Hagrid’s beloved dog Fang appears in both the Harry Potter books and movies–but what kind of dog is Fang? You might be surprised to learn that Fang wasn’t the same breed of dog in the books and the movies. Let’s take a look at this gentle giant and learn more about him (and the dogs that portrayed him)–and why the movies opted for a different dog breed than the books!
What Breed is Fang (Harry Potter Movies)?
In the Harry Potter film series, Fang was portrayed as a Neapolitan Mastiff. These dogs are known for their large size, loose wrinkled skin, and a very distinct appearance.
Related post: 120+ Harry Potter Dog Names (& Their Meanings!)
Unlike three-headed Fluffy, Fang was played by a real dog (actually more than one). Throughout the long span of the movie series, more than one dog took on the role of Fang including Bella, Bully, Luigi and Vito. Here are the principle actors:
Hugo was one of the primary dogs used to portray Fang in the earlier Harry Potter films. He was featured prominently in the first two movies, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
Following Hugo, another Neapolitan Mastiff named Monkey took over the role in the later films, continuing to bring Fang’s character to life on the big screen.
Monkey went on to be the subject of a book called Rescue Me: The incredible true story of the abandoned Mastiff who became a movie star. The book was written by the trainer who adopted Monkey (then called Hercules) as a severely underweight dog who had been neglected then abandoned.
Prior to joining the cast of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince as a rookie animal actor, Uno, a Neapolitan mastiff, had been adopted by her trainers after suspected mistreatment from a previous owner.
Her initial reactions to loud noises and sudden approaches indicated deep-seated fear. However, while working on set alongside caring trainers and adoring cast members, Uno’s confidence soared.
She embraced the attention bestowed upon her with delight and quickly learned to trust those around her. For her extraordinary transformation, American Humane proudly presented Uno with a Pawscar for Outstanding Animal Achievement.
But Fang from Harry Potter Books is a Different Breed!
While you might picture Fang as a Neopolitan Mastiff, the books portray him as a different type of dog altogether:
An enormous boarhound came bounding out of the darkness. Its eyes were glowing. The three of them froze. Then the boarhound sniffed Harry’s hand and began to wag its tail, showing that it had done so before.Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
A boarhound is a term used to describe a type of dog bred for hunting–you guessed it–wild boar. Historically, these dogs were bred for their strength, speed, and courage, necessary traits for facing a wild boar, which can be a very dangerous prey.
The term “boarhound” can refer to several breeds of dogs, and historically it has often referred to breeds like the Great Dane.
In the context of the Harry Potter series, Fang, Hagrid’s dog, is described as a boarhound, signifying that he is a large and potentially powerful dog, even though Fang’s personality is quite gentle and friendly. It helps to build the setting and the characterization of Hagrid, who has an affinity for large and often dangerous creatures but maintains a gentle demeanor himself.
Why did Fang’s breed get changed between the books and movies?
The filmmakers likely chose Neapolitan Mastiffs for the role of Fang for several possible reasons:
- Visual Impact: Neapolitan Mastiffs are known for their distinctive appearance, which includes a large frame, loose wrinkled skin, and a strong, muscular build. This breed’s imposing look could have been seen as more visually striking and more in line with the kind of “giant” dog that Hagrid, who himself is a giant, might choose.
- Character Consistency: The Neapolitan Mastiff has a gentle and affectionate nature, similar to Fang’s personality as described in the books. This breed often forms close bonds with its owners, mirroring the close relationship Fang has with Hagrid in both the books and the movies.
- Creative License: Filmmakers often take creative liberties when adapting books to the screen to enhance the visual storytelling or to bring a fresh perspective to the material. The change in breed might have simply been a creative choice that the filmmakers felt would add to the richness of the Harry Potter world on screen.
Are You in Love with Neopolitan Mastiffs?
If Fang has piqued your interest in Neopolitan Mastiffs, you will find several rescues that feature these gentle giants: