In a previous blog post, I made a list of celebrity Jack Russell Terrier owners, including several A-list Hollywood actors.
But it turns out that plenty of Jack Russells are stars in their own right. From TV sitcoms to blockbuster silver screen movies, Jack Russells truly pack some star power.
The contribution of Jack Russell Terriers to film and television is far from trivial. While Moose, the dog who plays Eddie from Frasier, and Uggie, the dog in The Artist, are two of the most famous Jack Russells, there are plenty more Jack Russell actors who have entertained us over the years.
Keep reading to find out which movies and TV shows star Jack Russell Terriers, and which Jack Russell actor became the first dog to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Movies starring Jack Russell Terriers include:
- Beethoven (1992)
- Richie Rich (1994)
- Clean Slate (1994)
- The Mask (1994)
- Babe: Pig in the City (1998)
- My Dog Skip (2000)
- Son of the Mask (2005)
- Hotel for Dogs (2009)
- Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009)
- Beginners (2010)
- Water for Elephants (2011)
- The Artist (2011)
- The Secret Life of Pets (2016)
- The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019)
TV shows starring Jack Russell Terriers include:
Let’s jump into the list starting with one of my childhood favorites – Beethoven starring a giant St. Bernard, with a little Jack Russell sidekick.
Beethoven is a family comedy film released in 1992 that tells the heartwarming story of a mischievous yet lovable 185 pound St. Bernard dog named Beethoven. While the movie primarily focuses on Beethoven, there is a memorable Jack Russell Terrier character named Sparky who plays a significant role in the film.
Sparky, with his energetic and spunky personality, belongs to the Newton family. He becomes an essential part of the story as Beethoven’s misadventures unfold. Throughout the film, Sparky displays loyalty, intelligence, and a fearless spirit, creating a delightful dynamic with Beethoven.
Sparky’s interactions with Beethoven offer comic relief and contribute to the film’s charming and humorous moments. His smaller size and energetic nature provide a contrast to Beethoven’s larger and more laid-back personality, resulting in entertaining scenes.
While Beethoven takes the spotlight in the movie, Sparky’s presence adds a touch of liveliness and contributes to the overall enjoyment of the film. His character exemplifies the spirited nature of Jack Russell Terriers and highlights the special bond that can develop between different dog breeds.
Sparky’s presence and spirited nature contribute to the film’s humor and reinforce the idea that dogs, regardless of their size or breed, can bring immense joy and love to their families.
Richie Rich (1994)
Richie Rich is a 1994 family comedy film about the adventures of the world’s richest kid, Richie Rich, played by Macaulay Culkin. A central part of Richie’s life, besides his wealth, is his pet dog, a Jack Russell Terrier named Dollar.
Richie Rich has everything money can buy, from his own McDonald’s franchise to a personal roller coaster, but he doesn’t have a typical child’s life. He is a billionaire who lives in a mansion and attends school via video conference.
His life takes a turn when his parents (Edward Herrmann and Christine Ebersole) disappear in a plane crash, presumably dead.
Richie’s loyal dog Dollar is a character that adds depth to Richie’s character, showing that despite all his wealth and privilege, Richie still cherishes companionship, loyalty, and love.
Dollar is Richie’s best friend and loyal sidekick who is often by his side during his adventures. This smart, energetic dog is not just a pet but also a part of Richie’s family.
When scheming executive Lawrence Van Dough (John Larroquette) attempts to take over the Rich family business while Richie’s parents are missing, it’s up to Richie, his new friends from the sandlot, their inventive Professor Keenbean (Michael McShane), and of course, the trustworthy Dollar to thwart his plans.
The resourceful Dollar provides much-needed emotional support to Richie during this time and even assists in some of the comic relief and action scenes that help Richie save the day.
In the end, Richie manages to uncover the plot, save his parents who were actually stranded but alive, and protect his family’s company. Throughout all of these events, Dollar remains a steadfast and true companion, showcasing the bond that Richie shares with his four-legged friend.
