Dogs have featured in a remarkable number of Hollywood films, whether as inspiring protagonists or reliable sidekicks. Here are some of our favorites:
Oliver & Company
Starring an eclectic cast including Billy Joel and Cheech Marin, Disney’s animated take on Oliver Twist made over $73 million just in the U.S.A. A homeless kitten is embraced by a gang of stray dogs until he meets a wealthy young girl/ potential owner.
One of the few live-action movies on this list, Michael J. Fox and Sally Field voice two of the three main characters in this Disney adventure. Two dogs and a cat are confused when their owners leave for vacation, so they embark on a search for them across the country.
Turner & Hootch
Considered by many as Tom Hanks’s breakout role, the Oscar-winning actor plays a detective on a murder case whose chief witness is a mutt. Showcasing the true give and take of a man and his dog within the thriller setting, T&H combines comedy, crime, drama, and emotion.
The Fox and the Hound
The Disney tagline reads, “Two friends who didn’t know they were supposed to be enemies,” and that’s exactly how this 1981 film plays out. Suspense is in the air as the titular animals are buddies as pups, but their respective lives force them into a dramatic faceoff in adulthood.
The most recent movie on this list, Bolt took the summer of 2008 by storm, grossing over $114 million. John Travolta voices the protagonist who is a star of an action TV series and believes his on-screen powers are real. The young white shepherd is separated from his studio and learns the truth, rendering this film an introspective journey.
101 Dalmatians (cartoon version)
This 1961 Disney feature is usually named a favorite by the average viewer, but I think it’s slightly overrated. Don’t get me wrong, Cruella De Vil is one of the top villains in cinematic history and the eponymous song in the film’s score is spine chilling, however, she carries 101 Dalmations while the other characters aren’t super interesting.
A lesser-known and low budget 1995 animated film managed to snag Kevin Bacon at the height of his popularity to voice the lead, so there must be reason why. Half-wolf and half-husky, Balto risks his life to save the town of Nome, Alaska running 600 miles to retrieve medical supplies. The film is based on a true story, which inspired the Iditarod race.
All Dogs Go to Heaven
While the critics, may not agree with my high ranking, the Burt Reynolds animated film brings a certain sense of nostalgia to everyone who had ADGtH on VHS. It gave all dog-owning kids reassurance that when their canine friend would bite the dust, that he or she would be traveling to a better place.
Marley & Me
Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, and a Labrador retriever are the stars in this emotional rollercoaster. Marley is lovable and cute, but also the most rowdy dog one can meet. This movie is guaranteed to make you laugh as well as put you in tears by the end, which made it an instant classic in the 21st century.
Honorable Mention: Air Bud Series
The original Air Bud debuted in 1997 presenting a golden retriever who can play basketball. The movie’s widespread success spawned a 14-part franchise with sequels in 12 of the next 16 years. Thousands of puppies have been named Buddy, but they haven’t matched the athletic prowess of the original Air Bud.
Lady and the Tramp
It’s relatable, thought provoking, sentimental, and one of Disney’s all time greatest creations. There’s no other romance that tops this one in the animated realm, Cinderella included. L & T has given every one of its viewers since 1955 a fantastic watching experience as they go through several ups and downs. And it’d be remiss of me not to mention the pasta scene with the beautiful tune “Bella Notte.” Overall, Lady and the Tramp takes the prize (or the bone) for the #1 dog movie of all time.