Before 2004, many Americans hadn’t even heard of the term “bounty hunter.” The arrival of TV star Duane “Dog” Chapman on A&E changed all of that. With his unique appearance, family-filled team, and over-the-top exciting busts, Dog the Bounty Hunter was an immediate hit with audiences. People loved to tune in and watch Dog catch the bad guys week after week.
The show might have brought Dog and the Chapman family fame and glory, but it also dug up a lot of his darkest secrets and provoked a lot of family drama. Read on about Dog’s rebellious childhood, his craziest captures, and how his wife Beth stayed by his side until cancer took her life.
It’s Dog, Not Duane, For A Reason
Duane Lee Chapman has never legally changed his name to “Dog” but he’d made it clear that’s the name he’d prefer. Why? Because it keeps his legal name out of the media and keeps some scandals under wraps.
The name Duane Chapman is tied to multiple divorces, several arrests and convictions, and the 12 kids (or 13, it depends who you ask) that he’s allegedly fathered. The preference makes sense, since when you Google “Dog” you get much more innocent results.
Dog Was Convicted Of Murder In 1976
In the early ’70s, Dog and one of his friends went to buy drugs from a dealer but it quickly turned more dangerous. A struggle broke out and his friend allegedly shot and killed the dealer. Dog claimed he was waiting in the car when it happened but he was still convicted for first degree murder because of the incident.
Dog was sentenced to five years in prison but only ended up serving 18 months.
His Wife Left Him While He Was Behind Bars
Jail time isn’t fun for anyone but it was especially tough on Dog. While he was behind bars his then-wife—La Fonda Sue Honeycutt—left him, married his best friend, and took their two children.
Dog felt betrayed by the action and it was even worse because he wasn’t able to reunite with his sons for several years. In fact, his son Leland didn’t even know his dad until he was a teenager because he was 7 months old at the time of the jailhouse divorce.
Prison Did Manage To Turn His Life Around
Despite the misfortunes of prison life, Dog managed to use the time inside to his advantage. He did field work and was employed as the prison barber while in jail. Behind bars he also claimed to have found religion again and wanted to give up his rebellious ways.
One moment that Dog said was pivotal was when he tackled an inmate trying to escape, eventually saving him from being shot. When the prison guard came over to subdue the other inmate, he commented "good job, hook him up, bounty hunter." That comment led Dog to pursue bounty hunting as a career.
Dog Claims He’s Native American…But He’s Not
Dog the Bounty Hunter is so well known thanks to his signature unique look. The long, blonde, often-braided hair combined with necklaces, and bracelets are because he claims to have Native American roots.
In reality, Dog’s family hails from Eastern Europe. His great-aunt Ludmilla sold hand-rolled cigarettes on behalf of Native Americans and would dress up in their clothing. She kept up the ruse for years and many of her children grew up donning Native American accessories.
Dog Bailed Nicolas Cage Out Of Jail
In 2011, actor Nicolas Cage was arrested and sent to jail after a car accident and a public brawl with his wife. Cage was stuck in jail overnight without the ability to bail himself out, since his wife was at odds with him.
Rather than having a Hollywood friend come to the rescue, it was Dog who personally went and bailed Cage out. Dog explained that he was simply a huge fan of the actor and wanted to help him out of a jam.
His Daughter Wrote A Scathing Tell-All
Dog’s ninth child, Lyssa Chapman, released a tell-all book "Walking on Eggshells" that painted a picture of a very different Dog. Lyssa claimed that her upbringing led her to live a troubled life. Her father allegedly was addicted to crack while her mother was an alcoholic.
Lyssa admitted to falsely accusing Dog of abuse because she was "willing to do anything to not go back" to the household. She claimed the unstable life led her to become addicted to drugs as well and become a teen mom.
