The Greatest Dog Movies of All Time

The greatest dog movies of all time. A simple web search reveals countless canine flicks but which are the best? Everyone has their own picks of course, (and I tend to rate a dog movie, or any animal movie, by the 'Kleenex Rating System') so here are my choices in no particular order.


Lassie Come Home (1943)

This was Lassie's first movie (based on the book of the same name) and this is a good one!

The story unfolds like this: the Carraclough family can't make ends meet so they're forced into selling their dog to a rich Duke. But Lassie's fondness for the young Carraclough boy compels Lassie to set out on a long, dangerous and incredible journey from Scotland to Yorkshire in order to find him! My eyes are welling up just thinking about it (4 out of 5 Kleenex.)

But if you want to talk tear jerkers, let me introduce you to my next pick...

Hachi: A Dog's Tale (2009)

Oh boy! This is a real tear jerker based on a true story about a college professor's bond so strong to an abandoned dog that the dog will wait for him at the train station for as long as it takes, until his master comes home... even if that's forever! Have the tissues ready for this wonderful movie. Hachi is probably the best dog movie I've seen to date! And you get Richard Gere starring to boot! (5 out of 5 Kleenex)

Now a change over to another tale with a lower Kleenex rating!

Beethoven (1992)

The adorable Beethoven pup escapes his dog nappers and adopts the Newton family who aren't ready for the small to become really big. Beethoven winds up being a 185 pound, drooling, disaster prone St. Bernard! Dad (George) doesn't take to the dog's shenanigans but when Beethoven becomes the target of an unspeakable experiment, it's George who must save the big, furry lug! A comical tail. (1 Kleenex Rating for sadness, but very funny and oftentimes laughter creates tears ( soooo... 3 Kleenex for laughter!)

Old Yeller (1957)

In a small town in central Texas in the late 1860's, a 14 year old boy named Travis Coates cares for his mom and little brother while his dad takes the cattle to market. When an old Yellow dog sneaks onto to farm and steals the family's meat Travis learns to hate the dog but when that dog saves his brother from a bear, that hate turns to love. Travis names the dog Old Yeller and nothing can separate them! This is one lovely Disney movie with a respectful 5 out of 5 Kleenex rating.)

Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993)

A California ranch has some escapees! Two dogs named Chance (voiced by Michael J. Fox) and Shadow (voiced by Don Ameche) and a cat named Sassy (voiced by Sally Fields) make this a heartwarming, funny tale about three pets left with friends of the family when their family has some business in California. The pets try to find their way back home through the mountains and run into fun and trouble along the way! An awesome family film with a 4 of 5 Kleenex rating.

Benji (1974)

This is the first Benji movie and it revolves around a stray dog who tugs at the heartstrings of a number of the townspeople who give him food and attention. Benji has two favorite attention givers who are children that enjoy feeding and playing with Benji against their parents wishes. When the children are kidnapped and the police and parents are at a loss to find them, only Benji can get the job done! Benji is a great dog movie because the dog playing Benji was a consummate professional. He was played by 'Higgins' the 'Petticoat Junction' dog who's expressions are priceless. What's more is Higgins starred in this role at the age of 14 years, which is quite a feat for a dog! (4 out of 5 Kleenex rating.)

The Adventures of Milo and Otis (1986)

This is actually a Japanese adventure comedy- drama about a young orange cat, Milo and Otis, a pug dog. It was reworked in English and released in 1989 with Dudley Moore narrating. The story revolves around Milo and Otis, who are separated accidentally and find themselves on a dangerous journey as they try to find each other. Otis is usually a half hour behind Milo. (3 out of 5 Kleenex rating.)

Marley & Me (2008)

Based on a memoir by John Grogan of the same name, this movie will make you laugh and cry. The Grogan family learns life lessons from Marley, an adorable lab who's naughty antics (like getting herself thrown out of obedience class) and her neurotic behavior will drive you absolutely crazy with love for this dog from pup into adulthood! (4 out of 5 Kleenex rating.)

My next three picks are animated films and they're all from Disney, the company who makes it their business to tug at our heartstrings. I rate these movies 3 out of 5 Kleenex each and much, much fun!

Lady and the Tramp (1955)

An uptown sheltered Cocker Spaniel and a downtown street smarts Mutt fall in love in this romantic Disney tale.

All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989)

An orphan girl who can talk to animals aids a dog who returned from the dead to take revenge on his killer.

101 Dalmatians (1996)

Cruella De Vil kidnaps puppies to kill them for their fur and make coats out of them. Horrible when you think about it but this animated Disney film has a lot going for it, namely a wonderful plot, a lot of laughs, beautiful animation and of course...101 Dalmatians.

By Tom Matteo