Galactic Tails: How an Ordinary Dog Inspired Star Wars’ Most Popular Characters!

Did you know that two of the most iconic species in the Star Wars universe were actually inspired by dogs? It’s true! George Lucas used the looks, the personalities, and even the sounds of his family dogs when thinking up some of your favorite characters. And now it’s come full circle, with many dogs even dressing up as these characters for Halloween!

How an Ordinary Dog Inspired Star Wars' Most Popular Characters!

Can you guess which galactic species were inspired by four-legged friends? After reading about how the inspiration came to life, you won’t be so surprised.

From Woof to Wookiee

How an Ordinary Dog Inspired Star Wars' Most Popular Characters!
via Denver Art Museum

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, George Lucas was working hard on writing the script for the very first Star Wars movie: A New Hope. He was in the process of brainstorming for the character of Chewbacca when inspiration struck in the form of a loud and loyal four-legged friend.

“I had an Alaskan Malamute when I was writing the film [Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope],” Lucas once shared. “A very sweet dog, she would always sit next to me when I was writing. And when I’d drive around, she’d sit in the front seat. A Malamute is a very large dog—like 130 pounds and bigger than a human being and very long-haired.”

How an Ordinary Dog Inspired Star Wars' Most Popular Characters!
via Denver Art Museum

A loyal companion who’s bigger than a person and long-haired? This definitely shows how this beloved Northern dog breed led to the Chewbacca character we all know and love! Chewie even looked more dog-like in earlier storyboard drafts, though his final image is inspired by dogs, cats, and apes.

Creating Endor’s Cutest Residents

The other dog-inspired species in the Star Wars saga is made of the cuddliest galactic soldiers you’ll ever meet. It’s the Ewoks, of course! Their resemblance to their inspiration is a bit easier to see, so you may already have guessed that these Endor residents are based on the adorable Brussels Griffon dog breed.

How an Ordinary Dog Inspired Star Wars' Most Popular Characters!
via @alohaolive

Alongside make-up artist Stuart Freeborn, Lucas developed these fuzzy characters using the image of Brussels Griffons–which at the time were popularly known as Griffon Bruxellois. You can see the resemblance in the Ewok’s thick fur and wide facial structure, though someone claimed the idea wasn’t Lucas’s at all.

In 1990, Lucas was sued by Canadian writer Dean Preston for copyright infringement. Preston claimed that he had invented the Ewoks in the script of a work titled ‘Space Pets,’ which he sent to Lucas in 1978. However, Lucas won the case, proving that he had indeed based this species on his beloved family pets. He even came up with the name ‘Ewok’ by rearranging the syllables in ‘Wookie’ and rhyming with the name of the Miwok Native American tribe in Northern California.

How an Ordinary Dog Inspired Star Wars' Most Popular Characters!
via National Purebred Dog Day

There’s no doubt that dogs have played pivotal roles in the creation of many iconic films, but the canines who inspired bits and pieces of the Star Wars universe are rarely recognized. That’s why most Star Wars viewers have no idea where the ideas for some of their favorite characters come from.

Now, this is a canine fun fact for Star Wars fans to share this May 4th (AKA Star Wars Day). ‘May the Fourth’ be with you!


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