“Then ‘Fang’ Let Loose a Great Echoing Bark making Harry and Ron jump out of their skins.”
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you recognize “Fang.”
Our own first encounter with a Neapolitan Mastiff, the breed that portrayed Fang, stopped us dead in our tracks. Even as we got out of the car, the resident dog of an exotic wood furniture store came bounding at us, a virtual study of wave tectonics. That magnificent hanging skin, those wrinkles, each and every one undulated and rippled from nose to tail on a big dog with an even bigger head. Much later, we would come to realize that we were seeing a cornerstone of the breed: WHAM, an acronym for wrinkles, head and mass. At that moment, however, we braced for impact. We held our ground making it easier for the dog to jump on his back legs and throughly slather our face with affectionate – and very wet licks. We were now properly cleansed enough to enter his store.
We were smitten.
WHAM may have been what attracted the producers of the Harry Potter movies to the Neapolitan Mastiff when it came to casting the role of “Fang, Rubeus Hagrid’s boarhound. Fang was played in the first two movies by “Hugo,” “Bully,” “Bella,” and “Vito,” while “Luigi” played Fang in the second and sixth films. In “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” a dog named “Monkey” played Fang, while in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” the Neapolitan Mastiff who played Fang was “Uno.” One source even adds that another dog who appeared as a stand in was, “Bully,” said to have been rescued from a junkyard and adopted by other trainers.
In our humble opinion, the Neas were the best parts of the films:
The most famous of the Neas to have played Fang might have been “Hugo” who inadvertently “drooled” into the mouth of Fern Britton of the British morning show, “This Morning,”, during a TV appearance in 2003. Hugo shook his head, as dogs do, and drooled all over her. Shoulder shrug. 1) Mastiffs drool; 2) She shouldn’t have had her mouth open. Hugo, who was the primary dog in the “Philosopher’s Stone,” and “Chamber of Secrets” retired after the Prisoner of Azkaban.
You might enjoy hearing from trainer, Julie Tottman, who worked with all the Harry Potter Neapolitan Mastiffs in the short video below:
Fang, rather unfairly, we thought, was described by Hagrid as being a big coward. In the Chamber of Secrets, Harry and Ron take Fang into the forest where he is frightened by gigantic, wizard-bred acromantula. In our opinion, that didn’t make Fang a coward. It made him smart.