Movies and dogs – is there a better combo? Whether it’s curling up on your couch and watching a film with your pooches or heading to the multiplex to watch a movie featuring an awesome dog, there’s nothing I enjoy more than this beautiful pairing of two things I love. Throw in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and I’m about as close to heaven as possible!
There is a long and awesome line of dog characters in film, starting with the first dog on screen (way back in 1897) and leading up to today, where we have whole films dedicated to pups. If you’re in your mid-twenties through early-thirties, you grew up during a time when dog-centered movies were really gaining traction – 101 Dalmations, Homeward Bound, Air Bud, Balto, All Dogs Go to Heaven, Beethoven… and that’s just to name a few! Treasured movie dogs – whether animated or live action – made their impression in pop culture and are cherished parts of our childhood. We also likely experienced our parents love of dog characters like Old Yeller and Lassie.
Feeling a little nostalgic (and always looking for an excuse to peruse YouTube for dog videos of any kind), we’ve compiled a list of ten awesome movie dogs.
10. Beethoven from the Beethoven film series
I cannot see a Saint Bernard without yelling “Beeeeeeethoveeeeeeen!” in my head. As a dog walker who has a St. Bernard client, I now know I’m not the only one – it gets screamed (nicely!) at her every week at least. Originally released in 1992, the hugely successful film about a family trying to train their new St. Bernard went on to launch a franchise that includes seven movies. And I’ve seen them all… and have no shame. Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure 4LYFE, okay!?
9. Balto from Balto
Nothing like an inspired-by-a-true-dog-tale to kick your emotions into overdrive. Balto, a 1995 live action/animated hybrid film, was loosely based on the true story of the real-life Balto who helped save children from the diphtheria epidemic during the 1925 serum run to Nome. You know it’s good, seeing as how it’s produced by Steven Spielberg. While it got a bit overshadowed at the box office by Toy Story, it gained popularity on video and spawned two direct-to-video sequels.
8. Copper from The Fox and the Hound
Unlikely animal friendships rank high on my list of favorite things of all time, ever. Right up there with pizza and no traffic after a long day! The Fox and the Hound features one of our favorite old-school depictions of such a friendship, with a fox named Tod becoming buds with a hound dog named Copper. Despite societal pressures to end their growing bond, the duo fight for their friendship, even putting both of their lives in danger. It’s enough to make a grown man cry… and we’re sure it has.
7. Marley from Marley & Me
The Golden Retriever dog movie takeover – it never ends! In this book-to-film adaptation… well, we all know what happens. Or at least how it ends. But it’s the sweet, familiar storyline that really matters most. We could all learn a lot from Marley, and many of us already have.
6. Itchy and Charlie B. from All Dogs Go to Heaven
While the film didn’t exactly soar at the box office, (Hey, it was up against a tiny flick you may have heard of… The Little Mermaid, anyone?) it is still one of the best-selling VHS movies ever. It’s post-release popularity helped it live on, inspiring a theatrical sequel, a television series, and a holiday direct-to-video film. If it happened to have missed it on its first go-round, you’ve got to check it out! The sweet, funny musical film tells the story of two dogs, Charlie B. Barkin and his BFF Itchy Itchiford. Charlie is killed (zoinks!), but gives up his place in Heaven so that he can return to earth and reunite with Itchy to help an orphan girl named Anne-Marie.
5. Buddy from Air Bud
Buddy, the real life Golden Retriever whose breakout film spawned a second world release and then many direct-to-video sequels, was a rescue dog turned movie star! And who doesn’t love a rags-to-riches story? The stray pup was found wandering the Sierra Nevada mountains in the summer of 1989 and was adopted and brought to San Diego. He later appeared on American’s Funniest and Amazing Home Videos and guested several times on David Letterman before breaking out with his movies. He also “guest starred” on Full House in 1995. For more on his awesome life story, check out the 2012 book Go Buddy!
4. Perdy and Pongo from 101 Dalmatians
Two dalmatians, Pongo and Perdy, fall in love and, in turn, help their owners (Anita and Roger) fall in love, too. But when Anita’s boss asks to purchase Perdy’s fifteen puppies, it’s suspected that she wants them in order to turn their fur into coats. (A pretty insane premise for a children’s story, but there it is.) Hijinks ensue, the pups win… because, how else would you expect this Disney tale to end?
3. Lady and Tramp from Lady & the Tramp
Can’t pass up a classic. This romantic tale is the classic guy-from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks falls for the glitzy gal love story – in dog form!
2. Doug from Up
Up is perfect in so many ways – it’s beautiful, funny, touching and deeply felt. Many of the film’s funniest moments of levity come in the form of Doug, the sweet and squirrel-obsessed dog who tags along for the hoomans’ journey. Many of us never looked at a doggie cone in the same way again!
1. Chance and Shadow from Homeward Bound
Just thinking about this movie gets me misty-eyed and feeling 1990’s-style nostalgia for my childhood dreams of adopting a golden retriever (seriously, they. were. everywhere!) If you haven’t seen this flick – which follows two pups and a kitty as they navigate the mountainous San Francisco wilderness in search of their owners – rent it immediately and prepare to laugh, cry and hug your pup a little tighter.