In the world of cinema, you can find a variety of films, from thrillers to action to romantic comedies. For us, though, there’s no better movie genre than dog movies! Movies featuring man’s best friend are aplenty, but they don’t always get the recognition they deserve. So, we’re here with the Dog Oscars to present the top dogs in Hollywood.
From the top dog movies of all time to introductions on some of the most famous (and prolific) dog actors in the history of film, we’re covering a bit of everything related to canine cinema here.
Top 5 Dog Movies of All Time
We analyzed around 200 dog movies from the past 80 years to narrow down the Top Dog Movies of All Time, including real dogs and human actors. We only looked at movies where a real dog portrays one of the main characters, and the story has a big focus on the dog character(s).
Togo is a historical adventure film by Disney starring Willem Dafoe. The other star of the film is, of course, Togo (played by Diesel), who is a Siberian Husky and sled dog. The film centers around the serum run of 1925 to Nome during a diphtheria outbreak, a run that hardly anyone believes Togo is capable of handling. Will Togo achieve the impossible?
Viewers have raved about this film calling it “fantastic”, “amazing”, and “involving”, and have given it a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 70% on The Internet Movie Database (IMDb), so if adorable canines overcoming odds is up your alley, this is the film for you! It’s currently only available to watch on Disney+, though, so if you don’t have that service, you’re a bit out of luck.
Fun fact—Diesel is actually a descendant of Togo!
2. As Good As It Gets
What’s better than Jack Nicholson? Jack Nicholson with a Griffon Bruxellois, which is exactly what you get in the movie As Good As It Gets! Though the dog, Verdell (played by Jill), isn’t the main character of the movie, they’re a close second. In this rom-com, Jack Nicholson plays a novelist named Melvin, who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder, an aspect of which is germaphobia. As a result, he’s not a fan of dogs, but when his neighbor is injured and hospitalized, Melvin is coerced into caring for Verdell.
As Good As It Gets is an older movie, but it’s always been a popular one; 86% of critics gave it good reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, and it has a rating of 77% on IMDb. You’ll have to watch to find out if Melvin ends up changing his mind about dogs or not; you can do that on Amazon Prime, Google Play Movies & TV, YouTube, Vudu, and Apple TV.
3. Best In Show
If you’re a fan of film and television done in the form of a mockumentary, like The Office, then you’ll love Best in Show. This hilarious film, co-written and directed by Christopher Guest, focuses on several people entering their dogs into the Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show (which means there are so many dogs!). Featuring quirky characters and adorable dogs everywhere—including a Norwich Terrier, a Weimaraner, a Bloodhound, a Poodle, and a Shih Tzu—Best in Show is a classic Christopher Guest romp.
With a score of 91% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 74% rating on IMDb, you’re guaranteed to have a great time with this movie! And you can watch it on several platforms, including YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play Movies & TV, Vudu, Apple TV, and Redbox.
4. Old Yeller
In the mood for a good cry? Then you can’t go wrong with the classic Old Yeller. You’ve likely seen (and sobbed over) this 1957 Western drama before, but there’s never a bad time to revisit the film selected for preservation in the National Film Registry due to being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. Old Yeller is the story of a boy and his Black Mouth Cur named “Old Yeller” (played by Spike), their friendship, and their life on the farm. The film has everything from adventure to drama, and it is indeed a tearjerker at times.
It’s so widely regarded it has a 90% average score on Rotten Tomatoes (though only a 72% score on IMDb), and despite its age, it can still be found on streaming services, such as YouTube, Amazon Prime, Vudu, Google Play Movies & TV, Disney+, and Apple TV.
5. Red Dog
You may be a bit less familiar with this 2011 Australian dramedy, but it’s based on the true story of an Australian Kelpie from the 1970s, known for their travels throughout Western Australia. The film is based on the book that’s based on the original story (and legends). There’s a lot of heart to be found here in the story of Red Dog (played by Koko), who not only traveled around but befriended pretty much everyone they met (including two very special people).
With 82% of critics rating it positively on Rotten Tomatoes and 73% on IMDb, the film is sure to delight, and luckily, you can watch it in a ton of places, like Netflix, Hulu, Starz, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Philo, Vudu, Sling TV, Google Play Movies & TV, and Apple TV!
