The dog is not only the man’s best friend but also the main character in many successful films. Sometimes sad, sometimes romantic, sometimes action-packed or humorous, they tell of the relationship between man and dog. But stories that deal with the coexistence of animals among themselves have also been successfully brought to the screen. We present you with the 25 best movies in which dogs play an essential role.
1. Susi& Tramp (1955)
The original Disney animated film dates back to 1955 and tells the love story between cocker spaniel lady Susi and the stray mongrel dog Scamp. While Susi has a sheltered home as the darling of the Darling couple, Tramp lives on the street. In a chance encounter, he warns the lady dog about changes once there’s a baby in the house.
And this one is not long in coming. Soon Susi realizes that the Tramp was right with his warning. When Aunt Clara’s cat also comes into play, the situation at the Darlings’ house escalates. Susi escapes. On her escape, she meets the stray again, and a love story begins, but it is severely tested and has an adventure in store for her.
Lady and the Tramp is a touching Disney production with a happy ending. In 1956, the film received the David di Donatello Awards.
2. Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009)
The film is based on the true story of the Japanese Akita dog Hachiko, whose love for his master goes beyond death. On the way home from work, university professor Parker Wilson (played by Richard Gere) runs into a puppy. The owner is untraceable, and Wilson takes in the dog despite his wife’s initial misgivings. From now on, Hachiko accompanies his master to the train station daily and picks him up at 5 p.m. sharp.
One day the professor dies during a lecture, and the dog waits in vain for his beloved master. Even when Wilson’s widow moves away, leaving Hachiko with her daughter, the dog is driven back to the place where he still hopes to see his master again. The train station becomes his new home. Here he waits for his human friend every day until his own death, but at the film’s end, he only meets him again in the afterlife.
A film that deeply touches the hearts of the viewers. There is hardly a better way to convey the loyalty of a dog.
3. 101 Dalmatians (1996)
When two Dalmatian owners fall in love, the way is paved for canine love. Like their owners, Roger and Anita, the two Dalmatians Pongo and Perdita fall in love with each other. Soon after, both the humans and the dogs become proud parents, and happiness could be perfect were it not for Anita’s eccentric boss Cruella De Vil, for whom she works as a fashion designer.
The diva wants a fur coat made of Dalmatian fur and makes Roger and Anita an offer to buy the puppies. When they understandably refuse, Cruella De Vil has the dogs kidnapped by two dimwitted small-time crooks. While Pongo and Perdita set out to rescue their puppies, they are already on the run with the help of other animals. In the end, Cruella and her accomplices are caught, and 84 more cute, spotted puppies find a new home with Anita and Roger.
A film is full of adventure but also wit and charm, for which De Vil actress Glen Close was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role at the Golden Globes and Golden Satellite in 1997.
4. Beethoven (1992)
A St. Bernard puppy rescues itself from animal catchers and escapes so the animal experiments of veterinarian Dr. Varnick. The clumsy four-legged friend ends up in the Newton family home. While the children Emily, Ryce, and Ted are thrilled, father George wants to get rid of the dog as soon as possible. But mother Alice sides with her children, and St. Bernard is allowed to stay.
His fondness for the music of Beethoven eventually earns him his name. Quickly, the little puppy turns into a full-grown 90-pound dog, drooling and causing chaos in the Newton family’s lives. Things get adventurous when Varnick’s animal catchers kidnap Beethoven, and George has to free the four-legged friend from his clutches.
Beethoven is an animated film that will delight the whole family. A mixture of fun and action makes for such good entertainment that the film has seven sequels. In 1993, the film was nominated in four categories for the Young Artist Award.
5. Hotel for Dogs (2009)
16-year-old Andi and her 11-year-old brother Bruce have been living with foster parents Lois and Carl Scudder for two months. It is already the 5. Foster family for the brother and sister and also here there is trouble. The two have to hide their dog Friday from the Scrubbers. One day, when the latter runs into an abandoned hotel, they discover that two other dogs live there. The idea arises to turn the building into a shelter for stray dogs. But with more dogs, police and catchers become attentive to the dog hotel. From now on, there are some problems to solve.
Well-trained dogs, unusual scenery, and a mixture of drama and emotion make this dog movie worth seeing for the whole family.
