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Beethoven: The true story of the most famous Saint Bernard of Hollywood

Beethoven dog movie with Saint Bernard

Meet Beethoven the most famous Saint Bernard dog in Hollywood!

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Beethoven, the famous movie released in 1992 tells the story of an intrusive but loving St. Bernard. Find out more about this movie and get ready to meet Kris, the most famous Beethoven performer.

By Emilie Heyl

Updated on the

Beethoven is probably the most famous St. Bernard. The American movie "Beethoven", released in 1992 and created by Brian Levant was a huge success.

Beethoven is an imposing and adorable Saint Bernard weighing nearly 190 pounds. This adorable tornado made a lot of people laugh because it would sweep everything on its path. But Beethoven was just a dog who was overflying its family with love and you just could not help but fall in love with this huge dog. He was always hungry, and very invasive but so adorable! That's why the film was so successful.

Want to know more about the movie Beethoven and Kris the Saint Bernard 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 and belonging to the Newton family.

The story revolves around a St. Bernard who escaped from a pet shop, where he was offered for sale, during a robbery when he was a puppy. He escaped from the thieves and took refuge in the Newtons' house. The father was reluctant to adopt him at first, but the children desperately wanted to keep the puppy. The dad ended up agreeing on keeping the Saint Bernard and he sure did well. Indeed, in the movie, the dog saved the life of Emily, the youngest child in the family, by pulling her out of the pool where she was drowning. The dog helped Ted to finally be respected in his school, and gave Ryce the chance to be noticed by Mark, the handsome boy in school. George, the father, ended up loving the dog. They decided to name him Beethoven after barking when the famous Symphony No. 5 was playing. The family vet, a real crook who was 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…

The film was such a success that seven sequels were made in total. However, the Newton family from the first two movies no longer appeared from the third movie until the last. This kind of broke the charm of the "Beethoven" sequels.

Here is a list of all the Beethoven movies:

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

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

What dog breed is Beethoven in the movies?

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 St. 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.

The St. Bernard is a gentle, intelligent, devoted and non-aggressive dog. It is a dog that loves to play with children. Faithful and affectionate, the St. Bernard is also a very good pet for elderly people who are still active. His gentle nature does not prevent him from being stubborn. He is particularly attached to the place where he lives and will do anything to defend it making him a great guard dog. The St. Bernard is also known for its rescue qualities, which are based on its highly developed instinct, sense of smell and hearing. It cannot help but come to the aid of a person it thinks is in trouble.

Find out all you need to know about the Saint Bernard.

Was Beethoven a real dog in the movie?

This imposing and somewhat clumsy animal was played by a real dog named Kris. Kris made two movies before he was replaced by other Saint Bernards. Kris was actually used in the first two movies, but sadly passed away of natural causes after the second movie was released.

Who was Kris, the most famous Beethoven performer? 

Kris, a St Bernard trained by Teresa Ann Miller, was chosen to play the imposing and lovable Beethoven, the Newton’s family dog. Teresa is a dog trainer and has trained many animals for film and television. Among them, the famous Rex, the police dog, the German shepherd in Sex Tape (2014) or other animals in Lethal Weapon (1987) and Lethal Weapon 3 (1992).

Concerning Kris, the task was rather difficult because, like any good large dog, he was a bit lazy. But he was also very affectionate and good-natured. The crew called him "Ham" and he was the centre of attention.

Bought from a breeder, Teresa trained Kris for the Beethoven movie. In an exclusive interview, Teresa revealed that: "Kris was loved by the cast and crew, but he would often drool, which was even more evident with the whipped egg whites! It was epic! He was chosen and trained by my father Karl Lewis Miller. 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 Beethoven the dog still alive?

After starring in the first two episodes of the saga, Kris also appeared in some commercials, print media and various charities and fundraisers. He was then able to enjoy a well-deserved retirement at his home in Southern California, where he lived a happy and loving life. Kris died of natural causes in 2007 at the age of 12. But he remains eternal and forever in our hearts.

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