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Benji, the world-famous canine star of the big screen, has endeared millions with his scruffy charm, intelligence, and expressive eyes.
The original Benji, whose real name was Higgins, was a mixed-breed dog adopted from an animal shelter. His exact breed mix isn’t 100% known, which is often the case with rescue dogs. One thing is certain, Benji’s unique blend of breeds resulted in the distinctive scruffy look and charming personality that made his character so beloved.
Given the unique mix of the original Benji, finding a dog that looks exactly like him might be a bit of a challenge. While shelters and rescues are filled with a diverse range of mixed-breed dogs, you may not have come across a dog that looks like Benji, or perhaps you’re looking for a purebred dog that looks like this scruffy superstar.
So, what are some dog breeds that look like Benji?
Dog breeds that look similar to Benji are the Bearded Collie, Havanese, Maltese, Basset Fauve de Bretagne, Kromfohrlander, Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, and Kooikerhondje. A number of terrier dogs like the Tibetan, Cairn, Norwich, Border, Norfolk, Yorkshire, and Australian terriers also share many similarities with Benji.
If you’re looking for a breed that has a similar appearance and physical characteristics to Benji or you love his personality then it’s worth exploring the 14 breeds on our list. But first, we will take a closer look at what the Benji dog looks like, and at the very end, we will also discuss whether choosing a dog breed that looks like this popular onscreen dog is a good idea for you!
What Does The Benji Dog Like?
The fame of Benji dogs originated from a series of movies that began in the 1970s, with the character “Benji” being a lovable stray with a knack for helping humans out of trouble. The original Benji was portrayed by a mixed-breed dog named Higgins, who was adopted from a shelter, exemplifying the “rags-to-riches” tale many of us dream of for rescue animals.
Higgins was an incredibly versatile actor and is remembered as one of the most talented animal performers. His career spanned over 14 years, and his most notable performance as Benji showcased his extensive range of emotions and physical comedy skills.
The role of Benji was then passed on to Higgins’ daughter, and then to other mixed-breed dogs, each maintaining the scruffy charm and intelligence that Benji is known for. To this day, Benji remains an iconic figure in popular culture and a testament to the talents and lovability of mixed-breed dogs.
But what kind of dog is Benji?
In terms of size, Benji is a small to medium size dog. A dog similar to Benji’s size would make them versatile companions who can comfortably live in various environments, from apartments to larger homes with yards.
The hallmark feature of the Benji dog is the coat, it’s a rough, shaggy, and wiry double coat. This type of coat is usually dense and offers great protection against the weather, but as you can imagine similar coats would require regular brushing to prevent matting and to keep your pooch looking its best.
It’s believed that Benji was a mix of Miniature Poodle, Cocker Spaniel, and Schnauzer, all very intelligent breeds, independent and somewhat aloof around strangers. They’re typically not the most extroverted dogs, but once they form a bond with their family, it’s unshakeable. They’re usually patient with children, but like all dogs, they appreciate respectful interactions.
In terms of trainability, Benji was a quick learner, dogs like Benji, just like most dogs will require a consistent training approach with plenty of positive reinforcement.
Socialization is important for most dogs as well as Benji-type mixed breeds, especially since you will have to be more aware of the possible traits they may have inherited from their mixed heritage.
Early exposure to a variety of people, animals, and environments can help them grow into well-rounded dogs. They may be a bit reserved initially, but with positive experiences, they’ll become more confident and comfortable in different situations.
If you’re looking for a dog who is a good balance of active and calm, independent but loyal, a Benji-like dog could be your perfect companion.
14 Dog Breeds That Look Like Benji
Now that you have an idea of what to expect from Benji, or Benji-type mixed breeds it’s time to look at some purebred dogs that also share certain traits with the adorable Benji!
1. Bearded Collie
The Bearded Collie, or “Beardie” as it’s lovingly called, with its shaggy coat and lively bounce, could easily be mistaken for the beloved film star, Benji. Of course, their coat is much longer, and denser, it’s also weather-resistant which is great for those of you who live in rainy states or countries.
Their double coat, ranging from black, blue, brown, or fawn, often lightens as they mature, adding to their endearing scruffiness. One look at the Bearded Collie and you’re instantly reminded of Benji’s flowing, unkempt coat.
These lovable dogs are intelligent, sociable, and full of exuberance. Despite their apparent resemblance to the independent Benji, Bearded Collies thrive on companionship and hate being left alone. The Beardie is a boisterous and sociable breed.
They might look like lazy balls of fluff, but they actually require ample exercise, mentally and physically, to keep them happy and well-behaved. Be prepared to give them a good brush a few times a week and keep an eye on their ears, which are prone to infections.
