Notably, in addition to co-creating and starring in “Dog Whisperer,” Millan has co-authored four New York Times Bestsellers: Cesar’s Way, Be the Pack Leader, A Member of the Family and the recently published How to Raise the Perfect Dog. He has also created numerous instructional DVDs and CDs available on CesarsWay.com, launched an online dog coaching course called Sessions with Cesar, and continues to host a popular series of personal appearances, the Cesar Millan Live tour, where he teaches attendees how to apply his techniques in the training and rehabilitation of their dogs. Most recently, Cesar has launched “Cesar’s Way” magazine, a premier lifestyle magazine based on his philosophy and teachings.
Millan was born in rural Culiacan, Mexico, and grew up in a small house with no amenities. He spent much of his early childhood on his grandfather’s farm in nearby Ixpalino where he observed the behavior of the farm’s many dogs. When he was a teenager, his family purchased their first TV. He preferred the classic “Lassie” and “The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin” series and, inspired by them, decided that he would move to California and become the world’s best dog trainer.
In December of 1990, at the age of 21, Millan, who spoke no English, crossed the border and began living in San Diego. He lived on the streets for a month until he got a job grooming dogs, soon gaining a reputation for his easy way with even the most difficult dogs. With a few dollars in his pocket, he moved north to Los Angeles and took a job washing cars.
During this time, Millan was surprised by how troubled so many of the dogs he encountered seemed to be. He began thinking that he should redirect his dream to becoming a rehabilitator rather than trainer of dogs. With the money he saved from washing cars, he started a freelance dog rehabilitation service, primarily offering his expertise with extreme cases. He was quickly recommended around town and his client list expanded rapidly. In 1994, Millan married his wife Ilusion who inspired him to upgrade his business and reach further into the community. That same year, he came to the attention of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith who likewise referred him to other celebrities. . Together they opened the Dog Psychology Center, a two-acre facility in South Los Angeles, expressly to rehabilitate troubled, aggressive, and condemned dogs. Then as now, Millan keeps a pack of thirty to forty “unadoptable” and abandoned dogs at the center.
In 2002, Millan was profiled in the Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles-based production company partners Jim Milio, Melissa Jo Peltier, and Mark Hufnail of MPH Entertainment, with their colleagues at Emery/Sumner Productions, called upon Millan with the idea of creating a TV series with him, with no commitment from any network. MPH, a multi-award winning production company that discovered and executive produced the hit film My Big Fat Greek Wedding, next developed and filmed a ‘pilot’ show entitled “Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan,” and sold it to the National Geographic Channel, where it became the cable network’s top rated series its first season.
In April of 2005, Millan, his wife Ilusion, and MPH Entertainment teamed up to create Cesar Millan, Inc (CMI). CMI is the umbrella organization that develops, creates, and manages all of the enterprises associated with Millan and the “Dog Whisperer” phenomenon, including books, DVD releases, CDs, seminars, and branded products.
Today, Millan has become a pop culture icon, inspiring flattering parodies on “South Park” and “Saturday Night Live;” references on popular shows including “Jeopardy!” and “Two and a Half Men,” appearances on “Oprah,” “Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Martha Stewart,” “Carson Daly,” “Fox and Friends,” “Today Show,” “The View,” “Nightline,” “World News Tonight,” “The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet,” and “Live with Regis and Kelly;” as well as a cameo role in the feature film “The Back-up Plan” and on the hit series “Ghost Whisperer” and “Bones.” He has worked with many celebrity clients including: Charlize Theron, Scarlett Johansson, Oprah Winfrey, Nicolas Cage, Michael Eisner, Scott Rudin, S.I. Newhouse, Ridley Scott, Rebecca Romijn, Michael Bay, Hillary and Haylie Duff, Denise Richards, Jennifer Lopez, and Vin Diesel.
Millan has been recognized with numerous awards throughout his career. In 2005, the Humane Society of the United States’ Genesis Awards Committee presented him with a Special Commendation for his work in rehabilitating animals; in 2006, Millan and his wife Ilusion were awarded honorary membership in the International Association of Canine Professionals; in 2007, he was awarded the Michael Landon Award for Inspiration to Youth Through Television; in 2008, he was honored with a Treasure Award from the City of Los Angeles, and in 2006, 2007, and 2009, “Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan” was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Reality Program.
On Valentine’s Day 2007, Cesar and Ilusion Millan officially launched the Cesar and Ilusion Millan Foundation, a national, non-profit organization designed to aid and support the rescue, rehabilitation, and re-homing of abused and abandoned dogs. With Cesar’s unconditional support, Ilusion is the driving force behind the Foundation’s efforts. Since its inception, the foundation has granted over $117,000 to fund programs at over 70 animal shelters and rescue organizations across the United States. More than 400 shelter partners have been provided $65,000 in Cesar’s Mastering Leadership DVDs for education of staff, volunteers, and new adopters in basic dog behavior and training. The largest gift to date by the Foundation is a $250,000 grant to North Shore Animal League America and Yale University’s “School of the 21st Century” to launch the Mutt-i-grees® humane education curriculum.
Millan’s upcoming projects include a national pack walk to benefit dogs in need, a grade school curriculum designed to educated children about the proper treatment of animals, and the development of his Pack Leader Ranch in Santa Clarita.
Millan lives in Southern California with his wife Ilusion and their two sons, Cesar Andre and Calvin Christian. Cesar considers all of them instrumental to his work and feels it is important to pass knowledge from generation to generation just like his father and grandfather did for him.