Photo credit- Ryan Seacrest
The current Lassie is the 10th generation direct descendant of the original line and is a fully registered AKC dog. Lassie is bred, owned and trained by Carol Riggins, a profesional animal trainer in her own right separate from Lassie and a long time associate as both co-trainer and trainer of Lassie for Weatherwax Trained Dogs and friend of the Weatherwax family. Carol provided other services to Weatherwax Trained Dogs including acting as a personal assistant, negotiating contracts and appearance details, researching breeders for possible breeding partners, assisting with breedings and care of puppies, researching potential puppy owners and much more.. She even assisted with bookeeping. Unlike Rudd, Bob had never allowed his son to work with him on Lassie beyond one year of "The New Lassie" in the 1980's. When Bob retired there was no family member who owned a dog with the trademark markings and the professional animal training experience. Carol owned the 9th generation dog which had been Lassie on the last TV series under Weatherwax Trained Dogs. He worked professionally on non Lassie projects after the series wrapped but returned to the role of Lassie when Carol became the successor to the Weatherwax family.
Bob Weatherwax moved from California to the east coast several years after his retirement and does very limited appearances with a grandson of 9th generation Laddie but has branched off in a totally new and different direction from Lassie. Over the years many projects involving Bob have been announced but none have ever materialized including a film on the family legacy, a facitlity to teach how to train service dogs, and others. He and his daughter now breed AKC collies but none are involved in the entertainment industry. The last Lassie Bob bred and worked with was born in 1998 and has long since passed. A more indepth page on the Weatherwax family will be added to our site soon. .
The Lassie trademark underwent a number of changes after the sale in 2000 by the Weatherwax family and was owned by a number of companies both here and across the pond, each encountering financial difficulties which kept new Lassie projects on hold. The trademark recently returned home to the USA and is now owned by Dreamworks Classics, a company with the passion of Lassie and the line dogs and the vision and resources to ensure Lassie endures for future generations.
Lassie began as a short story written by British author Eric Knight for the Saturday Evening Post. The story was such a success, it was expanded into a book, "Lassie Come Home". In 1943, the movie version of the book was released. The Lassie of Eric Knight's book was a tri-color collie, based on his own dog "Toots", but the dog cast for the film was a sable and white show dog from a prestigious kennel. In the famous scene where Lassie was to cross a raging river, stunt dog Pal, was called in. Pal swam across the actual raging river, nearly collapsed on the other side but under the direction of his trainer, continued to struggle to move on. Director Fred Wilcox is quoted as saying "It may have been Pal that went in the river, but it was Lassie that came out. That is my star!". Thus began the legacy of the world's most famous line of dogs, all direct descendants of the original dog, who have played Lassie, and which continues today.
Even though Pal was never formally registered with the AKC, he was part of a registered AKC litter and is believed to have been bred by Glamis Collies of California. To see the original pedigree for Pal's litter, click here. There is no truth to the rumor that Lassie's blaze is not acceptable by the AKC.
It was long thought that the old records tracing back to the original dogs of Rudd Weatherwax were lost in a fire on Rudd's ranch, but recently those records were recreated and submitted for approval to the AKC in the fall of 2013 through the Administrative Reseach Registration process. Those records, along with other documentation submitted, proved the 10th generation Lassie to be the continuation of the same genetic line of dogs. This documentation allowed Lassie to become recognized as a fully registered AKC dog who will carry on the official Lassie genetic line of AKC dogs into the future!
Although the fictional character of Lassie is a female, every dog that has portrayed Lassie has been male. This is because female collies periodically lose their coat and males are bigger, thus allowing a child actor to play opposite the dog for a longer time and for the dog to look their best at any time.
The Lassie trademark requires Lassie to be a sable and white collie, with a full white collar, four white feet, and a white blaze up the nose. All of the genetic Lassie line dogs have had these markings naturally and have not used makeup.