Clean Slate (1994)
Clean Slate is a 1994 comedy film directed by Mick Jackson. The film stars Dana Carvey as Maurice Pogue, a private detective who suffers from a peculiar form of amnesia that wipes his memory clean every time he falls asleep.
This condition is the result of a car bomb, and it creates unique challenges for Pogue as he is embroiled in a case involving a stolen rare coin.
The Jack Russell Terrier named Barkley plays a prominent role in the film. Barkley is Pogue’s companion and guide, helping him navigate through his daily life with memory loss.
Barkley is not only his pet but a reliable partner who provides continuity in his otherwise disoriented world.
This trained dog is able to perform an array of tasks such as turning off the alarm clock, fetching Pogue’s recorder – which he uses to record important information about his day – and being an overall supportive presence in his life.
Barkley also becomes an integral part of the film’s storyline. Not only does the dog assist Pogue in his daily routines, but he also ends up being a crucial element in the investigation.
Throughout the course of the film, Pogue and Barkley encounter various dangerous and comedic situations as they attempt to solve the case and keep Pogue’s condition a secret.
The film highlights the bond between the detective and Barkley, showing how crucial the terrier is for Pogue’s functionality, sanity, and ultimately, the resolution of his case.
The narrative underlines the importance of companionship and loyalty, using Barkley as a symbol of these values.
The dog’s cleverness and loyalty bring comedic relief as well as heartwarming moments to the film, making Barkley a memorable part of Clean Slate.
The Mask (1994)
The Mask is a 1994 comedy film directed by Charles Russell, starring Jim Carrey as Stanley Ipkiss, a mild-mannered bank clerk who transforms into a manic superhero when he wears a mysterious mask.
Stanley’s dog, Milo, is a Jack Russell Terrier played by a dog named Max. Throughout the film, Milo proves himself to be an intelligent and loyal companion to Stanley. The dog plays an essential role in the movie’s narrative, often providing comic relief but also assisting in crucial moments.
In the film, the mask Stanley discovers possesses magical properties that transform the wearer into a trickster who can warp reality, a persona Stanley dubs ‘The Mask’.
Milo demonstrates his intelligence and understanding when Stanley first transforms; unlike other characters who are frightened or confused, Milo quickly adapts to the change in his owner.
Milo’s most important role comes later in the film when Stanley is arrested and wrongly accused of crimes committed by another wearer of the mask.
Milo visits Stanley in jail, where Stanley instructs Milo to fetch the mask, which was taken by the police. Demonstrating his remarkable intelligence and loyalty, Milo successfully retrieves the mask and brings it to Stanley.
Milo even gets a chance to wear the mask himself in one scene, transforming into a super-dog capable of outsmarting the villain’s henchmen, further highlighting his significant role in the film.
In The Mask, Milo is a key supporting character, showcasing not only the loyal and affectionate relationship between a pet and its owner, but also stepping in as a hero when needed.
Babe: Pig in the City (1998)
Babe: Pig in the City is the 1998 sequel to the popular 1995 film Babe. It carries forward the narrative of the loveable pig named Babe, who had previously won hearts by demonstrating his unique sheep-herding skills at Farmer Hoggett’s farm.
The sequel takes a dramatic turn when the benevolent Farmer Hoggett suffers an unfortunate accident and becomes unable to work. This puts their farm in jeopardy as they struggle with unpaid debts and face the grim possibility of foreclosure.
To rescue their home, Babe and Mrs. Hoggett embark on an adventurous journey to a city fair where they hope to win a grand prize.
The bustling city is a sharp contrast to their serene farm and introduces Babe to a variety of unique animals, each with their distinctive personalities and stories. One of these is Flealick, a one-legged Jack Russell Terrier.
Despite having lost a leg, Flealick refuses to be slowed down and uses a wheeled prosthetic to maintain his mobility.
