20 Famous Film Star Dogs

Hollywood isn't just a mans world but a  dogs heaven too. Countless famous dogs have graced our TV screens and we've cried and smiled for many of them. They bring a different flavor to  films with their lovable gaze and incomprehensible barking that we somehow always seem to understand. The many films with Dog stars in them have shown us that these pets are very smart, caring and loyal creatures. So lets not fail to recognize their hard work in keeping us entertained by remembering who the 20 Famous Film Star Dogs are.

1. Lassie


Lassie is probably the most famous Dog in the history of film. She was originally a character in a short story turned novel which was written by Eric Knight. The novel then became a movie and a series followed after. These developments introduced the Rough Collie to the world and we all adored her the moment she hit the screens.

What made her so easy to connect with was her feelings of love and loyalty to her original owner, a young boy form Yorkshire. In the original story Lassie is sold to another because of the financial difficulty that the family is experiencing.  She then escapes from her new owner and travels a great distance just to get back.

Lassie has her own "star" in the walk of fame in Hollywood. So if you are in the area and a true Lassie lover, you should go check it out.

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2. Rin Tin Tin


Rin Tin Tin is another famous dog that has his own spot in the Hollywood walk of fame. Rin tin tin  is a German Shepherd who was picked up by a Lee Duncan in France during the war.

He was with his mother and 4 other siblings at the time. After the war he came back home with Duncan to the US and started his movie career. His first shoot wasn’t for a  movie but for a moving camera experiment which he got because of his high jump exhibition at a dog show. His first actual movie was "Man from Hells River" which was a hit and immediately launched the German Shepherd to Hollywood stardom. He was so prized by Warner Brothers that he had his own chef that cooked him steak and he ate with music to help digestion. He also had about 18 stand ins so that he wouldn’t become too stressed with his "acting" career.

Rin tin tin died when he was one month short of turning 14 in the arms of Duncan’s neighbor because he wasn’t strong enough to get to his master anymore. His body was buried in France  where he was born.


3. Strongheart


This famous German Shepherd was first introduced to the world in the movie "The Silent Call" which aired in 1921. The movie was a hit and Strongheart was propelled to stardom. Despite the many movies under this dogs collar, he was actually trained to be a police dog.
He comes from a long line of attack dogs and was raised to be fierce and fearless. He was discovered by Laurence Trimble and american director who at the time was searching for a dog that could appear in a movie. Trimble had to retrain the German Shepherd for months before Strongheart was finally able to lose all his attack dog habits.

Strongheart appeared in 5 more movies after his first and toured the countryside to make appearances to his fans. Two books were written about him by J. Allen Boone and a dog food brand was named after him.

He died due to a tragic accident where he slipped and fell into a studio light. A tumor resulted from the burn he received from the light and he died soon after.


4. Toto (Terry) from The Wizard of Oz


Everybody remembers Toto the cute little dog from the Wizard of Oz. He was so popular that at one point people were talking about him even more than the other characters of the show. If you knew his past however you'll know that the little dog paid his dues too before he became a big star.

Toto was originally known as Terry and was abandoned by his original owners. Luckily Carl Spitz, a famous dog trainer adopted and trained him into the star he eventually became. Before the Wizard of Oz the terrier starred in a lot of minor and major roles. Oz was his first big break and it was this movie that made his character a household name. Spitz decided to change terry to Toto in honor of the role.  He went on to play a lot more roles after this movie but none as big as Oz and he retired to be the Spitz family pet. Toto died in 1994 but a book was later on discovered about his life and his autobiography was published.


5. Petey (Pal) from The LIttle Rascals


Petey was a lovable and gentle Pit Bull Terrier who starred as the dog in "Our Gang". His real name is Pal and he was trained by Harry Lucenary. His most distinctive feature is the round mark that surrounds his eye. This wasn't actually planned but when the crew started shooting they couldn't get it off so they just kept it the whole time. You'll also notice that the mark transfers from left to right from time to time in his movies. Petey like all famous dogs also worked with a  couple of stand ins to make sure that he didn't become over stressed.


