Duke Dog first appeared as a cartoon. On the cover of the 1972-73 men's basketball media guide, Duke Dog's scowling face appears among members of the team who are being briefed during a timeout by Head Coach Lou Campanelli. Bob Privott, a graphic artist who had a joint assignment in the early 70s for WVPT-TV and Madison College , drew the first Duke Dog. His work was commissioned by Madison Director of Public Affairs Ray V. Sonner.
The original Duke Dog cartoon appeared on the cover of the 1972-73 basketball press guide and showed Duke Dog appearing among Coach Lou Campanelli's team.
The Duke Dog cartoon of the last 1970s and 1980s "borrowed' from a Southern university.
Later in the 1970s, an artist in the Madison publications department turned the cartoon into a snarling, fierce-looking bulldog. The sketch was placed inside a circular logo that said “James Madison University Dukes.”
It was discovered some years later that the bulldog cartoon had been copied almost exactly from a bulldog logo at a university in the Deep South . By that time, the Duke Dog cartoon was solidly engrained as a Madison image so it was not changed.
That Duke Dog cartoon has been modified somewhat in recent years with the current version showing Duke Dog standing on top of JMU block letters.
Beginning with the 2004 football season, a huge Duke Dog formed an archway for the Dukes coming onto the field at Bridgeforth Stadium.