Although the film is a remake of the 1963 version The Incredible Journey (1963) and based on Sheila Burnford's novel of the same name, the main characters' names and breeds have been changed. In the film Chance is a young, exuberant American Pit Bull, while in the novel his name is Luath and he is a Labrador Retriever. In the film Shadow is a wise, old Golden Retriever while in the novel his name is Bodger and he is a Bull Terrier. The film has a female Himalayan cat named Sassy, while the novel has a male Siamese cat named Tao.
Chance the dog makes two references to Arnold Schwarzenegger. He nicknames the mountain lion Arnold Schwarzekitty, and when they launch it into the river, Chance says, "Hasta la vista," which Arnold Schwarzenegger says as the Terminator in Terminator 2: Judgement Day.