Dogs and movies; a combination loved by all? It’s no secret that we all have a soft spot for a cute dog in a movie, and what better way to celebrate this adoration than to look at the greatest dog movies of all time?
Our dog movie list is made up of an eclectic mix of some old favourites as well as some of the more modern classics. So, have a read and relax with your preferred tipple and popcorn (we prefer salt and sweet…).
A classic cop and dog movie from 1989, James Belushi plays cop Dooley whilst Rando plays the very lovable German Shepherd Jerry Lee. After a drug dealer tries to kill Michael he is given Jerry Lee as a companion to help track the baddies. Of course, as with all dogs Jerry Lee very much has a personality of his own and quickly destroys much of Dooley’s property. Aside from the physical destruction, this cute Alsatian also manages to interrupt Michael’s sex life!
Although reviews were mixed at the time for this dog movie, the critics were united in their admiration of Jerry Lee the German Shepherd. If it’s light-hearted action and laughs you are after, we give it a thumbs up.
Hachiko is a story of devotion and one that all dog owners worldwide will recognise in our most faithful friend. Based on the true story of a college Professor (Hidesaburo Ueno) and his faithful dog Hachiko (a golden-brown Akita), every day the professor would arrive home from work on the 4pm train from Tokyo, and Hachiko would be waiting for him on the platform at Shibuya station.
This routine continued until sadly in 1925 Professor Ueno died suddenly at college of a cerebral haemorrhage. His gardener was bequeathed the house and also looked after Hachiko. For almost 10 years following the death of Professor Ueno, Hachiko returned to Shibuya station every day in the hope of seeing his master again.
This is a dog movie that will pull on your heartstrings. The original (1987) is a Japanese movie that was later remade by Hollywood (2009) with Richard Gere in the lead. Both movies are good for different reasons, so if you’re looking for an emotional rollercoaster this is the movie to watch!
The Wizard of Oz
This classic family movie had to be on our list somewhere. Other than Judy Garland playing Dorothy, the star of the show for us has to be Toto the Cairn Terrier played by Terry. It came out in 1939, but the movie’s appeal lives on.
A lesser known fact was that Terry almost died after one of the Winkie guards accidently stepped on her. Thankfully, it resulted in only a broken foot! Terry lived a good life (1933 – 1945) starring in 16 different movies, with the Wizard of Oz being the most famous. Interestingly Terry was paid more than most of the human actors (bar the four lead parts) at $125/week which would have been a lot during the Great Depression.
The Fox and the Hound
In our opinion, The Fox and the Hound is one of the most underrated Disney movies. A beautiful story of friendship between a fox and, you guessed it, a hound (a bloodhound, to be precise). From the 1967 book of the same title the story gives younger viewers some enlightening messages in a light-hearted way.
The fox (Tod) and hound (Copper) are the best of friends until Copper is trained to be a hunting dog and things start to change. Is the story a reflection of how society can pigeonhole individuals in the real world? Maybe, and if so this movie certainly does a great job of illustrating this.
You really couldn’t have a top dog movie list without featuring Beethoven – a St Bernard appearing in this film as both a very cute puppy and full-grown dribbling giant. This may not test the grey matter too much but it’s great family fun.
There are villains in the guise of dog-nappers (a dog lover’s nemesis), and of course the usual owner disliking the pooch before coming around to its charms. Interestingly the American Veterinary Association were so perturbed by a vet being the bad guy in the movie they actually wrote to complain…
Released in 1992, Beethoven is played by Chris and won best feature film in The Humane Society of the United States. Unfortunately, Chris passed away after the filming of Beethoven 2. Whether the franchise had run its course or whether the other St Bernard’s didn’t cut the mustard, the following 6 movies all went straight to video.
At number 6 in our dog movie chart is an old classic, 101 Dalmatians. First released in 1961, this Disney classic tells the story of 101 cute Dalmatian puppies who are kidnapped by the evil Cruella De Vil. Her dastardly intentions are to turn them into coats, but her plans are thwarted by a host of animals.
The film was later released as an action movie starring Glenn Close and the success of this movie led to the release of 102 Dalmatians. Even if you have watched this movie many times you still may not be aware that there are cameos from cast members of Lady and the Tramp – look out next time you watch it!
Dodie Smith, the author of the original book, was inspired by her own Dalmatian giving birth to 15 puppies. One had to be revived at birth, very much as in the movie.
Marley & Me
A heart-warming and sad tale of journalist John Grogan, released as a movie in 2008 with John and Jenny Grogan played by Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston.
Marley was actually played by 22 different Labradors (as the movie spans Marley’s life as a puppy to 14 years old). The majority of this dog movie features Clyde, a 3-year-old Labrador. A surprisingly moving film documenting family life with a dog, mayhem and all. Be warned – it’s a tear-jerker!
Lady & the Tramp
Another Disney classic from 1955 featuring the very posh Cocker Spaniel Lady and a mixed breed dog called Tramp. A romantic tale illustrating that love has no boundaries, as the upper-class pooch falls for the stray dog continually looking to avoid the dog catcher.
The full cast includes a Bulldog, Pekingese, Bloodhound and a Scottish Terrier. All of the dogs have their own individual personalities somewhat typecast by their breed, but nevertheless all are endearing! Interestingly Jock (the Scottish Terrier) also appeared in our number 6 dog movie 101 Dalmatians.
Lassie Come Home
Released in 1943, Lassie is a story of enduring love between a dog and its owner. The film sees Lassie (a Rough Collie) being sold through poverty to a wealthy new owner. Lassie then makes the journey from Scotland to Yorkshire; the movie documents the adventures that happen on the way.
The star of the show is Lassie and we love this movie because the dog takes centre stage. Lassie was actually played by Pal, a male Rough Collie who died in 1958 aged 17. Pal performed in many Lassie movies having 9 credits to his name, and at the time Pal was paid $250 per week versus the $100 per week a young Elizabeth Taylor was paid for her part as Priscilla. A must-see movie for all pet lovers!
Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey
It may now seem we have an obsession with dogs and daunting expeditions, but we make no apology for this. The human spirit is always buoyed by watching others succeed in the face of adversity! This is further amplified when you replace humans with animals – and what better combination than 2 dogs and a cat in this memorable pet movie.
Originally released in 1963 as an animated version and then again in 1993 as an action movie, with the main difference being the animals talk in the later version (albeit their mouths don’t move!). With voices by Michael J. Fox (Chance, American Bulldog), Sally Field (Sassy, Himalayan Cat) and Don Ameche (Shadow, Golden Retriever) the characters really blossom in a tale that is full of misadventure and laughs.
This movie looks on the face of it a classic family movie that some may see as only suited to children, but we think all adults will see its charm by the end.
Turner & Hooch
Some may disagree with our number 1 choice, but we are somewhat biased. The founders of Oscar & Hooch are two Chocolate Labradors (born 2002 and sadly both passed away during 2017), with Hooch taking his namesake from this film!
Turner & Hooch released in 1989 has all the key elements of a classic dog movie. There’s a very lovable slobbering Hooch played by ‘Beasley the dog’ (a Dogue de Bordeaux), a reluctant owner (Tom Hanks), some baddies and a sad then uplifting ending involving a cute puppy. Enough said!