Dogs are not only considered man’s best friend, but they also make incredibly compelling film heroes! From the loyal comradery seen in Old Yeller, to the determination and courage of Lassie, people have been falling in love with dog movies for decades. Next time you and your family deliberate about which film to pick for movie night, consider one the timeless tales below. Here is a list of our all-time favorite canine cinema classics:
Old Yeller (1957): Legendarily heartbreaking, this film based on the Fred Gibson novel, tells a right-of-passage story of a young boy named Travis in the 1860’s and his Labrador-Mastiff mix dog named “Yeller.” Though Travis resists the dog at the beginning, he grows to depend on Yeller, and forms a deep bond with the devoted pup. When Yeller’s health is tragically compromised while protecting the family, Travis has to makes a difficult decision in this film for the ages.
Air Bud (1997): This film is based on the real-life talents of a Golden Retriever dog named “Buddy” who once found as a stray dog, was trained to play all kinds of sports. Buddy primarily became known for his skills in basketball, as the film Air Bud portrays, and also became a TV star in the show Full House for six seasons.
Marley & Me (2008): Based on the New York Times Bestselling memoir, Marley & Me became a popular film starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson. The film tells a charming story of a couple struggling to find their path, when a snarky little Labrador shakes their world up with all kinds of shenanigans and plenty of love.
*NOTE: This movie originally grossed the highest box office total opening on Christmas Day at nearly $15 million.
Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993): A remake of The Incredible Journey (1963), this movie jazzes up the characters with voice-over work from the likes of Michael J. Fox and Sally Field. Keeping all the inspiring determination in the original storyline, the screenplay adds plenty of real-life sarcasm and comedy that will have you reciting “Cats rule, dogs drool” in your sleep!
My Dog Skip (2000): This movie is based on the autobiographical book by Willie Morris, about his difficulties in childhood before the arrival of his dog “Skip.” The sprite-like Jack Russell Terrier helps Willie face challenges and fears, grow up and have meaningful relationships to last a lifetime.
Because of Winn-Dixie (2005): Proving once again a dog’s unique ability to help children cope with displacement and abandonment, Because of Winn-Dixie describes a young girl named Opal’s struggle to settle into a new town with her father, after her mother leaves them. Winn-Dixie, played by a rare dog breed from France called the Picardy Shepherd, helps Opal heal by working through the difficulties of loss.
Lassie Come Home (1943): Inspired from the 1940 novel by Eric Knight, Lassie Come Home depicts the story of a dauntless collie dog who is sold by her family as they cannot afford to keep her. Lassie crosses hundreds of miles and many dangers along the way, but eventually succeeds in returning with her family. The timeless movie was remade on several occasions titled as Lassie in a film produced in 1994 and another in 2005.
Where the Red Fern Grows (1974): Also based on the original novel, Where the Red Fern Grows not only deals with the connection between humans and their pets but also that of sibling bond between two Redbone Coonhounds dogs. A young boy named Billy saves his money to buy two hounds, and enters into a coon hunting contest against some ruthless competitors. This film depicts the struggle of family financial struggles, heartless antagonists, and sacrificial love.
Other great films about dogs:
Eight Below (2006)
Iron Will (1994)
Beethoven (Film series- eight movies in total).
NOTE: For avid movie-buffs, check out our list of the best films about cats!