Flealick is not only spirited and energetic but also embodies resilience and adaptability. His determination, courage, and zest for life inspire not just Babe, but all the other city animals who find themselves grappling with their unique challenges.
Flealick’s disability doesn’t hinder him; instead, he emerges as a leader and a source of inspiration, effectively showcasing resourcefulness and courage.
The heart of the city, pulsating with noise and chaos, becomes a playground for Babe, Flealick, and their newfound friends. Here they learn crucial life lessons about unity, kindness, and the diverse forms of family.
They navigate numerous adventures together, and with their collective wit and bravery, they succeed in outsmarting the city’s animal control officers.
My Dog Skip (2000)
My Dog Skip is a heartwarming 2000 family drama based on the autobiographical novel by Willie Morris. The film depicts the story of a shy boy named Willie, played by Frankie Muniz, and his relationship with his loyal Jack Russell Terrier, Skip.
In Yazoo, Mississippi, during World War II, Willie is a quiet and withdrawn 9-year-old boy who gets little attention from kids his age. On his birthday, his parents, played by Diane Lane and Kevin Bacon, gift him a Jack Russell Terrier puppy that he names Skip.
The character of Skip is played by six different dogs throughout the movie, including a dog named Moose, best known for playing Eddie on the TV show Frasier. The use of multiple dogs allowed for the filmmakers to depict Skip in various stages of life and activities, demonstrating the versatility of this breed.
Skip quickly becomes not only Willie’s companion but his bridge to the world, helping him make friends and navigate life in a small town. Skip’s adventures range from chasing moonshiners to winning a football game, all while teaching Willie about bravery, loyalty, and friendship.
The relationship between Willie and Skip is the heart of the movie, showing the profound bond that can exist between a child and his dog.
With Skip’s help, Willie transforms from a loner into a confident young man, as they share numerous adventures and life lessons. This is more than a story about a boy and his dog; it is a story about growing up, learning about life, and dealing with loss.
In the end, Skip helps Willie stand up to bullies, discover the power of sportsmanship, and experience first love. The movie ends with a narration from an adult Willie who reflects on Skip’s impact on his life, reinforcing the important role pets can play in our lives.
Throughout the film, Skip is more than a pet; he is a trusted confidant, loyal friend, and an essential part of Willie’s childhood.
Son of the Mask (2005)
Son of the Mask is a 2005 fantasy comedy film directed by Lawrence Guterman, serving as a stand-alone sequel to the 1994 film The Mask. This movie revolves around the life of Tim Avery, played by Jamie Kennedy, an aspiring cartoonist who comes into possession of the mystical mask of Loki.
Tim’s dog, Otis, is a Jack Russell Terrier, who plays a significant role in the film. Otis becomes envious when Tim and his wife have a baby, Alvey, who inherits the mask’s powers, leading to various chaotic and comical situations.
Otis, jealous of the attention Alvey is receiving and feeling left out, stumbles upon the mask and, in a parallel to the first film, becomes a super-powered dog when he puts it on.
Otis is a key character in the movie as his actions, motivated by jealousy and a desire to reclaim his place in the family, significantly impact the storyline. His new powers bring additional chaos to the Avery household and pose a challenge to Tim who is trying to manage his family and the mask’s powers.
Furthermore, Otis’s transformative experience with the mask introduces another level of comic relief to the film, particularly through the rivalry between Otis and Alvey. The dog and the baby compete in a series of bizarre and humorous confrontations, which becomes a central theme of the film.
The character of Otis the Jack Russell Terrier adds an important dynamic to the film, creating much of the movie’s conflict and comedy while also highlighting themes of jealousy, rivalry, and the struggle for attention within a changing family environment.
Hotel for Dogs (2009)
Hotel for Dogs is a 2009 family comedy film directed by Thor Freudenthal. The movie is centered around two foster kids, Andi and Bruce, played by Emma Roberts and Jake T. Austin respectively.
