Winn-Dixie refers to the title character of the 2005 film, "Because of Winn-Dixie," which was based on the 2001 Newbery Honor book of the same name by Kate DiCamillo. Winn-Dixie is not your everyday-looking pup. The breed was chosen for the unusual, even awkward, appearance.
Five Dogs from France
The dog who played Winn-Dixie in the film was not one dog at all. Animal trainer Mark Forbes used five dogs. The breed is the Berger Picard (pronounced "bare ZHAY pee CARR), also called the Picardy shepherd, from France. Playing a starring role in a major motion picture can drain man's best friend, so having backups helped the movie production process.
About the Breed
The Berger Picard is a rare herding dog that nearly went extinct in the early 20th century, according to the Berger Picard Club of America. The breed is medium in size, loyal and comical. It was chosen for use in the movie because Winn-Dixie was supposed to be a mixed-breed pooch -- not many people are familiar with the Berger Picard and, because of the breed's rough and tousled appearance, it can pass as a mutt. Since several dogs were needed for filming, it was essential to use a purebred dog to achieve a uniform look.
By Laura Agadoni
About the Author
Laura Agadoni has been writing professionally since 1983. Her feature stories on area businesses, human interest and health and fitness appear in her local newspaper. She has also written and edited for a grassroots outreach effort and has been published in "Clean Eating" magazine and in "Dimensions" magazine, a CUNA Mutual publication. Agadoni has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University-Fullerton.