Just about any movie is better with a dog in it, right? Whether they’re helping the hero compete amazing acts of heroism or just adding doses of cuteness to a scene, it’s no wonder our four-legged friends have a long history of being on screen.
If you’re trying to decide which flick to watch with Fido tonight, you’re in luck! We’ve compiled a list of the best movies for dog lovers for you and your pal to cuddle up to after a long day of walks and playtime.
Top 11 best dog movies
From rambunctious and loveable puppies to full-grown family dogs, this lineup of movies will warm any dog lover’s heart:
11. The Secret Life of Pets (2016)
Featured dog breeds: Jack Russell terrier, Pomeranian, dachshund, and more!
This computer-animated dog movie may take some creative liberties with how its animals look, but boy, does it capture their personalities. And for dog lovers, there are so many fun characters here. The main pup is a Jack Russell who socializes with the other pets in his apartment building during the day while his owner is away at work. But when his owner adopts another dog, chaos ensues, and all the pets find themselves racing around the city to get things back to normal.
10. Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009)
Featured dog breed: Akita
You’ll want to get some tissues ready for this one. This sentimental dog flick is based on the real-life story of Hachiko (played by three different dogs in the movie), a Japanese dog who would meet his owner every day after work at a local Tokyo train station. Unfortunately, one day his owner passed away unexpectedly at work and never showed up. That didn’t hinder Hachiko’s loyalty, and he continued to return to the train station every day for almost a decade afterward. Have those tissues ready yet?
9. Turner & Hooch (1989)
Featured dog breed: French mastiff
Buddy cop movies are always fun, but this one ups the ante by making one partner an enormous French mastiff or “dogue de Bordeaux” with a penchant for drooling all over those he loves. Like many great dog films, this one has since been remade for modern audiences (a TV show came out in 2021), but the original remains an adorable classic. Hooch is played by canine actor, Beasley the Dog.
8. Benji (1974)
Featured dog breed: mixed breed
The character of Benji has appeared in a whole string of movies over the past several decades, but this is the original so it’s worth a watch for dog lovers. In it, the famous golden mixed breed is a popular stray dog who is friends with many people around town. When two of those friends—both children—are kidnapped, it’s up to Benji to save the day! The titular canine is played by Higgins, a dog actor who worked in show business for an impressive 14 years. Fun fact: like Benji, he was also discovered as a stray.
7. Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993)
Featured dog breeds: American bulldog and golden retriever
This ‘90s classic is for dog and cat lovers alike! When three pets (two dogs and a Himalayan cat) mistakenly think they’ve been abandoned by their human family at a farm, they escape and set off on an adventure through the wilderness to get back home. This movie’s full of fun and excitement, and thanks to some talented voice acting, it also captures the kinds of conversations we imagine our pets having with one another.
6. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)
Featured dog breed: American pit bull terrier
Quentin Tarantino’s historical reimagining isn’t about dogs per se, but Brandy the pit bull is integral to the movie’s climax. She’s an example of an extremely well-trained dog who is completely in tune with her owner, and her sweet, loyal nature steals every scene she appears in. Brandy’s played by doggy actress Sayuri, a pit from Delaware who was three years old at the time of filming.
5. Old Yeller (1957)
Featured dog breed: mixed breed
For many, Old Yeller is the quintessential dog movie. Set in the 1800s, this “boy and his dog” story follows a teenager who bonds with a stray pup who shows up at the family farm. Yes, the ending is sad, but so are a lot of other dog movie endings. If anything, it’s just another reminder of why these awesome animals are such important members of the family. On an interesting side note, the character of Old Yeller is a stray mix of unknown breed, but he’s portrayed by Spike, a yellow Mastador (a cross between a mastiff and Labrador retriever).
4. Lady and the Tramp (1955)
Featured dog breeds: cocker spaniel, mixed breed, and more!
This animated feature is as dog-tastic as it gets! While the main two dogs are a cocker spaniel and a mixed breed, there’s a whole rainbow of pups to enjoy in this movie (the “twilight bark” scene, anyone?) To capture each breed’s movements and personality traits, the animators studied a wide variety of real-life dogs before they started drawing. Another fun fact? The producers almost cut the famous spaghetti-eating scene because they thought it was too silly.
3. The Art of Racing in the Rain (2019)
Featured dog breed: golden retriever
As many dog parents can attest, golden retrievers often make wonderfully loyal pets. This movie is about just that, following the story of Enzo (played by two-year-old Hollywood dog, Parker, and a smattering of puppies) and his quest to be the best pup ever for his owner. It’s even narrated by the dog, which ups the “aww” factor. This is the kind of movie you can tell from the beginning is going to tug at your heartstrings nonstop, but it’s okay because the dog’s story is so touching.
2. 101 Dalmatians (1996)
Featured dog breed: Dalmatian
The 1961 animated original is a classic, but the ‘90s remake offers an adorable abundance of live-action pups! And don’t worry about Cruella. She may be evil, but she’s no match for all the cuteness here (fun fact: over 300 Dalmatian puppies were used during filming because dogs grow up so fast). For any Dalmatian owner—or any fan of the breed in general—this dog movie is a must.
1. Marley & Me (2008)
Featured dog breed: Labrador retriever
This list would not be complete without this heartwarming tearjerker. An adaptation of Josh Grogan’s non-fiction novel of the same name, Marley & Me follows the story of a couple adopting a Labrador retriever to prepare themselves for parenthood. Marley the dog (played by a whopping 22 different yellow labs) soon proves to be quite unpredictable, but also an indispensable member of the growing family. If there’s a movie that fully captures all the emotions that come with having a dog in the home, it’s this one.
Keep movie time safe for you and your dog
Watching a movie with your dog is a great way to spend any evening, but as with all activities, it’s important to make sure you’re being safe. Always keep an eye on your best friend and know where he is at all times. And no matter how big those puppy eyes get, only share healthy movie snacks with your four-legged friend. Popcorn, for example, can actually be a safe treat for dogs, but only if it’s plain and without any added ingredients or toppings.
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