Best Dog Movies of All Time

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While writing my article about big fluffy breeds, I mentioned how the English sheepdog appeared in some of the best dog movies of all time — or at least that’s what I think.

Well, it turns out I’m not the only one that’s taken notice of dog movies. Recently, I learned that did a round up of the best dog movies. They compiled data from Rotten Tomatoes on all dog movies and ranked the top ones according to the Tomatometer, with the freshest movie sitting at #1.

What are the best dog movies of all time?

To qualify, the film had to have canines that were prominently featured characters, if not the focus of the film. There were some ties, of course.

So Stacker turned to reviews and audience scores to determine which of these best dog movies of all time would come out on top.

You’ll notice in the rankings below that we’ve included the Tomatometer as well as the audience score.

Also, if any of these dog movies are available for you to watch on Amazon Prime, I’ve included a link. You’ll find it in a little bubble box below each movie description.

Without further ado, here are the best dog movies of all time.

Cujo (1983)

  • – Director: Lewis Teague
  • – Tomatometer: 63%
  • – Audience score: 45%

Based on a horror novel by Stephen King, this 1983 film centers on a dog named Cujo. The dog turns deadly after contracting rabies.

Playing the title role were at least five separate canines. Plus, the filmmakers used a mechanical dog for certain scenes. Despite the film crew’s precautions, one of the dogs accidentally bit a stunt-woman during filming.

Dog Days (2018)

  • – Director: Ken Marino
  • – Tomatometer: 63%
  • – Audience score: 76%

This is a rom-com set in modern-day Los Angeles. It focuses on five interconnected stories of dogs bringing their humans together.

The canine cast features a pug, a pit bull mix, and a Chihuahua. On the other hand, the human cast includes Nina Dobrev, Vanessa Hudgens, and Finn Wolfhard.

Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009)

  • – Director: Lasse Hallström
  • – Tomatometer: 64%
  • – Audience score: 84%

Richard Gere stars alongside a faithful Akita dog in “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale,” based on the true story of a famously loyal canine. In the film, Gere plays a college professor who takes home an abandoned dog. After failing to find the dog’s original owner, the professor adopts Hachi for good. Basically, warm feelings all around.

White Fang (1991)

  • – Director: Randal Kleiser
  • – Tomatometer: 65%
  • – Audience score: 63%

“White Fang” is one among many big-screen adaptations of Jack London’s famous novel published in 1906. However, this 1991 version stars Ethan Hawke as a Yukon gold hunter named Jack. He and the wolf-dog, White Fang, forge a bond after they go through a string of unfortunate events.

The story is set in Alaska. And White Fang looks just like the Alaskan state dog, the Malamute.

Lady and the Tramp (2019)

  • – Director: Charlie Bean
  • – Tomatometer: 65%
  • – Audience score: 51%

I’m sorry but there are certain movies that should not be remade as live action. And, in my opinion, the 2019 live-action “Lady and the Tramp” is one of those instances. The scores shown above are for that live-action version.

Instead, if you want to watch a vintage Disney movie, check out the original, animated version of “Lady and the Tramp” from 1955.

If you get the DVD on Amazon, it comes with bonus content, too.

101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London Adventure (2002)

  • – Director: Jim Kammerud
  • – Tomatometer: 67%
  • – Audience score: 41%

“101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London Adventure” picks up one year after the events of the original movie. It centers on the adventures of Patch, one of the puppies, who dreams of bigger things than life on the Dalmatian ranch. Cruella de Vil once more seeks to turn the family into a coat.

The Shaggy Dog (1959)

  • – Director: Charles Barton
  • – Tomatometer: 68%
  • – Audience score: 48%

In this black-and-white Disney film, a teenage boy has a strange problem on his hands: He occasionally turns into a sheepdog. It’s the result of a powerful curse, which can only be broken by a feat of bravery.

In the meantime, the transformations seem to occur at the most inopportune of moments. Thus, hilarity ensues.

Also, the star of “The Shaggy Dog” is the Old English Sheepdog, one of the best big fluffy dog breeds.

Finally, Disney remade this film in 2006, starring Tim Allen. However, I’m sticking with the 1959 original.

I Am Legend (2007)

  • – Director: Francis Lawrence
  • – Tomatometer: 68%
  • – Audience score: 68%

This post-apocalyptic film is based on the 1954 book of the same name. The movie stars Will Smith as Dr. Robert Neville. His faithful canine companion Sam, remains his only connection to life before a deadly virus destroyed humanity.

In the movie, two German shepherds named Abbey and Kona played Sam. Legend has it that Will Smith was so smitten with his co-star Abbey that he asked her trainer if he could keep her but was turned down.

