- The John Wick franchise has made dogs a central part of the story, with the iconic beagle named Daisy being played by an animal actor named Andy.
- The filmmakers went to great lengths to ensure that the dogs in the movies were well-trained and kept safe during production, using multiple animals for different stunts.
- While practical stunt work was prioritized, CGI was used in some instances to enhance the realism of the dog attacks, particularly in scenes where the dogs were biting villains in sensitive areas.
The John Wick franchise is likely known for two things by now – Keanu Reeves’ training regime and the John Wick dogs. It’s strange to think a series of action films that have done so well critically and financially are equally popular with fans of high-octane tightly choreographed gun-fu action sequences and lovers of canine companions. Dogs have been so centric to the John Wick films that they’ve acted as motivation for Wick’s revenge, helped him in his recovery, and aided John in fights. The first John Wick movie was all about his dog, as the bad guys killed the pup (Daisy), that was sent to him by his deceased wife.
The dog is what sent John Wick on his mission of vengeance to begin with. John got another dog, a pitbull, in the John Wick ending, and he has been his good boy and companion ever since. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum introduces combat dogs, and John Wick: Chapter 4’s dog brings the franchise full circle. The dogs have played almost as big a role as any human and are more trustworthy than most. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that there are many dog-related facts pertaining to the action series, and there’s more to the John Wick dogs than the movies reveal.
12 Andy The Beagle’s Acting Debut
Daisy, the John Wick dog whose death inspired the line “Yeah, I’m thinking I’m back,” was played by an animal actor named Andy. It was actually his first role, at eight months old, purchased from a breeder specifically for the film. According to Animal Actors International trainer Kim Krafsky, a beagle was picked because “There’s this thing about them, they’re just cute” (via New York Post). Andy took to the press circuit with the rest of the cast. Following his big-screen debut, Andy took some time off, spending it on the Animal Actors International farm in New Jersey.
11 John Wick’s Dog Almost Survived
John Wick has had two faithful four-legged companions. In the franchise sequels, John is joined by a pitbull named Bubba. Originally though, Wick owned a beagle named Daisy, left to him by his deceased wife who was tragically murdered spurring the events of the first film. Arguably, the death of this John Wick dog was the thing that made his unending revenge kill streak relatable. However, John Wick director Chad Stahelski revealed that they almost didn’t go through with the dog’s death. The director explained:
“We were risking credit cards, a house mortgage, everything. [Producer] Basil Iwanyk put his company up. And then you have that day where you realize we’re doing all this and we’re killing a puppy? I thought we would never come back from it.“
10 The Pitbulls Were Played By Two Dogs
Unfortunately, Daisy dies in the first ten minutes of John Wick, but in the film’s final scenes, John adopts a pitbull to save it from being put down. This John Wick dog has been played by two different animals in both John Wick: Chapter 2 and John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. Chapter 2 saw the part played by Burton (who Keanu took to calling Bubba), and then Cha Cha in Parabellum (via Pup Help). John’s second sidekick has yet to be given a name, likely because the assassin doesn’t want to get too attached. Not even John Wick: Chapter 4 revealed the John Wick dog’s name.
9 Dogs Fought Horses During John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum’s Production
A common saying in Hollywood goes” “Never work with children or animals,” inferring that they will steal every scene they’re in, and often make shooting said scenes more difficult. This was definitely the case while filming the third John Wick movie in New York. The animal actor Cha Cha, the second dog who played Wick’s pitbull, picked a fight with a horse. Luckily Cha Cha came out of the altercation unharmed. It was likely caused by the onset of chaos due to the stress of shooting in such a loud and high-pressure environment, especially as even the horses were involved in the action sequences.
8 Five Dogs Played The Malinois Shepherds
In John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, John Wick calls in a favor from the manager of the Casablanca branch of the Continental Hotel, Sofia Al-Awar (Halle Berry). The character constantly has two Belgian Malinois Shepherds by her side, but these dogs weren’t played by only two dogs. They were in fact played by five separate stunt dogs so that different animal actors could be used for different stunts, and so that no individual dog became too stressed or fatigued. The John Wick dogs were named; Santana, Tai, Sam 7, Boyca, and Ikar, and each had a special relationship with their on and off-screen handler, Halle Berry (via The Ringer).
