What Kind of Dog Is Max From The Grinch?

By John Martin - January 30, 2023

Miniature Dachshund laying on side

Watching or reading Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is a widely loved Christmas tradition, and one of the reasons for this, apart from the story itself, is undoubtedly Max, the Grinch’s canine best friend.

The Grinch may have stolen Christmas, but Max definitely stole all our hearts, despite sharing the screen with names like Jim Carrey and Benedict Cumberbatch!

But a question that dog lovers have long pondered—what kind of dog is Max?

Which Dog Played Max?

As per the Animal Humane Association, Max is not one dog in the 2000 live-action movie—the adorable pooch was portrayed by six different shelter rescue dogs.

Chip, Kelly, Stella, Topsy, Bo, and Zelda are the six mixed-breed dogs that played Max in the 2000 live-action version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”.

If that has you worrying about the animals’ safety on set, given how many stunts Max needed to do in the movie, you can rest easy—plenty of precautions and harnesses were in place to protect the dog playing Max while bringing the scene to life in the best possible way.

In the animated “The Grinch”, there was none of this to worry about since Max was obviously animated!

However, though animation made stunts easier, it’s harder to pin down what exactly Max’s breed is since the dog playing the character isn’t real and features exaggerated traits that can’t be achieved in real-life doggo actors.

What we do know for sure, though, is that as it is in the original, Max in “The Grinch” is also a mutt or a mixed-breed dog.

Could Max Be a Terrier Mix?

Despite the ambiguity surrounding Max’s features, his tan fur and curved brown ears indicate that Max could be a terrier mix.

Even the dogs who played Max in the live-action version resemble Wheaton Terrier and Airedale Terrier mixes, distinguished by the small build and wiry coat.

Further, terriers are highly energetic, spunky dogs who tend to look scruffy even at their groomed best—features that are reflected in Max.

Additionally, regardless of whether he’s scared of his master, as he’s portrayed to be in some versions, or a loving companion, as portrayed in others, Max is undeniably intelligent across all versions, and extremely loyal to his master, choosing to see the best in him.

This is similar to terriers, highly intelligent dogs who will go to any lengths to protect their family, including never backing down from a fight.

Lastly, Max is portrayed to be stubborn, bold, and willful, with an air of sophistication, which are features that terriers also have.

A Little Bit about Terriers

Terriers, despite their small size, have a fierce history—they were bred to be hunting dogs meant to hunt and kill rats, mice, and other vermin.

Terriers come in different sizes—breeds such as the West Highland White Terrier, Cairn, and Norfolk are generally small dogs, while the Airedale Terrier is the larger one among them.

Terriers are excellent pets to those who can handle their determination, stubbornness, extremely high energy levels, and high grooming and maintenance needs.

Wrapping Up

Considering the general characteristics of terriers and the unambiguous characteristics of Max, it seems like the adorable character is a terrier mix.

Regardless of his breed, Max shone on screen and continues to be a much-loved character in a much-loved tale!