Written by Bernice

Modified & Updated: 28 May 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett

Bolt, What kind of dog is Bolt

What kind of dog is Bolt from the Disney movie Bolt? It’s a question a lot of people ask for two reasons. The first one is that the movie never specifies his breed. The second is that some people want to search for their own Bolt. The movie starring Miley Cyrus and John Travolta features Bolt the Dog, who believes he has real superpowers which he uses to save his beloved owner, Penny from villains. The problem starts when Bolt gets lost and meets a cast of characters that helps him realize that there is power in being ordinary.

The movie isn’t the first to feature a dog as the main character. However, it is the first to feature a 3D animated dog character as the main lead. Despite being a pioneer in many ways and having a unique storyline, the movie leaves many unanswered questions. Bolt 2 hasn’t been announced yet, and people are becoming impatient for answers. They did release a short film titled Super Rhino to focus on one of Bolt’s friends. But that didn’t really answer all the questions we have. Thankfully, finding out what breed Bolt is can be answered without the sequel.

Disney’s Bolt makes it easy for you to want to have a dog like the main character. That’s why searching for a real-life Bolt dog is only natural. You might also be curious as to why Disney chose that breed for Bolt’s character design too. We were just as curious as you were, that’s why we went ahead and searched for answers.

Bolt does not have a real breed.

Joe Moshier, the main character designer for Bolt, took inspiration from a White Swiss Shepherd puppy. His team followed through with his design without thinking of remaining faithful to the breed at all. In other words, Disney designed the Bolt movie character with no real dog breed to base on.

Of course, the debate still lingers. Some people say that Bolt is a White Swiss Shepherd since he was based on a real one. However, other people argue that since the breed wasn’t officially announced, Bolt is a type of dog that only exist in the movies.

You don’t need to feel too down about this though, especially if you’re looking for a dog with the same physical appearance as Bolt. Aside from the grey bolt-patterned patch on his side, Bolt and a White Swiss Shepherd puppy are extremely identical. Both Bolt and a White Swiss Shepherd have arctic white fur with long upright and pointy ears. They also have the same black snout and black pupils. Bolt even has the same furry, long, and slightly curled tail that White Swiss Shepherds have. Bolt is less furry compared to a real-life White Swiss Shepherd. However, you can easily ask a local groomer to trim the breed into a similar cut as Bolt’s to mimic the iconic character on its own.

White Swiss Shepherd

White Swiss Shepherd
Image from Pixabay

You might be on the fence about whether or not Bolt is a White Swiss Shepherd. However, it is the closest breed we have to the Disney character. The White Swiss Shepherd may not be Bolt, but its personality, diet, and preferred environment may make it a perfect addition to your family.

White Swiss Shepherds are often confused as a mixed breed of German Shepherd. However, the White Swiss Shepherd is a completely different breed altogether. While the White Swiss Shepherd may look extremely similar to a White German Shepherd, the White Swiss Shepherd has a more upright stance and is less aggressive. White Swiss Shepherds also only come in two colors: cream and white.

White Swiss Shepherds aren’t good police dogs. This is because they’re skittish, careful, and more introverted than the German Shepherd. However, the two dog breeds are both protective, alert, and love physical activities.

It’s also important to note that White Swiss Shepherds are extremely clingy to their owners. They love to cuddle and guard their humans constantly. White Swiss Shepherds bark relentlessly when unfamiliar cars or people come too close to their territory as well, alerting you and your family of intruders or your local mailman.

The Federation Cynologique Internationale, also known as FCI, recognizes the White Swiss Shepherd as a separate breed. However, the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the United Kennel Club (UKC) currently don’t recognize the breed. Fortunately, there are animal groups that are working on its recognition.


White Swiss Shepherds were introduced in 1931 after a series of selective breeding. Captain von Stephanitz admired the sheep herding dogs that were slowly dwindling due to the advancement of technology. To preserve shepherd dogs, Captain von Stephanitz acquired a handful of them, including the White Swiss Shepherd, to create the perfect herding dog: the German Shepherd.

This makes the White Swiss Shepherds precursors to the popular breed. German Shepherd enthusiasts who encounter the White Swiss Shepherd will also notice that the breed is extremely powerful but is less aggressive than most German Shepherds. As a result, they became popular throughout Europe. Unfortunately, this resulted in White Swiss Shepherds being removed from their original purpose: herding.

