Was your love of dogs inspired by a story on the silver screen? What was your first movie “meet-cute” between dog and human?
Check out our top 10 list of dog movies! Find out which ghostly cartoon pooch made the cut, if Turner and Hooch’s friendship stands the test of time, and which doggie duo wins with a slam dunk. Read on to discover the most cinematic dog/human buddies.
Man’s best friend: The top 10 dog/human friendships in film
Not everyone grows up in a canine-conducive environment, but thanks to our entertainment culture, most of us are inspired at an early age by the cinematic relationships between puppies and people.
From the 1930s to the 21st century, we have a wealth of dynamic dog relationships to choose from. To get you started, or to relive classic memories, here are our top 10 dog best friends in film:
1. Hooch and Turner (Turner and Hooch)
Take one of America’s most lovable actors and pair him with an even more lovable Dogue de Bordeaux and hearts will invariably be warmed. Whether it’s arguing about the house rules or giving the dog a bath, this film has moments every dog lover can relate to.
2. Hachi and Parker (Hachi: A Dog’s Tale)
Lifelong friendship is amazing, but how about loyalty that persists long after a dog’s human friend has passed away? Based on the true story of Hachiko, this adorable Akita loves Parker Wilson (played by Richard Gere) so much that he continues to go to the train station each day for 10 years awaiting his owner’s return, becoming a legend in the town.
3. Buddy and Josh (Air Bud)
While the franchise of Buddy films may have gone a little overboard, the original tale of this real-life golden retriever is a slam dunk for our list. From the simple joys of the 12-year-old Josh becoming a dog lover to the contrast of loving care versus harsh treatment of animals, it’s a sweet all-ages film that can instill early affection and good values.
4. Samantha and Robert Neville (I Am Legend)
Here’s a post-apocalyptic dog every survivor wants by their side. Sam is one of the few things keeping Robert Neville (played by Will Smith) sane in I Am Legend. When they face the dangerous denizens of a devastated New York City, Sam is unafraid to stand between his human friend and infected monster dogs. The iconic image of the two of them curled up and sleeping in the bathtub is unforgettable.
5. Zero and Jack (The Nightmare Before Christmas)
Even death can’t keep this dog down! Jack Skellington may not be exactly human, and his dog Zero is little more than a floating sheet, but the relationship between this ghostly canine and the Pumpkin King can’t go without mention. Zero seeks to comfort the mournful master of fright when he’s despondent about his lot in life. Then, when Jack tries to give Christmas a makeover, Zero outshines Rudolph by guiding the skeletal sleigh. Who doesn’t desire a dog who’ll comfort us when we’re depressed, or stick with us even when we blunder through bad decisions? Zero loves Jack through thick and thin. Also, we see shy Sally watching the two of them together; could it be that part of the charm she sees in Jack is his affection for his best friend?
6. Marley and John (Marley & Me)
John and his wife Jenny (played by Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston) initially adopt Marley as a trial run to see if they’re ready to have kids. But Marley and his impact on the couple shows that a dog isn’t simply a test run for a human child—dogs can be an indispensable part of the family in their own right.
7. Baxter and Ron Burgundy (Anchorman: the Legend of Ron Burgundy)
Baxter isn’t just a dog you can talk to—at least, if we believe the mind of Ron Burgundy. He’s a dog that talks back, and in multiple languages. This border terrier seems to survive just about anything and can even make a bear back down. Who wouldn’t want Baxter as a best friend?
8. Old Yeller and Travis (Old Yeller)
It doesn’t matter if it’s cliche, this Disney adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson novel is still a must-see. The coming-of-age tale shows us the conversion of a jaded boy into a caring friend thanks to the persistence and loyalty of a golden-hued mastador named Yeller.
9. Toto and Dorothy (The Wizard of Oz)
This movie had title problems. It’s not about the Wizard so much as Dorothy, and her rascally pet Toto may really be the center of the story. Dorothy’s love and protectiveness of little Toto is at the core of the story from the beginning, and when the two wind up in Oz, it’s a tenacious Toto who exposes the alleged “wizard.” She might never have gotten home without him. Few stories take the relationship of a girl and her dog over the rainbow like this musical wonder.
10. Gromit and Wallace (Wallace and Gromit)
Whether they’re solving the curse of the were-rabbit or simply getting dressed for breakfast, it’s clear the silent canine partner is the smarter of the two. While perhaps not as dextrous or technologically savvy as Gromit, dog lovers know what it’s like to have a pooch who helps them wake up and get out the door in the morning. And deep down, don’t we sometimes wonder if our dogs are smarter than we are?
You might think there are some key movies missing from this list, and you’re right. Except for the two stop-motion creations above, I stayed close to real dogs and live action; a roster of amazing, animated canine companions could comprise a top 10 list of its own. Other films like Lady and the Tramp or The Fox and the Hound focus on relationships between animals, so it’s clear there are plenty of other film groupings to bark about in future posts.
Did we miss your favorite dog/human friendship? Tell us about it in the comments! And if you want to know in advance if you’ll be crying or cheering at the end, there’s a great website to prepare for your dog movie day.