A castle for the Christmas dog explained: what is the Hamish breed

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Myles’ dog, Hamish, is a star of A Castle For Christmas. Here’s the scoop on his breed, who plays him and what the canine actor has been in before.

A castle for Christmas features an adorable dog named Hamish, who is probably recognizable and is a rather apt breed for the setting of the movie. Located in Scotland, A castle for Christmas is a new original holiday romcom from Netflix that has received decent reviews for its softness and warmth. While not groundbreaking or particularly ambitious in its story, the film nonetheless appears to deliver the classic well-being vibes of love and goodwill that Christmas movies are known for. Hamish, as a welcome addition to the cast, plays a key role in setting the tone.

A castle for Christmas focuses on romance writer Sophie Brown (Brooke Shields) who flees to her father’s old hometown in Scotland after a public meltdown over her latest book and her divorce. There she meets the current owner of the castle whom she heard stories about as a child, an angry Duke named Myles (Stranger things’ Cary Elwes). What follows is a predictable but sweet tale of opening up, letting go and, of course, falling in love. A castle for Christmas also has a good cast of supporting characters with their own story arcs. One of the cutest is definitely Myles’ dog, Hamish, who plays a key role in getting Brooke and Myles to meet and more throughout the film.

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Related: A Castle For Christmas Cast & Character Guide

Hamish is played by Barley, a crossbreed of Lurcher who has done quite well in the film industry. Lurchers, mainly found in Britain, are bred for hunting and are often the result of crossbreeding of greyhounds with herding or terrier breeds. They are primarily working dogs rather than show dogs, and are known for their speed, endurance, and intelligence. Barley certainly embodies all of these traits, which have seen it land several big screen gigs over the years.

A good canine actor can do a movie or a show (like Hawk Eye‘s Lucky the Dog illustrates). Barley is no exception, having impressed his coaches and co-stars with his teaching ability and gregarious personality throughout his career. Barley got his start doing television commercials in the UK, such as DFS furniture and Churchill insurance. But he also scored meatier roles in the UK television industry. Barley has been in the masterpiece Poldark (in which he plays Garrick), Channel 4’s A man of the sea, BBC One Sheltered, and the long term Midsomer Murders. Barley has also featured in Paul O’Grady’s documentary series, For the love of dogs. This talented dog is clearly no stranger to stardom and has even maintained himself alongside figures like that of Thor Chris Hemsworth in In the heart of the sea.

The ethics of using live animals as actors or props in films and television has become a more important issue in recent years, with the result that some films, like the one from Disney Call of the wild, instead opted for CGI. This process still uses real dogs for motion capture and modeling, so good dogs will likely always be in demand in Hollywood. As for Barley, playing the role was a nice break for him, as it helped save him from a shelter when he was abandoned as a puppy. In A castle for ChristmasBarley’s energetic and muscular performance as Hamish seems to indicate that this pup enjoys what he does.

More: Why Call Of The Wild’s Dog Was CGI: Who’s The Real Buck

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