Santa's Little Helper (born May 12, age 7), also known as No. 8 (his number in the dog race in Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire), Suds McDuff (the name he changed to after becoming Duff Beer's mascot in Old Yeller-Belly), and Santa's Stupid Name (Brian Griffin's nickname for him in The Simpsons Guy), is the Simpson family's dog. Santa's Little Helper has been with the Simpson's family the whole series instead of dying or simply not making multiple appearances like how other animals in their care have.
Oddly for a domestic dog, he has been shown to still be alive thirty years in the future, as a highly evolved canine with a large cerebellum ("Holidays of Future Passed") and a creature stitched together out of pieces of both he and Snowball II, in which form he is known as "Santa's Little Hybrid" ("Days of Future Future").
Homer was relying on a Christmas bonus to buy presents, but didn't get it. He was relying on this bonus because the jar of Christmas money that Marge accumulates for the family's Christmas treats was disposed of to pay for the removal of a tattoo that Bart got on his arm. Homer took the small amount of Christmas money he made working as Santa Claus at the Springfield Mall and bet it at the dog track. He had inside information on what dog was going to win, but instead bet on the "long shot," Santa's Little Helper, believing his name to be a sign. Santa's Little Helper finished last (apparently, it was the latest in a long string of last-place finishes), and his frustrated owner abandoned him. Homer and Bart brought him home, and everyone was so happy with him that it was a merry Christmas after all.
Sometimes, Santa's Little Helper can be seen chewing on the newspaper and other objects in the Simpson's household (sometimes ignored or tolerated by the family), tearing up the furniture, digging holes in the backyard and eating food from the living room table. It is stated that Homer and Santa's Little Helper's birthdays are on the same day.
With a few exceptions, Santa's Little Helper doesn't make any sound that resembles a bark. However, he does have an ability to think just like a person. Once, he made a sound similar to "chewy", and Homer writes it down in his review, amazed that the dog spoke English. He is also shown to have ridden a circus ball on his hind legs and speak the phrase 'We love... you!' in an attempt to be given some attention from the Simpson family. In addition, he was mascot of Duff Beer, and was known as Suds McDuff, a reference to a similar, real-life mascot named Spuds MacKenzie.
Santa's Little Helper's life with the Simpsons is not always easy. Due to his disobedience and destructive behavior, the Simpson family nearly gave him away, but he passed an obedience class, allowing him to stay. Santa's Little Helper almost passed away from gastric torsion (referred to in the show as a "twisting of the stomach") because Homer initially couldn't afford $750 for the required operation. He also broke two legs when Bart's tree-house was demolished by Mr. Burns' slant oil well drill, the latter of which caused Bart to hate Burns immensely. Santa's Little Helper is sometimes a bad dog.
At one time, Santa's Little Helper was shortly abandoned by Bart for Laddie, a purebred and very well-trained dog he bought from a mail-order catalog together with various other expensive gifts and gadgets. To do that, Bart used a credit card he applied for under the name of his dog, yet the credit card company misread the form and issued a card to Mr. "Santos L. Halper". Laddie learned many tricks that Santa's Little Helper was completely unable to perform (most notably a back flip, CPR and using a toilet). The Simpson family nearly forgot about their old pet, and Bart eventually gave him away instead of Laddie when repo men take back everything he fraudulently purchased. Feeling guilty about this disloyalty and bored with his too perfect new dog, Bart tried to get Santa's Little Helper back. When he finally found him, Santa's Little Helper was serving as a guide dog for a blind man named Mr. Mitchell, but eventually chose to return to his former owner, Bart.
Santa's Little Helper has also shown aptitude in other areas. When neglected by the Simpson family, he ran away, and was adopted by Mr. Burns, and made into a very fearsome guard dog. When Bart was searching for Santa's Little Helper, Bart managed to reawaken Santa's Little Helper's good memories of him. It shown that while the Simpson family sleeps in the night, Santa's Little Helper and Snowball II both watch old episodes of "Lassie" on TV. When Homer and Marge are investigated by Child Protective Services, one of the things noted in the report is "dogs mating on dining room table", at which Santa's Little Helper shamefully turns away.