While popular, the White Swiss Shepherd, unfortunately, began to dwindle after the introduction of the German Shepherd. The breed was saved in the 1970s when a group managed to take in Lobo, the new first stud of the breed, and his children to reproduce in Switzerland. By 1991, the White Swiss Shepherds became significant enough to be added to the Swiss Stud Book 1991. The Kennel Club of the United Kingdom also officially recognized the breed in 2017.


The White Swiss Shepherd is one of the smartest dog breeds in the world. Many of them are known to be careful with children and protective of their owners. They are also energetic, making them easily bored and restless if not given enough physical activity. Unlike German Shepherds, White Swiss Shepherds are friendlier and more introverted. This makes it difficult to have them as police dogs or military dogs. However, their alertness and protectiveness make them perfect guard dogs in locations such as homes, offices, or even your child’s bedroom.

Just like Bolt, White Swiss Shepherds love being with their family. When Bolt was separated from Penny, he immediately searches for a way to return to her. White Swiss Shepherds are the same. As a result, locking these dogs alone in a room or outside for long periods will cause them to be depressed or develop anxiety. White Swiss Shepherds are friendly with other dog breeds. However, they’re also extremely territorial against dogs they’re not familiar with. That’s why it’s important to introduce them to other pets properly.

A distinct feature of the White Swiss Shepherd is that they prefer to have jobs or roles in the family. You don’t have to purchase sheep for your dog. Instead, having it use carts to pull groceries or aid you in cleaning the house will work fine.

If you don’t manage to help your White Swiss Shepherd release its energy, your pet will eventually become destructive to release stress.

White Swiss Shepherd
Image from Wikimedia Commons

Natural Environment

White Swiss Shepherds originated in the Thuringian region in Germany. The breed’s homeland is also home to the Harz mountains, the Goldene Aue, and part of the Helme river. White Swiss Shepherds originally thrived in wide fields that had four seasons a year. Despite the diversity in seasons, the Thuringian region is one of the coldest areas of Germany. This means that White Swiss Shepherds are comfortable in countries with cold climates rather than tropical locations.

White Swiss Shepherds were also commonly found helping with the herds of livestock that farmers had from the 1910s onwards. This means that even White Swiss Shepherds are naturally friendly with their family unit and extremely wary of outsiders. Their protectiveness stems from predators in the wild that would snatch livestock or their family members.

Because of this, White Swiss Shepherds adopted two instincts. They are naturally friendly and protective of those they consider family. At the same time, they are also brimming with energy. This means that exercises and playtimes are important for them as well.

The Thuringian region experienced a loss of natural habitat that may have attributed to the endangerment of the White Swiss Shepherds. By the 1990s, however, Thuringia managed to revive its flora and fauna.


White Swiss Shepherds are omnivores. And just like most dogs, the White Swiss Shepherd needs large amounts of protein to maintain a healthy diet. This means that their meal plan must always include meat such as fish, lamb, turkey, chicken, or beef.

It’s important to note that the amount of food they consume depends on their activities, health, and their age. An ordinary old shepherd dog would consume 1,300 calories for a healthy weight. However, the more active shepherd dogs can consume 1,700 calories maximum daily.

Some dog owners like to feed their pets raw meat. Veterinarians are against this type of feeding for fear of food-related diseases such as Salmonella. Instead, veterinarians suggest dry or wet dog food that has been approved for consumption by the Food and Drug Administration.

Most veterinarians recommend products such as Canidae, Mega Addiction, Eukanuba, and Royal Canin. White Swiss Shepherds are large breeds, so it’s best to take note of which type of dry or wet dog food you will be feeding them with your veterinarian. It’s also important to feed them omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for their skin and coat and fiber foods for healthy stools.


White Swiss Shepherds are expensive breeds. You would have to pay $3,000 to $4,000 just to own a White Swiss Shepherd puppy. However, the breed’s personality, appearance, and loyalty are priceless. It is important to note that White Swiss Shepherds are generally healthy in their youth. However, not taking care of them properly will cause serious health issues once they reach an older age.

White Swiss Shepherds are prone to bloating. The build-up of gas inside their stomachs may cause their stomach to twist unnaturally. It’s also possible for White Swiss Shepherds to have nerve damage called Degenerative Spinal Stenosis. They’re also prone to blindness called progressive retinal atrophy.

Should you choose to own a White Swiss Shepherd, you must be wary of the dangers of hip dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, and elbow dysplasia which can cause a loss of mobility for them as well.

All pets have the potential to carry serious diseases. That is why, regardless of what pet you decide to add to your family, you must learn to care for and watch over them.

