They say a dog is a man’s best friend. To George Lucas, his pet Indiana became much more—the inspiration behind one of the most beloved characters in the Star Wars saga: Chewbacca.
Chewbacca, of course, is a Wookiee, not quite a dog. But as it turns out, he was directly George Lucas’ Chewbacca dog-inspired beloved Alaskan malamute, Indiana. (And yeah, that’s right- George named Indiana Jones after his dog. George, you’re a man after our own hearts.) As George Lucas himself said:
I had an Alaskan Malamute when I was writing the film [Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope]. A very sweet dog, she would always sit next to me when I was writing. And when I’d drive around, she’d sit in the front seat. A Malamute is a very large dog—like a 130 pounds and bigger than a human being and very long-haired.
So Chewie was inspired by an Alaskan Malamute! But there’s more to it than that. One man might have the vision, but that doesn’t make the vision infallible (see: Episodes I-III.) Maybe George Lucas based Chewbacca off of his Alaskan Malamute, but the true personality of Chewbacca is far too sophisticated to capture in just one dog.
The name Chewbacca is actually a derivation of “sobaka”—the Russian word for dog. The character was visualized by creators as a mix between a monkey, a dog, and a cat, and his voice comes from bear vocalizations mixed in with sounds from other species, including lions, badgers, camels, rabbits, and walruses.
Still, there is no doubt that his behavior is extremely doglike, in the sense that he is Han Solo’s best and most loyal friend. It’s no surprise that he is considered one of the top 10 movie sidekicks of all time. Though Chewbacca is not actually a dog, it’s easy to get pulled into a game of guessing which breeds would lead to a Chewbacca-like individual.