This film represented a changing of the guard of the animators creating the film from Walt Disney's "nine old men" to the more recently trained Disney animators who had moved through the in-house animation training program begun in 1976.
The original novel ended with a hunter nailing Tod's lifeless pelt to the wall then shooting Copper with his shotgun. The story was changed to be more Disney-like with a happy ending (though not a traditional one) and was the last work of the remaining original animators.
Originally, the writers of the film intended for Chief to die when he got hit by the train, so that Copper's revenge against Tod is more extreme. Story veteran Vance Gerry argued for the department, "But he gets hit in the kisser with a freight train!!" to which Ron Miller and co-director Art Stevens countered, "Geez, we never killed a main character in a Disney film and we're not starting now!" As was also the case in Lady and the Tramp, where Trusty is seemingly killed but in a later scene has recovered, Chief suffers major injuries but is saved from death.Trivia:
- The last Disney feature for animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston.
- During the storm sequence, old animation from Bambi (1942) is reused. This includes clips of a bird flying into her nest, ducks waddling into a pond, quails running to seek shelter, etc. Footage of young Wart as a squirrel in The Sword in the Stone (1963) running up a tree can be seen, too.
- The sounds emitted by the big black bear are recycled sound effects used by the two alligators, Brutus and Nero in Disney's earlier animated release The Rescuers (1977).
- The last Disney animated feature to simply end with a "The End; Walt Disney Productions" credit, as with all previous Disney animated films after Alice in Wonderland (1951). All of the credits were at the beginning. The next Disney animated feature, The Black Cauldron (1985), was the first one with closing credits.
Many had hoped this release would have been followed with the release of an Opening Title and Big Mama.