It’s a question that’s been posed by multiple generations of kids, both real and fictional: Is Goofy a dog? On the one hand… uh, paw, Walt Disney’s hilariously accident-prone goofball was introduced in 1932 under the name, “Dippy Dawg,” appearing alongside species-specific characters like Mickey Mouse and Clarabelle Cow. Over the decades, though, he’s evolved into a character who doesn’t display many canine traits.
To settle the debate once and for all, Yahoo Entertainment took the query straight to the source: actor Bill Farmer, the Disney Legend who has been the voice of Goofy since 1987 and also stars in the new Disney+ reality series, It’s a Dog’s Life. “He is not a dog,” Farmer tells us, with absolute authority. “Pluto is a dog, but Goofy seems to be in the canine family in the same way that a wolf is not a dog, but they also are in the canine family. I think Canis Goofus is the technical Latin term for what Goofy is. He’s just Goofy.” (Watch our video interview above.)
Farmer was born 20 years after Goofy’s first appearance in the Disney animated short, “Mickey’s Revue.” As a child, he remembers watching his future alter ego — who was originally voiced by Pinto Colvig — on TV shows like Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. “He was my favorite Disney character,” Farmer says, crediting those cartoons with shaping his career ambitions. “I grew up doing voices, and I loved cartoons. I always practiced the voices and became a stand-up comic impressionist for about five years before moving to L.A.”
Once in Hollywood, Farmer auditioned for Disney, which was seeking new vocal performers for its classic cast of characters. “I thought I did a pretty good Mickey Mouse,” he says, proceeding to demonstrate his Mickey voice for us. “I can’t do Donald Duck very well. But Goofy was right in the wheelhouse. They liked that one, and since 1987 I’ve been the official voice.” (Besides Goofy, Farmer is also the regular voice of Mickey’s canine pal Pluto, and has also lent his voice to such non-Disney films as Space Jam, The Iron Giant and Horton Hears a Who!.)