Most dog lovers really love to watch movies about dogs, especially those movies that really captivate your heart. Dogs have this uncanny ability to make us laugh, but they can also make us cry just as quickly. There have been a lot of movies that star dogs over the years, and many of these movies even have a dog as the main character! Whether animated or live action, there are sure to be great movies about dogs that the entire family is sure to love.
There are some movies that are well known for their lead canine role, and there are others that you may not know about. If you are a dog lover, there are just some movies out there that you just HAVE to watch. Here you will find a list of the top 20 movies for dog lovers. Chances are you have seen a few of them, but you definitely need to add the others to your instant queue or look for them in your local shopping store. Make it a family movie night and check out some of these all-time favorites. Just remember, some of them may be tearjerkers so you might want to have a box of tissue handy.
Top 20 Must See Movies for Dog Lovers
#1 – Marley & Me (2008)
We will start out with one of the tear jerkers! Marley & Me is about a dog named Marley that is just about as hard headed and stubborn as a tree!
It is based on a book called Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog. What’s it take to get the title of the world’s worst dog? If you take one look at Marley, you will see. He is a yellow Labrador retriever that was adopted by the Grogan family. He was always getting into trouble, but his family loved him nonetheless. Marley’s behavior is often forgiven because they understand that it is just within a dog’s nature to be so stubborn and silly.
If you haven’t ever seen it, you don’t want to miss out on this one. Have the Kleenex ready though, because this one will have you bawling by the time it is over.
#2 –Beethoven (1992)
Beethoven is another family favorite that we won’t forget about anytime soon.
It was a movie of the 90’s, but there have been several adaptations released since the original. Beethoven is a clumsy, hard to handle Saint Bernard with a heart of gold. Sure, he gets into mischief and always seems to find himself in the worst possible scenario, but ultimately he is loving and funny. This really reminds most people of their own dogs, who get into trouble often, but still have an outpouring of love and affection for their family. If you haven’t seen Beethoven, go ahead and watch it.
Also, check out Beethoven’s 2nd through 5th, and the other fun Beethoven movies that have been released since, including Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure! These are films that the entire family can enjoy together, and it makes for a great movie night!
#3 – Old Yeller (1957)
If you are into the older classics, then Old Yeller is one that you won’t want to miss out on. Old Yeller is another story about a dog that likes to get into trouble. Do you notice a pattern here? Many movies that have dogs as the main character seem to be focused around their misbehavior and the fact that we grow to love them anyway. This movie will really make you open your eyes up to the unconditional love that a dog has to offer. When you watch this one, be warned that it is also a tearjerker!
It shows that you really have to do what is best for your dog, even when it hurts too much to do it.
#4 –Lassie (1994, 2005)
Another great classic movie is Lassie. It is about a fun loving collie that started out homeless but found a family to love him unconditionally.
Lassie is one of those movies that has been readapted over the years, so if you don’t want to watch the older version, grab the new version from the 90’s and watch it! Lassie is so much more than just a story about a boy that loves his dog. It is a story about a dog with exceptional bravery, and you will notice that just shortly into the film. When the family leaves the city and goes out into the country to live, there are problems for everyone. A young boy named Matt really takes to Lassie, and he is able to learn a lot about life and loyalty from him.
These are all lessons that we can also learn from our dogs.
#5 –My Dog Skip (2000)
My Dog Skip is another tale of friendship and loyalty.
It is set back in the 1940’s, with a shy boy growing up in a small Mississippi town. Skip is his dog that he loves very much. It is based on a book that was written by Willie Morris. This tale will take you through the effects of bullying with children and the hope that a dog can bring to a child’s life. When Skip becomes a part of Willie’s life, he goes on to gain confidence in himself and he is also able to make friends.
#6 –The Shaggy Dog (2006)
The Shaggy Dog is a Disney favorite released back in 2006, so it is one of the newer favorites.
There was also another older adaptation released back in the 1950’s, but Disney gets credit for making this movie a family favorite. The character of this story line is transformed into a bearded collie in this newer remake of an older classic. If a comedy is what you are looking for, then The Shaggy Dog is sure to satisfy your need for laughter. Even at the end of the movie, you will laugh as you realize that his canine abilities and actions are still slightly remnant.
After all, he is still able to, as a human, catch a Frisbee with his teeth in the final scene of the movie. This one will have you laughing from start to finish- with no Kleenex necessary.
