Best 10 Dog Films of All Time
Nothing is more heartwarming than a good dog film. From classics like Old Yeller to modern hits like Bolt, films with our canines as stars make us laugh, cry, and feel all the feels.
Aptly called “furry stars,” it seems like dog films always come out on top no matter the budget or the genre. And we’re not just talking about box office numbers (though, yes, many of these have made a killing). These movies have stood the test of time, becoming classics in their own right.
Even movie critics won’t dare bark up this tree (no pun intended).
1 – Old Yeller (1957)
The original tearjerker, Old Yeller, is the story of a boy and his dog in the late 1800s. The film follows Travis Coates (Tommy Kirk) in Texas after the Civil War as he begrudgingly takes in a
Black Mouth Cur.
Though he’s not too fond of the mutt initially, Travis grows to love Old Yeller as he becomes an important part of the family and saves their lives on more than one occasion. The film’s ending may have been tragic with the death of Old Yeller, yet it only proved how impactful a dog’s presence in our lives could be.
2 – Benji (1974)
This family-oriented film follows the story of a mixed-breed dog who the Chapman family initially rejects. But when the two children are kidnapped, Benji takes it upon himself to save them, leading the police to the kidnappers’ hideout.
While this film didn’t have quite the same budget as some others on our list, that didn’t make it any less of a classic. The original Benji was such a success that it spawned five sequels over the next two decades.
3 – Beethoven (1992)
The first in what would become a franchise, Beethoven follows the Newtons, a family who adopt a St. Bernard puppy without knowing he comes from a long line of genius dogs. As Beethoven grows, so does his size – and the trouble he gets into. But despite the messes and the mayhem, this lovable pup brings joy to the family in more ways than one.
Who could forget that scene where Beethoven chases after the mailman or the one where he sticks his head out of the car window? If you’re a fan of big dogs and haven’t seen this one, you’re in for a real treat.
4 – Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993)
The film offers a unique perspective even for a dog film, with Chance, an American Bulldog, doing the narration. It’s an adventure-comedy combo that’ll surely please the whole family.
Homeward Bound is about three animals – Chance, Shadow, and Sassy – who get lost in the wilderness and have to find their way home. Along the way, the trio must outwit a mountain lion, dodge a swarm of bees, and survive a raging river. And if that’s not enough to keep you on the edge of your seat, there’s also a touching subplot about Chance coming to terms with his abandonment issues.
5 – One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)
This timeless Disney classic is adapted from Dodie Smith’s novel of the same name and follows the story of Dalmatian parents, Pongo and Perdita, who, along with their 15 Dalmatian puppies, is kidnapped by the evil Cruella De Vil.
Pongo and Perdita risk everything to rescue their children from De Vil’s clutches, leading to one of the most exciting and suspenseful endings in any Disney film. The animated flick was so successful that it was remade into a live-action film in 1996, though the original will always hold a special place in our hearts.
6 – The Fox and the Hound (1981)
The Fox and the Hound is another classic Disney film that tells the story of two unlikely friends – a red fox named Tod and a hound dog named Copper.
Though their friendship is discouraged by those around them, Tod and Copper choose to stick together, going on adventures and learning valuable life lessons.
The film explores themes of prejudice and tolerance and ultimately proves that despite our differences, we can all be friends. Unlike most dog films in this list, The Fox and the Hound showcases how an animated film with dogs as characters can portray compelling drama without being too heavy-handed.
7 – Lassie (1994)
Arguably one of the most popular dogs in cinematic history, Lassie was originally a character created by Eric Knight in the 1940 novel Lassie Come-Home.
The novel has been adapted into several films and television shows over the years, but the most recent cinematic incarnation came in 1994 with the release of the live-action film simply titled Lassie.
The film follows the story of the Turner family, who adopt a Collie pup and name her Lassie. The young boy, Matt, had a difficult time adjusting to a new life in a new home, but Lassie was there to help him through it.
This heartwarming tale is a must-watch for anyone who needs the motivation to go through life’s roughest patches.
8 – Bolt (2008)
One of the few unforgettable computer-animated films about dogs, Bolt chronicles the adventures of a TV dog named Bolt who, after being accidentally shipped off to New York, embarks on a journey back home to Hollywood to reunite with his owner, Penny.
On his journey, Bolt is accompanied by a street-smart cat named Mittens and a hamster named Rhino. The three travel cross-country, encountering all sorts of obstacles and mishaps along the way.
Bolt is a heartwarming story about friendship, loyalty, and finding one’s true purpose in life. It’s a must-watch for anyone who needs a little pick-me-up.
9 – Best in Show (2000)
This mockumentary follows a group of eccentric dog owners and equally quirky dogs as they prepare for the prestigious Mayflower Dog Show.
The film takes a hilarious and often critical look at the world of competitive dog shows and the people who participate in them. While it doesn’t necessarily celebrate the dog show circuit, it does provide a unique and humorous perspective on the lengths some people will go to win.
10 – All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989)
All Dogs Go To Heaven is a touching story about a German Shepherd named Charlie who, after being killed by his former partner, is sent back to Earth to perform good deeds to earn his way into heaven.
Charlie befriends a young orphan named Anne-Marie, and together they fight against the villainous Carface to save Anne-Marie’s soul.
All Dogs Go To Heaven is a heartwarming story about redemption and second chances that will leave a lasting impression on viewers of all ages.
We feel awful leaving out so many great dog films, but these are just a few of our favourites. The truth is you can’t go wrong with any film that includes a furry friend as one of the main characters.