We’ve compiled a list of our favorite dog movies. This is the second of two blogs for a total of 33 movies: 14 in this blog and 19 in the first blog. The link to Part I of the list is at the bottom of this blog. The list, of course, does not include all dog movies ever made, just our favorites, for various reasons. We’d love to know your thoughts on any of the movies listed. Did you like them if you saw them? Have they been on your movie-watching radar, or had you forgotten about them until now? Is there a favorite movie of yours that we didn’t list? Please include in the comments section of the blog. During this time of staying home to stay healthy and safe, it’s our hope that, at least, our previews will keep you entertained.
20. Hachi: A Dog’s Tale. Based on a true story of the love and devotion between a man and a dog, the 2009 film is a remake of the 1987 Japanese film Hachiko Monogatari. Directed by Lasse Hallstrom, Hachi: A Dog’s Tale stars Richard Gere, Joan Allen, Sarah Roemer, and Jason Alexander. Hachiko was a Japanese Akita remembered for his remarkable loyalty to his owner, for whom he continued to wait at the train station over a nine-year period following his owner’s death. In Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, three dogs played the part of Hachi: Chico, Layla and Forrest, who passed December 19, 2017.
Hachi: A Dog’s Tales movie trailer
21. Marley And Me. Our favorite dog movie list wouldn’t be complete without including Marley And Me. Directed by David Frankel, the 2008 film stars Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, Eric Dane, Kathleen Turner, and Alan Arkin. The movie is based on the best-selling book Marley And Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog by journalist John Grogan, published in 2005. The story follows the 13 years John and his family spent with their yellow Labrador Retriever, Marley.
Side note: John Grogan was accepted as a fellow at the Poynter Institute of Media Studies in St. Petersburg, Florida. After the fellowship, he was hired as a bureau reporter at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale. In 2002, he joined The Philadelphia Inquirer as a columnist. In 2003, after Marley died at age thirteen, Grogan wrote a column in The Philadelphia Inquirer honoring his dog. It was the response from readers that inspired Grogan to write the book, after realizing he had a bigger story to tell. “I owed it to Marley to tell the rest of his story,” wrote Grogan.
There were 22 different dogs that played the part of Marley in the film. Clyde was the acting dog who received most of the screen time. He’d been adopted prior to filming from a shelter by Susan Wooley and Dean Kawaga. He received a $1,500 fee for doing the film and the couple donated the money to a local Labrador Retriever rescue group.
22. Call of the Wild. Released in early 2020, the movie is based on the 1903 Jack London classic adventure novel of the same name. “Buck is a St. Bernard/Scotch Collie who finds his true heart in helping grizzled, hard-drinking prospector John Thornton (played by Harrison Ford) search for gold in the Yukon,” wrote Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers. He rates the movie “a cozy PG.” Directed by Chris Sanders, the movie also stars Omar Sy, Cara Gee, and Bradley Whitford. Buck, by the way, is computer-generated.
23. Megan Leavey. Based on the true story of a young Marine and her best friend, the 2017-released film, directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite (who directed Blackfish), stars Kate Mara, Edie Falco, Ramon Rodriguez, and Tom Felton.
Meagan Leavey is a Marine corporal who has a unique discipline and bond with her military combat dog, Rex. Together, they saved many lives during their deployment in Iraq, on more than 100 missions between 2003 and 2006. A war zone blast of an IED left Leavey with hearing loss, brain injury, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Rex’s injuries included a damaged shoulder and neurological ailments. When Leavey was honorably discharged after a year of intense rehabilitation in California, Leavey asked to take Rex, who had also been undergoing rehab. Her request was denied. The movie tells the story of how Leavey fought to be reunited with Rex. “He had been my comfort for so long, and to not have that anymore was hard for me,” said Leavey. Varco, a German Shepherd Dog, made his feature film debut as Rex in the movie.
24. Togo The Untold True Story. The 2019 movie is about a sled dog, Togo, who led the 1925 serum run to Nome, Alaska. Directed by Ericson Core, the film stars Willem Dafoe, Julianne Nicholson, and Christopher Heyerdahl.
The dog that completed the run, Balto, received the fame and glory, but Togo was reportedly the real hero, running 264 miles of the route under the guidance of his trainer and musher Leonhard Sepal (Dafoe).
Side Note: Togo is a Disney film, and it’s interesting to note that studio executives clearly have a soft spot for rugged frontier tales of tough Arctic men and their canine companions from Iron Will to Snow Dogs to Eight Below.
25. Heart of a Dog. Performance artist Laurie Anderson strikes an emotional chord in this 2015 documentary reflecting on her relationship with her dog, Lolabelle. Animation and Super 8 footage lend personal texture to the documentary’s dreamy, healing fragments with Anderson’s soothing narration providing poetic perspective. Childhood trauma, the nature of storytelling, the transience of life and the release of love. David Foster wrote, “Every love story is a ghost story.”
26. Life In The Doghouse. Two men. One mission. 10,000 lives. The inspiring story is about Danny Robertshaw and Ron Danta and the remarkable work they do at Danny & Ron’s Rescue in Wellington, Florida. They began their rescue in 2005, after rescuing 600 dogs in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. They have since turned their own home into a sanctuary for abused or neglected dogs. They also deliver pet food and supplies to more than 48 elderly people living in poverty, and help pay for their dogs’ medical bills. They do it all through donations and fundraising efforts.
