September 11, 2015 | Posted in Famous TV & Movie Dogs
Anyone familiar with the Harry Potter series of books and films will remember the enormous dog that belonged to the larger-than-life character of Rubeus Hagrid. In the books, his dog Fang was called a boarhound. When filming began, bringing the books to the screen, the dog “hired” to play Fang was a Neopolitan (or Italian) Mastiff.
This breed is huge in size and has been around since ancient times, used as a guard because of their fearsome image. In reality, though, they can be loyal, protective and lovable towards their owners.
Animal trainer Gary Gero was called upon to provide animals for the films – an owl and a cat, and the dog who would become Fang. Several dogs were used during the making of all 6 of the Potter films – some more than others. A few dogs were more or less “stand-ins” or served in a minor capacity.
The primary actor dogs were Hugo, for the “Philosopher’s Stone”, “Chamber of Secrets” and “Prisoner of Azkabam” films, Monkey for “Order of the Phoenix”, and Uno for the “Half Blood Prince” film. Other dogs hired to play Fang or stand in for him included Bully (rescued from a junkyard and adopted by the trainer), Bella and Vito.
Though all of the dogs had the Mastiff trait of large jowls and a tendency to over-salivate, Gary Gero often joked about Hugo that his problem was the worst. He said he could train him to do anything, but he couldn’t train him not to drool. This was evident when the two appeared on a popular television show in London in 2003, and Hugo proceeded to shake his head and drool all over the host (“presenter”) Fern Bitton.
For a week in 2013, when Warner Brother Studios opened their Harry Potter Tour in London, one of the highlights of the tour was the fact that several of the animals from the films were on hand to greet visitors, including dogs who’d played Fang.