6. Skippy (Asta)


Skippy payed his Hollywood dues by playing minor parts at the start of his career. His first big movie was the movie "the Thin Man" where he played Asta. The show was so popular that his name was changed to Asta afterwards. He went on to play many more big movies after this and eventually retired in 1940.

This cute Fox Terrier was trained by the best handlers during his time and was not only trained in voice commands but hand signals as well. This made him a great candidate for sound films because the set will be very sensitive to external sounds.

7. Benji


Benji, whos actual name is Higgins, is probably the best dog actor in history. He was so well trained and so intelligent that he could pick up new tricks very quickly. He was also one of the few dog actors who didn't suffer from "trainer-eye" which is basically when a dog keeps looking of set to his trainer when filming. These qualities made his movies, especially his most famous one "Benji" instant hits.

The movie "Benji"  was where he got his nick name, obviously. He played the role of a lone dog who needed to use his brains to survive by becoming friends with a lot of people. It is so well done that viewers will feel like the whole thing is being acted out by an actual person, not physically of course. But the emotions and facial expressions that Benjie is able to portray will pull viewers into the plot of the movie.

Benjie was such a hit that even Oprah named him her favorite on screen animal.


8. Old Yeller (Spike)


Old Yeller was Spike's most successful movie. People who have seen it will remember its sad ending. The movie showed how well non-human characters, given the right role and training, can affect our emotions to such a degree. It was probably one of the saddest and most famous movies of it's time and still continues to be popular today.

It's main star Spike was actually a rescue dog before entering the film industry. He was a mix of a Labrador Retriever and a Mastiff. One funny fact about Spike's career was that he was originally rejected from being chosen for the role because he seemed to "domesticated". His trainer Frank Weatherwax had to train him up for a few weeks so that he would be a bit more "vicious" looking.


9. Turner & Hooch (Beasely)


The breed Dogue de Bordeaux is not that popular, but Beasely, who played Hooch in the movie Turner & Hooch is one famous mutt. When Hooch’s master was murdered, there was no one else who witnessed it but Hooch. Tom Hanks, who portrayed the detective in the movie, realized that Hooch was  important to the case so he reluctantly adopts him. The dog then proved to be invaluable in tracking down the killers but is most remembered for his life saving act by jumping in front of a bullet meant for Hanks.

Hooch inevitable dies of the bullet wound, and because of Beasley’s Oscar-worthy acting, the scene where his life slowly slips away on the vet’s operating table was a real tear-jerker. Other directors might not want a wrinkly-faced pooch playing star, but nobody can deny that Hooch, or Beasley who was trained by Clint Rowe, is fondly remembered up to this day.


10. Beethoven


Beethoven is a huge slobbering dog owned by a loving family. He is a  St Bernard who was played by Chris. Chris starred in the first two movies of the series and is the most famous of all the dogs in the movie. He was replaced by other dogs in his role as Beethoven after he died. The film was a big hit and many fans picked Chris as their favourite movie mutt for his role in Beethoven. He remains to be one of the heros of dog film circles everywhere.


11. Eddie (Moose) from Frasier


Moose was a problematic terrier who everyone thought couldn't be trained. He was rough and couldn't be domesticated. This all change when he was taken in by a company who trained animals for movie roles.

Moose became the mainstay dog for the hit series "Frasier". The series was about a psychiatrist, Frasier, who lives with his father Martin, a retired police man. Moose is Martin's dog and proved to be a brilliant actor who received more fan mail than even the two leading men. After 8 years in the series, Moose retired and was replaced by Enzo his son.


12. Buck – Married With Children


Buck was the funny Briard Sheep dog who starred in the series "Married with Children." He his real name is Mike and he starred in the series for 9 years. He was killed off in the series and was replaced by a reincarnation which was a Cocker Spaniel whose name was Lucky. He was so well loved by the set that on his last episode a message dedicated to him appeared on the screen from the producers.


