September 11, 2015 | Posted in Famous TV & Movie Dogs

Hooch-255PXFilm fans will always remember the clumsy, destructive, slobbery but completely lovable dog Hooch from the 1989 comedy/drama/crime film “Turner & Hooch.”

It was an early film for Tom Hanks, who played a cop named Turner.  In the film, Hooch is a “witness” to a murder and Turner takes him on as a partner to solve the crime.

Most people had never seen a dog resembling Hooch, with his large head and short body. The film more or less introduced the actual breed – the Dogue de Bordeaux – to the public.

The Dogue de Bordeaux is also known as a French Mastiff.  It is a breed that may have existed as far back as the 15th century. They were bred as hunters and guard dogs, not the laid-back type shown in the film.

A kennel in Merrimac, Wisconsin was well-known for breeding the dogs. In 1978 a chocolate brown Dogue named Beasley was born. He and three other Dogues were later purchased by trainer Clint Rowe, with an eye for possible film careers. Ironically, Clint Rowe appeared briefly in “Turner & Hooch” as an ASPCA officer.

Beasley was 10 years old when he made the film with Tom Hanks and it was his only major film credit, though he did appear in the pilot for a “Turner & Hooch” television series that never took off.

Besides Beasley, the other Dogues, named Barry, Vigor and Cristo, were hired as stunt doubles, though Cristo never ended up appearing on camera.

Beasley was so strong that several takes were necessary when scenes were shot of Turner walking Hooch, since Tom Hanks simply couldn’t hang on to the leash!

SPOILER IN CASE YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE FILM:  The death scene was filmed as the last scene of the movie shoot and was said to greatly affect Hanks, who knew he would never work with Beasley again. They’d become close during filming. Hanks actually objected to the ending, saying in interviews that he thought Hooch should have lived in the film because it would have received better reactions from audiences.

The film was definitely a hit, though.  It remains popular today. Dogue de Bourdeaux were later featured on “Sex & the City” and “General Hospital” following the release of the film. References have been made to “Turner & Hooch” on television shows such as “Scrubs” and “Castle,” whenever talking about great partnerships.

The average lifespan of the breed is short – only 5 or 6 years.  But Beasley surprised everyone by outliving his fellow canine actors in the film. He passed away at nearly 14 years old.