You Ought to be in Movies!

















A clip from the 2003 movie, Secondhand Lions with Michael Caine and Robert Duvall:

And then there was Dante’s Peak with Pierce Brosnan and Linda Hamilton:

This one is from the American family adventure film released in 1997, Zeus and Roxanne:


From Soccer Dog: The Movie released in 1999:

By now you’ve noticed that the same breed of dog appeared in those movie clips, though the average movie goer probably didn’t realize that they weren’t just seeing a purebred dog, but an uncommon breed, at that.

The Portuguese Podengo is quite the movie breed. In addition to the clips we showed you above, a Podengo also appeared in Lake House, Homeward Bound 2, Three Wishes, and Cheaper by the Dozen, and a Podengo named “Stokey” appeared in Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco from 1996.

Portuguese Podengo, movies, film

From “Secondhand Lions.” None of these is like the others.

Trainers often prefer to use purebred dogs in movies because they have predictable temperaments and often breed-specific behaviors advantageous for training and performing specific behaviors on cue. Sitting up, for example, comes naturally for a Glen of Imaal Terrier which has a propensity for the position; Going into water is “no problemo” for a water breed, while digging in dirt is heavenly for most terriers.  

Another reason purebred dogs are used in movies has to do with visual similarity between dogs. Most movie fans wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between one yellow Labrador Retriever and another, and that allows film directors to substitute dogs in various scenes. Three dogs were alternated to portray “Beethoven” in the movie by the same name: “Benz” was used for physical activities and tricks, “Dolly” was used in scenes with puppies and children due to her gentle nature, and “Boomer” appeared in comical scenes involving rolling around in mud or drooling a lot.

But given the relative rarity of the Portuguese Podengo, why use this breed for movies?

When film directors need a scruffy, loveable dog that might be mistaken for a mixed breed, the Podengo is often suggested. “Dog People” already knew by the second movie clip above that the dog was a Podengo, but the average movie goer doesn’t. This made Podengos, “Tito,” “Rosa” and “Nikki” highly successful canine actors,  and were the dogs who appeared in most of the movie clips from above. Those dogs, we believe, are long gone, but “Huck” from the Parrigi kennel and Terzo de Retrouvaille are a newer crop of Podengos, these dogs having appeared in TV commercials.

Top image: Portuguese Podengo by © Cindy Walsh | Dreamstime

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