6. Lassie (1994)
The Turner family moves to Father Steve’s home in Franklin Falls. On the way there, they meet the stray collie dog, Lassie. The family takes in the quadruped and raises sheep in their new home. A nuisance for the neighbors and a challenge for the bitch. But once, a lamb escaped from her and caused a serious accident. An animal adventure begins and what worked as a series is also convincing as a film: Lassie acts as a shepherd, friend, and lifesaver.
7. Cats& Dogs – Like cats and dogs (2001)
That dogs and cats are not necessarily the best of friends is no secret. In this film, comedy cats try to seize world domination. The leader is tomcat Mr. Tinkles. Of course, the dogs try to prevent the project. As a secret organization, they take up the fight against the cats. For camouflage, they play their master’s underdeveloped role. The dogs only talk to each other. When the human professor Brody comes into the picture, working on a cure for dog allergy, the chaos is perfect, and a fun adventure takes its course.
From the German Film and Media Rating FBW in Wiesbaden, Cats& Dogs awarded the rating valuable.
8. Marley& Me (2008)
Jenny and John question whether they are ready for children. Since John, in particular, still has doubts, the couple wants to try out family life with a dog first. Soon, Labrador retriever puppy Marley moves in, and with him comes chaos. Even the animal trainer despairs, and Marley flies out of the course. Nevertheless, the puppy develops into a beloved family member.
The film shows the complete life of the dog in the family. He accompanies Jenny and John through marital disputes and is there as a loyal friend for the couple’s later children. Unfortunately, even the best dog’s life eventually ends, and so the family must make the difficult decision to have Marley euthanized.
Marley& I is a film that addresses almost all the emotional states of dog owners and beautifully shows how an animal becomes a full family member.
9. Togo (2019)
Togo is an incredible true story set in the winter of 1925 that takes you through the treacherous terrain of the Alaskan tundra to test the strength, courage, and determination of one man, Leonhard Seppala, and his sled dog, Togo.
The film is affectionate because it has this sense of animal love that lets whole sequences rest on Togo’s charm but by no means lets the dog do all the work. Director Ericson Core cares about the animals but also about filmmaking.
10. Old Yeller (1957)
15-year-old Travis looks out for his mother and younger brother Arliss during their father’s absence. When a stray dog runs up to him, he reluctantly decides to take it in. He gives Jello the name and is soon glad to have him by his side. The dog saves the life of his little brother. And this is not the only rescue. In the end, the four-legged dog dies a hero.
The touching story of Travis and Jello won the Laurel Award in the category of Best Entertainment Film in 1958.
11. A Dog’s Purpose (2017)
The plot began in 1961. Little Ethan and his mom rescue golden retriever puppy Bailey from a hot car. They take in the dog, and he becomes their best friend, who accompanies Ethan through his teenage years, experiences his first love for Hannah, and stands by him after a heavy blow of fate.
When Bailey is later put to sleep, he reincarnates and wakes up as a German shepherd dog. Memories of his old life remain, and it should not be the last time he comes back to earth in the form of another dog. Ultimately, it leads him back to Ethan, who has become an older man by now.
A wonderful story that shows the bond between man and dog doesn’t have to end with death.
12. Air Bud – Champion on Four Paws (1997)
Josh Framm moves with the family to Washington after his father’s death. He finds it hard to connect with his classmates there and doesn’t dare to join the basketball team. Only through the Golden Retriever Buddy, the situation improves. The dog, which belongs to the alcoholic Snively, actually has a basketball talent. Together they lead the school team to victory.
The loving children’s movie gently deals with death and conveys the importance of friendship between animals and humans. In this way, he could bring in several awards.
13. Cujo (1983)
If you want to see a dog movie without missing out on horror, this adaptation of the Stephen King novel is for you. The bite of a rabid bat gradually transforms the loving St. Bernard Cujo into a beast. He kills his master, the car repair shop owner Joe. Customer Donna wants to bring her car to Joe’s garage.
The compound is deserted, Joe is dead, and Cujo attacks Donna. She escapes into her car, where her little son is also sitting. When the car doesn’t start, she’s trapped in the heat. To save her son from heat death, she must confront the beast.
The film is convincing not because of gory scenes but because of psychological effects that constantly increase the audience’s fear.
14. Snow Buddies (2008)
Five Golden Retriever puppies go on a discovery tour and end up involuntarily in Canada. There they meet the Siberian-Husky puppy, Shasta. Its 11-year-old owner, Adam, dreams of participating in a sled dog race. But he needs five more dogs. The golden retriever puppies want to help Shasta and his owner to realize the dream.