The Success of Disney’s Bolt

Disney’s Bolt was a commercial success upon its release. Toy manufacturers made fortunes out of the titular character and his friends made as stuffed toys, figurines, and bags. The movie was budgeted for over $150 million and managed to earn a total of $350 million worldwide. Not only was Bolt a commercial success, but the movie was also well-received by film critics. A.V. Club’s Tasha Robinson praised the film for being true to the core of Disney’s values. She even goes further to say that it was the first film that returned to Disney’s roots since Lilo & Stitch, criticizing Disney’s other more recent works in the process.

Bolt wasn’t done appearing in the Disney universe either. After his successful debut, the short film Super Rhino was released with a focus on his good friend, Rhino, and his adventurous dream. Bolt also appeared in video games that Disney released. The first one is Bolt, which could be played on PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo 3DS, and PC. It was an action-adventure RPG that had Bolt as a playable character.

Bolt then appeared in two more Disney games: Disney Infinity and Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. In terms of movie cameos, Bolt can be spotted in Wreck-it-Ralph, Frozen II, Prep & Landing, and Big Hero 6.

Bolt closeup
Image from Disney Wiki – Fandom

Similarities of Bolt with White Swiss Shepherds

We now have an answer to what type of dog is Bolt. However, what kind of dog is Bolt supposed to be? Does Bolt have the same similarities as a real-life White Swiss Shepherd?

Bolt is just as clingy as White Swiss Shepherds.

Bolt is heavily attached to Penny. Bolt’s worst nightmare is losing her and being replaced, which actually happened in the film against Penny’s wishes. This led to anxiety and depression for Bolt. White Swiss Shepherds are also extremely clingy with their owners and become destructive when left alone for too long.

White Swiss Shepherds are extremely intelligent.

Just like the White Swiss Shepherd, Bolt is incredibly intelligent. Despite being unaware of his true limitations, Bolt was able to travel across the country to reunite with Penny. A real White Swiss Shepherd is an excellent choice for a service dog as well since they can be taught signs of when to get help, when to guide their owner, and more.

One of the most famous scenes in Disney’s Bolt is when Bolt finally managed to perform a real-life “super bark” as he does in his TV series in the film. White Swiss Shepherds are known to have powerful barks as well. Even without training, White Swiss Shepherds are known to alert their owners of danger through their barks.

Both Bolt and White Swiss Shepherds are wary of strangers.

Bolt is extremely loyal to his friends. However, he was initially cold and wary of Mittens and Rhino. White Swiss Shepherds have to be carefully introduced to other pets in the family as well. Because, just like Bolt, they are more comfortable with humans and their owners.

Bolt and White Swiss Shepherds need entertainment.

Bolt has a favorite toy. It was a stuffed carrot toy that squeaks whenever he bites onto it. Just like Bolt, White Swiss Shepherds love interactive toys. Not only do they get a quick exercise, but it also keeps them from being bored.

bolt and its toy carrot
Image from Disney Movies

The final scene of Disney’s Bolt features Bolt playing in a backyard with Penny. If you plan to own a White Swiss Shepherd, a large space for the dog to move around is ideal. This would make your pet happier than in a city apartment or in Bolt’s case, a trailer.


We hope you enjoyed learning about Bolt’s dog breed, the success he earned in his film, and the similarities between Bolt and the White Swiss Shepherd. Disney didn’t officially declare the White Swiss Shepherd as Bolt’s breed. However, the unnamed puppy that Joe Moshier encountered and used as the basis for Bolt is enough proof. Not only did the movie teach people how to love their pets, but it also managed to gain attention for the rare herding dog.

Learning about the White Swiss Shepherd will help it to grow back into popularity. Since it almost went extinct before, it’s only natural that dog lovers would fear the possibility of the White Swiss Shepherd becoming permanently gone from the world. Thankfully, animal breeders are working their way to make sure that the loveable breed stays with us for a long time.

As of the moment, the breed remains rare in the United States. An ironic trait of the dog since it was more popular in the US before being cared for in Switzerland. Its rareness is also the reason why many people don’t know what type of dog Bolt was inspired by. Hopefully, there will be more movies, series, or even video games featuring Bolt the dog. Not only will his character help children to love and respect their pets, but it may also help the White Swiss become recognized around the world.

Would you like to own your very own Bolt? You can find White Swiss Shepherds ready for adoption or learn more about them in organizations such as Echo Dogs, Wildwood White Shepherds, Little Frost Wolf, and the White Paws German Rescue.

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