One Of The Most Shocking TV Moments Wasn’t Scripted
A lot of people expect reality shows like Dog the Bounty Hunter to have their drama scripted but one 2012 episode was a look into the actual bad blood between Dog’s family members. Two of Dog’s sons quit ties with Dog and their stepmother Beth and officially quit the show.
The blowup that led to them quitting was caught on camera that appeared to show the two sons claiming Beth wanted them fired.
There’s A Reason He Doesn’t Carry A Firearm
If you’ve watched Dog the Bounty Hunter then you might have noticed Dog never apprehends anyone with a firearm. That’s because thanks to his 1976 murder conviction, he’s legally not allowed to own a firearm. Although he finished his parole decades ago, Dog still has to follow these restrictions.
The only weapon Dog gets to rely on are chemical sprays to disarm the bad guys, oh, and a lot of confidence.
He’s A Ladies Man, For Better Or For Worse
Dog has admitted that he “likes women too much to settle down” yet he’s still been married five times and divorced four. Dog was married to his first wife, La Fonda Sue Honeycutt, for five years before she left him in 1977. Two years later, Dog married Anne Tegnell but they were divorced three years later in 1982.
That same year, Dog married Lyssa Rae Brittain and the couple stayed together for almost a decade. Dog claims he was “coerced” into marrying his fourth wife, Tawny. Finally, Dog began dating his fifth and current wife Beth in 1986, and after 16 years together, they married in 2006.
He Just Keeps On Having Kids
Dog seems to always have a new litter on the way. In total, Dog has been a father figure to 13 children in his lifetime. Strap in, because it gets confusing. Dog didn’t even know about the birth of his first child until the mother passed away and Dog assumed custody.
He had two more children with his first wife, three with his second, three with his third wife, none with his fourth, and two with his fifth and current wife. Dog is also the legal step-father of two kids from his fifth wife’s previous relationship. That’s one busy kennel that isn’t easy to keep track of.
He’s Also The Legal Guardian Of A Grandchild
As if 13 kids weren’t enough to take care of, Dog and his wife Beth are also the legal guardians of a grandson. The boy’s father, Barbara, was Dog’s daughter from his second marriage. Barbara died tragically in 2006 in a car accident, the day before Dog was set to marry Beth.
Barbara left behind one child in the custody of the father. Sadly, Dog discovered that the father was physically abusing his grandson, and filed for custody immediately.
His Own Son Leaked A Phone Call That Got The Show Temporarily Cancelled
Dog has dealt with a lot of controversy but a 2007 leaked phone call between Dog and his son Tucker was the final nail in the coffin. The recording featured Dog using derogative and racial phrases in reference to his son’s African American girlfriend.
It was actually Dog’s son Tucker who sold the recording to the National Enquirer and A&E cancelled the show midway through season four because of the controversy.
The Show’s Final Meltdown Came In 2012
Even though the leaked phone call pulled Dog the Bounty Hunter from the air, it returned a few months later for another four seasons. Finally, in season eight, the show was permanently canceled by A&E.
Dog and Beth claimed that they could not come to an agreement about payment and creative rights with A&E, but the network said the ratings just weren’t there anymore. Dog and Beth had a successful spinoff show for three seasons until eventually, that too was canceled.
His First Arrest Put Him On The Map
Dog gained worldwide attention in 2003 with the capture of Andrew Luster, an heir to a cosmetic company who had been charged with 86 counts of sexual assault. Dog traveled to Mexico with his original "hunt team" featuring his son Leland and friend Youngblood.
The three found Luster in Mexico and were driving him back to America when all four were arrested by police. Luster was extradited to America to face trial but Dog, Leland, and Youngblood were all publicly held in Mexico until Beth appealed to the public for their release. The entire ordeal turned Dog into a famous bounty hunter.
His Nickname Came From A Rebellious Childhood
You might be wondering how someone named Duane Chapman ended up with the nickname “Dog.” It’s all thanks to his rough and tough (or ruff and tuff, if you know what we mean) teenage years. Dog’s mother was a pastor while his father was in the Navy. Both of them were largely absent, which led Dog to become a member of a motorcycle gang.
