Hollywood’s Villainous Dogs

The movies make us fear them, but these typecast pups deserve our love

By Brian Reynolds
up_thepack_hdImage credit – Pixar

There are some pretty miraculous mutts in movies. Loveable Golden Retrievers like Marley from “Marley & Me” and the multi-talented Basketball superstar “Air Bud” get loads of screen-time, as do less adorable pups with mischievous habits and plenty of heart, like that slobbery St. Bernard “Beethoven.”

But what about the bad dogs on the block? Rottweilers, German Shepherds and Dobermans are constantly cast alongside evil human counterparts–or in some cases as the sole villainous lead. Why is it that a few specific breeds continuously get typecast in these starring roles? Has Hollywood unfairly given the same treatment to these breeds as Spielberg famously gave sharks with his phobia-inducing “Jaws”?

Big, beautiful Rottweilers often get the villainous roles because they’re strong and look mean. Some of the 80’s most terrible films chose Rotties as their monster of choice. In “Dogs of Hell,” a pack of Rottweilers are trained by the US military to kill humans but (spoiler alert) they escape, making a small town sheriff a local hero when he steps up to save the day. A Rottweiler is also cast as a killer in another 80’s classic, “Play Dead,” but the only thing that really dies in this movie is quality entertainment. The list continues with a strange comedic horror movie titled “Man’s Best Friend,” and lastly (though I could go on) in the aptly titled Rottweiler about a cybernetic Rottweiler (was anyone expecting that?)

German Shepherds give Rottweilers a little competition for most vicious four-legged screen actors; think every guard dog in any movie ever. Just because Hitler owner a German Shepherd, doesn’t mean this breed should be written off as evil for the rest of eternity. Give the dog a break.

Even kids’ movies get into the theme of things. Alpha, the hilariously squeaky Doberman in “Up” is the top dog and a mean-to-the-core bully. Yep, regardless of the movie’s rating, if there’s a junkyard or factory for a burglar to break into, he’ll inevitably meet, run from, and get bit on the bum by a Doberman. Talk about typecasting.

2279945116_547f553160_bMovies tend to pick the big, “scary looking” dog breeds to play the villains, but that doesn’t change the friendly nature of these great beasts. They may be big, muscly and in some cases bred to play the part, but spend some time with these well-trained pets and you’ll find that they can be just as affectionate, loving and good to cozy up to as their Lab and Retriever counterparts.

So before you’re fooled by the movies, take a minute to remember that the dogs in these features are showcasing their intelligence by acting fierce and that these breeds deserve as many sidewalk head pats as any other dog–with their owner’s permission of course.



Photo Credit – Wayne Seward / CC