Show Dogs: family comedy re-edited to remove ‘abuse’ scenes

Scenes involving genital inspection of a talking dog ‘mirrors grooming tactics’

Show Dogs
Will Arnett and his canine co-star, voiced by Ludacris, in a scene from the movie
(Image credit: Adrian Rogers/Global Road)

A re-edited version of Show Dogs is to be rushed out to cinemas a week after its release, after parents and activists objected to scenes which, they argued, mirror tactics used by sexual predators to groom child victims.

In the PG comedy, released in the US last Friday, Max, a talking police dog voiced by Ludacris, has infiltrated a dog show and must be inspected by the show’s judges.

“In the scenes, Max is advised by a former champion dog to go to his ‘zen place’ in order to get through the dog show’s genital inspection,” Deadline reports.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

The climactic moments of the film show Max using the technique successfully to endure the inspection and complete his mission.

The talking dog comedy, which opens in the UK on Friday, found itself at the centre of an unlikely firestorm this week over the two scenes.

Parents and activists argued that the movie sent a confusing message about bodily autonomy which could leave young viewers more vulnerable to grooming.

In one widely shared review posted on a parenting website Macaroni Kid, blogger Terina Maldonado said she found the implications of the plotline “dark and disturbing”.

“It all rests on his ability to let someone touch his private parts,” she wrote, adding that her daughter’s enjoyment of the scene provided a “teaching opportunity” to discuss boundaries and consent.

Dawn Hawkins, the executive director of the US National Center on Sexual Exploitation, said that the original cut of the film sent “a troubling message that grooms children for sexual abuse”.

“These are similar tactics child abusers use when grooming children - telling them to pretend they are somewhere else, and that they will get a reward for withstanding their discomfort,” she said.

Show Dogs’ production company, Global Road Entertainment, stressed that the on-screen inspections were “depicted completely accurately” and performed by professional dog show judges.

The company rejected the notion that the scenes were anything but “a comedic moment in the film, with no hidden or ulterior meaning”. However, a new cut of the film minus the offending moments is now being distributed to cinemas.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.