From now on, they are introduced to the high art of sled racing and train-like huskies. Of course, until the happy end and the return to their real owners, the young dogs await all kinds of adventures in the snow. With its cute talking dogs, the Disney production appeals to young viewers.
15. Show Dogs (2018)
Max, the Rottweiler, is a police dog and, after a failed mission to rescue a baby panda, must go undercover to participate in a dog show in Las Vegas. There he is to solve the crime after all. Max is very reluctant to work with his human partner Frank. So it’s no surprise they run from one chaotic mishap to the next. To catch the gang of smugglers, the duo can also count on the other animal participants in the competition. Many laughs are guaranteed with this four-legged agent comedy.
16. Bingo (1991)
Escaped from the circus life, Border Collie Bingo meets little Chucky and saves his life. The outsider boy and the dog become friends. Together they do homework, ride skateboards, or play ball. His parents, however, are not very enthusiastic when they discover Bingo. When his father transfers to another football team and the family have to move, Chucky is not allowed to take his four-legged friend with him.
But the latter follows him over several thousand kilometers and experiences many an adventure along the way. When reunited, he saves the boy’s life again and is allowed to stay with the family.
A film that is convincing not only because of the great skills of the animal protagonist.
17. Homeward Bound – The Incredible Journey (1993)
The dogs Chance and Shadow and the cat Sassy live with the children Hope, Jamie, and Peter. The story is told from the point of view of Chance, a young dog who until recently lived as a stray. When the family has to leave the city temporarily for work reasons, the animals are to stay with acquaintances. However, they want to return to the family and use a favorable opportunity to escape. This is the beginning of a journey full of adventures, during which the animals encounter a grizzly bear, plunge into waterfalls, and have to survive other dangers.
A film with lots of suspense and a happy family reunion at the end.
18. K-9 (1989)
Police officer Mike Dooly prefers to work alone. When drug dealers destroy his official car, the condition for a new car is not to Dooly’s taste: he should get a partner to arrest the drug dealers. Mike wants to tackle the mission with a drug-sniffing dog and is now on the road with the headstrong dog Jerry Lee. It’s only logical that all sorts of chaos ensue. In the end, however, Jerry Lee becomes a lifesaver for Dooly.
The film offers a funny story about a team that couldn’t be more different and nevertheless end up sharing a deep friendship.
19. Fluke (1995)
Stressed-out businessman Thomas Johnson gets into a fight with his friend Jeff and is killed in a car accident. But he is reborn: a stray dog lady gives birth to him as a puppy. After escaping from the shelter, he meets a homeless woman who christens him Fluke and later a dog named Rumbo, who was also a human in a previous life. Fluke goes in search of his human family. In the meantime, his friend Jeff also belongs to the group. He tries to keep this one away from his family but realizes in the end that she is in good hands with Jeff.
Sentimentality with a twinkle in the eye makes this family movie especially worth seeing.
20. Watchers (1988)
In a top-secret research laboratory, a violent explosion occurs, in which a genetically manipulated and highly intelligent hunting dog escapes. He is picked up by 17-year-old Travis, who gives him a new home. The latter quickly discovers the dog’s extraordinary abilities and wants to hide him away. However, the military is on his trail, and another creature has escaped from the laboratory. It is designed to kill and eliminate the dog and any contacts.
This horror film achieved cult status with many fans, a status it has not lost to this day – presumably also because it illustrates that laboratory experiments can harbor great dangers.
21. Snow dogs (2002)
Sled dogs play the animal leads in this adventure comedy. Dentist Ted Brooks lives in sunny Miami and leads a successful life. When he receives a letter from Alaska’s notary, he learns he is adopted. He is now supposed to take over the inheritance of his biological mother: a log cabin and sled dogs.
Brooks sets out with the resolution to sell the cabin and dogs. However, things go differently, and he builds a relationship with the animals. Also, Brooks falls in love with Barb, the bar owner, and has to save his father in the annual sled race. Ted does not return to Miami but marries Barb and opens a dental practice in Alaska. Snowdogs combines wit, adventure, and a touch of romance.
22. Isle of Dogs (2018)
23. Benji (2018)
24. Bolt (2008)
25. Turner & Hooch (1989)
Our list proves that you can find a movie starring our four-legged friends in every film genre.