"Buster the Boxer" has been shared 218,330 times on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube in that hour, according to social video specialist Unruly.
Last year's "Man on the moon" was shared 174,717 times across its first 24 hours, slightly less than 2014’s "Monty the penguin" and 2015’s "Bear and the hare".
"Buster" has also been viewed 6 million times on Facebook after three hours, compared with 2.9 million views of "Man on the moon" in its first 24 hours, according to Adam & Eve/DDB.
In addition John Lewis has sold 1,000 Buster soft toys, which cost £15 and include a 10% donation to The Wildlife Trusts the charity supported by the campaign.
The reach of the campaign has been expanded in a first-of-its-kind deal brokered by John Lewis’ media agency Manning Gottlieb OMD with Sky, which puts it on the programme guide.
The video-on-demand content includes the ad, a "making of" programme and a Sky-produced nature programme featuring some of the animals from the ad, raising awareness of the Wildlife Trusts partnership.
Tim Pearson, chief executive of Manning Gottlieb OMD, said: "This unique media partnership celebrates the heritage of the John Lewis Christmas ad in being the most eagerly anticipated advertising communication of the year.
"Sky Media has worked tirelessly to create an environment where over 12 million Sky households can enjoy the John Lewis content, on demand and at their leisure across the festive period."