Few things bring as much joy as watching a professional dog actor play his role so well on the big screen. Cute, obedient and believable acting makes these canine superstars household names across America. These timeless movies still play today in the households of families, bringing laughs, tears and exclamations of cuteness across the faces of young and old alike. In honor of National Pets in Film Day, an event meant to help encourage parents, teachers and caregivers to teach children how to be kind and gentle with animals to reduce abuse and cruelty to pets, these 5 famous dog actors will open your eyes and minds about the canines behind the camera!
We all know this goofy, loveable Saint Bernard as the mischievous and over sized furry best friend to the Newton family. The canine star’s real name who brought Beethoven to fame was Chris. Trained by well known animal actor trainer Karl Lewis Miller, Chris brought the country’s attention towards a giant breed not typically found in the spot light. Chris went on to star in his debut’s sequel, Beethoven’s 2nd.
We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto!
The little Cairn terrier who portrayed the ever famous Toto from The Wizard of Oz, a 1939 musical fantasy about a girl and her dog traveling into a fantastical world, was really named Terry. Terry carries her own interesting history, including roles in 15 other films! She was paid more than most of her human co-stars at a whopping $125 a week. Terry passed away at age 11.
A rough start to life in a shelter, Higgins the mixed breed gave it all he had in a 14 year long movie career. Higgins was found as a small puppy and adopted by Frank Inn at a local animal shelter. His most famous role was that of Benji, the lovable little terrier with his very own series of movies. Higgins passed away in 1975, but his offspring went on to fulfill his role as Benji in later movies.
Tuner & Hooch
Turner & Hooch star, Beasley, a Dogue de Bordeaux brought many laughs to the big screen with his drool-splatter starring role along with Tom Hanks. Especially incredible, this breed tends to have a short lifespan of only 5 to 8 years, but Beasley beat the odds. He was 10 years of age when he played cops along with Hanks in this fun comedy, and he went on to more roles until his passing at age 13!
The Beast, Hercules!
Played by 2 different English Mastiffs, this infamous pooch was best remembered as the man-eating, baseball hoarding mongrel from Mr. Mertle’s junk yard in the hit family flick The Sandlot. While the children were seemingly afraid of this giant dog, he turned out to be just as cuddly in real life as he was by the end of the movie after the children help the dog out from under a collapsed fence. On set, the gentle giant was known for his love of baby food, and using a glob of it on the face of a child actor to entice to dog to fulfill his role as a slobbery kiss giver worked like a charm.
The next time you’re enjoying a film with an animal actor, don’t forget the time, training and work that goes into each scene. These animals work just as hard, and sometimes more so than the human around them. In the end, though, animal actors tend to be more professional in their performances thanks to caring and determined trainers. Animal actors will continue to grace our big and little screens as long as we keep watching them!