7 Halle Berry Didn’t Need A Dog Trainer In John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
They might not be John Wick’s dogs, but Sofia’s Belgian Shepherds steal the show in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. They pull off impressive stunts during the Casablanca shootout, but there wasn’t an animal handler just off-camera or hiding in the scene. The Belgian Shepherds were basically Halle Berry’s dogs. Following her casting as Sofia, Berry had a sit-down chat with the directors, in which they discussed how hands-on the role would be. Not only did she take on combat and weapons training regimes as vigorous as Reaves, but she also spent time training and bonding with the dogs (via The Ringer).
6 There Were Cats On Set Of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
During the filming of their big action set piece in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, Halle Berry and the filmmakers only really had one problem keeping the dogs well-behaved. The scene was filmed in the North African country Morroco, an area in which stray cats roam in large numbers and care little for Hollywood film sets. According to John Wick 3’s Halle Berry, the cats were, “everywhere, and when my dogs saw cats they went ballistic.” In an interview included on the film’s Blu-ray, Berry goes on to explain that cats would stroll onto the set and the dogs would chase after them mid-scene, disrupting the filmmaking process.
5 No CGI Dogs Are In John Wick
Practical stunt work is a big part of the John Wick franchise with the vast majority of what’s seen achieved by actors and stuntmen. This extends to the John Wick dogs as well. In a podcast, director Chad Stahelski weighed in on the dogs. The director said, “There’s no such thing as a movie dog. It’s just a dog doing his thing on set” (via ReelBlend). As a result, some of the hardest scenes to film involved trained animals. “When a dog attacks, it’s actually trying to injure a person.” When viewers see a dog attack a character, it’s really going for the attack and is not acting.
4 The Wall Climb Really Happened
In John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, there is a stunt where one of Sofia’s dogs leaps from her back and climbs up a second-story balcony. There was no CGI involved. The film’s visual effects supervisor, Rob Nederhorst, pointed out on Twitter that all dog-related stunts were real, including the wall climb (via The Slate). “The dog climbed up that wall. Our action team was incredible and I am honored to have worked with them.” It’s actually well within the realms of reality for a dog to clear a 5-foot jump with a running start or to scramble up a 15-foot wall, and that’s without the added benefit of a Halle Berry leg-up.
3 Andy The Beagle Needed Bacon To Hit His Mark
Andy, the animal actor who played the first John Wick dog, Daisy, was only eight months old when he took on the pivotal role in the 2014 movie. In that respect, it’s not surprising that he wasn’t the most well-trained of animal actors. In the opening scenes of the film, Andy is shown palling around the house with Keanu Reeves, but he often missed his mark. In fact, the only way to entice Andy into jumping onto John’s bed and licking his face was to spread bacon grease on the actor’s cheeks (via Pup Help).
2 CGI Was Used So The John Wick 3 Dogs Could Bite Villains In The Crotch
While the filmmakers loved to praise the stuntwork – humans and dogs alike – and practical effects, there was at least one area with CGI. Trainers point dogs in a direction, and the dogs do what their training calls for, but dogs are not actors. For many reasons, a dog cannot bite an actor in the crotch and do so practically and safely. In the third John Wick movie, the dogs were taught to play-attack the bad guys, but it needed to look real. CGI cones were placed over the stunt performer’s crotches, so CGI could make the damage caused by the John Wick dogs look real in the end.
1 Five Different Dogs Played The John Wick: Chapter 4 Dog
While Mr. Nobody’s dog in John Wick: Chapter 4 doesn’t have a name and is only referred to in production notes as the “faithful accomplice,” Stahelski became extremely close with the dog, or the five dogs, that played the combat-loving canine (via AS). The director revealed, “Not only did I get acquainted with them, I worked to understand their energy and build a believable relationship.” Each of the five trained John Wick dogs had their own specific skill that the faithful accomplice showcases in the fourquel, as Stahelski added, “Each one had a different personality, energy, and skill set. One dog did the tugging, another fetched.”