It was while he was in the gang that he gained the nickname “Dog” for being scrappy and always ready to put up a fight.
What Happened To Tim "Youngblood" Chapman?
Although they share the same last name, Tim "Youngblood" Chapman isn’t actually related to Dog, they’re just really good friend. Youngblood was a main character in Dog the Bounty Hunter and was on the show for years before he suddenly stopped being featured.
It turns out that Youngblood left the show to "repair family damage." He had been arrested in 2008 for terroristic threats and even though he was acquitted in 2009, he’s stayed out of the spotlight.
Beth Was Convicted For Cursing
Dog and Beth have tracked down some hardcore criminals in their days, so it’s a little ridiculous to hear that Beth ended up arrested just because of her potty mouth. According to Beth, she was driving in Colorado when two teenagers in a car nearly hit hers.
She yelled and cursed at the teens, who then allegedly took out a gun. Beth called the police after seeing the gun but got arrested too because in Colorado, it’s illegal to swear at someone.
Death Threats Are Nothing New To Him
It’s not surprising to hear that over the years, Dog’s actions have left him with a lot of enemies. In 2012, one of his enemies seemed to take action and began to send threatening emails to Dog and his family. Most people speculate the letters came from someone Dog had known from his time in prison.
The threats were so violent that it prompted an investigation by the FBI. Despite the investigation, the culprit still remains unknown.
One Episode Ended Up In A Hefty Lawsuit
Most of the criminals Dog aprehends turn out guilty, but what happens when all charges are dropped and Dog’s bounty crew ruins the case? That’s exactly what happened in 2009 when Dog apprehended Hoang Ming Phung Nguyen. After handing him over, the district attorney dropped all charges and Nguyen was free.
The problem was that Dog still aired the footage and Nguyen lost his job and reputation. Nguyen ended up suing Dog for defamation and A&E ended up having to pay for it.
Beth Probably Had An Enhancement
Starring on a television show puts a lot of pressure on people to look a certain way and Dog’s wife Beth was no different. Many fans noticed and sadly criticized her physical transformation over the years. It wasn’t long until rumors began to swirl that she had gone under the knife.
Some people believe the most obvious surgeries were a tummy tuck and breast implants, but Beth has never confirmed or denied it.
Dog Got His Start On Another Show
After Dog’s brush with fame with the capture of Andrew Luster, he was featured on the show Take This Job. The program featured people with unusual occupations. The show had okay ratings but the episode that featured Dog and his Hunt Team was immediately loved.
Producers quickly saw a unique and drama-filled family that mixed everything from street smarts to arguments, arrests, and even romance. In 2004, the first season of Dog The Bounty Hunter aired.
Beth Battled Throat Cancer In Front Of The World
In 2017, Dog and Beth announced that Beth had been diagnosed with stage 2 throat cancer and that they would be undergoing surgery. The two shared their trauma and story on an A&E special series called Dog and Beth: Fight of Their Lives.
The two opened up about everything from doctors visits to the 13-hour surgery Beth underwent. Thankfully, that surgery was successful, but sadly it wouldn’t be her final battle with cancer.
Unfortunately, Beth Lost Her Battle To Cancer
After her ongoing fight against throat cancer, Beth died on June 26, 2019, at the age of 51. Early on the morning of the 26th, Dog announced that Beth had lost her battle and “hiked the stairway to heaven.” Beth had been hospitalized the weekend beforehand and set into an induced coma.
Dog asked for fans to keep Beth in their prayers and even shared a photo of Beth with her nails done in the hospital bed. Sadly, she couldn’t defeat cancer a second time.
A Health Scare For Dog
Dog Chapman was hospitalized in September 2019, with what was later described as a heart emergency. Days later, he spoke to Fox31 and said he was doing better but acknowledged the pain of losing Beth.
