Like an onion, there are many layers to Dog "Duane" Chapman. There is way more to him than meets the eye just watching him on television, and over the years of opening up more about his life, it’s also clear that many of the tidbits of wisdom he has shared on his TV shows also extend to the way he parents.
The past is a huge contributor to how we become as grown-ups and parents, but this fact is the most evident in Dog as he has done everything he can to escape his past life and, especially, some of the choices he made as a result of his more difficult childhood.
"My father is the reason I am the way I am today. He's why I acted up and he's why I prayed to be the opposite of him. We made up before he [passed], but I vowed to never raise my kids like how he raised me," he was quoted saying.
Despite his tough exterior, he has also explained, "I'm very emotional. That's why I wear shades a lot."
With that being said, let’s have a look at 20 ways the famous Bounty Hunter parents.
20 He Turned His Life Around At The Age Of 26
As Dog learned, getting in with the wrong crowd at an early age is easy. His difficult past contributed to him getting together with the wrong kinds of people, which in turn, led to him getting in trouble with the law. Once in trouble, many find it too difficult to get back to a normal law-abiding life and yet, Dog is the exception to the case, which offers a glimpse into the way he parents as well. At the age of just 26, he managed to get back out into the real world after inadvertently helping authorities catch someone who had been trying to run away. It’s this very first incident that led to him gaining the very interesting title of “Bounty Hunter”.
For him, walking the straight and narrow is far more important, which is also a key element in the way he parents.
19 A Counselor In The Past
It’s clear as day that Dog was by no means destined for the flipside of the law. While serving time for something he didn’t do, he actually worked as a counselor to others in his situation. Already from the show, it was clear that he’s the kind of person who gains satisfaction from mentoring and coaching others to do good, an initiative that would have also seamlessly integrated with his parenting. And let’s not forget that it’s at the mere age of 26 that he was already counseling others in his position at the time! Some people simply have a natural talent for it.
18 All About Redemption
When it comes to Dog, there’s one thing that fans know all too well from watching him on TV for eight years: he’s very big on redemption. There’s not an episode that didn’t go by without him generously offering something to the people he caught.
There was only one exception to his graciousness and that's if the person he caught had been wanted for doing something particularly unforgivable. He said in an interview, “I [would] roll down the window and turn on the heat as high as I [could] go, driving [while] sweating.”
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, this is the kind of personality trait that he would have also applied to his kids: being fair or stricter when necessary.
17 Married Five Times And Father To Twelve Children
On top of making a ton of money catching a slew of bad guys, Dog is also clearly a family man. As The Sun reported, “Dog has been married five times, and has fathered 12 children: including one from a teenage relationship.”
If analyzing the lives of celebrities has taught us anything, it’s that just because someone has over a dozen children with various partners doesn’t mean that he doesn’t still care about each child. Dog’s attitude towards his children is evidence to this, especially since he has made sure to raise his children on the right side of the law despite his own rocky upbringing.
16 Leland Didn’t Know His Dad Until He Was 8
We saw a whole lot of Leland on the show, and he’s actually one of the kids Dog gained custody of way later. Surprisingly, Leland didn’t actually get to meet his father, Dog, until he was eight years old! That’s a very long time for a young child, but at least the moment finally came. The only downside is that it happened because Leland’s mother got in trouble herself. As TravelFuntu points out, “Leland didn’t meet Duane until he was 8-years-old. Luckily, after several years of hardships, the two were able to overcome their differences and become a family. Now both of them are happier than ever. With family, everything will be okay.”
15 He Enjoys Being The Peacemaker
As tough as he may look, it’s crystal clear that Dog cares a lot for everyone around him, even the ones he chases! As TravelFuntu explains, “He understands that the [...] system could actually be helpful.”
After a man he caught tried to go a long stretch without eating in 2017, Dog is the one who convinced him to stop. Not everyone would be able to do such a thing!
Having fathered 12 kids, that’s certainly the kind of skillfulness that he would have had to utilize on a daily basis. This is especially true since many of his kids frequently got into trouble themselves.