Patience, consistency, and positivity are keys when training this active and intelligent breed. They’re an excellent choice for families with an active lifestyle and a love for the outdoors.
2. Tibetan Terrier
Just like Benji, the Tibetan Terrier has a generous double coat and a love for their family. This breed might not be a terrier in temperament, but they share the scruffy charm with Benji thanks to their abundant hair, which can be any color or combination of colors. The Tibetan Terrier’s coat, while beautiful, requires a substantial amount of grooming to prevent mats and tangles.
These dogs are loyal, sensitive, and generally reserved, which means they’ll likely be shy around strangers but will bond deeply with their families, which sounds a lot like Benji-type mixes. Similarly, Tibetan Terriers are clever dogs, and while they’re eager to please, they can exhibit a streak of independence.
Regular exercise is important, but they’re adaptable and can adjust to different activity levels, they will happily join you for a brisk walk or a play in the garden, but their exercise needs even if they are moderate shouldn’t be neglected.
Training should be gentle and consistent as they’re sensitive to harsh treatment. If you’re willing to put time into grooming and want a devoted and somewhat independent companion, the Tibetan Terrier might be for you.
3. Cairn Terrier
With their rough, tousled double coats and lively expression, Cairn Terriers bear a remarkable resemblance to the iconic Benji, aside perhaps from the pointy ears. These small, smaller-than-Benji, sturdy terriers come in various shades, including cream, wheaten, red, sandy, gray, or brindled. The weather-resistant coat gives them a very iconic Benji-like rugged look, and it needs only minimal grooming, but do check their ears regularly.
Cairn Terriers are known for their courageous, spirited, and playful nature, and they do love a bit of outdoor adventure. These terriers require regular, moderate exercise to keep them fit and satisfied – a couple of brisk walks and playtime should suffice.
While they share Benji’s fearless character, they’re typically more sociable and less reserved. They are intelligent dogs and can be a bit stubborn, so training needs to be consistent and engaging.
If you’re looking for a lively, loving companion and don’t mind a dash of stubbornness, the Cairn Terrier might just be your ideal breed.
4. Norwich Terrier
The Norwich Terrier, with its perky ears and dense, wiry double coat, might remind you of Benji at first glance. This small terrier breed can be red, black and tan, wheaten, or grizzle (a mix of black or red hairs with white hairs).
They’re known for their affectionate, energetic nature and their desire to be part of family activities. Unlike the independent Benji, Norwich Terriers thrive on human interaction and can suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for long periods.
They require regular exercise and mental stimulation – a healthy mix of walks, play sessions, and puzzle toys will keep them entertained. Training should be patient and consistent, with a focus on positive reinforcement.
Despite their rough-and-tumble look, Norwich Terriers enjoy a good grooming session to keep their coat in top shape. If you’re seeking a smaller dog compared to Benji but still energetic, and affectionate who’s a bit of a people pleaser, the Norwich Terrier could be your match.
5. Border Terrier
Sporting a dense, wiry double coat and expressive eyes, the Border Terrier could easily double as a Benji look-alike and might be the most similar-looking breed to the iconic Benji on this list!
This breed’s coat, which can be red, grizzle and tan, blue and tan, or wheaten, provides an excellent shield against the weather and gives them their characteristic rugged look. Their wiry coat is relatively low-maintenance but will benefit from weekly brushing and occasional hand-stripping.
Border Terriers are affectionate, intelligent, and good-natured. While they share Benji’s outdoorsy spirit, they are usually more social and less reserved. These dogs are highly energetic and require regular exercise to keep them happy – a mix of walks, play, and even dog sports will help expend their energy.
Training needs to be firm but positive, given their occasional stubborn streak. If you’re an active person or family looking for a friendly and intelligent companion, the Border Terrier could be the perfect fit.
6. Norfolk Terrier
With their smaller in size they do have a shaggy coat and a lively personality, as a result, the Norfolk Terrier shares an uncanny resemblance with Benji. Their coat is hard, wiry, and straight, and it can come in red, wheaten, black and tan, or grizzle.
Despite their rough look, they need regular grooming to keep their coat healthy and neat. Regular brushing and occasional hand-stripping will maintain their distinctive appearance.
Unlike Benji, Norfolk Terriers are sociable dogs, known for their love of people and their friendly disposition. According to AKC, “Norfolks bond closely, sometimes jealously, with their owners and make nice watchdogs.”
They’re active and intelligent, requiring regular exercise and mental stimulation to keep them satisfied. A couple of daily walks, playtime, and puzzle toys should keep them happy.