#7 –101 Dalmatians (1996)
Some people just really love the classic animated Disney movies, and one family favorite about dogs is 101 Dalmatians.
In this funny comedy that takes you through a twisting turn of events, you will fall in love with the Dalmatian breed. With a brutal villain, Cruella de Vil, this movie will keep you on your toes. It keeps you wanting to know just how the Dalmatians are going to save themselves from this villain that wants nothing more but to skin them and make them into fur coats. This is one of those movies that is great for children and adults of all ages, and it is here to stay.
There have even been live action versions of this Disney classic released, and those are equally as entertaining. If your family has not seen this classic, it is time to change that!
#8 – Turner & Hooch (1989)
A dramatic comedy, Turner & Hooch stars Beasley the dog alongside Tom Hanks.
Most people associate Tom Hanks with comedy and dramas, but you might not have ever envisioned him as a dog person. The truth is he wasn’t always a dog person. He took in a dog that belonged to a victim, and he became part of the police force that helped to solve the mystery of his owner’s death. He really only took the dog because he was a witness to the murder case, and later realized that it may have been a mistake. He started tearing his house upside down, and even destroyed his car! Even though he was so mischievous, Turner fell in love with the dog and decided to make him his own.
This one is sure to keep you laughing, while still putting you on the edge of your seat at times.
#9 –Lady & The Tramp (1955)
Lady & The Tramp is yet another Disney classic that we all remember from our childhood.
It is a childhood timeless classic that won’t go out of date any time soon. It is a romantic musical comedy that hit theaters back in 1955. Lady begins her life as a happy dog with a sense of entitlement, and she later finds herself on the wrong side of town and runs into a dog who has been nicknamed ‘the Tramp’. This movie helps you to see that you should always look for the good in someone, as Lady found the good in the Tramp and they later fell in love by the end of the movie. They ended up having three daughters that looked just like Lady, and starting up a family of their own.
This is a fun loving movie for all ages- adults and children alike.
#10 – Hotel for Dogs (2009)
If you prefer the newer Disney films, then Hotel for Dogs is a fun one for the entire family.
Imagine kids that take on the task of providing a home for all of the homeless dogs in the area. It starts out as a service for the homeless dogs, and through a wild imagination and uncanny creativity, it turns into something fantastic. If you want to teach your kids a little something about doing things that are worthwhile, then you will want them to see this movie. Sure, it has your typical kids getting into trouble behavior, but the moral of the story is what is important. What you will learn from this is that kids can make a difference, but you just have to make sure that you go about it the right way.
Children are going to especially love this movie, because it is filled with all sorts of high tech gadgets and a lot of creativity and spunk.
#11 – A Dog Named Christmas (2009)
A Dog Named Christmas is a television film that aired back in 2009 on CBS.
It is based on a best-selling book, and it is the tale of a young man that has a learning disability and his dog that he adopts. This story really helps you to see more about shelter life, and the importance of adopting a dog from a shelter rather than buying from a breeder. Todd, the main character in this film, was focused on making sure that all of the dogs in the shelter find homes. He was drawn in by one dog in particular, and while his dad was reluctant to support his efforts in the local community, he does come around eventually.
This story will warm your heart, to say the very least. It is a movie for everyone in the family.
#12 – All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989)
In All Dogs Go to Heaven, a 1989 animated film, Charlie, the star of the show, is murdered and he decides to let his place in heaven go so that he can look for his best friend.
He wanted to teach them the right way to live, with honesty and integrity, so that they could also be with him in heaven. This story is all about unconditional love, and it shows that no matter how bad things may seem, people can always change for the better. This is a heartwarming story that your entire family is sure to enjoy. Aside from teaching important life lessons, it has funny happenings all throughout the movie that are sure to keep you laughing.
Most people that really love dogs will enjoy this movie, no matter their age! Don’t let the animation fool you.
#13 – Bolt (2008)
Bolt was released in 2008, and it is a computer animated comedy that is geared more toward the younger generation of kids.
It is produced by Disney. The plot of this movie is centered around a dog that has spent his life on the big screen, and he thinks that he has super powers because of it. When he thinks that Penny, his human, has been taken he goes across the country to save her. This is a newer Disney Animation Studios has since put out many more animated movies that use computer animations, and Bolt was just the beginning of it. If you like action and adventure, with a whole lot of laughter thrown in the mix, then you definitely want to watch Bolt. It makes a great movie for family movie nights on the couch!
