7 things you didn’t know about Cesar Millan

Cesar Millan, for those who may not have heard of him, is better known as ‘The Dog Whisperer’. The twinkly eyed Mexican with the perfect set of gnashers has risen to worldwide fame due to his seemingly supernatural ability to tame the most vicious, neurotic or disobedient dog. You may have caught him on TV as he silences a howling pooch with a look and a stern “Tsst!”, instructs a clueless owner in the application of ‘calm, assertive energy‘ or out rollerblading with a pack of his dogs. Let’s face it, he’s such a dude that he’s made rollerskating cool again, after Cliff Richard killed it off in the video for ‘Wired for Sound‘.

Cesar doesn’t talk much about his private life in his show, so we at Dream Dogs are going to take a peek at the guy behind the curtain operating the wheels and levers.

1) Cesar grew up on a farm

Born in 1969 in Culiacán, Mexico, to father Felipe Millán Guillen and mother María Teresa Favela de Millán, young Cesar grew up on a farm owned by his grandfather. He displayed a natural affinity with animals, but more so with dogs. Such was his skill, he was nicknamed el Perrero, or ‘the dog boy‘. Cesar credits his love of animals to his grandfather. He said:

“To him, everything about an animal was beautiful. He adored them. He didn’t love animals in the way Americans love animals – to see a birthday party for a dog, he would get a kick out of that.”

“He was the epitome of honesty, integrity, loyalty. And that’s what he loved about animals.”

2) Cesar remembers the exact moment that he wanted to work with dogs

He was 13 years old and was being accompanied by his mother to a judo competition. He stopped in front of a statue, and declared to her that he wanted to be the best dog trainer in the world. He admits that at the time he was unaware that you could learn about dog psychology, but he knew there was no turning back from that moment.

In fact, Cesar often visits the spot. He commented:

“That spot is a big deal to me. As soon as I land [back home], I eat shrimp tacos, I get my mom, and we go to that spot. Just to express my gratitude.”

3) Cesar was an illegal immigrant

Millan made a break for the American border when he was 21. In 1990, after scouting the situation for weeks in Tijuana, he took the plunge and crossed over into the US. He admits to feeling no fear about it – just an all-conquering sense that it was what he needed to do, regardless of the physical dangers:

“I was in the water for four hours”, he recounted.

“I felt like someone was taking care of me.”

4) Cesar was a bum

Following his crossing into America, Cesar had to live rough. Whilst homeless, he managed to find odd jobs, and survived by eating cheap hot dogs and drinking soda.

“One of the things I always wanted to drink was soda. My mom did not allow us to drink soda. And here, you get refills! For $1.69, you can get all the soda you want!”

Cesar soon found a steady job grooming dogs, and specialised in the more aggressive pets. Soon, he was able to open his own dog training business, the Pacific Point Canine Academy.

Cesar Millan-dog-whisper
Cesar Millan

5) His received a leg up from a movie star

Although his dog training business was slowly taking off, Cesar had to supplement his income by washing limousines. He met film star and wife of Will Smith, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and she soon fell under his spell. She provided him with an English teacher for a year, and his new command of the language enable him to open his first dog psychology centre in Los Angeles.

Cesar admits that he owes a great deal to Jada, as she recognised the potential he knew he had:

“To me, she’s an angel. She opened up my ability to communicate”.

6) Not everyone loves Cesar

Even though his method of training a dog is tried and trusted, Millan has drawn flack from some quarters.

Director of the Animal Behaviour Clinic at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr Nicholas Dodman fired a salvo of criticism at Millan, citing him pinning a dog down or jerking on its leash. He stated that Cesar had “set dog training back considerably”. In 2006, the American Humane Association (AHA) published a scathing critique, written by director of The Academy for Dog Trainers, Jean Donaldson, of Millan’s methods of confronting an aggressive dog and his use of a choke chain. The AHA even went so far as to ask the National Geographic Channel to pull the show from its schedule.

”Some people don’t like me. I know I’m doing good.” was Cesar’s response.

7) Cesar has starred in more than just The Dog Whisperer

Millan’s fame has reached the point that he often guest stars in other TV programs. He starred as himself in an episode of The Ghost Whisperer, and gave advice to Jennifer Love Hewitt on how to help a spectral pooch cross over into the light. He also played himself in a 2008 episode of crime drama Bones, which featured dog fighting, and more recently cameod in the film The Back Up Plan, starring Jennifer Lopez.