Dog Movie Honorable Mentions
6. Lassie Come Home
1943’s Lassie Come Home stars Lassie (played by Pal), the collie everyone adores. Based on the novel of the same name, this film has Lassie off on a grand adventure as her humans have fallen on hard times, which results in Lassie being sold. Lassie isn’t thrilled with this, so she decides to escape and make her way back to her family. But will she succeed?
7. Hachi: A Dog’s Tale
This drama features Hachi (the Japanese word for “eight”), an Akita, played by three canines—Layla, Chico, and Forrest. Hachi befriends Parker Wilson, played by Richard Gere, who quickly ends up adopting him. As an adult dog, Hachi begins to walk his person to the train station every day and meet him there in the afternoons to walk him back home. But what happens when tragedy strikes?
8. Eight Below
Eight Below is another dog movie based on a Japanese film, this time the 1983 Antarctica, which was based on an actual incident that occurred in 1958. This time around, we’ve got a team of sled dogs, including Alaska Malamutes and Siberian Huskies. These dogs get left behind in Antarctica when the research team they were a part of is suddenly evacuated. However, the person who trained and cared for them is trying to make his way back to them to save them. His journey back takes six months, though, so will the dogs survive on their own?
Fun fact—over 30 dog actors played the 8 dogs in the movie!
9. The Incredible Journey
Chances are you’ve seen the 1993 remake—Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey—of this 1963 film, but here we have the original! Based on the novel of the same name, The Incredible Journey is a bit different than the remake. In the original, we have a Labrador Retriever, Bull Terrier, and Siamese making their way through the wilds of Canada to return home to their family after being left behind while the family is away. The film follows their adventures and hardships, as well as the friendships they make on this journey.
10. A Dog’s Journey
You might have seen A Dog’s Purpose, but have you seen the sequel A Dog’s Journey? This film sees Bailey reincarnating into new lives again and again as he follows his previous owner’s granddaughter through her life. This time, Bailey becomes an Australian Shepherd/St. Bernard mix (played by Bruce), a Beagle (played by Lemy, Rosebud, Elle, Rydel, and Diane), an English Mastiff (played by Scott), and a Yorkshire Terrier (played by Belle).
Top 5 Dog Animations of All Time
We separated the dog animation movies from the real-life dog movies because these categories are so different and unique in their own ways that we didn’t feel it was fair to compare them with each other. Creating animations, in general, and all the animated dog characters we know and love is a totally different ballgame. Some of these animations outperformed some real-life movies because they were just that good, and they instantly stole the hearts of dog lovers across the globe.
Is there any sadder opening sequence in animation history than the one in Up? We doubt it, but despite the tears the first ten minutes of this movie causes, it’s still an excellent family film full of fun, adventure, and meaningful life lessons. Plus, there’s a talking dog! When widower Carl goes to South America to keep a promise he made to his wife, he accidentally ends up taking along a young boy named Russ. On their journey, they end up meeting a Golden Retriever named Dug, who is in possession of a device that can turn all his thoughts into human speech.
This Pixar film was a huge hit and still holds a score of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes and 83% on IMDb. If you want to watch and find out what happens on Carl, Russ, and Dug’s journey, you can find the film on Disney+, Amazon Prime, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, and Apple TV.
2. Isle of Dogs
If you’re seeking a unique animated dog adventure, look no further than Wes Anderson’s stop-motion animated film, Isle of Dogs! Set in Japan, the story involves an overabundance of dogs, canine influenza, and a boy’s immense love for his pet. After there is an outbreak of canine influenza, all canines are banished to a place called Trash Island. However, a boy named Atari steals an aircraft to go to the island to find his beloved dog, Spot. There, he’s helped by all the dogs who have been banished. But will he ever find his pup?
This film features all the usual Wes Anderson quirkiness and has an 89% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 78% on IMDb. You can find it on Disney+, Apple TV, Amazon Prime, Google Play Movies & TV, YouTube, and Vudu!