The Fox and the Hound (1981)

  • – Director: Ted Berman
  • – Tomatometer: 70%
  • – Audience score: 78%

Representing the first Disney movie to feature animation from artists Tim Burton and Brad Bird, “The Fox and the Hound” starts out depicting the carefree childhood friendship between its two main characters. However, as the characters grow older, they grow further apart and eventually find out that they’re supposed to be enemies.

White Fang 2: Myth of the White Wolf (1994)

  • – Director: Ken Olin
  • – Tomatometer: 71%
  • – Audience score: 47%

In this sequel to the 1991 original, White Fang helps an ancient Alaskan tribe save their land from destruction.

Eight Below (2006)

  • – Director: Frank Marshall
  • – Tomatometer: 72%
  • – Audience score: 79%

In this gripping tale of survival, two Antarctic explorers are forced to leave their sled dogs behind after a brutal snowstorm. As the dogs search for scraps in the wilderness, their trainer (Paul Walker) goes to extremes in order to rescue them. The movie is based on a previous Japanese film, which was based on a true story.

The Secret Life of Pets (2016)

  • – Director: Chris Renaud
  • – Tomatometer: 72%
  • – Audience score: 62%

In the spirit of movies like “Toy Story,” this 2016 animated comedy shows audiences what pets are up to when the owners aren’t paying attention. At the heart of the film is a terrier named Max (voiced by Louis C.K.), who takes an immediate dislike to the slobbery stray dog named Duke (voiced by Eric Stonestreet from “Modern Family”) that his owner brings home. But that’s hardly Max’s only problem, as you’ll discover when you rent this adorable film.

Shiloh (1996)

  • – Director: Dale Rosenbloom
  • – Tomatometer: 73%
  • – Audience score: 64%

This 1996 family drama spawned two sequels. The film takes place in the American south and centers on a young boy who must save a beagle named Shiloh from an abusive owner. Both the movie and the Newbery Award–winning book were reportedly inspired by true events.

My Dog Skip (2000)

  • – Director: Jay Russell
  • – Tomatometer: 73%
  • – Audience score: 68%

The film “My Dog Skip” is based on the best-selling memoir by Willie Morris. It takes place in 1940s Mississippi and stars Frankie Muniz as young Willie. In the film, Willie suffers from extreme shyness and struggles to connect with others. That all changes when he’s given a puppy named Skip, whose outgoing personality proves to be contagious.

Red Dog (2011)

  • – Director: Kriv Stenders
  • – Tomatometer: 83%
  • – Audience score: 80%

This tale of an affable red dog who brings people together while searching the Australian outback for his owner is based on a true story. Koko, who played Red Dog in the film, won Best Dog in a Foreign Film at the 2012 Golden Collar Awards.

Benji (1974)

  • – Director: Joe Camp
  • – Tomatometer: 86%
  • – Audience score: 55%

“Benji” introduced audiences to a heroic dog who helps to save two kidnapped children.

This movie came out during my elementary school years, and I lost count as to how many times I saw it in movie theaters.

To say the movie was popular would be an understatement. Not only did it launch a number of film sequels and TV specials, but there was also a short-lived TV series and video game. Benji was also the subject of two separate documentaries.

Oddball (2015)

  • – Director: Stuart McDonald
  • – Tomatometer: 87%
  • – Audience score: 62%

This Australian family film features a Maremma sheepdog named Oddball who helps protect a penguin sanctuary from nasty foxes. Based on a true story, the real-life Oddball only spent a few weeks on the island guarding penguins but was the impetus for a penguin-protection program using other Maremma sheepdogs.

Also, I had to Google “Maremma sheepdogs.” And guess what? They look like the big white fluffy dogs you probably know as the Great Pyrnees.

Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993)

  • – Director: Duwayne Dunham
  • – Tomatometer: 87%
  • – Audience score: 71%

When remaking 1963’s “The Incredible Journey,” Disney decided to give the animals their own voices. Furthermore, “Homeward Bound” takes place in California, whereas the original film took place in Canada.

Nevertheless, the initial premise remains intact: A trio of pets travel across hostile lands to reconnect with their owners, overcoming all odds.

Megan Leavey (2017)

  • – Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite
  • – Tomatometer: 87%
  • – Audience score: 82%

Based on a true story, this 2017 film occurs during the Iraq War and centers on a Marine named Megan Leavey and her dog, Rex. Kate Mara (“House of Cards”) plays the lead character who forges an unbreakable bond with Rex.