Training a Norfolk Terrier requires consistency and patience, due to their sometimes stubborn nature. If you’re looking for a small but sturdy, sociable, and spirited companion, the Norfolk Terrier might be the perfect breed for you.
Though the Havanese is more fluffy than scruffy, its long, silky double coat and expressive eyes give off definite Benji vibes. This breed sports a wide range of colors, from black, pure white, and fawn, to chocolate and anything in between, sometimes in fascinating patterns. Their long, beautiful coat requires regular grooming to prevent matting and tangling.
Havanese are known for their cheerful, affectionate nature, and they love being the center of attention. They’re sociable dogs, unlike the more reserved Benji, and they thrive on human interaction.
The Havanese is a smart, active breed that requires moderate exercise to keep them healthy and happy. Daily walks, playtime, and trick training can help expend their energy, but make sure to not overexert them. They’re eager learners, making training generally a smooth experience.
For those of you who are seeking an affectionate, sociable, and playful breed that doesn’t mind being pampered, the Havanese might be a perfect fit.
With their long, silky white hair and charming demeanor, the Maltese isn’t exactly a scruffy Benji look-alike but they certainly share the “cute” factor. If you’ve only seen Maltese dogs with their coat kept long then you might not recognize any sort of resemblance, but if you trim the coat shorter then you may start to see why this breed is on our list.
As you can imagine, regular grooming is a must for the Maltese to maintain their beautiful coat and prevent matting. You might also be interested to know that they are considered hypoallergenic. If you want to check out more breeds that are hypoallergenic then check our article by clicking here!
These small dogs are known for their graceful, elegant appearance and friendly personalities. Unlike the independent Benji, Maltese thrive on human companionship and don’t like to be left alone for long periods.
They’re quite active for their size and will enjoy daily walks and playtime, but they’re also content with indoor activities. The Maltese is an intelligent breed, and while they’re generally eager to please, they can be a bit stubborn, so training should be gentle and patient.
This small, friendly, and active breed is perfect for those of you who love to pamper your dogs!
9. Yorkshire Terrier
You might love Benji, but you might be looking for a smaller version of this iconic movie star. In this case, Yorkshire Terriers, often referred to as “Yorkies,” might be a great choice. While they may have a more polished appearance than Benji with their long, silky coats, they share the charm and spirit.
Their beautiful coat requires regular grooming and maintenance, meaning they need daily brushing since their coat is very humanlike, but it’s totally worth it!
Yorkies are typically blue and tan and are known for their bold and confident personality, despite their small size. Unlike the independent Benji, Yorkies are known to be affectionate and enjoy being the center of attention.
Despite their size, they’re an active and intelligent breed, and they need regular exercise and mental stimulation, but you need to take their size into account. A mix of walks, play, and indoor games can help them burn off energy, but make sure to pay attention to their energy levels. Training a Yorkshire Terrier can be an enjoyable experience, as they’re quick learners but can exhibit a stubborn streak.
Yorkies are the definition of a small but bold, and affectionate breed with a touch of elegance!
10. Australian Terrier
The Australian Terrier is a small dog, but larger than the Yorkie, and with its rough coat and keen expression, this breed shares a Benji-like look, even if their ears, like some of the dogs on this list, are pointy. Their hard, straight coat can be blue and tan, solid sandy, or solid red. Their rough coat is relatively low-maintenance but will benefit from weekly brushing.
Aussies are known for their courage, spirit, and natural friendliness. While they might not share Benji’s reserved character, they are known for their self-confidence and intelligence.
They require regular exercise and will enjoy a mix of walks, play, and agility training. Australian Terriers are clever dogs and training should be consistent, engaging, and positive. If you’re looking for a smaller dog, that shares the adventurous spirit with Benji then the Australian Terrier might just be the perfect fit.
11. Basset Fauve de Bretagne
Basset Fauve de Bretagne is a French hound, and while they might not immediately remind you of Benji, you only have to take a closer look and see their scruffy, dense, wiry coat and droopy ears, to recognize the fact that they do share a similar rugged charm.
Their coat color can be fawn, gold-wheaten, or red-wheaten, and when it comes to grooming thins are relatively straightforward, regular brushing will help prevent matting.
This breed is known for its friendly, sociable, and intelligent nature, and they get along well with people and other dogs alike. They have a lively spirit and need regular exercise in the form of walks and playtime.
They’re also scent hounds, which means they love to follow their nose, a trait that can sometimes lead them astray. Training should be positive and consistent, as they can be a bit stubborn.
If you’re looking for a friendly, active, and somewhat independent breed, the Basset Fauve de Bretagne could be your ideal choice.
