You think Benji is famous? Lassie and Rin Tin Tin could kick Benji's ass with two paws tied behind their backs. Lassie and Rin Tin Tin are without a doubt the two most popular dig actors in Hollywood. These dogs and the others that have played the role have generated millions of dollars over the years thanks to a successful string of movies, television shows, radio serials and books. And did it cost in the long run? A bowl of dog food!
But for all the dog actors' success, a huge debt goes to the men and women who train them. If Lassie can't be trained to jump in the water and rescue the drowning boy, or Rin Tin Tin can't be trained to chase after the bad guys who just robber a bank, then what kind of film can you have? You may just as well use a small boy in a dog costume.
Training dog actors is not an easy accomplishment. There are special agencies where dogs can be trained for acting in films. Training a collie dog, like Lassie, will take from one year and a half to two years, and the dog must be taught no less than 90 commands ( the usual dog may know only about 15 commands and this is usually more than enough). So, as you can see training a real animal celebrity is not an easy thing at all and demands a lot of time and energy. But still, this is a job worth doing, especially if all the training will increase the dog actors chances of becoming famous, making several films and becoming the hero of children all over the world.
Speaking about the dog actors, it must be said that the actors like Lassie have been acting for generations and there name has become a real trademark. So, it is not one dog but it is a chain of the dogs that were trained to act in a role of the faithful collie Lassie. The reason for that is that a film can be produced much quicker if they use several dogs that look alike. While one film unit is shooting Lassie chasing a grizzly bear, another film unit can be back at the ranch shooting lassie relaxing by the fire place.
The puppies that may act as Lassie have certain demands to their appearance like the other dog actors. These demands are that the collie must be of the sable and white color. It must have a fluffy white collar and it should have a white blaze on the nose.
The other dogs also have some general demands to their appearance but they may vary according to the demands and the special needs of the movies which a dog is going to be shot in. It is not quite easy to bring up and raise a dog that will have the chances to become a celebrity and get all the glory and love of the audience like Lassie and Rin Tin Tin did. The job demands a lot of intense work with trainers and professionals.
Realistically speaking, not every dog can be famous. And the chances of your dog being "discovered" and being cast in a film is probably pretty slim. However, just like actors and actresses have casting agents and modeling agencies that provide them with work, so too with animals. A dog owner can submit a photo of their canine along with a list of talents that the dog has and hope for the best. If there is a need for a dog that can play the piano and your canine can accomplish that, chances are you'll be contacted.