It is definitely worth your while, and you will see just how much Disney has improved their animation over the years.
#14 – Bingo (1991)
This is yet another fun loving story of a dog and a child, and their bond with one another.
Bingo is a circus dog that runs away and saves a young boy named Chuckie. This boy is having a really hard time fitting in with his friends. The two of them start to spend a lot of time together, and ultimately become best friends. They enjoy skateboarding, doing homework and playing arcade games together. Chuckie’s parents soon find that Bingo has been stowed away, and ultimately tell Chuckie that he has to go. This movie takes you on an emotional roller coaster, having you wanting to cry one moment and laughing the next.
It is an incredible adventure that goes to show that you can’t keep two best friends apart no matter how hard you try.
#15 – Because of Winn Dixie (2005)
Because of Winn Dixie is another film that was adapted from a novel.
It is a story of a dog that is found in the Winn Dixie supermarket. He is big, burly and ugly, and in need of attention. This dog is named for the supermarket that he was found inside of. This is more of a dramatic tale rather than a comedy, and is sure to have you falling in love with Winn Dixie. There are, however, some funny parts in this movie, as well as some more serious parts. The moral of the story isn’t limited to a single lesson, but rather many lessons. You learn more about forgiveness, loyalty, and friendships in this heartwarming tale of a dog and his best friend.
It even hints on adult topics like alcohol addiction, and the effects it can have on those around you. This is a great movie for everyone, even the kids!
#16 – Shiloh (1996)
As seems to be the pattern of movies about dogs, Shiloh is another heartwarming story about a dog and a child.
It came out in 1996, and was based on a book. There are two sequels to this movie, including Shiloh 2: Shiloh Season and Saving Shiloh, which were both directed by the same director. It is a tale of an abusive beagle that gets away from his cruel owner and meets a young boy named Marty. Marty makes a place for the dog to stay since he isn’t allowed to take him home. In a dramatic turn of events, Shiloh is sent back to live with his cruel owner. He doesn’t take no for an answer when it comes to being with Marty, and escapes again.
It goes to show the loyalty that a dog has to those that show him love and affection.
#17 – The Adventures of Milo and Otis (1986)
The Adventures of Milo and Otis is a Japanese adventure-comedy film about Milo, an orange tabby cat, and Otis, a pug.
The movie recounts their adventures together as best friends. While you wouldn’t think that a dog and a cat could be best friends, this movie goes to show you that you can expect the unexpected from time to time. This movie is sure to steal your heart. The families of Milo and Otis are brought together to survive even the harshest of winter seasons, and they grow to love one another.
If you like a movie that is always leading to a new adventure, then this is one that you won’t want to miss out on.
#18 – Balto (1995)
Balto is a movie that is based on a true story.
It is about a dog that was named Balto that lived back in the 1920’s and helped to save children from diphtheria. It has live action parts that were filmed in New York City, and there are also animated parts. For those that love live action/animated adventures, this one is sure to captivate you. There have been a few direct-to-video sequels that were never sent to the theatres, including Balto II: Wolf Quest back in 2002, and Balto III: Wings of Change back in 2004.
All of the Balto movies are fun and exciting.
#19 – Homeward Bound – The Incredible Journey (1993)
As we get close to wrapping it up, we have to take a look at another timeless classic. Homeward Bound is a fun movie about three animals that team up to try to make it back to their home.
They have to trek across the country to make it home, and must work together even though they are different in every way imaginable. In The Incredible Journey, Chance, Shadow and Sassy must journey to find their families while their families are searching for them. It is a comedy and a drama all rolled into one, and it goes to show that home truly is where the heart is. There are lots of unexpected surprises all along the way that are sure to have you wanting to know what is going to happen next!
You are sure to love the surprises and hurdles along the way that make you fall in love with the fantastic trio!
#20 –Homeward Bound 2: Lost in San Francisco (1996)
While we covered most of the sequels along with the original movies, Homeward Bound 2 deserves its own spot in the spotlight!
In Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco, Shadow, Chance and Sassy find themselves once again trying to make their way home. While they don’t have to make their way across the country this time, they do find themselves lost on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge. There are a lot of twists and turns in this film, much like the original movie. By the end of the movie, there is a new addition to the family. Delilah makes her way into the family when she falls in love with Chance.
This is a fantastic story of a family that really just loves their pets, and pets that love their family equally as much!