When Santa Claus (Richard Riehle) loses his memory and the crystal that keeps him eternal, his new best friend—his puppy, Paws (Zachary Gordon)—two orphan kids and a team of elves must work together to save him—and Christmas. Along the way, they help a childless couple start the family they’ve always wanted and find the magic of Christmas in the toy store they’ve just inherited. This 2010 holiday film by Director Robert Vince is part of the family-favorite Air Bud franchise and was followed by Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups (2012). Watch The Search for Santa Paws online for a touching family holiday adventure, and read on in this The Search for Santa Paws streaming guide to learn about the actors, how it was received and more.
Here’s how to stream The Search for Santa Paws right now:
How to Stream ‘The Search for Santa Paws’ – Exclusively on Disney+
The Search for Santa Paws is one of the best Disney Christmas movies that will be streaming exclusively on Disney’s new subscription streaming service, Disney+.
You can sign up for a 7-day free trial of Disney+ HERE, which will allow you to stream The Search for Santa Paws and hundreds of other movies and shows on your computer, phone, tablet, smart TV or streaming device. If you extend past the free trial, the service costs $6.99/month. You may also opt for this discount bundle of Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ for $12.99/month.
- 1. Sign up for Disney+ here
- 2. Go to Disneyplus.com or download the Disney+ app on your device
- 3. Log in using your information
- 4. Search for “Santa Paws”
- 5. Tap on The Search for Santa Paws
- 6. Tap the Play Button
- 7. Enjoy!
Disney+ also boasts a vast library of Disney-owned movies and series — plus several new original series coming soon. The service includes unlimited downloads so you can watch offline whenever and wherever you want. The list of compatible devices and smart TVs includes iPads, Apple TV, Amazon devices, Amazon Fire TV, Android, Chromecast, Roku, PS4, and Xbox One.
‘The Search for Santa Paws’: Overview
Release Date: November 23, 2010
Creators: Producers/Writers Robert Vince and Anna McRoberts
Director: Robert Vince
Starring: Richard Riehle, Zachary Gordon, Kaitlyn Maher, Danny Woodburn, Richard Kind
Synopsis: When Santa Claus loses his memory and the crystal that keeps him eternal, his new best friend—his puppy, Paws—two orphan kids and a team of elves must work together to save him—and Christmas.
How Long Is ‘The Search for Santa Paws’?
The Search for Santa Paws is a 96-minute direct-to-video family holiday adventure.
‘The Search for Santa Paws’ Plot
The movie begins when New York City toy store owner Mr. Hucklebuckle dies and leaves his dear friend Santa Claus a stuffed toy dog, which is transformed by a magic icicle into a real dog named Paws. Meanwhile, Mr. Hucklebuckle’s toy store is willed to his grandson, James, and his wife, Kate, who are told that they will own the store if they can run it at a profit for the Christmas season.
James and Kate are sadly childless and intend to sell the toy store once they take full ownership. Elsewhere in New York City, the young orphan Quinn arrives at an orphanage run by the strict Ms. Stout, who doesn’t allow anything that children love, including Christmas decorations and pets.
When Mrs. Claus, Eli the elf and Eddy the elf dog suggest that Santa travel to New York with Paws to visit Santa ambassadors, Santa ends up being hit by a cab and losing his memory—and the crystal that keeps him eternal. And Paws. When Santa comes across the Hucklebuckle Toy Store and finds James and Kate searching for a Santa to boost their profits, they hire him and become an immediate hit.
Quinn and fellow orphan Willamina (Will) visit the store while Ms. Stout is out, and Quinn asks Santa for a puppy for the orphanage and for Will to have the bike she wants. But when Ms. Stout finds out and Quinn accidentally reveals something offensive that Will said about her, Will is punished by being locked in the basement overnight and is angry at Quinn for getting her in trouble.