“It feels much better now. And I’m going through some psychological things right now too, so that doesn’t help,” he said. “I think, basically, I had a broken heart. And of course, it’s going to heal.” He said the heart incident left him breathless and feeling like he’d been on a long run.
Ozzy Osbourne Has A Strange Connection To The Show
Even though fans never actually saw legendary rock star Ozzy Osbourne on Dog The Bounty Hunter, they sure heard him. Ozzy sings the theme song for the show and has happily accepted his connection with the series.
Ozzy included the theme song on his "Prince of Darkness" CD box set which was meant to be the greatest collection of Ozzy’s songs to date. We can’t think of a better hard-rocking artist to be associated with the show.
He Almost Helped Take Down El Chapo
El Chapo was one of Mexico’s most notorious cartel leaders. He had evaded capture from the U.S. and Mexican authorities for years and so finally, the U.S. put a $5 million reward for his capture. Of course, it was hard for Dog to pass up that amount of money and he and his family briefly considered going to search for El Chapo.
Unfortunately, his past troubles in Mexico led Dog to admit that the risk wasn’t worth the reward, so they let others have their hand at El Chapo.
Dog Was Robbed Of Thousands
Dog and Beth traveled frequently while filming the show, which meant staying in a lot of hotels that made them easy targets. While on location, the couple stayed at a hotel i Los Angeles. They tried to take the proper precautions and locked away $5,000 cash in the hotel suite safe.
Unfortunately, when they returned to the room, all $5,000 was gone. There was no forced entry, so it must have been stolen by a hotel employee.
He Sued Chris Christie
Yes, we’re talking about Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey. Dog decided to take action against him in 2017 and claimed Christie was responsible for the death of a man named Jules Black. The man’s family claimed that the bail system in New Jersey had failed Black, and that his death was on Chris Christie’s hands.
Dog and Beth took the victim’s side and publicly sued Chris Christie as a way to bring attention to bail reform.
His Nephew Says The Show Made Him Depressed
One of Dog’s nephew, Justin Bihag, was a regular on several episodes of Dog The Bounty Hunter. When the show ended, Justin found it difficult to readjust to normal life and claims to have fallen into a depression and became addicted to illegal substances.
The depression and drug use led to Justin losing the custody of his child. He publically blamed Dog and the TV show for all his problems. He sued Dog and Beth for money that he claimed he was entitled to from the show.
Dog And Beth Can’t Enter The U.K.
On two separate occasions, Dog and Beth have tried to enter the United Kingdom and been swiftly denied. The first occurrence happened to Dog when he tried to enter the U.K. to participate on a season of Celebrity Big Brother. He wasn’t allowed in the country because of his first-degree murder conviction.
Beth tried to enter the U.K. for the same reason two years later but was denied due to a shoplifting charge from her youth.
He Tried Hunting Down An MMA Fighter
One of Dog’s higher-profile cases came in 2014 when MMA fighter War Machine viciously assaulted his ex-girlfriend in her own home. Her injuries were so bad they thought she wouldn’t make it. Dog didn’t get involved until War Machine decided to call him out in a tweet that said: "If Dog the Bounty Hunter came to get me I’d beat his a**!"
Dog replied and said, "You got 24 hrs to turn your self (sic) in or I am Coming After YOU!" War Machine never turned himself in because Dog eventually caught him.
Leland Started His Own Business, Then Left Hawaii
Leland learned everything he knows from helping with the family business. But in 2012, he quit on camera. He had a huge falling out with the family, and severed all times for several years. He eventually reconciled, but longer wanted to be involved with the family business.
He moved to the Big Island where he started his own bail bond company, as well as managed Bounty Hunter Tactical Supply Co. Even though he was on another island, the distance might not have been enough. In 2015, Leland and his wife left the islands to start their own bail bond company in Alabama.