3. Snoopy, Come Home
One of the world’s most famous pups stars in his very own movie Snoopy, Come Home! Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and the gang have had plenty of adventures, but what happens when Snoopy and Woodstock go off on their own adventure? After receiving a letter from a little girl named Lila who’s stuck in the hospital, Snoopy and Woodstock take off to go visit her, but they quickly realize that canines (and birds) are fairly limited as to where they’re allowed in the world.
This movie might be less well-known than A Charlie Brown Christmas, but people love it. Like our last animated flick, it has an 89% rating on Rotten Tomatoes; it also has 74% on IMDb! Unfortunately, streaming services with this film are limited, but you can find it on Apple TV, Vudu, and Amazon Prime.
Fun fact—Snoopy, Come Home was the first time Woodstock appeared on-screen!
4. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Wallace and Gromit have been around since 1989, so Gromit is a reasonably well-known canine, and he really shines in Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit! Gromit may be a quiet dog, but he’s also a highly intelligent one, and that intelligence saves the day in this film. A fabulous movie to watch during Halloween, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit follows our intrepid heroes as they try to become pest control agents. They battle rabbits with their latest invention, but something goes just a bit wrong.
Stop-motion animation is always a lot of fun to watch, as it’s a bit unique, and this particular film seems well-liked by fans. With a score of 87% on Rotten Tomatoes and 75% on IMDb, it’s without a doubt enjoyable. Watch it yourself this spooky season on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Vudu, Google Play Movies & TV, YouTube, Redbox, and Apple TV!
5. Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero
Want a computer-animated film based on a true story? Then this is the perfect film for you! Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero is the story of Sgt. Stubby, the most decorated war dog of World War I. This pup served in the 26th (Yankee) Division and was responsible for saving his soldiers from mustard gas attacks and more. He’s also the only canine to have been promoted to sergeant because of combat.
It’s a fun and fascinating bit of history that works well when told via animation. And with 91% of critics scoring it positively on Rotten Tomatoes and a 69% rating on IMDb, the film seems to be a good one. You can find it on the Roku Channel, Google Play Movies & TV, Tubi, Vudu, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, and Redbox.
Dog Animation Honorable Mentions
6. Lady and the Tramp
In a film starring all kinds of dogs, the focus falls on Lady, a Cocker Spaniel used to the good life, and Tramp, a stray dog from the streets. The two lead very different lives, but despite those differences, they end up falling in love. But will they be able to stay together when they come from opposite worlds?
7. The Plague Dogs
Don’t let the fact this is an animated film fool you; it’s a tearjerker that traumatized many children of the 1980s (while also inspiring them to fight for animal rights). Based on the novel of the same name, The Plague Dogs follows two canines who escape from a research facility where they have been experimented on. Thrilled to finally be free, they soon find that freedom isn’t necessarily all it’s cracked up to be.
8. DC League of Super-Pets
If you enjoy the DC Universe, you’ll love DC League of Super-Pets. This animated movie features Superman’s dog, Krypto, a dog from a local shelter named Ace, and a whole bunch of other shelter pets who end up with superpowers. But will these dogs and other pets be enough to save Superman and the Justice League from Lex Luthor even with those superpowers?
This adorable film features a White Swiss Shepherd named Bolt, who is a dog actor on a show about a pup with superpowers. Only Bolt doesn’t realize he’s acting, and his superpowers aren’t real. He soon learns the truth, though, when he leaves the film set for the first time. Also featuring a cat named Mittens and a hamster named Rhino, Bolt is sure to delight the whole family.
Tim Burton is known for his distinctive style, which makes the film Frankenweenie an absolute delight to watch. This animation is an ode to (and parody of) Frankenstein, showcases the love of a child for their pet, and deals with themes of grief and loss. The movie is set in the 1960s and is the story of a boy named Victor Frankenstein and his beloved Bull Terrier, Sparky. Sparky is killed in an accident, and rather than moving on, Victor figures out how to bring his pup back to life. He isn’t the only child who misses a pet, though, and soon, the whole town is raising the dead (but not without consequences).
Highest-Grossing Dog Movies of All Time
As we all know, it takes a lot of time, effort, and money to make Hollywood movies. They also bring in a lot of money in return, rightfully so! Which real-life dog movies, beloved dog animations, and iconic dog franchises had the biggest budgets and grossed worth of all time?