14 Not Like On Camera
At the same time, though, things aren’t always as peachy as they look. Despite putting out a peacemaking façade on cameras, it’s clear that Dog hasn’t always been as in control behind closed doors. Now that he’s 65 and nearly all the kids under his wing are adults, the cracks are starting to show in the foundation. Quite unfortunately, his relationship with many of his kids is now strained for a variety of reasons. While it’s impossible to know the whole story just from hearing one side, Dog has nonetheless been vocal about loving all his children. Let’s hope that one day he writes another book, shedding light on everything that would have happened off-camera.
13 He Turned His Own Daughter In
We have already covered a few times the way in which Dog likes to walk the straight and narrow, despite having spent some time on the wrong side of the law in the past. This fact about him couldn’t have been made more evident when he made headlines for turning his daughter into the authorities. As hard-to-believe as it may sounds, he realized that his stepdaughter Nicole was wanted after seeing a video of her on the local news. As TravelFuntu explains, “Dog and Beth immediately went to police despite their relationship to [her].” As it turns out, she had actually been homeless at the time.
12 His Son Tucker Got The Show Cancelled
It’s never easy to have the rug pulled from under your feet, but Dog is a great example as to how you just need to keep on going with your life. As Today.com covers, Dog’s show was canceled a few years ago after his son Tucker leaked a conversation he had with his father to the media. As it turns out, Dog had used some unsavory words in relation to Tucker’s girlfriend, a relationship of which he didn’t approve.
Once the conversation was leaked, A&E eventually canceled the show once negotiations didn’t work out. Despite all this, Dog still later said, “All I want him to know is that I love him very much.”
11 He Also Doesn’t Talk To His Other Son Anymore
Still, that’s not the only hiccup in Dog’s relationship with his children. After the Dog The Bounty Hunter TV show was officially canceled, tensions rose between Duane Lee Jr., who had been a prominent cast member, and Beth. Turns out that Duane Lee Jr. wanted more money, which Dog's wife Beth refused. As a result, he also wasn’t asked to appear on Dog & Beth: On The Hunt, which aired from 2013 to 2015.
To add even more hurt feelings to the mix, Dog’s other son Leland was asked to join the spin-off and appeared in all three seasons as a regular cast member.
10 Still, He Got Custody Of Many Of His Kids
To be fair, every family goes through their fair share of ups and downs. With 12 kids under his belt, it’s perfectly normal that he wouldn’t necessarily have the best relationship with all of them.
What’s interesting to note about this is the fact that most of his kids weren’t allowed to see him at first. He only gained custody of them once they started getting into trouble with the law themselves. Although it likely wouldn’t have been all sunshine and rainbows in their house, just that fact alone is enough to know that Dog is a caring father. As we have already covered, Leland is a prime example of this as although he didn’t meet his father until he was eight, they now have a good father/son relationship.
Just a couple of years ago, he even gained custody of his grandson! It was only temporary, but the fact that he did everything to help the child speaks volumes about his character.
9 Not What He Claimed To Be
There are many factors as to why the Dog The Bounty Hunter TV show generated as many fans as it did, but Dog’s iconic physical appearance and general tough-guy attitude are among the top reasons. The feathers in his hair made him stand out the most physically, but there’s also the fact that he mentioned a lot during his show that he was of Cherokee descent.
According to some reports, his mother Ludmilla told everyone she was of Cherokee and Seminole descent by the time she was in her fifties even though she was actually of Polish descent. But given how his mother raised him to believe he was apart of the culture, that’s exactly how he would have raised his kids as well.
Let’s just say that already in his Dog & Beth: On The Hunt spin-off TV show, he had stopped sporting the feathers in his hair.
8 She Said, He Said
While Dog did everything he could to turn his life around, he, unfortunately, didn’t quite succeed when it came to his daughter Lyssa’s upbringing. After saying her dad did something he didn’t do when she was just 11-year-old, she was sent back to live with her mother. She recounted the change in scenery as being “much more peaceful,” according to Fox News.
“I had pretty much [ignored] the cardinal rule as far as the Chapman family went, and I was written off,” she explained.
Both of these statements provide a snapshot into Dog’s parenting, which is basically that his children are expected to obey the rules or else.