The Champman’s Visited Leland in Alabama
It appears that there are no hard feelings between Dog, Beth, and their son Leland after he chose to uproot his family and move to Alabama. His parents made the effort to travel across the country to go visit him in his new place.
Beth shared a photo of Dog and Leland together, posting, “These two make me laugh! #dog #dogandbeth #alabama.” Fans could not be more excited to see the family reunited, even if they weren’t in Hawaii.
Leland Chapman is a Grandpa
At 42 years old, Leland Chapman became a grandfather. (This also makes Beth and Dog great-grandparents.) A father of three, his son Dakota welcomed a son in early 2019. The baby boy was born five weeks early but was healthy.
Beth shared her excitement on social media, posting, “Nothing more beautiful or inspiring than the birth of a new baby. A new generation of Chapman’s you will be an amazing father. I’m very proud of you.”
Beth Lost a Lot of Weight During Her Battle With Cancer
While battling throat cancer, Beth Chapman noticeably dropped a lot of weight. Her fans, knowing that she’s going through a lot, have always reached out to Beth with messages of support.
When she posted this image on Instagram her fans commented, “You are one strong lady!”, “I hope you are doing better!”, and “Yes queen!!! Slay!!! Beautiful babe beautiful!” It must make her feel good knowing she has a fan base behind her.
Duane’s Success Has Created New Opportunities For the Family
After sharing their story with the world, the lives of the Chapman family have changed forever, and for the better. Before they went on air, they shared the same struggles that many people have: money, family, and staying on the right path in life.
Their show has allowed the family to share the wealth and give the younger kids a better shot at life. One of Duane’s lesser-known nephews, Samuel “Orlando” has adapted to life on the mainland, in Florida. Constantly pictured with luxury cars, it seems he’s doing okay for himself.
Their Love is Inspiring
Throughout all the drama, the television shows, and being in the public eye, Duane and Beth’s love has survived it all. First meeting when Beth was still a teenager, it’s truly inspiring how these two dedicate themselves to each other and lift each other up.
Although they both married other people before coming together again, they’ve proven that true love knows no bounds, and are beyond happy to raise their blended family together.
They Love Animals
Not only do the Chapman’s have plenty of kids, grandkids, and now great-grandkids, they also have plenty of pets! Their brood includes Roxy the boxer mix, Lola the bulldog, a Shiatsu, another dog named Duke, and Plum the cat.
It’s amazing that they have time to take care of their household with all of their businesses running. But when your heart is as big as this couple, you can’t help but continue to expand the family.
Dog Loves Colorado
Although most people affiliate the family with Hawaii, they often travel back to Colorado, where Dog grew up. While the Hawaiian islands are a tropical paradise, the family enjoys going to the mountains and snow in Colorado to get grounded.
The Chapman’s have a home in Glenwood Springs, Colorado by the river, and often visit to get away from it all. No matter which state they’re in, they always love to show their American pride.
Lyssa Chapman II Is Turning Her Life Around
Lyssa Chapman is one of Dog’s daughters from his third wife, Lyssa Rae Brittain, who wrote the tell-all book. Growing up she lived with Dog until she was 10 years old, when she moved to Alaska to live with her mother. She later moved back to Hawaii to work with the family bail bonds company, but it didn’t last. Lyssa couldn’t stay out of trouble and was charged with criminal property damage and assaulting a police officer. She’s still living in Hawaii and is engaged to her partner Leiana Evensen. Together, they own a tanning salon. Hopefully, she’s turning her life around.
Duane Lee Has His Own Bail Bonds Company, Too
Dog Chapman did right by his family by teaching everyone the business and giving them an opportunity to start their own career paths. The son who carries on his name, Duane Lee, also carries on his legacy. Duane moved to Florida and started his own bail bonds company as well.
Duane started a bail bond company in Jacksonville Florida, where he’s also raising his family. It must make Dog proud to know that his sons are carrying on the family business and taking care of the next generations of Chapman’s.