22 Best Dog Movies of All Time

best dog movies

Fox/Warner Bros.

A good movie has a hero you can root for. And what’s better than getting to root for a dog who saves the day? Dogs in movies can uplift the protagonists as much as they do audiences. They can bring even the toughest of critics to tears.

With everything going on in the world, it’s a refreshing break to curl up next to your viewing device of choice and have your heart strings plucked. It can be a kid meets dog tale, a journey of survival and self discovery, or a story of a kind-hearted pup breaking down the walls of a cynical man.

And while these are all movies that have canines at their center, it doesn’t mean they’re lacking in star power either. From comedy powerhouses like Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy, and Catherine O’Hara (among others) to modern day risers like KJ Apa, to legitimate legends like Jack Nicholson, these movies have tons of faces you’ve seen and loved countless times over the years.

Whether you’re in the mood to break out the tissues or looking for laughs of the canine kind, these movies each have a little bit of everything. From old classics to Disney animation, here are 22 movies where a dog(s) is a central character.

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Marley and Me (2008)

The famed tear-jerker that proves how strong the relationship between dog and owner can be. That is, in addition to the chaos one small puppy can bring into the lives of two people trying to start a family.

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Best in Show (2000)

All’s fair in love and competitive dog shows as hundreds of determined owners from across the country arrive with their dogs to compete in the prestigious Mayflower Dog Show.

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Scooby-Doo (2002)

Scooby and his gang undoubtedly made some enemies over the years. So when they’re mysteriously brought in to investigate a series of paranormal incidents at the spring break hot spot Spooky Island, it looks like their past might be coming back to bite them. Deceptively written by Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn!

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Turner and Hooch (1989)

After his friend is killed, a reluctant and uptight small town detective, Scott Turner (Tom Hanks), inherits his rowdy dog Hooch. When Hooch proves himself useful in solving the murder case, Turner sees him as his ticket to becoming a big city detective.

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101 Dalmations (1996)

Who would want to hurt puppies? Cruella de Vile (Glenn Close), a villain so vile she got her own origin story, would. This live-action remake is worth seeing if only for Close’s evil laugh and a wild dog chase through a busy London park.

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Air Bud (1997)

A film and TV empire began with just one boy and his golden retriever who has a natural talent for high school basketball.

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Isle of Dogs (2018)

In the Wes Anderson cinematic universe with a star-studded cast, this story follows a quirky hero who goes on an adventure to rescue even quirkier dogs. It’s set in a somewhat plausible world where all dogs are forced to quarantine on a trash-filled island after a flu outbreak.

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Shiloh (1996)

This time, the dog is not the hero, but actually the one who needs saving. It follows a young boy determined to rescue a beagle named Shiloh who is being abused by his owner.

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A Dog’s Purpose (2017)

Like many people, this dog is just looking to find its purpose in life. So what if it takes several lifetimes and owners to do so?

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Lady and the Tramp (1955)

A Disney classic romance tale of Tramp, a stray dog with nothing to lose and plenty of charm to give, who meets Lady, a prized pooch lost on the wrong side of town. Apparently all it takes to bridge class divides is a shared plate of spaghetti and meatballs.

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Because of Winn-Dixie (2005)

One small town in Florida is brought together by a darling young girl and her special bond with an orphan dog she names after the supermarket she finds him at—Winn-Dixie.

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Lassie Come Home (1943)

When hard times fall on the Carraclough family, they are forced to sell their collie named Lassie to a rich family. Lassie wants nothing of it and escapes, embarking (no pun intended) on an epic trek home across the United Kingdom.

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Frankenweenie (2012)

From the mind of Tim Burton, this movie follows Victor Frankesntein as a young boy. When his beloved puppy dies, he does what any soon-to-be monster-creating mad scientist would do: brings him back to life.

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Old Yeller (1957)

It’s a time-honored coming of age, boy meets dog, tale set on the old frontier. A brave dog arrives uninvited on a family’s ranch with plans to stay. As the family warms up to Old Yeller, neighboring threats pose a risk to his life.

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Benji (1974)

Benji is a stray dog whose hero moment comes when he saves two children from being kidnapped. How can the parents ever repay him? Maybe, by taking him in?

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Eight Below (2006)

On an expedition gone wrong, Jerry Shepard (Paul Walker) and his eight sled dogs must survive the Antarctic as they wait to be rescued. Sounds easy enough.

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Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009)

This remake of a Japanese film, which is believed to be based on a true story, follows a college professor (Richard Gere) who finds an abandoned dog and takes him into his home. He has no clue what he just signed up for.

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Wendy and Lucy (2008)

Wendy (Michelle Williams) is on the road to Alaska with her dog Lucy to start a new life. All is brought to a halt when her car breaks down and she lacks the financial means to fix it. Following a series of unfortunate events, the two are separated, sending Wendy on a solo journey to find Lucy.

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The Art of Dancing in the Rain (2019)

For those who cried during Marley and Me, the same studio is looking to bring you to tears again as a man builds his family with his dog by his side. This time, however, there’s the added commentary of the dog’s inner monologue.

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As Good As it Gets (1997)

If a single mother waitress with a sick child (Helen Hunt) and a soulful artist neighbor (Greg Kinnear) can’t warm the heart of this solitary writer diagnosed with OCD (Jack Nicholson), then the neighbor’s dog will.

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Beethoven (1992)

Here, John Hughes finds his precocious misunderstood protagonist in the form of a St. Bernard. Watch a heartwarming flick about a man warming up to the charms of the slobbering family dog.

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Bolt (2008)

What happens when a dog (voiced by John Travolta) who has lived its whole life on a TV set—and trained to believe it was all real—gets loose?

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