The Grinch Stole Christmas Dog

In 2000, Hollywood decided audiences needed a live-action movie starring Jim Carrey as the terrifying-looking green creature from Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas. The film later won multiple Oscars, became one of the highest-grossing holiday films of all time, and remains one of the most beloved Christmas specials to date. But the real star of the movie isn’t Carrey as the Grinch; it’s Max the Dog, his ever-loyal best friend.

According to the Animal Humane Association, Max is played by six different mixed-breed shelter rescue dogs: Kelly, Chip, Topsy, Stella, Zelda, and Bo. Lots of harnesses and precautions were employed to bring Maxs scenes to life, and it was worth it, too — that pup is the best part of the movie. “Max is much more than just the Grinchs loyal dog and unwitting accomplice,” the Animal Humane Association wrote on its website. “In fact, Max may be the true hero of the story, as his humor, devotion, and likeability outshine even the Whos down in Whoville.”

This pup stands by his owner through it all — even the Grinchs deranged plan to, you know, steal Christmas from Whoville. “Max is the world’s greatest dog, let alone the Grinchs best companion,” actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who voiced the Grinch in a 2018 animated adaptation, told USA Today. “Anyone should be so lucky to have a Max in their life.”

Max is the dog and companion of The Grinch, debuting as the secondary antagonist in the book How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Max is also a prominent character in the television special, the film adaptation, and the musical adaptation (See The CGI Version of Max). He acts as The Grinchs reindeer in the book and its adaptations.

In the television special, Max has slightly changed in appearance, mainly in his face. He was voiced by Dallas McKennon, then voiced by Henry Gibson and now Frank Welker (narrator of “Maxs Playhouse” DVD segment “The Care and Feeding of a Grinch”). His only two speaking lines are “Yipe!” and “Raaaahhh!” performed by Dallas McKennon, while being hit by the Grinchs whip. He has brown curved ears and tan fur.

He’s Willing To Try New Things

The Grinch dresses Max up as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to lead his stealing-Christmas sleigh, and Max is kind of willing to roll with it — until his owner realizes the whole thing is a bad idea.

During the Grinch’s Christmas Eve pillage, he encounters a cat in one of the Whoville homes. The Grinch wrestles with the cat and then “Whoovers” him up in his handy vacuum tube. The kitty’s fur was blown by a hair dryer on a low, cool speed to simulate vacuum pressure. To create the illusion of the cat being drawn into the vacuum, a fur-covered harness with a piece of filament wire was attached to the cat. When the trainer pulled the wire, the cat was gently pulled along with it. The cat was very calm and laid-back throughout filming. The cat bulge in the vacuum tube was actually a stuffy, and the entire sequence was enhanced with digital computer effects. Also, when the feline seemingly landed on the Grinch’s face, Jim Carrey was actually lying on the padded floor while a trainer gently placed the cat in his outstretched hands. Afterwards, another trainer took the cat from him and out of the frame. The mouse in the previous scene was also delicately handled, while the termites and moths were computer generated.

While the Grinch’s heart literally—and painfully—grows to match his newfound love for humanity, Max barks and whines in distress along with his master. For this scene, Max’s part was filmed separately so that she wouldn’t be frightened by the Grinch’s sudden attack. The dog was reacting to the trainer’s cues rather than to the Grinch’s antics. Soon after, however, the Grinch finally professes his love for his canine companion, and Max affectionately licks his master’s face. The trainer prompted the dog to do this by placing baby food on the actor’s cheek. Yet Max’s ultimate reward, perhaps, is his hearty serving of “roast beast,” as he revels in the Christmas celebration in Whoville. The dog obediently sat at the crowded dinner table after the trainer told her to “stay,” and enjoyed a helping of ham.

It’s been quite a journey for the “Max” dogs. They’ve been rescued from shelters, trained to be movie stars, snagged a major motion picture, adopted into loving, secure homes, and finally—at least for Topsy, Stella, Zelda, and Bo—retired from show business. Although it was a brief career, their paw print has been made—and judging by the potential blockbuster-status of the Dr. Seuss classic, it won’t go unnoticed.

In the cave, Max is unamused by his master’s negativity regarding Christmas, but stands by him nonetheless. For the following sequences, the trainer cued the dog with various commands: “on your feet,” “pick it up,” “hold it,” “look here,” and the basic “sit,” “stay,” and “speak.” After Max presented the Grinch with Cindy-Lou Who’s invitation to the “Holiday Cheer-Meister of the Year Award” ceremony, the trainer removed the paper from the dog’s mouth and rewarded her with a treat. Also, a stuffy was used when the Grinch cold-heartedly kicks Max—who was excitedly Jingle Bell-Rockin’ at the Grinch’s decision to go to the ceremony—through the air.

Schumacher actually begins the process of finding a home for his rescues almost immediately. He finds, however, that once the dogs are on a film set, there are usually cast and crew members—and people peeking through their office windows—who want to adopt a pet and approach him first. In order to properly match the dog with his or her prospective owner, Schumacher talks to the interested parties about their background with pets, and also observes them with the animal to discover whether or not they’ll make good owners. If he cannot place a dog after wrapping a film, the dog lives with Schumacher in the interim; the dogs never go back to the pound or shelter.


What is the dog’s name in the Grinch who stole Christmas?

The Grinch, helped by his loyal dog, Max, in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” (ABC/AMERICAN BROADCASTING COMPANIES, INC.)

Is the dog from the Grinch still alive?

The Grinch, helped by his loyal dog, Max, in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” (ABC/AMERICAN BROADCASTING COMPANIES, INC.)