7 Proceeded With The Wedding Anyways
When something major happens, the wedding doesn’t usually go on or is at least delayed. And yet, Dog married Beth back in 2006, just one day after losing his daughter Barbara Katy Chapman in a car accident. According to Today.com, the family convened together and decided to keep going with the wedding.
"They all decided unanimously they should celebrate the wedding and her life," said Michael Feeney, senior VP of A&E television network.
But let’s not forget that the wedding was also featured in an episode of Dog The Bounty Hunter, which is enough to make anyone wonder if greed may have been the motivation here.
6 Beth Is More Important Than His Kids
In his book, “You Can Run But You Can’t Hide,” Dog explained,
"I have been misjudged misinterpreted and misunderstood for most of my life. I have spent the last twenty-seven years trying to be one of the good guys. I love God, my wife, my children, my [work]. In spite of those efforts to be seen as a moral man of virtue, I am still viewed [the same way as in the past]. Put it all together and you will see: I am Dog."
It’s clear that since meeting Beth, she has been his number one and this, even through all the times he gained custody of his children.
5 Motivated By A Far-From-Perfect Past
As Worldation explains, “Dog didn’t always have it easy growing up. His father, being a boxer, was a physical man who disciplined his children [accordingly]. Duane Chapman also grew up in a modest house, with not a lot of money. Sometimes there wasn’t enough food to feed the whole family! These rough beginnings led to Dog dropping out of school when he was just 13 years old, in the seventh grade.”
In an interview with Vancouver Sun, Dog said, “It’s just inside of me. I tried to get away from it in the '70s, and it landed me [on the other side of the law].”
Still, it's the past he had that shaped the way he parented his kids, even if he wasn't always present in their lives. But there's something to be said about how he did everything he could to get custody of many of his kids in an effort to better their lives.
4 A Survivor Mindset
While Dog’s book “You Can Run But You Can't Hide” is certainly no literary masterpiece, it does provide insight into the way he parents. Coming from the past that he had, he operates on a survivor mindset both in his professional and personal lives. A fan of the book summarized him by saying,
“This book really opened my eyes to who Duane Chapman really was from his struggles dealing with his own issues to the family man that he his. He is definitely a survivor and never backed down from anything. He always went forward with his eyes wide open and he always figured out how to take a failure and turn it into a victory for not only himself but for others.”
3 He’s Now Bringing Up His Youngest To Follow In His Footsteps
Baby Lyssa was in the spotlight for a long time, and while that didn’t necessarily have the best effect on her as, like her famous father, she also landed on the wrong side of the law a few times, and she’s now out of the family business.
But someone needs to carry on and it looks like it might just be one of the youngest Chapmans: 25-year-old Cecily Chapman. The apple certainly didn’t fall far from the tree with this one as having grown up seeing her parents catching bad guys, she followed in their footsteps by becoming a Certified Bail Agent. She also ingeniously used the family business to market herself in an edgier way, earning herself over 70k followers on social media!
2 Guided By His Beliefs
Anyone who has watched the Dog The Bounty Hunter TV show should know just how dearly Dog holds his faith to his heart. As Vancouver Sun points out, “Today, spirituality is a big part of Chapman’s world. He makes liberal references to God on the show, he and his family join hands in prayer before every bounty hunt and, once captured, [the bad guy can expect some sympathy] in a little Dog-style fire and brimstone preaching in the back of the SUV on the way.”
It’s also no coincidence that spelled backward, Dog stands for God, a nickname he earned because of his faith. It’s also with that same mindset that he would have parented his kids.
1 As Well As His Idol
According to the Vancouver Sun, Dog once said, “My changing point was Anthony Robbins.” He also asserted that after meeting his idol, Tony Robbins said, “You’re the greatest challenge of my life.”
“They embarked on a partnership of sorts, as Robbins took him under his wing and on the road, teaching him public speaking and how to learn from one’s mistakes, and then how to use those skills and that knowledge to help others,” also explains Vancouver Sun.
“People have said (my performance) is a cross between motivational and preaching,” said Dog.
Dog has certainly learned to express himself a lot better and we can just imagine the kind of talking-to’s his kids have had to go through growing up under his wing.