Max promises to tug at the heartstrings of dog lovers everywhere when it opens nationwide Friday.

The movie tells the story of a Belgian Malinois who is traumatized when his marine partner, Kyle, dies in the line of duty in Afghanistan.

After Kyle’s death, Max is shipped back to the U.S. and adopted by the marine’s family. The only human Max seems willing to connect with is Kyle’s teenage brother, Justin. But it takes a while for the troubled teen to come around to the canine veteran. They then go on a big adventure together. lead canine actor in the film is a 1-year-old Belgian Malinois named Carlos — but there were actually five dogs who played Max, Yahoo Movies reported in March. One of the stunt dogs filmed for the movie is a former drug-detection dog. 

Only one of the dogs is an experienced actor, and trainer Mark Forbes told Yahoo that he had just four months to get the pack ready to film the movie.

The film also stars Josh Wiggins as Justin, with Lauren Graham and Thomas Haden Church playing his parents.

The movie may make you wonder what happens to real-life military dogs when they retire. They’re sometimes adopted by their former handlers, their handlers’ families or other families who are willing to give these hero dogs a home for their golden years. You can learn more about that here.

Some owners of Belgian Malinois have commented on the film’s Facebook page to express concern that moviegoers may think the Malinois is a good breed for every family. They warn that the intelligent dogs, who are often employed by the military and law enforcement, are high energy and require a lot more exercise and training than a potential owner may expect.

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