1. 101 Dalmatians
The 1996 live-action version of 101 Dalmatians, starring Glenn Close, was a huge hit! It’s not surprising considering the number of absolutely adorable pups starring in the film (and Glenn Close was pretty good, too). The story should be a familiar one since 101 Dalmatians has long been a classic Disney flick, but if you’ve not yet seen any version of this, the story revolves around 101 Dalmatians who are being pursued by a woman named Cruella de Vil, who is determined to skin them all for a fur coat.
This version of 101 Dalmatians did exceptionally well at the box office. The budget was huge, coming in at $67,000,000, but the movie made that back and more by grossing a whopping $320,700,000 worldwide! Critics may have given this live-action 101 Dalmatians mixed reviews, but it was clear audiences were invested in these spotted canines. If you’re eager to check it out, you can watch on Disney+, Vudu, Amazon Prime, Google Play Movies & TV, and Apple TV.
And Bolt is back on the list again! This film was in our Top 10 Dog Animations of All Time and featured a dog actor named Bolt who believed his fictional superpowers were real. Bolt soon learns otherwise, though, as he accidentally ends up on a cross-country adventure with Rhino, the hamster, and Mittens, the cat. But Bolt may find that not having superpowers doesn’t mean he can’t be a hero.
The budget for this animation was pretty high, coming in at $150,000,000, but the film grossed over twice that amount, making $314,027,157. That’s not bad for a movie about a dog learning how to be himself and a hero, all without having superpowers! You can find Bolt on Google Play Movies & TV, Disney+, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Vudu, and Apple TV.
3. Scooby-Doo: The Movie
There are many famous animated dogs out there, but how many of them solve mysteries like Scooby-Doo? This 2002 live-action version of the well-loved cartoons is a fabulous microcosm of the early 2000s. It’s also a silly, ridiculous, and fun flick (even if the critics didn’t love it). In Scooby-Doo: The Movie, Mystery Inc. has been disbanded for two years when they reunite to solve the mystery of “Spooky Island”. From Matthew Lillard’s dead-on impression of Shaggy to the animated Scooby, this movie is a delight!
And it’s fair to say audiences enjoyed it much more than the critics. The budget for this Scooby Doo film was $84,000,000, but it grossed $275,700,000 at the box office, becoming the 15th most successful film in the world that year. If you’re a fan of Scooby, you’ll probably enjoy this movie, so check it out on Max, Amazon Prime, Vudu, Google Play Movies & TV, Redbox, or Apple TV.
4. Marley & Me
Raise your hand if you’re unsurprised to find Marley & Me on this list. Marley, a Labrador Retriever, is the titular character of this heartwarming dramedy, whose misadventures leave her owners on their toes. Those same misadventures also fuel the writing career of one of her owners, as he decides to write a newspaper column detailing all the trouble Marley gets into. The film covers Marley’s whole life (along with her family, of course), and though critics were mixed on how good the film was, audiences loved it.
The estimated budget of this movie was only $60,000,000, but it grossed $242,000,000 at the box office; it even set a record for grossing the most for a Christmas Day opening, beating out the former winner, Ali. If you somehow missed this one, you can watch it on Max, Google Play Movies & TV, YouTube, Hulu, Vudu, Apple TV, and Amazon Prime!
5. A Dog’s Purpose
And now for another film that will make you sob—A Dog’s Purpose! This sweet dog movie will make you laugh and then cry. It’s all about a pup who wonders what their purpose is, something they find out as they reincarnate several times over. Those reincarnations mean you actually get a handful of different doggie actors starring in the film, so there’s no shortage of canines around. Touching and sentimental, this is one of those films that tugs at the heartstrings.
And, considering its almost miniscule budget of merely $22,000,000, this film grossed a bundle at the box office, making a total of $205,000,000. If you’re looking for a family film that’s fun and bittersweet, you can check out A Dog’s Purpose on YouTube, Apple TV, Amazon Prime, Redbox, Google Play Movies & TV, and Vudu.
