Meet The Types of Dogs in the Movie “A Dog’s Purpose”

animal actors
© Iryna Kalamurza/

Written by Katelynn Sobus

Published: February 22, 2023

Share on:


Listen to Article

“A Dog’s Purpose” and its sequel, “A Dog’s Journey,” follow a dog named Bailey who is reincarnated again and again. Bailey’s spirit is reborn as a variety of dogs, from giant to tiny breeds!

The breeds in the movie include great Pyrenese/Bernese mountain dog mixes, beagle/King Charles spaniel mixes, an English mastiff, and Biewer terriers. Many dogs in the movie were played by more than one look-alike dog actor!

In this article, we’ll give a spoiler-free overview of the dog actors in the movie and talk about their breeds.

Buddy – Great Pyrenees/Bernese Mountain Dog

Buddy is actually played by three canine actors, all of which are great Pyrenees/Bernese mountain dog mixes.

These mutts are a combination of two giant breeds with mid-length, fluffy coats. As you might imagine, these dogs tend to shed a lot due to their Bernese mountain dog ancestry! They should be brushed at least once a week to remove shed fur and prevent painful mats from developing in their coat.

They can grow to weigh over 100 pounds and aren’t for every family! They aren’t well-suited to living in a small space, but do better when they have access to a large, enclosed backyard.

Bernese mountain dogs are active and playful, while Pyrenees tend to be a little more laid-back and require moderate exercise. A mixed breed may inherit either of these traits, but no one can say for sure until they grow up!

Great Pyrenees dogs are also incredibly protective since they were bred to be livestock guardians. If a pup inherits this trait, they may be wary of strangers and require good socialization to learn how to be confident in public.

Great Bernese

The character buddy is played by three dogs, all of which are great Bernese, a cross between a Bernese mountain dog and a great Pyrenees.

©Chrissi Martin/

Molly – Beagle/Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Molly is a beagle/cavalier King Charles spaniel mix that is played by two different actors. These sweet pups are much smaller than the giant breeds above, standing 13 inches at most and weighing somewhere between 13-30 pounds.

Beagles and cavalier King Charles spaniels were originally bred to hunt using their terrific senses of smell. They tend to be good family dogs, but they do have a high prey drive that can make them want to chase cats or smaller dogs.

They should never be allowed off-leash in an unenclosed space, as they’re likely to run off if they see something they perceive as prey.

Beagles are playful, active, and vocal. It’s important to give them an outlet for their energy, or they’ll find some trouble to get into – whether it’s chewing things they shouldn’t, howling incessantly, or finding ways to escape your home or yard.

Cavalier King Charles spaniels are highly affectionate and only need moderate exercise. They should be walked daily and get playtime inside as well to keep them occupied.

Unfortunately, these spaniels are known for having a plethora of health problems due to poor breeding. If adopting a puppy, it’s important to only shop with breeders who can prove that they’ve tested the parent dogs for all known hereditary conditions.

Molly in "A Dog's Purpose" is a beagle/cavalier King Charles spaniel mix

Molly in “A Dog’s Purpose” is a beagle/cavalier King Charles spaniel mix commonly called a beaglier that is played by two different canine actors.

©L Galbraith/

Big Dog – English Mastiff

Another giant breed, Big Dog has a short part in the movie and is only played by a single actor. Mastiffs can be upwards of 30 inches tall and weigh up to 230 pounds!

Mastiffs are also known to be gentle giants. They typically love to snuggle up to family members and do well with children. However, no dog should ever be left unattended with children since accidents can happen.

These dogs are protective, generally quiet, and they’re certified drool-making machines! They have moderate exercise needs and may be somewhat difficult to train because they get bored easily. Keeping training sessions quick, fun, and rewarding is a must!

Mastiffs are known for their wrinkles, especially those around their snouts. Unfortunately, their wrinkles and shortened snout cause a variety of health problems in the breed. If you have your heart set on adopting a dog like Big Dog, I suggest adopting from a rescue or shelter.

The character Big Dog in the movie "A Dog's Purpose" is a mastiff

The character Big Dog in the movie “A Dog’s Purpose” is a mastiff, a breed of dog known to be gentle giants.

©Waldemar Dabrowski/

Max – Biewer Terrier

Max takes first place on our list for the dog in the movie with the most actors! He’s played by four canines, all Biewer terriers.

Biewer terriers look similar to Yorkies, but they’re slightly larger (despite still weighing 8 pounds or less!). They also have some differences when it comes to care and temperament.

Biewer terriers are affectionate, good with other dogs, and shed very little. Their long coat should be combed daily so that it doesn’t tangle or mat. Or, it can be clipped short every 4-6 weeks, in which case it requires very little maintenance.

They need moderate exercise and benefit greatly from daily walks, but can also get their energy out indoors on rainy days by running around the living room. They’re smart and eager to please, which makes them mostly easy to train. However, they do have a tendency to struggle with potty training.

Biewer terriers are also brachycephalic, just like mastiffs. This means they have been bred to have such short snouts that they encounter breathing difficulties and a whole host of other health problems. For this reason, I definitely don’t recommend purchasing one from a breeder!

The Biewer terrier in "A Dog's Purpose" was played by 4 canine actors

Max’s character in “A Dog’s Purpose” was played by four canine actors all of which were Biewer terriers.

©Radek Havlicek/

We hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know the breeds from the movie and learning a little about them! Those dog actors sure are talented and adorable!

Ready to discover the top 10 cutest dog breeds in the entire world?

How about the fastest dogs, the largest dogs and those that are -- quite frankly -- just the kindest dogs on the planet? Each day, AZ Animals sends out lists just like this to our thousands of email subscribers. And the best part? It's FREE. Join today by entering your email below.

What's the right dog for you?

Dogs are our best friends but which breed is your perfect match?


If you have kids or existing dogs select:

Other Dogs

Should they be Hypoallergenic?

How important is health?
Which dog groups do you like?
How much exercise should your dog require?
What climate?
How much seperation anxiety?
How much yappiness/barking?

How much energy should they have?

The lower energy the better.
I want a cuddle buddy!
About average energy.
I want a dog that I have to chase after constantly!
All energy levels are great -- I just love dogs!
How much should they shed?
How trainable/obedient does the dog need to be?
How intelligent does the dog need to be?
How much chewing will allow?

Share this post on:
About the Author

Katelynn Sobus is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on pets including dogs, cats, and exotics. She has been writing about pet care for over five years. Katelynn currently lives in Michigan with her seven senior rescue cats.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.