Dog The Bounty Hunter Recalls Abusive Dad And The Day He Learned Big Family Secret

screenshot Dog the Bounty Hunter
(Image credit: A&E)

People might’ve assumed that Dog the Bounty Hunter was just born with the hard exterior and forceful personality that successfully allows him to track down wanted criminals. But the reality star, as it turns out, had an even rougher childhood than some of the individuals he would bring to justice on TV. He recently reflected on his abusive dad and the big family secret that he thinks ultimately led him down his path in life.

Throughout his popular A&E namesake show and all of its offshoots, Dog the Bounty Hunter has shared a lot about his personal life. Fans could be unaware, though, that his family harbored a huge secret for decades. Dog revealed on the upcoming episode of The Dr. Oz Show that he only learned on his sister’s death bed in 2016 that the father he knew his whole life wasn’t his biological father. He said:

My little sister was a couple of years younger than me and she had a very bad infection. She was a nurse and she knew that she was not going to make it. So just before she passed away, she said, 'Oh, by the way, I want to tell you that dad is not your father. He is Paula's, Mike's and mine, but he's not really yours and maybe that's some of the reason he beat you more.’

The revelation about his father made Dog the Bounty Hunter connect the dots with some of his past experiences, saying that “things started coming full circle.” He believes that the animosity from his father – who supposedly would say things like “I gave you your name,” and “I'll beat the savage out of you” – was directly correlated to his father knowing or believing Dog wasn’t truly his son.

If that wasn’t shocking enough, Dog the Bounty Hunter also described the exact kind of abuse he suffered as a child with his supposed father. He conveyed to Dr. Oz that his dad would beat his bare bottom with “a belt or a piece of board.” He said, “I couldn't even shower at school because I was so embarrassed of the bruises.” However, Dog seemed to rationalize his dad’s abusive behavior by saying he was a former Navy man who lived by “Spare the rod, spoil the child.”

It really is full circle to imagine Dog the Bounty Hunter going from an abused kid to a man who made a career out of tracking down allegedly violent, and sometimes abusive, criminals. The reality star has never been quite so open about these events before, though, even while headlining shows with his late wife Beth Chapman, who passed away in 2019. Dog’s new fiancée, Francie Frane, has been on this “healing” journey with him and told Dr. Oz:

It's been such an amazing journey for us to walk together through this after losing Bob and Beth and just continue to heal together in the friendship that we've built and the love that we have for each other.

Fans of A&E’s original Dog the Bounty Hunter show will probably most remember those heart-to-hearts he would have with apprehended criminals in the back seat. Apparently, the secret about his biological dad made him re-evaluate those poignant moments. He said:

But the last thing I'd like to say, I used to arrest people, I'd say, 'Why do you do this, man?' 'Well, I don't know who my dad is, Dog,' and I used to feel so bad. And I don't know who my dad is either. But I still love my daddy. If there wouldn't be how he raised me, I wouldn't be the man I was today. So, I kind of get over those excuses that my people have. 'Oh, I don't know my dad, and you don't understand.' Yeah, Big deal.

Dog the Bounty Hunter confirmed that he has no desire to find his biological father, whoever he may be. The full interview with Dr. Oz premieres Monday, May 3.

Lauren Vanderveen
Movies and TV News Writer

Freelance writer. Favs: film history, reality TV, astronomy, French fries.