Celebrate the Oscars with the Best Dog Movies!
The Academy Awards ceremony takes place this Sunday and we’re excited to see which fantastic films take home the big prizes! Unsuprisingly, some of our favorite movies of all time feature our favorite subject – dogs! Just in time for Oscar Sunday, we’ve rounded up our list of the best dog movies. These 14 films cover a wide range, but all feature unforgettable dogs who have touched our hearts.
Lassie Come Home (1943) [G]
Film’s most famous dog made her movie debut in this MGM classic. This version, based on the 1940 novel, takes place in Depression-era rural England. Having fallen on hard times, the Carraclough family is forced to sell their beloved rough collie to a Duke. The family’s young son Joe (Roddy McDowall) is determined to retrieve Lassie, and enlists the help of the Duke’s young niece Priscilla (eleven year-old Elizabeth Taylor). Lassie is played by Pal, the first in a long line of canine actors to portray this loyal family pet. Lassie Come Home is an historic dog film, and one that will still delight the whole family.
101 Dalmatians (1961 and 1996) [G]
Disney has introduced numerous dog characters, but one film stands alone for the sheer number of canine cast members. 101 Dalmatians also features the unforgettable villain Cruella De Vil, who wants to steal the titular pups to make a fur coat. Viewers can choose between the 1961 animated classic, or the 1996 live-action version, featuring Glenn Close as De Vil. Either way, you’re bound to enjoy watching these famous spotted dogs outsmart the devilish fashionista and steal your heart in the process.
Old Yeller (1957) [G]
Based on the 1956 book by Fred Gipson, this movie is a classic tear-jerker centering on a boy and his beloved Labrador retriever/mastiff mix. Parents will remember this movie from their childhood, and children seeing it for the first time will never forget it.
Lady and the Tramp (1955) [G]
101 Dalmatians may have had more dogs, but this beloved Disney classic boasts cinema’s most famous canine couple. Opposite attract when streetwise mutt Tramp meets Lady, a refined Cocker Spaniel. Who could forget their “first date” and that spaghetti kiss?
Benji (1974) [G]
Perhaps the only dog who could give Lassie a run for her money as cinema’s most famous dog, Benji the mix breed first appeared in this 1974 film. Like Old Yeller, the story takes place in Texas. Benji, a stray that everyone in town knows and loves, uses his cheerful spirit and resourcefulness to help rescue two children in danger. What’s not to love?
The Adventures of Milo & Otis (1989) [G]
We feel that cats deserve some recognition, too, so we’ve included this Japanese film about two best friends, a orange tabby and a pug. Dubbed into English by the actor Dudley Moore, this movie captures the bond between these two mischievous animals, whose adventures include floating down river in a box, fighting off bears and setting down to build their own families. Both cat and dog lovers won’t be able to resist this lovable duo.
Far From Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog (1995) [PG]
Set in picturesque, coastal British Columbia, Far From Home is truly a memorable “adventure.” 16 year-old Angus (Jesse Bradford) is separated from his father while sailing, and is left floating in a lifeboat with his golden Lab named Yellow. Angus and Yellow then begin the long trek home through treacherous terrain. This exciting film is rated PG, so it may be a little too suspenseful for the youngest members of the family.
Balto (1995) [G]
This animated movie is based on the legendary tale of Balto, the heroic dog who saved his town. On January 20, 1925, a diphtheria outbreak threatened the remote town of Nome, Alaska. The only hope to save the village was a batch of serum that was nearly 700 miles away in Anchorage. No suitable plane or pilot was available, so it fell to a relay of dog sled teams to undertake the perilous journey. A Siberian Husky named Balto, not thought to be leader, stepped up and emerged as the town’s unlikely hero. What a dog!
My Dog Skip (2000) [PG]
My Dog Skip is another film based on a book, this one written by Willie Morris. Set in the 1940s, the film stars Frankie Muniz as Willie, a timid 9 year-old who is bullied at school. Willie comes out of his shell when his family adopts a Jack Russell terrier named Skip. The talented cast also includes Diane Lane and Kevin Bacon as Willie’s parents, and Luke Wilson as the friendly next-door neighbor.
Eight Below (2006) [PG]
Disney goes to the dogs again, this time tackling the world of Antarctic sled dogs. Paul Walker stars as Jerry Shephard, a guide who is ordered by his scientist boss (Bruce Greenwood) to venture out with his sled dogs to find a rare meteorite. Facing dangerous weather conditions, Jerry is forced to leave his dogs to save his life. After returning to base, he is determined to rescue his beloved working dogs. This film, based on an amazing true story, is an inspiring tale of survival and strength.
Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009) [G]
Also based on a true story, Hachi: A Dog’s Tale is a touching cinematic portrait of a dog’s unwavering devotion to his family. Richard Gere stars as a college professor named Parker Wilson, who finds a lost Akita puppy at a train station on his way home from work. The two form an immediate bond and Parker and his wife Cate (Joan Allen), who never planned on getting a dog, welcome the abandoned dog into their home. Hachi is based on the life of a real dog named Hachikō, who lived in Japan in the 1920s. The Akita used to follow his owner, a professor at University of Tokyo named Hidesamuro Ueno, to the train station every morning and wait for him to return at the end of the day. To tell you more of the story may give away too much of the film’s plot, but safe to say, bring tissues for this one.
Up (2009) [G]
This Pixar hit is not a “dog movie” per se, but it does feature one of the most memorable on-screen dogs of the 21st century. At the beginning of their South American journey, septuagenarian Carl and his young stowaway Russell run into Dug, a dog with a very special collar. For all of you who are dying to know what your dog would say if he could speak, Dug (see image at left) offers a hilarious example. Say it with me now: “Squirrel!”
Movies for the Grown-Ups
Best in Show (2000) [PG-13]
This hilarious “mockumentary” takes on the world of dog shows, and the dog-crazy owners who make up this unique subculture. Director Christopher Guest recruits his regular players, including former Glee star Jane Lynch, and gives them free reign to improvise. The result is one of the most entertaining films of the past decade, and a must-see for Guest fans and dog lovers everywhere. (Parents: the film does feature some adult language and themes, so it may not be appropriate for children under 13.) Not only will it make you laugh, it will make you feel better about your own obsessive dog-related habits!
Check out the trailer for this film here:
The Artist (2011) [PG-13]
Winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, The Artist is a delightful black-and-white throwback to the days of silent film in old Hollywood. Despite winning performances by Jean Dujardin as dashing movie star George Valentin and Bérénice Bejo as sparkling aspiring actress Peppy Miller, the real star of the show (in our opinion) is George’s Jack Russell Terrier, played by a talented canine actor named Uggie. Uggie steals every scene he’s in, not only in the film, but also on red carpets promoting the film and at the Oscars ceremony in 2012. Sadly, Uggie passed away in 2015 at age 13, but we can think of no way to better honor him than watching him onscreen with your doggie best friend.
Did your favorite dog movie make the list? Share your opinions here, and on our Facebook page.