During the opening credits, there is footage of a panting dog. However, when American censors saw the footage, they assumed that the dog had been harmed. This run-in with American censors caused Kurosawa to remark that this was the only time he wished Japan had not lost WWII.
Despite being noted as one of Akira Kurosawa's most critically renowned post-war films, Stray Dog (1949) was not held in such high regard by he director himself. Kurosawa has been quoted as saying that he thinks little of the film, calling it "too technical" while also remarking that it contains "all that technique and not one real thought in it."
Much of the film was filmed from the slum streets of post war Japan. These were filmed under chief assistant director Ishirô Honda, who had gone with camera operator Kazuo Yamada into some dangerous, even yakuza run, territory. Many of the scenes of Toshirô Mifune's character from the waist down are actually Honda standing in.
As an exercise to help him compose the screenplay for the detective story he envisioned, Akira Kurosawa wrote a version of the story of this film in the form of an unpublished novel. (This decision also reflects the fact that the plot was inspired by the novels of the Belgian writer Georges Simenon, an author Kurosawa greatly admired, and he composed the novel in Simenon's style.) However, when he finished the novel in six weeks and began the script, the director discovered to his surprise that this made writing the script harder, not easier, because of the vast differences between the two media of novel and cinema, and he was forced to rethink the story. Yet the experience was not wasted because, according to him, he had learned how to incorporate in the film certain features endemic to the novel form, but in cinematic terms.
Akira Kurosawa: [weather] The symbolic usage of weather in this movie is evident in its depiction of Japan under a sunny heatwave, making some characters anticipate the rain. The sunny weather morphs into a dark gray, cloudy sky pattern in the scene where Murakami has a feeling that something bad will happen. Near the end of the movie, when the plot starts heavily escalating, the skies unleash a big downpour.