13. Wishbone (Soccer)


Wishbone is the popular dog from the series with the same name. The actual dogs name is Soccer who is a Jack Russel Terrier.  The wishbone series lasted for 3 years (1995-1998) and was rerun after that. Wishbone is basically a very smart  dog (who can talk but nobody understands him) with a huge imagination. He makes fictional parallels between his modern life and stories from old literature. So if you are a fan of classical literature then you will most likely enjoy the series.

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14. Chance and Shadow from Homeward Bound


These dogs became famous for their part in the movie homeward bound. The plot of the movie starts with the dogs and their feline friend thinking they have been abandoned and so decide to walk their way back to their family. The dogs owners have in fact only relocated temporarily and was not expecting the reunion they would have at the end of the movie. The 2  dogs who played the parts are Rattler who played the American Bulldog Chance and Ben who was the golden retriever.


15. Buddy from Air Bud


Air Bud was a hit film that came out in 1997. The dog was played by a golden retriever named buddy who was originally a pet trick dog in the David Letterman Show. His role in the movie won him instant fame and even got him an Oscar award for his performance. Unfortunately his new found fame was short lived when he was diagnosed with cancer on his leg. He underwent a failed operation and died soon after. The Air bud sequels continued to air though but the lead dog was played by other Golder retrievers.


16. Frank The Pug (Mushu) from Man in Black


If you've seen "the men in black" then you know who Frank is. His off screen name is Mushu and he was the the alien taking the form of a pug in the movie. Frank acts as an informant for the MIB in the movie and has a very comical attitude. His main role in the first film was to reveal to J and K that the "galaxy" is on earth. In the second film he was givena  much bigger role mainly because the director liked his performance in the first.


17. Milo(Max) from The Mask


Milo is the dog of Stanley Ipkiss in "The Mask". His real name is Max and in the movie he plays a relatively docile dog who, like Stanley, acquires a totally opposite personality whenever he wears the "mask". The movie basically involves Milo and his Master Stanely and their encounter with a magical mask that rings out ones wild inner self. The mask is said to have been owned by Loki, the Norse god of mischief. The movie ends with Milo retrieving the mask after Stanely throws it away.


18. Bullseye from Oliver Twist


An adaptation of the classic Dickens tale, where an orphan meets a pickpocket on the streets of London. From there, he joins a household of boys who are trained to steal for their master. In the movie Sikes goes on the run for murdering his girl and decides to kill Bullseye to make himself less identifiable. He fails of course and the dog goes on the run alone as well.

The Director of the movie Polanski decided to add a little flavour to the movie by portraying conscience in the dog. So even if he seems like a fear worthy character at the beginning, by the end of the movie viewers will have a change of heart about him.
A nice trivia about the film is that the dogs used in the earlier adaptions of the story were English Bull and Staffordshire Bull Terriers.


19. Fang from Harry Potter


Fang is the big hound from the book and movie series Harry Potter. He is a Boarhound in the book but is played by a Neapolitan Mastiff in the movie. He is owned by Hagrid, a half giant who is a very good friend of the main characters. Despite his size and visual ferocity he is actually very timid and cowardly, as Hagrid himself points out. He does have his occasional moments of courage though and can be very protective of Hagrid and his friends.

Through out the movie series three dogs have played the carracther. The first was Hugo who starred in the first three movies, Monkey who did "the order of the Pheonix" and Uno who played the part in "The Half-Blood Prince".


20. Hachiko: A Dog's Story


Hachiko is a movie character (Japanese dog) that was originally the star of in a 1987 movie with the same name. It was a blockbuster before and was redone in 2009 when the film "Hachi: A Dog's Story" came out.

The plot of the movie basically revolves around the dog Hachiko and the events that happen after his master, a professor played by Richard Gere, dies. Three dogs were commissioned to play this role and each one of them portrayed a different stage of Hachiko's life. The dogs were Chico, Lyla and forest who were all Akitas.