What’s the Best Dog Movie of All Time?
For whatever reason, movies that feature relationships between dogs and people have the ability to make us even more emotional than movies about people alone. We laugh harder, cry harder or feel the strong tug of nostalgia thinking about how much we love our own pets.
Even if you aren’t a dog owner yourself, you can probably think of your favorite dog movie. From comedies to dramas to silent films, there have been so many memorable roles for dogs on the big screen.
Below, we’re counting down the best dog movie moments of all time. Read on for our top eight rankings, and get inspired for your next movie night.
Number 8 on the best dog movie list is Beethoven. As slobbery as he was lovable, Beethoven the St. Bernard won all of our hearts in this classic early nineties film.
Centered around the Newton family, the movie showed the ups and downs of adopting a puppy. Beethoven may have started out small and cute, but it wasn’t long before he was a full grown St. Bernard with the strength — and the slobber — to match. And though most of the family loved him from the beginning, it took the Newton family patriarch, a while to come around.
The original film was such a hit that seven sequels followed, though the original cast — including the dog who played Beethoven — were only all together for the first and second films.
Coming in at number 7 on the best movie list is Benji. What made the movie so popular at the time of its release was the way the story was told through the dog’s eyes. A local mutt who has endeared himself to the residents of his small Texas town, Benji becomes nothing short of a hero when his favorite children go missing.
The dog who played Benji was a mixed-breed found in a California animal shelter and went on to become one of the most famous dog actors of the time. The pup went on to have a 14-year career in show business.
6. Air Bud
On the surface, this movie was about a dog named Buddy who possesses the uncanny ability to play basketball. In truth, it was about how much dogs can enrich our lives.
Josh, the movie’s central figure, is a lonely boy who moves to a small town in the aftermath of his dad’s death . He’s too shy to make friends and doesn’t have the confidence to try out for the school’s basketball team. When he meets Buddy and realizes what Buddy can do, all of that changes.
Air Bud was such a success, partially because America was fascinated by the true story that inspired it . Writer Kevin di Cicco adopted a stray dog, named him Buddy, and trained him to play basketball, as well as chess, football and a variety of other sports.
5. The Fox and The Hound
It was hard to pick just one animated movie for the best dog movie list, but ultimately The Fox and The Hound won out. Like most Disney movies, this animated film is both lighthearted and fun, while still delivering an important message.
The movie tells the story of a fox and a hound who become best friends as young animals. As they grow up, they are forced to face their true natures and their friendship is put to the test.
Surprisingly sad, it tackles a real issue of prejudice while also reminding us all of the power of friendship. Its featured song, “Best of Friends” is a favorite from the Disney musical canon.
4. The Artist
The Artist has the unique distinction of not only being number 4 on our best dog movie list but also being a winner of a Best Picture Academy Award.
The movie’s human star, Jean Dujardin, earned a lot of recognition for his role. But it was Uggie, the Jack Russell Terrier featured in the movie, who arguably became the most famous following the film’s release.
Uggie became a fixture on many red carpets, and his memoir — Uggie, My Story — was published in the US, UK and France.
Uggie worked with professional trainers to prepare for his film roles. And while working with one, like Ty The Dog Guy, may not make your pup world famous, it will definitely improve his behavior and skills.
3. Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey
Though this 1993 film is technically a remake of a 1963 movie, we still consider it to be a classic.
What makes this one of the best dog movies of all time is that the animals in it aren’t playing a side part to human main characters. The animals are the main characters, with the plot line to match.
The movie follows the adventures of two dogs — Chance, an American Bulldog, and Shadow, a Golden Retriever — and a cat named Sassy as they set out on a journey to reunite with their human family.
Voiced by human actors, the animals have complex personalities and complicated relationships. They have to work together to solve problems and survive in the wild. The film showed the most human side of animals, making Chance, Shadow and Sassy as relatable as any human character.
2. Best in Show
This mockumentary style film showed human dog owners and their best, their worst, and their funniest.
The movie follows several different storylines, all centered around characters preparing their pets for a prestigious dog show. Each dog owner the audience is introduced to is quirkier and funnier than the last.
Though the movie pokes fun at how far we’re willing to go for our dogs, it does so in an ultimately loving, and always hilarious way. It’s Christopher Guest doing what he does best, and it keeps you laughing from start to finish.
1. Lassie Come Home
Since its release in 1994, Lassie Come Home has remained the ultimate dog movie classic. It’s a movie you watch when you need to be comforted, or reassured that there’s good in the world.
Its impact is lasting, as it has spawned remakes, TV shows and been referenced throughout pop culture.
It’s a classic for a reason and, in our opinion, the best dog movie of all time.
What Do You Think is the Best Dog Movie of All Time?
We could spend all day debating the merits of one dog movie over another, and our list will not be reflective of everyone’s opinion. But maybe it will lead you to discover a new favorite or inspire you to re-watch a movie you love.
Would you put together a different list? Let us know in the comments or contact us with any questions or thoughts you want to share.