Dog breed in Beethoven movie: Saint Bernard

Saint Bernard is the dog breed in the Beethoven movies.

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What is the dog breed in the Beethoven movie?

By Emilie Heyl Content Writer

Updated on the

Ever wondered about the dog breed in the Beethoven movie? The film tells the tale of a big, slobbery dog named Beethoven. Let’s meet the film’s canine star.

Beethoven was a hugely popular family film released in 1992. Created by Brian Levant, the movie centres around one of the most famous Saint Bernards in history, Beethoven, played by an adorable pup named Kris. The imposing and adorable Saint Bernard, weighing nearly 190 pounds, was an adorable character in the movie, making a lot of people laugh as his huge body and tail would knock everything over in its path. 

While he was always hungry and often disaster-prone at home due to his size, you could not help but fall in love with him, which made the film so successful.

Want to know more about the dog breed in the Beethoven movie and who played one of the most famous dogs in Hollywood? Read on!

What is the movie Beethoven about?

The movie Beethoven is about a Saint Bernard dog named after the composer Ludwig van Beethoven, who belongs to the Newton family.

When he was a puppy, the Saint Bernard escaped during a robbery from a pet shop where he was for sale. The dog escaped the thieves and took refuge in the Newtons’ house. The father, George, was initially reluctant to adopt him, but the children desperately wanted to keep the puppy. George finally gave in and agreed to keep the Saint Bernard, and it’s a good thing he did. In the movie, the dog saves the life of Emily by pulling her out of the pool where she was drowning. The dog also helped Ted finally be respected in his school and got Ryce noticed by a handsome boy called Mark. 

The family called him Beethoven after he barked when the famous Symphony No. 5 played. The family vet, a real crook looking for dogs to perform scientific experiments, set up a conspiracy to get Beethoven back. Will he succeed? You’ll have to watch the movie to find out.

Beethoven’s life-saving act, rescue efforts, and George and the Newton family’s journey with the dog create an engaging plot. The movie’s success led to seven sequels, though the absence of the Newton family in later films somewhat diminished the charm of the Beethoven series. Here is a list of all the Beethoven films:

  • Beethoven (1992)
  • Beethoven 2 (1993)
  • Beethoven 3 (2000)
  • Beethoven 4 (2001)
  • Beethoven 5 (2003)
  • Beethoven’s Big Break (2008)
  • Beethoven's Christmas Adventure (2011)
  • Beethoven's Treasure Tail (2014)

There was also an American animated series with 26 episodes launched in 1994.

What is the dog breed in the Beethoven movie?

The dog breed playing Beethoven is a Saint Bernard. This dog breed is a large mountain dog with a muscular body and a massive, broad head. Depending on its variety, it is either long-haired or short-haired (a rarer variety). The coat can be smooth or slightly wavy but always white, with large reddish-brown patches on the back and flanks. The eyes of the Saint Bernard are very expressive and are surrounded by black, which covers the face down to the bottom of the cheeks, except for the muzzle. The St. Bernard can also be recognised by the thick and marked folds on its head. The heavy, long and drooping tail is very recognisable.

Beyond their appearance, Saint Bernards are known as gentle, intelligent, and non-aggressive dogs devoted to their families with a strong attachment to their homes, making them effective guard dogs. These dogs enjoy playing with children and make excellent canine companions for active older people. However, despite their gentle nature, they can be very stubborn

Notably, Saint Bernards are recognised for their effectiveness as rescue dogs, driven by highly developed instincts, a keen sense of smell, and acute hearing. The dogs' natural inclination to assist those in need has solidified their reputation as reliable and compassionate rescue dogs over the years, making them one of the best-known and beloved breeds in history.

Is the Saint Bernard a good family pet?

Saint Bernards can make great family pets. Known for their gentle and friendly nature, they are good with children and usually get along with most other pets. However, as they are big and strong, dog training is important from a young age to ensure they walk well on a lead and know the right way to behave.

Was Beethoven a real dog in the movie?

The imposing and somewhat clumsy character of Beethoven was played by a real Saint Bernard named Kris (sometimes spelt Chris). Kris made two movies before other Saint Bernards replaced him. Sadly, Kris passed away due to natural causes following the release of the second movie.

Beethoven exhibits all the distinctive traits of the Saint Bernard dog breed across the Beethoven movies and is a great advertisement for both the physical features and the typical personality. His substantial size and thick coat perfectly represent the breed's characteristic appearance, mirroring the traits of Saint Bernards. Additionally, Beethoven showcases a strong inclination to form close bonds with his family, a hallmark behaviour of the breed. However, some of his more energetic escapades, such as the memorable barbecue debacle, deviate from the generally laid-back nature of large breeds. 

Who was Kris, the most famous Beethoven performer? 

Kris, the most famous Beethoven performer, was a St. Bernard chosen for the iconic role by dog trainer Teresa Ann Miller. Known for her expertise in handling various breeds for film and television, Teresa had previously trained Rex, the German Shepherd police dog in Sex Tape (2014), and animals for Lethal Weapon (1987) and Lethal Weapon 3 (1992).

Bought from a dog breeder, Kris, a sizable and good-natured St. Bernard, was challenging to train due to his somewhat lazy disposition. Despite this, his affectionate nature endeared him to the cast and crew, earning him the endearing nickname "Ham." Kris's training under Teresa's guidance showcased his friendly and gentle demeanour. In an exclusive interview, Teresa shared how Kris was oblivious to his own size. She revealed, 

"Kris was a GREAT kid! He had no idea how big he was and often wanted to sit as close as possible and sometimes on top of you."

Is the dog that played Beethoven still alive?

After delivering memorable performances in the first two Beethoven films, Kris also appeared in the occasional advertisement and print media and contributed to various charities and fundraisers. Following a great career in front of the camera, Kris enjoyed a well-deserved retirement at his home in Southern California, where he enjoyed a happy and loving life as a much-loved pet. 

Unfortunately, in 2007, Kris died of natural causes at the age of 12, marking the end of an era. Though Kris is no longer with us, his legacy lives on through his films. His contributions to the cinematic world and the hearts he touched make Kris, the eternal Beethoven, an unforgettable part of canine history.

Are there health issues associated with the Saint Bernard breed?

Like many large breeds, Saint Bernards are prone to health issues such as hip dysplasia, heart conditions and a type of bone cancer called osteosarcoma. Their deep-chested build also makes them more prone to bloat. Responsible breeding practices, regular veterinary check-ups, proper nutrition, water, and exercise can help mitigate these risks.

The Beethoven film is a heartwarming tale that not only showcases the iconic St. Bernard but also highlights the importance of love, loyalty, and the bond between humans and their canine companions.

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