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Uncovering the Mystery of Max’s Breed from “The Grinch”

Have you ever wondered what breed of dog Max belongs to from the popular children’s cartoon and film “The Grinch?”?

Well, you’re not alone. This cute, scruffy little dog has piqued the interest of many movie watchers over the year, prompting the question of what kind of dog he is.

Max is a mixed-breed or mutt dog. Max’s mixed-breed status adds to his charm and mystery as a beloved character in the Grinch movies and stories. No official confirmation about Max’s specific breed makes him a truly unique and lovable character.

Even though it’s been difficult to pin down Max’s breed, we know he is mixed.

We’ll look closely at why we think this is and examine his role as a character in the Grinch movies.

Keep reading to learn about the Grinch’s cute little canine companion.

The History of Max in “The Grinch”

Max from the grinch movie on white background

Max has appeared in various renditions of the film “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” originally a children’s book written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss.

In most of his roles, he is a frightened and timid dog who reluctantly does the Grinch’s bidding. However, some character portrayals paint him as a loving and loyal canine companion and friend to the Grinch.

Max is always shown as intelligent, definitely smarter than your average canine, no matter which version you’re watching. Many have equated his role to that of the Grinch’s butler.

grinch cartoon version illustration

Despite the cruel and mean nature of his master, Max chooses to stick by his side.

Max can sense that deep down, the Grinch has a good heart, but past wrongs have buried his heart under a thick layer of malice.

Even while his master performs dastardly deeds, he sticks by him as a loyal and caring companion.

The dog used in the live-action version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, released in 2000, was also a mixed breed or a mutt.

She was adopted from a shelter, and her name was Kelly. Even though it was obvious she, too, was a mixed breed; it’s thought that she could have been either an Airedale or a Wheaten Terrier mix. This is because of her wire-haired coat’s distinct color and relatively small size.

Some Theories About Max’s Breed

airdale terrier with 5 question marks

It isn’t easy to pin down an exact breed for Max, but his curved brown ears and tan fur suggest some mixed breed.

He has no defining character traits that point to any breed in specific, except for possibly a Terrier mix.

Terriers are energetic little dogs that often can look scruffy based on the exact kind of Terrier. They are a little feisty and have a high energy capacity, which fits Max’s character quite well.

Does Max look like an Airedale Terrier?

Airedale Terrier on white background

Well, it all boils down to which Max we’re looking at.

Movie Max and Cartoon Max don’t share many similarities at all, and coincidently, both iterations of this beloved character have no documented source of origin.

The cartoonist never said what breed it was supposed to be and the dog used most in the film was a rescued mix- though several different dogs were used throughout the film.

And yes, all the different dogs used in the movie were also mixed breeds.

Max from the grinch illustration

I think it’s safe to say cartoon Max is not an Airedale Terrier. The look is all wrong though his tenacity is on par with terriers.

His size suggests that he’d be rather short if he were an Airedale and the ears droop down either side of his head.

Airedales have ears folded over its head, measuring only a couple of inches long. The tail is also a problem.

Cartoon Max’s tail has a bit of a poof of an appearance, but an Airedale’s tail is cropped close to the skin, and even though their tails are often docked a fair length for hunters to pull the dogs from foxholes, it remains longer than what Cartoon Max has going on.

Max from the grinch the movie illustration

Movie Max, on the other hand, is a mix of Terrier, likely an Airedale or Wheaten Terrier (maybe a mix between the two).

And don’t let the long ears fool you because the long, drooping ears on either side of Movie Max’s head are fake.

Was the Grinch’s Dog Max a Wheaten Terrier?

wheaten terrier with read leash in the snow

Max from the movie is possibly a blend of Wheaten and Airedale Terrier. The possibilities are numerous.

Think about it for a second…

In the Grinch film, six dogs are used to do different things throughout the movie. Some sat there to look cute; others did stunt; some could bark or behave a certain way on command, etc.

Not only were there six dogs, but they were all from different litters. On top of that, they were all rescues. That said, pinning down particulars is anyone’s guess.

wheaten terrier walking with its owner

But visually speaking, I believe that the dogs in the film strongly resembled a Wheaten Terrier due to the more naturally expressive type of face (though some movie magic was used at times throughout the film to enhance that).

So, whatever the mix, Wheaton must be in there somewhere.

However, many factors also point to the Airedale, which is why people often point to these two breeds when trying to figure out the breed of the dog who stole the show.


Look at the two breeds side by side, and you’ll see a variety of similarities, most of which can be observed when watching Max in the movie.

Max is a “mutt,” which some call mixed breeds or mongrel, but no matter which type of dog is more dominant in the mix of this four-legged movie character, one thing is sure- it’s a Terrier.

Final Thoughts

Max from the grinch with confetti image

The canine character Max from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is a mixed breed, thought to be some Terrier mix based on his appearance and personality.

Max is a loyal friend and companion to his domineering and cruel master, the Grinch, but he always seems to play a key role in softening his master’s hard heart.

If he is indeed a Terrier, it fits him well. Terriers are bold, stubborn, and determined little dogs with sophisticated and intelligent air, just like Max.

They won’t back down from a fight and love to protect their family. These dogs can make excellent pets if you’re willing to deal with their feisty personalities. Additionally, they may require special grooming to properly maintain their coats’ hair.

max from the grinch movie cartoon version image

We hope that by the end of this article, all your questions about Max have been answered, and you have a better idea of who this little dog is.

Remember to check our other articles for more information on other popular mixed-breed canine characters and what breeds of dog they belong to.

You can find other famous fictional dogs character below:

Related Questions:

Is Max a Real Dog In The Grinch Movie?

Max is a real dog played by different mixed-breed shelter rescue dogs: Kelly, Chip, Topsy, Stella, Zelda, and Bo, according to the Animal Humane Association.

10 gray pawprints


About the author: Driven by his lifelong passion for dogs and an insatiable curiosity about their diverse breeds, Pablo Pascua founded dogbreedsfaq.com. Through this website, he seeks to expand his knowledge and share his findings with fellow dog enthusiasts. Having owned several dogs throughout his life, Pablo’s experiences have fueled his interest in learning more about these beloved animals. His mission is to provide accurate and comprehensive information to help pet owners make informed decisions about their furry companion.