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The working titles of this film were Wildfire and The Bar Sinister, the title under which it was reviewed in Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety. The opening credits are preceded by the following quotation, which appears over an illustration of a bull terrier: "I agree with Agassiz that dogs possess something very like a conscience.-Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man." The end credits run over footage of each actor. The film is narrated throughout by actor Vic Morrow, who provided the voice of "Wildfire," the dog. At one point, during an offscreen dog fighting sequence, Wildfire makes comments endorsing "the fine work" done by the American Humane Association and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
According to January and February 1955 Daily Variety news items, Herman Hoffman was originally assigned to produce the film. It's a Dog's Life marked Hoffman's debut as a feature director after four years as production assistant to M-G-M studio head Dore Schary. Hollywood Reporter production charts include English actor Roger Moore in the cast, but he was not in the film. A March 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item adds Marilyn Malloy and Nancy Duke to the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.