Meanwhile, Eli and Eddy realize they’ll have to go to New York City to save Santa and Paws. As Paws wanders around lost that evening and calling for help, Quinn hears him and believes he is Santa’s answer to her request. He explains what has happened, and Quinn agrees to hide him until she can take him to Hucklebuckle’s the next day. When Will finds them, she can’t hear Paws talking, because her Christmas spirit has faded. They go to Hucklebuckle’s but the real Santa is on break.
Back at the orphanage, they discover that other girls can also hear Paws, and they sing a song to help Will believe in Christmas again. Without his crystal, Santa becomes ill and is taken to the hospital. Finally in New York, Eli and Eddy track down Santa’s crystal, stolen by the homeless Gus, who feels bad and helps Eli and Eddy save Christmas by finding Santa before he becomes mortal and dies.
When Ms. Stout finds Paws at the orphanage, she takes his crystal and locks him in the basement with Will for punishment. Without the crystal, Paws turns back into a toy, and in the morning Ms. Stout throws him in the furnace. When she leaves for a date, Eli and Eddy show up and manage to find the crystal while Quinn pulls Paws out before he can burn, and they restore him to a real puppy.
With help from Gus and a Scout named Jimmy who found the reindeer in Central Park and has been trying to get the message to Santa, Eli and Eddy find their way to Hucklebuckle’s, where they learn that Santa is in the hospital. They make it to Santa, but the crystal is too weak. Paws insists they use his crystal to help, and when Santa wakes up Paws is a stuffed toy again.
With the reindeer and sleigh, they rush back to the North Pole to save Paws with the magic icicle, but so close to Christmas the icicle doesn’t have the power. As Santa mourns his best friend Paws, the magic begins to flow again and the stuffed pup becomes a full-grown dog, now named Santa Paws. Kate and James adopt Quinn and Will, and everyone at the North Pole prepares for Christmas.
On Christmas Eve, Santa and Santa Paws visit Quinn, Will, James, and Kate, who thank the pair for bringing them together as a family. The next day, James and Kate learn they’ve turned a profit of one cent over the holiday season—just like his grandfather always did. They decide to keep the store and continue the family tradition.
‘The Search for Santa Paws’ Cast
The Search for Santa Paws features some actors and voices you might recognize from other movies in the Air Bud franchise and more. Here are a few of the main players.
Richard Riehle as Santa Claus
When Santa Claus is hit by a cab and loses his memory in New York City, it’s up to his new best friend, a puppy named Paws, to find him and save Christmas. Riehle has nearly 400 acting credits in his more than 40-year acting career, including the role of Santa Claus in the movies Puppy Star Christmas (2018), The Three Dogateers (2014), A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas (2011) and Our First Christmas (2008) and the TV series Sketchy (2013) and The League (2012). He also acted in the television series Fireside Chat with Esther (2014-2018) and The Young and the Restless (2007) and the movies Pee-wee’s Big Holiday (2016) and Bridesmaids (2011).
Zachary Gordon as Paws
With Christmas magic, Paws turns from a stuffed animal into Santa’s real puppy, but when Santa loses his memory, Paws is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to save Santa and Christmas. Taylor’s acting credits include the lead roles in the television movie Pete’s Christmas (2013) and the short Young Paul Ryan (2012); and the role of Greg Heffley in Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2010), Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (2011) and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (2012). He also voiced Puppy Paws in Santa Buddies (2009), Gil in the animated television series Bubble Guppies (2011-2014) and the spin-off movie Bubble Puppy’s Fin-tastic Fairytale Adventure (2012), Charlie Brown / Linus Van Pelt / Franklin in two episodes of Robot Chicken (2007-2011), Papi Jr. in Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 (2011), Baby Melman in Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008) and the cub in Norm of the North (2016).
Kaitlyn Maher as Quinn
Quinn is a young orphan whose Christmas spirit helps save the day when Santa loses his memory and his best pal Paws. Maher got her start on America’s Got Talent in 2008 and has voiced characters or acted in the movies Santa Buddies (2009), Treasure Buddies (2012), Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups (2012) and four Pup Star movies, including Puppy Star Christmas (2018).
