today's society, what factors are similar to the nine dogs or the NKVD?

Is negativity and fear more motivational for people than positivity and encouragement? Why or why not?

How would the story have been different if Orwell had not included the nine dogs in Animal Farm?