27. Old Dog. Director/producer Sally Rowe tells the story of New Zealand farmer Paul Sorenson and his unique connection with his colleagues – a team of sheep dogs. For 40 years Paul has worked to develop smarter and more intuitive training methods for fellow farmers. Reaching retirement, the veteran dog whisperer passes his knowledge to the next generation of shepherds, and reflects on the sacrifices he’s made to pursue his intense passion for dogs.
Old Dog, The Film movie trailer – scroll down for the link
28. Seven Psychopaths. Dog nappers, played by Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell, kidnap a gangster’s (played by Woody Harrelson) beloved Shih Tzu (played by Bonny the Shih Tzu, who has her own Facebook page).
Alongside his friends, struggling screenwriter (played by Colin Farrell) inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld. Directed by Martin McDonagh, the 2012 film also stars Michael Pitt, Harry Dean Stanton, Abbie Cornish, Gabourey Sidibe, Tom Waits.
Spoiler alert: The dog does not die (although a lot of humans do).
29. The Dog Problem. Solo is a writer who has writer’s block after a successful first book. He’s ashamed, depressed and broke. His therapist suggests a pet. Clueless, he buys a dog, which only adds to his problems. Suddenly, everyone wants his dog. He could sell the dog to a persistent rich girl, settle his debts, and return to life with a clean carpet. Or, he could figure out why he suddenly doesn’t want to part with the dog. The 2007 movie was written and directed by Scott Caan who also stars in the film. Also starring Giovanni Ribisi, Lynn Collins, Mena Suvari, and Don Cheadle.
30. Our Idiot Brother. Ned (Paul Rudd) is the sibling who is always just a little bit behind the curve when it comes to getting his life together. For sisters Liz (Emily Mortimer), Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) and Natalie (Zooey Deschanel), he’s an erstwhile organic farmer whose willingness to rely on the honesty of mankind is a less-than-optimum strategy for a tidy, trouble-free existence. Ned may be utterly lacking in common sense, but he is their brother and so, after his girlfriend dumps him and boots him off the farm, his sisters once again come to his rescue.
As Liz, Miranda and Natalie each take a turn at housing Ned, their brother’s unfailing commitment to honesty creates more than a few messes in their comfortable routines. But as each of their lives begins to unravel, Ned’s family comes to realize that maybe, in believing and trusting the people around him, Ned isn’t such an idiot after all. Released in 2011, and directed by Jesse Peretz, a subplot in the film involves Ned and his dog Willie Nelson, a Golden Retriever. Rashida Jones, Adam Scott and Kathryn Hahn also star in the film. It also has a nice soundtrack with a couple of songs performed by Willie Nelson (the singer/songwriter, not the dog).
31. Annie. Released in 1982 and directed by John Huston, the film stars Albert Finney, Carol Burnett, Ann Reinking, Tim Curry, Bernadette Peters and Aileen Quinn as Annie. The musical comedy-drama film is based on the Broadway musical of the same name. Marti, an Otterhound, played Sandy the dog.
Side note: The dog who played Sandy in the Broadway musical was about to be euthanized when a young aspiring actor, William Berloni interning as a technical apprentice, found her at the shelter in Connecticut. He named her Sandy.
“Annie is the greatest American musical because it has not stopped being produced,” said Berloni. “It’s because it’s a message of hope and optimism.”
Another side note: Sarah Jessica Parker, at 14 years old, starred in the 1979 Broadway musical production of Annie.
32. Hotel For Dogs. Based on the book by Sarasota resident Lois Duncan, the movie was released in 2009. The cast includes Emma Roberts, Jake T. Austin, Lisa Kudrow, Don Cheadle, and Cosmo as Friday the dog.
When their new guardians forbid 16-year old Andi and her younger brother, Bruce to have a pet, Andi has to use her quick wit to help find a new home for their dog, Friday. The resourceful kids stumble upon an abandoned hotel and using Bruce’s talents as a mechanical genius, transform it into a magical dog-paradise for Friday–and eventually for all Friday’s friends. When barking dogs make the neighbors suspicious, Andi and Bruce use every invention they have to avoid anyone discovering “who let the dogs in.”
Side note: We interviewed Ms. Duncan prior to the movie’s premier in 2009. The New Barker also hosted a red carpet event at the movie’s Tampa premier. Ms Duncan also wrote I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997). She hated the movie version, loosely based on her novel. “I was ecstatic until I settled into a theater seat with my box of popcorn and discovered that Hollywood had turned my teenage suspense story into s slasher film,” said Lois. She passed away on June 15, 2016.
33. The Ugly Dachshund. The 1966 Disney film, directed by Norman Tokar, stars Dean Jones, Suzanne Pleshette and Charles Ruggles.
Fran Garrison is all in a tizzy because her prize Dachshund, Danke, is having pups. She has hopes of one of the pups becoming a champion. But at the veterinarian’s office, Fran’s husband Mark is talked into letting Danke wet nurse a Great Dane pup that’s been abandoned by his mother. Mark ends up wanting to keep the Great Dane, now named Brutus. But, Brutus has this problem: he thinks he’s a Dachshund and he’s too big to be a lapdog. When Fran ridicules Brutus one too many times, Jim has a plan to prove to everyone (and Fran) that a great Dane can be far more than just an ugly Dachshund.
Part 1 of our Favorite Dog Movies, click here for the blog post.