Danny Woodburn as Eli
Eli the elf must go to New York to help rescue Santa after he loses his memory and nearly his life. Woodburn has acted in Seinfeld (1994-1998), Conan (1997-1998), The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (2000), Special Unit 2 (2001-2002), Passions (2007-2008), Santa Buddies (2009), Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups (2012), Mirror Mirror (2012), Crash & Bernstein (2012-2014), and four Pup Star movies including a reprise of his role as Eli in Puppy Star Christmas (2018).
‘The Search for Santa Paws’ Songs and Soundtrack
The Search for Santa Paws soundtrack includes original Christmas songs with music and lyrics by Brahm Wenger and John Rosenberg arranged by Gregory Prechel. Kaitlyn Maher as Quinn and Michelle Creber as Taylor perform “I Do Believe in Christmas,” and the traditional tune “Deck the Halls” is performed with a modern spin by Debby Ryan.
‘The Search for Santa Paws’ at the Box Office
Walt Disney Home Entertainment released The Search for Santa Paws direct to home video on November 23, 2010, with DVD sales ranked at number 3 in the U.S. that week. The movie earned just over $41.5 million in domestic DVD and Blu-ray sales.
‘The Search for Santa Paws’ Reviews – What the Critics Said
Audiences gave The Search for Santa Paws a 62% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where James Plath of Movie Metropolis said the movie “merits both a lump of coal and a candy cane for its mixed results” and a reviewer at About.com opined, “…one can’t help but giggle at the fact that Disney keeps greenlighting these abominable things.” Common Sense Media reviewers recommend the movie for kids ages 8 and up, highlighting that “the movie’s themes of loss, neglect, and abandonment might be too intense for very young or sensitive children… But if kids can stomach the harsh stuff, the talking puppy and jolly Santa will surely bring them joy.”
Where ‘The Search for Santa Paws’ Fits in the Disney Movie Pantheon
The Search for Santa Paws (2010) is the 10th movie in the franchise that includes four Air Bud movies (1998-2003), Air Buddies (2006), Snow Buddies (2008), Space Buddies (2009), Santa Buddies (2009), Spooky Buddies (2011), Treasure Buddies (2012), Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups (2012) and Super Buddies (2013).
‘The Search for Santa Paws’ Trailer
‘The Search for Santa Paws’ Trivia: 5 Fast Facts
The Search for Santa Paws is one of several prequels and sequels to Santa Buddies that mixes some heavy themes in with the lightness of puppies and Christmas. Here’s what you need to know.
1. The original release of The Search for Santa Paws included a music video by Disney star Debby Ryan.
It’s her update on the classic “Deck the Halls,” and you can watch it for yourself. Ryan is known as Patty Bladell in Insatiable (2018-2019), for her starring role in the Disney television series Jessie (2011-2015), and as Bailey Pickett in The Suite Life on Deck (2008-2011).
2. Actress Kaitlyn Maher is in all the prequels and sequels for Santa Buddies—but never as the same character.
Maher voices Tiny in Santa Buddies (2009), Quinn in The Search for Santa Paws (2010) and Sarah Reynolds in Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups.
3. Sean Connery’s son plays the Scottish Terrier Haggis.
Haggis, voiced by Jason Connery, is one of the three stray dogs Paws meets on the streets of New York who help him in an effort to get off the naughty list. Connery became known for his role as Robin in the 1986 television series Robin Hood.
4. Paws is a Great Pyrenees—an “immensely powerful working dog bred to deter sheep-stealing wolves.”
Yes, he’s fluffy and adorable—and, according to the American Kennel Club, Great Pyrenees weigh more than 100 pounds as adults and “are mellow companions and vigilant guardians of home and family.”
5. Disney was sued for copyright infringement but the case was dismissed.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ray Harter, Richard Kearney and Ed Corno alleged that both Santa Buddies: The Legend of Santa Paws (2009) and The Search for Santa Paws (2010) infringed on the copyright for their 1991 short story Santa Paws: The Story of Santa’s Dog. A U.S. District Court in Missouri threw the case out, saying the two were “not substantially similar.”