Some of the most popular films ever made have starred dogs. Dogs are such a major part of our lives that this comes as no surprise. The best movies about dogs are often funny and heartwarming. Many dog movies are sad tearjerkers. But in the end, they remind us why our dogs are so important to us.
Animated dog movies are great, but live-action dog movies have a unique realism that appeals to all ages. Of course, you don't want to watch a dog movie geared towards mature audiences when it's family movie night. Here are some shining examples of classic, family-friendly, live-action movies featuring dogs, including Old Yeller, Lassie, and more. All are either rated PG or G and can be enjoyed by just about anyone who loves dogs.
Why not have a dog-themed family movie night tonight? Grab the tissues, snuggle with your family, and make room on the couch for your dog!
- 01 of 10
One of the all-time classic dog films, this family favorite features a great cast, including Roddy McDowell and a very young Elizabeth Taylor. Of course, the real start of the film is the loyal Collie dog named Lassie, determined to be reunited with her loving but poor family who are forced to sell her to a wealthy duke. Young and old alike love this classic. Make sure to keep the tissues handy. This film helped kick off a series of Lassie films and a television show.
- 02 of 10
Another superb classic dog movie is Old Yeller. The simple storyline of a boy's reluctant adoption of a Mountain Cur dog that wandered onto the family's ranch becomes a loving and devoted tale of the bond shared between the boy and his dog which eventually helps the boy grow into a man.
In case you somehow missed this legendary dog film, we won't give away the ending, but you might want to have two boxes of tissues for this one. It's been known to even make grown men cry. While the book states Old Yeller was of the Mountain Cur breed, the dog used in the movie was a yellow hound cross.
- 03 of 10
It's difficult not to love that shaggy-haired mutt known as Benji. While a beloved fixture of the town, he really gains respect when he helps find two kidnapped children and becomes a true canine hero. Benji was played by a 15-year-old mixed breed dog (believed to be Terrier, Poodle, and perhaps Schnauzer and Cocker Spaniel as well) named Higgins that was rescued from an animal shelter in L.A. While this was sadly the last film for Higgins, you can also catch his antics in the classic television show Petticoat Junction.
- 04 of 10
Perhaps the best of the cop and dog movies, this film stars Tom Hanks as a detective and a French Mastiff named Hooch. The neat freak detective finds himself stuck with Hooch, a slobbery and not-so-well-behaved pooch. But the detective needs the dog in order to crack a murder case. This is a feel-good film with a sweet relationship between man and dog and fun comic elements that age well with time.
- 05 of 10
Starring a lovable, slobbering, 185-pound Saint Bernard, Beethoven is about a giant dog who adopts a family. The family loves the clumsy but loyal beast--except for the father, played by Charles Grodin. But Beethoven, having just escaped dognappers, ends up the target of an evil veterinarian who conducts animal experiments. The father ends up being Beethoven's last hope.
A huge hit, especially with kids, the only group not fans of the film were the American Veterinary Association, who protested the negative portrayal of the veterinarian in the movie by writing a letter to Jack Valenti, who was head of the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America).
- 06 of 10
The adventures of a Golden Retriever named Shadow, a Bulldog named Chance, and a Himalayan cat named Sassy, three pets who become lost. The movie follows the unlikely trio's journey in which they hope to be reunited with their family. This 1993 Walt Disney version is a remake of the original film adaptation, which was entitled The Incredible Journey, and was released in 1963.
- 07 of 10
Based on the best-selling memoir by the late Willie Morris, My Dog Skip tells the story of a lonely boy growing up in 1940s Mississippi. When he gets Skip, a Fox Terrier puppy, things begin to change for the better. This sentimental tearjerker realistically portrays the special relationship between a child and dog and will appeal to adults as well as children.
- 08 of 10
Based on the Japanese hit film Antarctica, this Walt Disney Studios adaptation centers on the beautiful but treacherous Antarctic wilderness and features the late Paul Walker. The film is about six Siberian Huskies and two Malamutes who unfortunately have been left behind at a research station by a sled dog trainer who was forced to evacuate because of a storm. A rescue mission is planned to save the beautiful dogs as they fight the very bitter cold and other dangers that the Antarctic region presents.
In addition to the amazing scenery that the film is able to capture, the dogs in this film really steal the show by displaying their unique personalities. This is a family adventure film that older kids and adults will enjoy.
- 09 of 10
Marley & Me is a comedy/drama film based on the autobiographical book of the same title by John Grogan. It tells the story of the Grogan family and their lovable but unruly Labrador Retriever, Marley. The movie is full of the dog's mischievous antics sprinkled with some sweet, sometimes sad moments of real-life issues faced by the family. While this is a family film, there are some serious themes and very sad moments, so it may not be ideal for very young children.
- 10 of 10
This heartwarming film is based on the 1987 Japanese film Hatchi-Ko, which tells the story of one dog's incredible loyalty for his owner that spans over a decade. Though the 2009 remake has some differences in plot line than the original, both films are actually based on the true story of a 1920s Tokyo college professor and his loyal Akita, Hatchi-ko, who waited for him at the train station each day after work. Hatchi tells a tender tale of the intense bond that exists between a dog and his master. Stars Richard Gere and Joan Allen.