Red Dog was believed to have been born in the town of Paraburdoo, Western Australia in 1971.

Red Dog was called by a variety of names by those who knew him, including Bluey, Tally Ho, and Dog of the Northwest. Tally Ho was his first name, given to him by a man called Colin Cummings, who is believed to have been his first owner, and the one who brought him to Dampier.

His second owner was John Stazzonelli, a bus driver with Hamersley Iron, who took the dog with him in his bus. With John, Red Dog travelled as far as Perth, Broome, Roebourne, Point Samson and Port Hedland.

Following Stazzonelli's death in 1975, Red Dog spent a lot of time travelling on his own. He was also taken in by many members of the community, and a veterinarian who treated him. Each time he visited the vet, it was with a new owner. Red was made a member of the Dampier Salts Sport and Social Club and the Transport Workers' Union, and was also given a bank account with the Bank of New South Wales, which was said to have used him as a mascot, with the slogan "If Red banks at the Wales, then you can too."

Although Red Dog was well liked, it is believed that he was deliberately poisoned in 1979 with strychnine.

Red Dog was buried, by veterinarian Rick Fenny, in a secret unmarked grave around Roebourne, Western Australia.

Soon after Red's death, Australian, author Nancy Gillespie wrote and compiled anecdotes and poetry written by several people of the Pilbara region for her 1983 book Red Dog.

Red Dog's story and statue have caught the attention of a number of people passing through Dampier, including British author Louis de Bernières. He wrote a book loosely based on Red's legend, called Red Dog. A four-wheel drive club has been named in his honour.

De Berniere's novel was adapted as a critically acclaimed feature film about Red. It was made in Australia and released in August 2011. Based on a screenplay by Daniel Taplitz, it is directed by Kriv Stenders. The title role was played by Koko.