As a fan of dogs, I'm sure you enjoy the many movies that come to the large screen that cast dogs as main characters. I could go on for hours talking about all the movies that involve dogs, but I won’t. This time around, I’m sticking to the favorite movies of past few decades that feature dogs as main characters, and are not animated.
After doing my research and raiding the Disney vault, I found way too many Dog Movies to include in one post, so check back later for lists of best all-time animated dog movies, classic dog movies, and movies where dogs aren’t main characters.
Without further ado, my list of Top 5 Dog Movies (of more recent decades):
Though it’s not viewed as an all-time “great movie”, it is a good story that children especially love, even decades after the movie premiered. As a small puppy, Beethoven becomes part of the Newton family. Quickly he grows into a large, slobbering St. Bernard who gets into all sorts of mischief and ends up apart of a naughty veterinarian’s animal experiment. The movie stars Charles Grodin, Bonnie Hunt and some other now-famous actors. I think the film’s success, however, would have been longer-lived without Beethoven’s 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and his Big Adventure.
I’ll admit it, I kind of forgot this movie existed until I compiled this list. Even though it is a pretty predictable movie, from the 80s, it is still a fun story of a man and his dog. Scott Turner (a.k.a Tom Hanks) is a clean freak detective who predictably gets paired with a drooling, dirty pooch from a junkyard. The dog, Hooch was the only witness to the crime that Turner has to solve, and throughout the movie turns Turner’s life upside down. Let’s face it, this is a strong contender when you just feel like watching an 80s movie with terrible music and bad stunts scenes.
This touching family movie is a mix of cute animals and incredible scenery. It’s a tale of three pets - Chance the young pup, Shadow the old wise dog, and Sassy the apply-named cat - that set out toward home, when they are temporarily left at a vacation home while the owners tend to a sick friend hundreds of miles away. The journey leads the trio through all sorts of fun-filled adventures. The “thought process” narration (by a cast of well-known celebrities) is a more interesting approach than the typical talking animals, and makes the story more enjoyable. Let’s just say that Disney is the master of heart-felt family movies (and sometimes cheesy interludes).
This would definitely made my top 5 list, but since I recently reviewed it, I am not “technically” counting it as one of the Top 5.
A classic Disney story made into an entertaining movie about…you’d never guess…Dalmatians! London dwelling Dalmatians, Pongo and Perdy (along with their humans Roger and Anita), are horrified when Cruella De Vil and her con artist cohorts dog-nap their 15 pups. Along with that litter, the evil Ms. De Vil steals all the Dalmatian puppies in London, because she dreams of a beautiful Dalmatian coat (gross!). It is up to Pongo and Perdy to get the dogs from Cruella’s grips and back to their families. It’s a sweet and funny story, but has many “dark” times that could scare kids. Truthfully, the live action version really has better jokes and sillier moments with the dog actors.
A great book and an even better movie starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson. Marley is a wild dog that doesn’t seem to grow out of puppyhood and makes many miserable and memorable moments for his humans (the Grogan family) throughout the years. It is a cute story of love between two people and the love/hate relationship they have with their naughty dog. If you were in the Grogan’s shoes, chances are you might not laugh at half of the things that Marley get into, but since it isn’t your dog, it’s adorable! Warning, there are some very sad parts (not joking – parts that will make a grown, macho man cry), but it is true to life. Also, FYI guys, it is considered a romantic comedy a.k.a chick flick; so don’t say I didn’t warn you about the love story.
*Side note: From the trailer, I think Hachiko: A Dog's Story will for sure top this list once it hits theaters later in the year.