The Kromfohrlander, or Kromi, has a scruffy charm similar to Benji’s. With two varieties – the wirehaired and the smooth-haired, it’s the wirehaired that bears a striking resemblance to our beloved film star. Their coat can be white with brown or tan markings. Their coat requires regular brushing, particularly the wirehaired variety, to prevent matting.
Kromis are known for their adaptable, affectionate, and somewhat reserved nature – they can be wary around strangers but are devoted to their families, which sounds a lot like Benji.
They require moderate exercise and will enjoy a couple of walks per day and playtime, they also enjoy jumping and climbing! Training should be gentle and consistent, as they’re sensitive dogs. So, if you’re on the lookout for a loyal, friendly, and somewhat independent breed that enjoys an easy-going lifestyle, the Kromfohrlander might be the breed for you.
13. Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, often called the “Griff,” shares a similar rugged, scruffy appearance with Benji thanks to its distinct coat. The Griff’s medium-length, straight, wiry coat can be steel gray with brown markings, chestnut brown, white and brown, or roan, and it provides excellent protection against the weather. Regular grooming is required to maintain their coat’s health and to keep them looking their scruffy best.
This breed is known for its intelligence, friendliness, and keen instincts. While they are more sociable and less reserved than Benji, they share the same love for outdoor adventures.
The Griff is an active breed that requires plenty of exercise to stay happy and healthy. Daily vigorous walks, play sessions, and the opportunity to run off-leash in a safe area are all appreciated by this breed. Training the Griff is usually an enjoyable experience due to their keen intelligence and eagerness to please, but it should always be positive and consistent.
This breed is perfect for an active person or family looking for a sociable, intelligent, and outdoorsy companion!
The Kooikerhondje, also known as the Dutch Decoy Dog, is a small to medium-sized breed, similar in size to Benji and it definitely possesses a certain charm reminiscent of our beloved Benji.
Their medium-length, silky coat can be white with distinct orange-red patches, giving them a distinctive appearance. This breed’s charming, expressive eyes and feathered ears with distinctive black tips add to their allure. In terms of grooming, their coat is relatively easy to maintain, requiring only regular brushing to keep it looking its best.
Kooikerhondjes are known for their intelligent, friendly, and alert temperament. They’re typically reserved around strangers but are loyal and affectionate with their families, a trait that mirrors Benji’s own reserved yet loyal nature. They do well with children and other pets, making them excellent family dogs.
In terms of exercise, the Kooikerhondje is an active breed that enjoys physical activities. Daily walks, playtime, and the occasional opportunity to run in a secure area are necessary to keep this breed healthy and happy.
Training a Kooikerhondje is generally a joy, thanks to their intelligence and eagerness to please. They respond well to positive reinforcement training methods. Early socialization is key to ensuring they grow into well-adjusted adults.
Being a sociable, intelligent breed with a coat reminiscent of Benji’s, the Kooikerhondje might just be your match!
Should You Get A Dog Breed Similar To A Benji?
Whether you fell in love with the scruffy charm and intelligence of the original Benji or you’ve been enamored with the various portrayals of the character over the years, there’s no denying that Benji dogs hold a special place in our hearts. This dog, with his unique combination of appearance, intelligence, and reserved yet loyal personality, represents an ideal companion for many.
While finding a dog that is an exact Benji replica may be a challenge due to the uniqueness of mixed-breed dogs, there are several breeds on our list that share striking similarities.
These breeds not only capture Benji’s physical appeal, but also his independent spirit, keen intelligence, and adaptable nature. Whether it’s the loyal and active Bearded Collie, the sociable and adaptable Tibetan Terrier, or the charming and intelligent Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, there’s a Benji-like breed to suit a variety of lifestyles.
However, don’t forget the amazing range of mixed-breed dogs waiting in shelters, who carry the potential to be just as charming and unique as Benji. By considering their needs in terms of exercise, socialization, grooming, and training, you can find a wonderful companion who may just have a touch of that Benji magic.
At the end of the day, the best dog for you is one whose personality, energy level, and care requirements match well with your lifestyle, regardless of breed or mix. The beauty of dogs, much like our beloved Benji, lies not just in their appearance, but in their companionship, loyalty, and the unique bond we form with them.
If you’re looking for a dog that looks similar to Benji, then you may want to check your local shelters and rescues. These places are usually filled with a diverse range of mixed-breed dogs, many of whom share Benji’s medium size and scruffy coat.
However, if you’re interested in a purebred dog that looks similar to Benji, you won’t find a perfect match, but you can take a look at our list and you may find a dog that not only looks very Benji-like but also might embody Benji’s endearing qualities.
But since Benji is originally a mixed breed, adopting from a shelter or a rescue organization might be a better option, not only will you give a loving home to a dog in need, but you might just find your own “Benji.”