After a deadly explosion, Megan and Rex are separated. Then, she’s sent home — with a Purple Heart and an honorable discharge. However, Megan goes to great lengths to reunite with her dog.

Frankenweenie (2012)

  • – Director: Tim Burton
  • – Tomatometer: 87%
  • – Audience score: 70%

Filmmaker Tim Burton remakes one of his own short films with 2012’s “Frankenweenie,” this time using stop-motion animation. The movie also pays tribute to the story of “Frankenstein,” substituting a dog for the monster. This was the first stop-motion animated feature to be converted to 3D.

Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (1998)

  • – Director: Jim Stenstrum
  • – Tomatometer: 88%
  • – Audience score: 78%

The Mystery Gang has parted ways since the days of their popular TV series. This sets the stage for a reunion on Moonscar Island, which is rumored to be haunted by a pirate ghost. As the gang investigates, they start to wonder if maybe this time the supernatural threat is real. This is a good, old-fashioned animated treat.

Isle of Dogs (2018)

  • – Director: Wes Anderson
  • – Tomatometer: 90%
  • – Audience score: 87%

Legendary auteur Wes Anderson wrote and directed this stop-motion animation film, which takes place during a dog flu outbreak in Japan. In response to the pandemic, all dogs are sent to Trash Island. Consequently, a young boy journeys to the island to reunite with his beloved canine, Spots.

Loosely inspired by the works of Akira Kurosawa and Hayao Miyazaki, the film features voice contributions from Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Bryan Cranston and Edward Norton, among others.

Snoopy, Come Home (1972)

  • – Director: Bill Melendez
  • – Tomatometer: 93%
  • – Audience score: 84%

In this Peanuts classic that focuses on Charlie Brown’s dog, Snoopy, the gang all try to figure out where Snoopy has gone. They discover he went with Woodstock to find his former owner, who is in the hospital. The film documents Snoopy’s journey across the country.

Lassie (2005)

  • – Director: Charles Sturridge
  • – Tomatometer: 93%
  • – Audience score: 64%

When Lassie’s owners fall on hard times, they must sell her. A Duke buys her and then moves hundreds of miles away with Lassie. Eventually, she escapes and finds a way back to her family.

The British film continues with the tradition of all the Lassie films that preceded it by featuring a direct descendent of the original collie to play the loyal canine on-screen, Pal.

Lassie Come Home (1943)

  • – Director: Fred M. Wilcox
  • – Tomatometer: 94%
  • – Audience score: 76%

Hollywood’s most celebrated dog-based franchise kicked off in 1943 with “Lassie Come Home,” in which the beloved collie travels great distances to reunite with her family. (Premise sounds familiar, huh?)

Even though Lassie was supposed to be female, she was played by a male stunt dog named Pal. Needless to say, the film spawned an enduring array of sequels, radio specials and TV movies— in the United States and abroad.

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)

  • – Director: Steve Box
  • – Tomatometer: 95%
  • – Audience score: 79%

When the annual vegetable growing contest is threatened, Wallace and his canine companion, Gromit, decide to solve the mystery behind what’s been going on in the gardens of their English village. This animated feature boasts a distinguished cast of voices including Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter.

While not as dog-centered as other movies on this list, this Wallace & Gromit masterpiece is a real treat.

101 Dalmatians (1961)

  • – Director: Wolfgang Reitherman
  • – Tomatometer: 98%
  • – Audience score: 76%

The 17th animated film from Walt Disney Studios is all about Dalmatians…101 of them to be exact. That’s how many puppies Cruella De Vil needs to make her new fur coat. Getting in Cruella’s way are a Dalmatian couple and their human owners. Making a few cameos are characters from another dog-centric Disney film, “Lady and the Tramp.”

Old Yeller (1957)

  • – Director: Robert Stevenson
  • – Tomatometer: 100%
  • – Audience score: 79%

Most would agree that this is one of the most iconic dog movies of all time. Also, one of the biggest tear jerkers.

“Old Yeller” follows a young boy as he begrudgingly adopts a stray mutt that wanders onto the family property. Together, the two undergo a series of adventures, and soon enough, they’ve developed a profound connection. It all culminates with an ending that’s as impactful now as it was when the movie first debuted.

Also, make sure you get your dog vaccinated so they don’t get rabies.

Final thoughts on the best dog movies of all times

I’m really surprised that a number of other dog-centric movies didn’t make the Rotten Tomatoes list. Some I would add include:

  • Because of Winn-Dixie
  • Marley and Me
  • Where the Red Ferns Grow

Finally, one of my favorite dogs in a movie is Doug from “Up.” He’s the one who really coined the phrase “cone of shame.”

This article has been re-published pursuant to a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

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