One time, Bart brings Santa's Little Helper to school for show and tell, and Mrs. Krabappel and the entire class, except for Martin Prince are fascinated by him. Mrs. Krabappel feeds him cookies, and the class dotes on him, but they later put him away, and Santa's Little Helper gets into the heating ducts. This later indirectly causes Skinner to be fired.
He also becomes a great hero after he saves Homer in a cornfield maze, and then becomes enrolled as a police dog, teamed up with Officer Lou. Both Lou and Santa's Little Helper make a good team, foiling crimes together. After biting Bart's left leg (due to the fact he got furious when the court stated that he violated one of the police codes while catching Snake Jailbird), Santa's Little Helper is sent off by the Simpson family to live with Lou. Later on, once Springfield Elementary is in danger and Bart isn't able to escape, Santa's Little Helper comes in to save him, and goes back to living with the Simpsons. Unlike when he was the Duff mascot (which depicts the dog as a coward), Santa's Little Helper is depicted as a very brave and smart dog.
Santa's Little Helper has been implied to be bisexual. At the time, the Simpson family is watching a gay pride parade marching down Evergreen Terrace, and one of the groups marching is the Gay Dog Alliance. The marching dogs are clothed in a series of typically camp gay costumes, and Santa's Little Helper, showing excitement by panting, shows an interest in several of the dogs, one of whom winks at him. Santa's Little Helper's attempt to join the dogs is thwarted by the fact that he is currently on a leash, noticing his interest, Homer chooses to take the family away from the pride parade.
He is a greyhound with light brown fur. His rib cage is visible possibly because of being malnourished, but this isn't due to any form of neglect as the Simpson family is seen feeding Santa's Little Helper the proper amount of food and, on some occasions, too much. Greyhounds are also this thin in real life. His paws aren't detailed and only appear to be legs that end at a nub. His ears are in an arched shape.
- She's the Fastest in Two Dozen and One Greyhounds, as well as another litter with Dr. Hibbert's poodle, Rosa Barks, in Today, I Am a Clown. He sired twenty-five puppies with
- 25 offspring with She's the Fastest: Rover, Fido, Rex, Spot, Rover II, Fido II, Rex II, Cleo, Dave, Jay, Paul, Branford, Dave II, Jay II, Paul II, Branford II, Sleepy, Dopey, Grumpy, Donner, Blitzen, Grumpy II, King, Queenie, Prince and The Puppy Formerly Known As Prince.
- A litter of puppies with Dr. Hibbert's dog Rosa Barks. These puppies were given away to the townspeople, including Willie, Krusty and Snake.
- Bart seems to love him so much, fans often say Bart is his owner. Besides Homer and Marge, Bart and Santa's Little Helper probably have the best relationship of any characters in the series.
- Santa's Little Helper and Homer share several characteristic traits. These include being loyal, both possessing the same emotional range and both will growl and possibly snap if anyone attempts to take their food.
- Throughout the entire series, Santa's Little Helper has constantly looked unusually skinny, despite never being neglected or starved by the Simpson family. It may be more due to the fact that greyhounds are very slender dogs.
- Like a real dog, he does not understand English very well. "Today, I Am a Clown" reveals Homer to be an animal whisperer. Also, in the 2017 Treehouse of Horror segment “Coralisa”, Snowball V does not like to talk on the ”normal” side because “it makes the dog feel inferior”. However, during Bart’s first nightmare in 1995’s “Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace”, Santa’s Little Helper could speak. He could also speak in 2014’s “The Others”.
- In the Latin American dub, he is named "Huesos" (Bones) in the first seasons. In the fifth season onward, he is named "Ayudante de Santa" as the natural translation of his name. In "Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song", it's clarified that his name for first seasons is a nickname.
- Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire
- The Springfield Files
- Guess Who's Coming to Criticize Dinner?
- Bart Gets an Elephant
- Old Yeller-Belly
- Bart's Dog Gets an F
- Dog of Death
- Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part One)
- The Canine Mutiny
- Bart's Comet
- Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily
- Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song
- Stop or My Dog Will Shoot!
- Jaws Wired Shut
- Two Dozen and One Greyhounds