Benji is the main protagonist of a series of films created by writer and director, Joe Camp. First appearing in Benji, released in 1974, Benji is depicted as a friendly, loveable stray dog who finds himself in various life-threatening situations while helping others in need. After the commercial and critical success of the film, the character has since starred in several sequels, each one being a commercial success in its own right.
While Benji’s breed is never ascertained in any of the films, the dog who portrayed him in the original film is believed to be a mix of a Miniature Poodle, Cocker Spaniel, and Schnauzer. The dog, whose name is Higgins, was one of the most popular animal actors during the early 60s and late 70s. After Higgin’s death in 1974, the role of Benji has since been portrayed by Higgin’s offspring, named Benjean.
There are 4 categories of poodles based on their size. They are Standard Poodle, Medium Poodle, Miniature Poodle, and Toy Poodle.
The Miniature Poodle is said to have originated in France, where Standard Poodles were cross-bred with smaller breeds. This was said to be done in order to make it simpler to transport them in between circus performances, where they became very popular due to their intelligence and unique appearance.
Indeed, Miniature Poodles are said to be intelligent, energetic, and sociable. They are known to be easy to train, as well as being very eager to please their owners. This has made them a popular breed among various celebrities around the world.
Cocker Spaniels are a breed of dogs originating from the United Kingdom, where they were bred as hunting dogs. The term ‘cocker’ is believed to have come from their ability to hunt Eurasian Woodcock birds. They are now two distinct types of Cocker Spaniels, one of English origin, and the other of American origin.
The most distinct difference between the two is their sizes. American Cocker Spaniels are bred to be smaller in size in comparison to their English counterparts. They are also considered to be less energetic than their English brethren, as most American Cocker Spaniels are now bred for competition instead of for hunting purposes.
Once again originating from Germany, Schnauzers are known for their distinct bearded snout. In fact, the name Schnauzer is derived from the German word for the snout. Like Poodles, Schnauzers are classified depending on their size: Standard, Giant, and Miniature.
In general, Standard Schnauzers are bred as a type of working dog, Giant Schnauzers as police or military dogs, and Miniature Schnauzers as household or competition dogs. Schnauzers are said to be of above-average intelligence. And they are both energetic and playful.
While the plot of each individual film varies wildly, the main arc always centers around Benji having to solve the problems of those around him. For example, in the original 1974 film, Benji is tasked to hunt down kidnappers who have kidnapped children he is close to. In all of the films, Benji is portrayed as a friendly, resourceful, and social dog who does his best to make everyone around him happy.
There is a reason many consider Benji as one of the most popular and beloved dogs in cinema history. His acts of kindness and affection towards those around him ensure his character will be remembered throughout cinema history.