Emmerdale viewers saw a long-time favourite leave the soap tonight, as the Dingle family said goodbye to Alfie, their beloved family dog.

After discovering he has an inoperable tumour, the Dingle family made the very difficult decision to put him down.

Alfie who plays ‘Alfie’ has been a part of the Emmerdale family for nine years and is the only character to feature in the show’s opening credits.

Now aged 11, he is leaving the cast to spend his older years in retirement.

The actors who play his family shed real tears as they said goodbye to their canine friend.

Alfie has been at the centre of some of the programme’s biggest storylines. He has played scenes where he has been poisoned, had to dig up a dead body and was treated for consuming rat poison. Last year he was run over by Diddy Diner at a vegan fair and was given the kiss of life by troubled teen Lachlan.

Alfie has many talents including barking on command and playing dead.

“We realised Alfie was getting older as his hearing is not what it was and we felt is was kinder to put Alfie into retirement before his job got too hard for him to do it well. But be reassured in real life Alfie is enjoying life in retirement.”

Lynda Woodrow, Alfie's owner