Dogs are man’s best friend, even if that man—or in this case, creature—is a grumpy, green, Christmas-hating Grinch.
In the 2000 live-action movie adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas starring Jim Carrey, Max is the Grinch’s dog and best friend. But what kind of dog is Max? The brief answer is that Max, The Grinch’s loyal companion is a mixed-breed dog of unknown pedigree. Though it gets more interesting than you might think.
Max From the Grinch is a Mutt
Max looked like he leapt from the book to the screen. He looked exactly like the Dr. Seuss illustrations of the character! He had the same shaggy, brown fur, the same big ears, and the same goofy, lovable face.
Whether we’re talking about the original Dr. Seuss book or the Jim Carrey movie, Max is a mutt. That is, he’s a mixed-breed dog with no definitive origins.
The 6 Different Dogs Played Max in the Grinch Movie
Here’s a fun tidbit: six different dogs played Max in the 2000 live-action Grinch movie. Even better, they were all shelter dogs who were rescued and then trained for their big break. Talk about a feel-good Hollywood story.
Their names were equally cute: “Max” was played by Stella, Chip, Bo, Kelly, Zelda, and Topsy. Here are more fun facts about the dogs who played Max:
They Had to Wear Fake Ears
Max’s furry ears are so long that the dog actors had to wear special headpieces with attached ears while filming. We’re not sure how they managed to keep those things on, but they did!
They Had to Wear Fake Antlers, Too
Aside from their fake ears, the dogs also had to wear a headpiece designed to look like antlers. This was for the scene where the Grinch and Max fly down from Mount Crumpit on a makeshift sleigh. And because they had to “fly,” the dogs also wore harnesses that were covered in fur. The harnesses made sure they were safe and secure while filming.
No Version of Max Was Kicked in the Movie
The Grinch kicks Max in the books and movie, and it was heartbreaking for us viewers! Max was just trying to show his excitement about going to the Whobilation, and the cold-hearted Grinch punted him away.
Thankfully, no dogs were actually harmed during the filming of this scene. The special effects team used a stuffy (a type of puppet) that was shaped and furred to look like Max.
The Dogs Were Rewarded With Treats for Acting
Movie or not, the fundamentals of training a dog are the same: make it fun, praise them when they do well, and shower them with treats. That’s exactly what the trainers did on the set of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
For example, the Grinch loved his monologues. But in order to get Max to pay attention during long stretches of dialogue, the trainer gave the dogs lots of treats during rehearsal when they were being attentive. That way, when it came time to film, the dogs knew they’d be rewarded for paying attention and sitting still.
Max also had a cave scene where he had to carry a wrench in his mouth and wear a hard hat. He had to deposit the wrench into the toolbox. The whole time, the trainer was standing just off camera, ready to give Max a treat as soon as he put the wrench in.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas became one of the most beloved movies of all time. It’s a holiday classic that’s sure to put a smile on your face—even if you’re as grumpy as the Grinch himself.
And a big part of that is thanks to Max, the lovable mutt who stole our hearts. Next time you watch the movie, see if you can spot all the different dogs who played him!