About Dog Actors


Dog actors are the dogs that appear in photo spreads, commercials, television and film work. They are well-trained, well-behaved canines that fulfill the criteria of the casting agents. Canine casting may include specific sizes, breeds, colors and training.


Canine actors are popular in many feature films and television programs. The original canine superstar, Lassie, is actually the work of several dog actors over the years. Other prominent shows to feature canines include Rin Tin Tin (a German shepherd), Benji (a mixed breed), Bruiser (Chihuahua) and more. Disney films features canine actors more prominently than other production houses, but it is the charm of the dog actors that draw children and adults alike.


A good dog actor is the dog that is trained well. Dog actors must be comfortable in all types of situations and often surrounded by many people. They must be trusted on and off the leash. They have to obey commands to sit even when large and often noisy objects such as cars move around. Physical characteristics of dog actors vary from breed to breed and from mutt to mutt. Dog actors should be healthy and well cared for, but the physical looks will rely strictly on the casting needs. For example, in the film Air Buddies, the puppies were all golden retrievers.


Good looks, breeding and cuteness is generally easy for a dog actor to possess. The deciding factor in many casting decisions is the level of training the animal possesses. Each category a dog actor may work in requires varying levels of training. Typically, a dog actor should obey the commands sit, lie down and stay. They should obey them whether you are standing next to them or from across the street. If the dog is trained to do additional things, each one will impact a casting agent’s decisions. For example, dogs that perform tricks will be more marketable than dogs that cannot. Dogs that react to commands with human behavior such as opening doors, giving five or covering their head will also be more marketable. Dog actors rely on high quality training and personality to snag the big roles.


The average canine actor earns $50 to $100 per day they work on a set. This fee, similar to the fee paid to day players, includes time spent waiting around to film. Canine actors can earn as much as $400 per day, but higher fees are paid to match a dog actor’s skills. For example, several dogs may portray a main character in a dog film, but often some dogs will be brought in for specific tricks or for filming different types of scenes. It is not atypical for two or three canine actors to portray the same role in the same film.


Do not just adopt a dog to hire it out as a canine actor. Without proper training, dogs may become disoriented, uncomfortable or dangerous on a noisy, active set. A dog should begin with basic obedience training and build a tolerance for people and activity before attempting acting.

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