The siblings are fond of their dog, Friday, a Jack Russell Terrier, who they have to hide due to their foster parents’ no-pets rule.
Friday, played by dog actor Cosmo, has a significant role in the movie as the catalyst for the entire plot. The clever and loveable dog is instrumental in leading the kids to an abandoned hotel after he runs off in search of food.
Inspired by Friday’s need for a home, and seeing other stray dogs in the city, Andi and Bruce decide to convert the hotel into a sanctuary for dogs. They use Bruce’s mechanical skills to rig the hotel with a variety of inventive dog-care equipment, creating an impressive setup to care for many dogs.
Friday’s charm and cleverness are crucial in several key scenes. For instance, he helps the kids discover the hotel and later aids in outsmarting the local animal control and the kids’ unsympathetic foster parents.
Friday is also central to the emotional connection the audience forms with the characters and their cause. The bond between the siblings and Friday underlines the themes of loyalty, friendship, and care for animals in the movie.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009)
After Hotel for Dogs, Cosmo landed a brief role in the 2009 movie Paul Blart: Mall Cop.
The action-comedy film directed by Steve Carr and starring Kevin James as Paul Blart. Paul is a kind-hearted, but bumbling security guard at a local mall who aspires to become a state trooper but consistently fails the entrance exam due to his hypoglycemia.
The film begins with a scene featuring a Jack Russell Terrier, but unlike some other films, the dog isn’t a major character in the movie. Instead, it’s part of an obstacle course Paul has to navigate in his attempt to pass the New Jersey State Trooper exam.
In this opening scene, Paul is shown going through the rigorous trooper test. The Jack Russell Terrier is involved in a scenario where Paul has to apprehend a suspect (the dog) in a simulated training environment.
The scene uses the dog to add humor, as Paul’s less-than-stellar physical fitness and hypoglycemic episode hinder his pursuit of the small and agile canine.
While the dog plays a part in setting up Paul’s character and his determination despite his shortcomings, it doesn’t have a recurring role in the film. The focus quickly shifts to the mall where Paul works, the real setting of the movie’s plot.
Beginners is a 2010 romantic drama film written and directed by Mike Mills. The film explores themes of love, loss, and identity, and is centered on a character named Oliver Fields, played by Ewan McGregor.
In the film, Oliver is dealing with the death of his father, Hal, played by Christopher Plummer. After the death of his wife, Hal had come out as gay at the age of 75 and had lived the rest of his life openly and happily, even finding love with a younger man.
After Hal’s death, Oliver is left with Hal’s Jack Russell Terrier, Arthur. The film uses the character of Arthur, also played by Cosmo the dog actor, in a unique and interesting way. Unlike other films where pets simply add charm or playfulness, Arthur has a significant role in the narrative.
Arthur does not speak, but the film presents subtitles for his “thoughts” as he interacts with Oliver. This technique serves to externalize Oliver’s inner dialogue and feelings, giving audiences a window into Oliver’s psyche as he grapples with grief, identity, and new love.
Arthur, the dog, acts as a companion and confidant to Oliver. The companionship becomes a source of comfort for Oliver as he mourns his father’s death and processes his father’s life revelations.
Arthur provides a sense of continuity from his father’s life to his own. Furthermore, Arthur’s interactions with Oliver help Oliver open up emotionally, aiding him in overcoming his fear of intimacy which leads to a romantic relationship with a woman named Anna, played by Mélanie Laurent.
Arthur is more than just a pet – he is a narrative device that brings depth and emotional resonance to the story. His character helps in the exploration of themes such as grief, identity, and love, and his companionship provides comfort and understanding in Oliver’s journey.
Water for Elephants (2011)
Water for Elephants is a 2011 romantic drama film directed by Francis Lawrence, based on Sara Gruen’s 2006 novel of the same name. The film follows a veterinary student, Jacob Jankowski, played by Robert Pattinson, who abandons his studies after his parents are killed and joins a traveling circus.
