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What Breed of Dog Is in “The Sandlot”? Famous Character Facts

Written by: Kathryn Copeland

Last Updated on April 23, 2024 by Dogster Team

english mastiff on a field

What Breed of Dog Is in “The Sandlot”? Famous Character Facts

The Sandlot was a 1993 movie featuring a group of boys playing baseball in a local sandlot. One of the standout actors was the dog, who went by the name of The Beast in the film. The Beast, a.k.a. Hercules, was an Old English Mastiff, an enormous breed. Below, we’ll discuss how the filmmakers made Hercules seem larger than life and other interesting facts about the film.

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Let’s Talk About “The Sandlot”

The Sandlot was released in 1993, but the plot takes place during the summer of 1962. A preteen boy, Scott Smalls, moves to a new town and joins a group of similarly aged boys who play baseball in a sandlot. However, adjacent to the sandlot is The Beast, a huge and ferocious dog that the boys warn Scott about.

Apparently, The Beast will eat anything and everything that comes near him. Of course, the kids inevitably encounter The Beast in all his magnificent glory. He chases one of the boys but becomes entangled in a fence. The boys lift the fence to free The Beast and discover that he’s a sweet dog whose name is Hercules. It’s the kind of movie that’s full of hilarious antics and nostalgia and is certainly worth a watch!

The Old English Mastiff

An Old English Mastiff is typically just called a Mastiff. They’ve been around since medieval England and were even referred to in Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales.” At the end of World War II, there were only 14 Mastiffs in the U.K. Thanks to breeders in the U.S., they were brought back from the brink of extinction.

Today’s Mastiff stands at about 30 inches at the shoulder and can weigh up to 220 pounds, so they can be pretty intimidating. However, with the right training and socialization, these huge dogs are protective of their families and make excellent guard dogs. They are also lovable, patient, and calm.

As impressive as Mastiffs are, they are not for everyone. They’re big dogs and require a great deal of socialization and training to temper their wariness with strangers and other animals. They aren’t recommended for new dog owners.

English Mastiff lying on the lawn
Image Credit: Waldemar Dabrowski, Shutterstock

Who Was The Beast in Real Life?

The filmmakers of The Sandlot used two dogs and a puppet for the part of The Beast/Hercules. The puppet took two people to operate due to its massive size. Another mastiff was a stand-in for the main dog actor, Gunner. Gunner hailed from Mtn. Oaks Ranch Mastiffs in California, where his owner, Andie Williams, loaned her dog for the movie. Gunner was full of personality, so he was a perfect fit for “The Sandlot.”

Gunner’s owner insisted that they use a stunt dog for the more active scenes since Gunner wasn’t a young dog at that point. However, he was the dog that slathered saliva all over the main actor’s face. They spread baby food on his face, and Gunner just licked it all up!

“The Sandlot 2”

A sequel came out 12 years after the original, but it wasn’t successful. It has the same plot as the original: Kids play baseball in a sandlot and are harassed by a giant dog with a heart of gold. An English Mastiff was also used for this role, which the kids called The Great Fear but whose real name was Goliath. The writers tied this dog into the original movie by stating that he was an offspring of the original The Beast/Hercules.

There was also The Sandlot: Heading Home, a third movie, but the story doesn’t include a giant dog.

close up English Mastiff
Image Credit: Michal Ninger, Shutterstock

A Few Interesting Facts About Mastiffs

  • English Mastiffs sailed to the Americas on “The Mayflower.”
  • The Sandlot isn’t the only movie that features an English Mastiff. There was Lenny from Hotel for Dogs, Mason from Transformers, and Buster from Marmaduke.
  • Mastiffs take much longer to mature than other breeds. They don’t reach mental and physical maturity until they are 3 years old.
  • Mastiffs remain in the puppy stage for up to 2 years.
  • These large dogs only need moderate exercise, but they do quite well as working dogs, such as in search and rescue and therapy.
  • Despite their lovable temperament, Mastiffs have a few issues that make living with them a bit of a challenge. They tend to drool — excessively. They are also known to be full of gas, so you can expect a certain amount of flatulence in a Mastiff’s presence!
  • Mastiffs have bigger litters of puppies than most breeds. The average tends to be 10 to 12 puppies in one litter. A Neapolitan Mastiff set a record for 24 puppies in a litter!
  • Several breeds are taller than the English Mastiff, but they are considered the largest dog breed in terms of their mass.
  • Mastiffs were used as war dogs in Ancient Rome.
  • A Mastiff holds the Guinness World Record for the longest and heaviest dog. In 1987, a Mastiff named Zorba from London, U.K., was measured at 8 feet, 3 inches long, and weighed an incredible 343 pounds!


Now you know more about the Old English Mastiff, the dog featured in “The Sandlot.” These dogs can be intimidating due to their immense size, but they are wonderful family dogs that will shower you with affection, devotion, and drool.

“The Sandlot” is an enduring movie that many watched as children. Undoubtedly, The Beast, a.k.a. Hercules, stole the show. He transformed from a fearsome villain to a loving friend, which has endeared so many of us to the Mastiff breed.

Featured Image Credit: Monica Arauz, Shutterstock

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