When the heavenly whippet looks in Charlie's records, his mother and father are named "Loni" and "Burt", and look like canine versions of Loni Anderson and Burt Reynolds (who were together at the time.)
Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise, who had developed a rapport after starring in several movies together, insisted that Don Bluth leave the room during recording sessions so that they could improvise off one another better. Bluth agreed and allowed Reynolds and DeLuise to ad-lib extensively. Bluth later commented "their ad-libs were often better than the original script". Reynolds was more complimentary of the draft, saying "Great script, kid", as he left the studio.
Steven Spielberg was going to be the executive producer of this film and have it released under the Amblin banner, but left the project after creative differences with director Don Bluth while they were making The Land Before Time (1988).
According to Don Bluth's book "The Art of Animation Drawing", during the first stages of making the film, Robert Towne came by Bluth's Dublin studio and decided to help them come up with the story of this movie after Bluth and his crew went through several weeks of being in deadlock. After he read what the crew came up with up to that point, he took a bathroom break, and then he gave them a simplified sum-up of what the story should be about. This would eventually become the final plot of the movie.
The book on Charlie's life reads Charlie B. Barkin September 13, 1937 mostly German Shepard but also part collie, part great Dane and part retriever in short a bit of a mutt. the rest is difficult to make out but may mention how he doesn't have much goodness or loyalty, tends to be on the greedy side, but a small section does mention strong love. This possibly foreshadows his change from bad to good.
The earliest idea for the film was conceived by Don Bluth after finishing work on The Secret of NIMH (1982). The treatment was originally about a canine private eye, and one of three short stories making up an anthology film. The character of a shaggy German Shepherd was designed specifically with Burt Reynolds in mind for the role. However, Bluth's first studio, Don Bluth Productions, was going through a period of financial difficulty, ultimately having to declare bankruptcy, and the idea never made it beyond rough storyboards.
T. Daniel Hofstedt, the additional storyboard artist and character animator of the movie sings as part of the ''You Can't Keep A Good Dog Down'' Chorus and appears as the voice of the Crowd Walla at Racetrack & Casino.
The illustration on the War and Peace book that Charlie "reads" to Anne-Marie has the caption "General Pomeroy is shot." This is a reference to lead animator John Pomeroy, who is also a military history buff.
Carface Caruther's other thugs in The Mean Street Dogs gang have names including Otto, Bruiser, Yellow Beard, Scarface and Thunder. Otto is the big, mean dog who bites Charlie's foot after he gets tied to the anchor. However his name is never mentioned and he never has a dialogue in the movie until he and the rest of The Mean Street Dogs later appear in the "All Dogs Go to Heaven" TV series episodes "Lance The Wonder Pup", "Charlie's Cat-astrophe" and All Dogs Go to Heaven: The Series: Magical Misery Tour (1997). He is played by the voice of the talented, comical Carlos Alazraqui in that episode. Bruiser is the short, fat, bearded green bulldog in orange tank tops. Yellow Beard is the brown dog wearing a black collar with bullets on it. Scarface is the navy blue dog wearing sunglasses and spiked black collar. But their names are never ever mentioned in the movie either. However nobody knows which of Carface's thugs are Thunder yet. But his name is mentioned by Killer during the scene where Carface is angry when he has found out that Anne-Marie has left his Casino. He explains to Carface, "But, boss, it wasn't my fault. To be perfectly honest, you see, I--Uh--B-B-- Thunder was on duty. Take it up with him".
The film's title came from a book read to Don Bluth's fourth grade class in school, and he resisted suggestions to change it, stating he liked how "provocative" it sounded, and how people reacted to the title alone.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
The first scene with the alligator led to the trope of the "Big-Lipped Alligator Moment." It's a scene that happens out of nowhere with no build-up, does not fit the context, does not advance the plot, and is never mentioned again. Some people don't consider the scene a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment because the alligator appears later in the movie to kill Carface off-screen.