Here, he meets Marlena, played by Reese Witherspoon, an equestrian performer and wife of the ringmaster, August, played by Christoph Waltz.
Queenie, played by a dog named Uggie, is Marlena’s Jack Russell Terrier. While not a main character, Queenie adds a charming and heartwarming presence to the film.
The dog’s intuitive nature is displayed as he often aligns himself with the film’s protagonists, Jacob and Marlena, and he seems to sense and reflect the emotional tension in their complicated relationship.
Queenie also offers a sense of comfort and companionship to Marlena, who is often mistreated by her husband.
The Artist (2011)
The Artist is a 2011 French silent film directed by Michel Hazanavicius, set in Hollywood between 1927 and 1932. The film follows George Valentin, a silent film star, played by Jean Dujardin, whose career is disrupted by the advent of the “talkies” and an emerging actress, Peppy Miller, played by Bérénice Bejo.
In this film, Uggie plays Jack, George Valentin’s loyal dog. Uggie’s performance as Jack is captivating and he becomes a character of significant importance.
Jack’s unwavering loyalty to George throughout his fall from stardom and subsequent struggles provides a touching element to the film. Jack is often seen performing tricks and even helps to save George’s life in one scene, showcasing Uggie’s training and talent.
In The Artist, the fact that it is a silent film allows Uggie’s non-verbal communication and physical comedy to shine. Uggie’s trainers, Sarah Clifford and Omar Muller, were able to coach actor Jean Dujardin on how to work effectively with Uggie, and they could give Uggie verbal commands during filming due to the absence of spoken dialogue.
Uggie’s exceptional performance in the film earned him much acclaim, with critics noting that he “stole every scene” he was in and even led to him becoming the first dog to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The Secret Life of Pets (2016)
The Secret Life of Pets is an animated comedy that offers a delightful glimpse into the hidden world of pets when their owners are away. The film centers around Max, a spirited and lovable Jack Russell Terrier, whose character is brought to life by the comedic talent of Louis C.K.
Max leads a joyful life with his beloved owner, Katie, in their cozy New York City apartment. However, his world takes a whimsical turn when Katie brings home Duke, a big and boisterous dog.
Initially, Max and Duke clash, but they are forced to put their differences aside when they find themselves on a wild adventure, separated from their owner.
As Max navigates the bustling streets of New York alongside Duke, the comedic timing and unique voice of Louis C.K. add an extra layer of humor to the character.
Max experiences a range of emotions, from fear and uncertainty to friendship and bravery, as he discovers the true meaning of loyalty and learns to embrace the unexpected.
Throughout the film, Max’s hilarious antics and heartfelt moments captivate audiences, showcasing the endearing bond between pets and their owners.
The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019)
The Secret Life of Pets 2 continues the adventure-filled animated comedy that explores the secret lives of our beloved pets. This time, the lovable Jack Russell Terrier named Max is voiced by the comedian Patton Oswalt.
Max’s life undergoes a significant change when his owner, Katie, gets married and becomes a mother. As Max adjusts to this new family dynamic, he becomes overprotective of his human sibling and develops anxiety.
Through Patton Oswalt’s comedic delivery, Max’s personality shines as he navigates the challenges of adapting to this new chapter in his life.
With the guidance of Rooster, a wise farm dog voiced by Harrison Ford, Max embarks on a journey of self-discovery. Along the way, Max learns valuable life lessons about overcoming fears, embracing change, and finding the courage to be true to himself.
Patton Oswalt infuses Max’s character with humor and heartfelt moments, creating a relatable and endearing portrayal.
The Secret Life of Pets 2 showcases Max’s growth, resilience, and unwavering loyalty to his human family. The comedic talents of Patton Oswalt bring a delightful charm to Max’s adventures, capturing the essence of the lovable Jack Russell Terrier and highlighting the special bond between pets and their owners.
