Just how many Tigers were there on The Brady Bunch?
Here's a story… about several dogs named Tiger. Warning: It gets sad.
The Brady Kids had their fair share of cute pets over the course of five seasons — Fluffy the cat, Bobby's parakeet, Herman the turtle, Spunker the frog, Romeo and Juliet the rabbits, Cousin Oliver. We kid, we kid. Most of the animals come and go quickly, appearing in just one measly episode. Even Fluffy, the well-known kitty, only shows up in the pilot episode.
Of course, the most familiar Brady beast is undoubtedly Tiger the dog. Yet, even the beloved Tiger can only be spotted in ten episodes. He vanished midway through season two, bowing (barking?) out with "The Impractical Joker." His empty doghouse remained as a totem to his memory on the Astroturf backyard.
So, what happened to Tiger?
The shaggy brown… wait, gray-and-white? Sandy? What color was Tiger? You are excused if you can't clearly recall. Because multiple dogs played Tiger. Brace yourself, because the story is rather heartbreaking.
Greg Brady himself, Barry Williams, broke the unfortunate story decades ago in his 1992 memoir Growing Up Brady: I Was a Teenage Greg.
"Normally whenever I'm asked 'Whatever happened to Tiger?' I'll hide the truth, fake a plastic smile, and spit out some insipid euphemism like 'Well, Tiger's in doggie heaven now,'" Williams wrote. "That's because the real answer… has been just too gruesome to talk about."
According to Williams, the gruesome incident happened during the filming of "Katchoo," the fifth episode of season one. (It was the third filmed, as the production order does not match the order in which they aired.) The child actors were filming a tearful climactic scene where they clutch onto the dog, fearful that the pooch must go away due to allergies. The problem was, the canine actor refused to sit still for the scene.
After prodding, the trainer confessed, "It's a different dog." Williams then explained that the "original" (more on that in a bit) Tiger had wandered around loose the prior evening — and gotten run over by a florist's truck. In his book, Williams claims the trainer found a last-minute look-alike in a pound.
This tale is corroborated by Brady creator Sherwood Schwartz in The Encyclopedia of TV Pets: A Complete History of Television's Greatest Animal Stars (2002). "We talked to the trainer about it, and he told us the reason," Schwartz said. "This was a new Tiger. This Tiger didn't understand instructions because he had never been instructed. When Tiger had been taken home the previous week, he got loose from the trainer and ran out on the street and was killed by a car." The minor details differ — did he die the prior evening or the previous week? Was it a flower truck or car? Memories get fuzzy after decades of distance.
Likewise, when we try to spot the swap onscreen, things get even more complicated. If the "real" Tiger died that early in production, why was the unruly, untrained replacement used for nearly a full year after that, for seven more episodes? The "real" Tiger can be easily spotted. He has a darker, browner coat, with black fur on the tips of his ears and around his muzzle. The imposter wears a paler, poofier coat. You can certainly recognize the substitute in season two.
Why get bogged down in the nitpicky details? We do know that that Tiger kicked the bucket, that he was replaced, and that he vanished in season two.
But here's another surprise — there was a third Tiger.
The Encyclopedia of TV Pets completes the saga. Brady Bunch animal trainer Karl Lewis Miller said, "I was the trainer of the dog for the beginning of the series. In the pilot, where they have the big wedding party and the dog chasing the cat, that was another dog that played Tiger." We marked him "Tiger 1" in the image up top. Indeed, he looks different.
Supplier Lou Schumacher provided the second dog following the pilot, what we think of as the "real" Tiger. This animal actor was actually named Tiger. We marked him "Tiger 2" above. He is the one who met the unfortunate end with a motor vehicle.
"Tiger 3" turned out to be too much to handle. "The only way to solve the problem was to nail the dog to the floor," Schwartz confessed. Not literally. He means that they fastened his collar to the floor to keep him still.
The Encyclopedia of TV Pets reports of a fourth Tiger being used for "Tiger, Tiger" (season one, episode 18)… and an alleged fifth Tiger used in the second season. This fifth and final Tiger also "acted" in the 1975 film A Boy and His Dog, according to authors Ken Beck and Jim Clark. See if you can spot any differences in the insert image above.
If you are lamenting the loss of the true Tiger, be thankful that we at least got to see a little more of him thanks to recycling. Did you ever notice that "54-40 and Fight" completely reuses a bathing scene from "Katchoo"?
Alice washed the dog in a metal tub in "Katchoo." The exact same clip returns again in "54-40 and Fight." That's one easy way to get a dog to to do what you want again and again.