However, his greatest appearance is arguably “Tsst“, an episode of the animated comedy South Park. Millan was brought in to tame an out of control Eric Cartman, using his dog training methods. Ironically, the character was not voiced by Cesar himself, but by South Park creator Trey Parker.

Well, there you have it. Hopefully, Dream Dogs has given you a bit more insight into one of the most effective dog behavioural specialists in the world.


  • I guess I knew most of the things in your article. And don’t get me wrong for those who don’t know about Cesar it could be helpful. My definition of a bum is a little different, I think of Cesar as a work-a-holic, not a bum. Also some of the people who initially dissed Cesar have re-evaluted their views on how he works with dogs. Some even admit he has a true gift. Thanks for your article.

  • There’s a humerous slant to the article, and the word ‘bum’ is meant in the spirit of this. Rather than paint a picture of Cesar as shiftless, I think this celebrates his work ethic by illustrating how he’s gotten to where he is today from relatively humble beginnings.

    If anything, I’m having a dig at Cliff Richard 🙂

  • ive read stuff i didnt know about ceasar so thats good i think he is truely a very honest person regardless were he comes from if anything he has proved it doesnt matter what your background but his abilitys speaks for it selfs and a think his critics would even agree themselfs even if its not in public the mans a legend i have used some of his technics and they work with some persistance

  • Boa tarde Cesar! Gostaria de parabenizá-lo, assisto todos os dias seu programa O Encatador de Cães, e cada dia fico mais apaixonada pelo seu trabalho. Amo muito os animais também, tenho duas Lhasa apso a Kim e a Mel e ja estão indo para 9 anos. Preciso tentar consertar algumas manias nelas ou talvés em mim, pois vejo que são sempre os donos os problemas..kkkk
    Beijinhos para voce e que Deus ilumine sempre sua vida e seus caminhos.
    Fica com Deus
    Regininha Oliver Albuquerque
    PS. Tentei te adicionar no Faccebook mas não consegui, não sei porque…enfim…bjos

  • César,
    Assisto seu programa com frequência e tento replicar o que você ensina com nossos boxer e sharpei.
    É ipressinante como você demontra o quanto o comportamento humano influencia o do animal.
    Com a mudança do estado de energia do dono, você consegue adestrar o cão, sem usar de violência ou as recompensas usuais, como biscoitos e salcichas.
    Grato pelas lições e se eu tiver condições financeiras, vou me candidatar a um estágio no seu centro de treinamento.
    Emílio Falcão

  • I love cesar i think hes the best at what he does keep up the great work like you say changeing a diog at a time!!!! 🙂 i always watch your show….i wana celebrate my 25birthday with your picture on my cake lol love youuuuuu

  • Very interesting to know about the life of such a famous dog trainer. However…
    I don’t like to hate, but Cesar’s methods are wrong. He is wrong to hurt dogs to get them to listen to him. Would you hurt your child like that? I know I wouldn’t. Dogs are family! Honestly, do you HONESTLY think a dog will listen to you better if you go through the door first or not allow him to sit on your lap? No! And although dogs are from wolves, dogs ARE NOT WOLVES! Dogs were specifically bred to interact with humans, which is why treating them like a wolf makes no sense. Furthermore, wolves themselves don’t even operate that way! The pack leader is the mother and father, not whoever can fight the best!! Last of all, what Cesar calls “calm” energy is really the dog being so scared he doesn’t know what to do.

  • hola cesar mi nombre es perla todos los dias miro tu programa mis hijos quieren un perro pero mi casa es pequena y yo soy algo loca no me gustan los pelos pero mis hijos desean uno que perro podrias decirme que compre quiero acer a mis hijos felizes hace cuatro anos me divorcie mi hijo mas pequeno tenia solo seis meses y me e dedicado a trabajar y a sacar a mis hijos adelante y deceo acerlos felizes por eso quiero comprar algo pequeno pero mi hija jaquelin quiere un doberman a si q no se tengo 28 anos tres hijos y una casa q sacar adelante te agradeceria si me ayudas gracias que Dios te bendiga a ti y tu familia

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