Frasier (1993 to 2004)
Frasier is a critically acclaimed sitcom that aired from 1993 to 2004. The show is a spin-off of the popular series “Cheers”, following the life of psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer) after he relocates from Boston to his hometown of Seattle.
An important and beloved member of the show is Eddie Crane, a Jack Russell Terrier, played by a dog named Moose. Eddie, owned by Frasier’s father, Martin Crane (John Mahoney), is a central figure in the show’s humor and dynamics.
Moose was chosen to play Eddie due to his ability to stare at Kelsey Grammer (Frasier), a trait that became a running gag throughout the series. Eddie often disrupts Frasier’s snobbish lifestyle and annoys him by constantly staring at him without blinking.
Despite Frasier’s initial disdain for Eddie, over the course of the series, a complex relationship develops between them, resulting in many humorous and heartwarming moments.
Frasier’s brother, Niles (David Hyde Pierce), is also often on the receiving end of Eddie’s antics, adding another layer to the comic relief Eddie provides.
Eddie’s personality shines throughout the series; he is mischievous, intelligent, and has a knack for being in the right place at the right time to elicit laughs.
His character serves to contrast and challenge Frasier’s more uptight and sophisticated nature, often grounding the show’s more extravagant characters with his simple dog’s life perspective.
Moose portrayed Eddie for the majority of the series before his son Enzo took over in later seasons due to Moose’s old age. Eddie remains one of the most memorable characters from “Frasier,” with Moose’s portrayal leaving a lasting impact on viewers due to his comedic timing and the emotional depth he brought to a non-speaking role.
Despite being a dog in a show about human relationships and high-brow humor, Eddie, thanks to Moose’s performance, became an integral part of the success of Frasier.
Wishbone (1995 to 1998)
Wishbone is a popular children’s television series that aired from 1995 to 1998. The show stands out due to its unique premise of using a small dog to introduce classic literature to a young audience.
The protagonist is an intelligent, well-read Jack Russell Terrier named Wishbone, who lives with the Talbot family in the fictional town of Oakdale, Texas.
Wishbone, voiced by Larry Brantley, isn’t just a family pet; he’s also our guide into the world of timeless stories and novels. The clever canine has a vivid imagination and sees parallels between the real-world situations he and his human friends face and the narratives of classic literature.
This becomes the central theme of the series, with each episode typically divided into two intertwining stories: one set in the contemporary world featuring the Talbot family and their friends, and the other a reenactment of a renowned literary work.
Despite his small size, Wishbone plays the lead role in these reenactments, taking on characters like Robin Hood, Sherlock Holmes, and Odysseus. These adaptations are filled with fun and humor, but they also remain largely faithful to the source material.
Wishbone’s adventures into the world of these stories serve as an introduction to literature for children, helping to make these sometimes complex narratives accessible and enjoyable.
In the real world, Wishbone assists his owner, Joe Talbot, and his friends, Samantha Kepler and David Barnes, as they navigate the challenges of childhood. His witty commentary provides unique perspectives and adds humor to everyday situations.
Throughout the series, Wishbone’s adventurous spirit, intelligence, and knack for storytelling not only entertain but also educate, sparking interest in reading and literature among young viewers.
His enthusiasm for storytelling and his ability to draw connections between these timeless tales and modern life are what make Wishbone a truly unique and memorable character.
Jack Russell Terriers in Movies and TV Shows
From goofy family comedies to silent French films, Jack Russell Terriers have shown their ability to play a range of roles.
Whether they are the star of the show or play a supporting part, they always seem to find a way to make an impact on the audience.
These versatile dogs, brimming with energy and intelligence, have a special place in the hearts of millions, not only as beloved pets but also as accomplished actors.
Through their on-screen roles, they not only entertain us but also highlight the extraordinary bond between humans and their four-legged companions.
Whether you prefer Moose playing Eddie in Frasier, the award-winning Uggie for his role in The Artist, or an animated Jack Russell, I think we can all agree that movies and TV shows are better when there’s a Jack Russell in them.