Highest Grossing Dog Movie Honorable Mentions
6. Cats & Dogs
If you want a flick that won’t have you reaching for the tissue, why not go with the spy comedy Cats & Dogs? It’s got dogs, it’s got cats, and it’s got espionage! What more could you ask for from a movie? This comedy focuses on the relationships between cats and dogs, presenting them as working for what amounts to rival spy agencies. There’s action, adventure, and betrayal; this film has everything!
It also had a pretty large budget of $60,000,000, which it made back and more by grossing $200,700,000 at the box office. It even opened at #1 at the box office, beating out Scary Movie 2! So, grab the family and settle in for a viewing of Cats & Dogs; you can find it on Max, Amazon Prime, Google Play Movies & TV, Vudu, and Apple TV.
7. Beverly Hills Chihuahua
This Walt Disney comedy proves that it doesn’t matter how tiny you may be; you can still be mighty in your own way. Beverly Hills Chihuahua follows the adventures of Chloe the Chihuahua as she is dognapped in Mexico and must make her way back home to Beverly Hills. Along the way, she meets a ton of other dogs (some good, some villains) and learns how to find her own bark. It’s a cute, silly comedy that’s a lot of fun to watch.
It’s another dog movie that made way more at the box office than its budget. Beverly Hills Chihuahua only had a budget of $20,000,000, but it ended up grossing nearly seven times that amount by making $149,300,000 at the box office! If you’re ready for fashionable dogs having grand adventures, make your way to Disney+, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play Movies & TV, Apple TV, or Vudu to watch this film.
8. Eight Below
Eight Below was also #8 on our Top 10 Dog Movies of All Time list. You might recall this movie was based on a Japanese one that was based on a true story about sled dogs being left behind in Antarctica and how they managed to survive. There’s tons of adventure and action in this one, as well as plenty of Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes, so it’s a fun film.
And audiences at the time it came out agreed! Eight Below only had an estimated budget of $40,000,000, but it ended up grossing $120,500,000 at the box office and opened at #1 the weekend it opened. You can find it on Disney+, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Apple TV, Google Play Movies & TV, and Vudu.
9. Hotel for Dogs
Hotel for Dogs is a family comedy about, you guessed, a doggie hotel! It’s not about an official dog hotel, though; instead, it’s a hotel that a couple of orphaned kids created to take care of not only their own pup but a bunch of stray ones, too. Considering they’re sort of breaking and entering an abandoned building to put together this hotel for dogs, the question is, will they be caught? And if so, what will happen to them and their canine friends?
This fun, heartwarming flick had a relatively small budget of $35,000,000, but it made bank at the box office, grossing $117,000,000. And you can watch it on several streaming services, like Max, Hulu, YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, Amazon Prime, Vudu, Redbox, and Apple TV.
1o. Snow Dogs
And the 10th highest-grossing dog movie on our list is Snow Dogs, a comedy adventure that was inspired by the novel Winterdance. This dog movie is about a man who inherits a team of dogs (seven Siberian Huskies and one Border Collie) from a mother he never knew. Going from Florida to Alaska to meet the dogs means he’s a total fish out of water and must learn to manage in the ice and snow. The dogs, of course, have a starring role in this.
This was another dog movie that had a smaller budget (only $33,000,000) but did pretty well at the box office (grossing $115,000,000). Give it a watch on Disney+, YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, Vudu, Amazon Prime, or Apple TV!
Biggest Dog Movie Franchises of All Time
Furthermore, we separated the dog movie franchises from the singular dog movies to more accurately investigate the successes of these long-running movie series that became household names in dog film history.
Scooby-Doo has been around in one form or another since 1969 when the character was originally created. However, by the early 1990s, Scooby and the gang had somewhat faded from public perception, at least until Cartoon Network was created and began running reruns of the cartoon. Scooby-Doo quickly grew in popularity again, and the direct-to-video release Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island was made. It was a bit darker than your typical Scooby-Doo episode and was notable for featuring real supernatural creatures rather than just people dressed up in scary costumes. After that followed 22 more straight-to-video Scooby-Doo features, with 1–2 films coming out per year until 2015. Other titles include Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost, Scooby-Doo! Pirates Ahoy!, Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-Doo, Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery, and Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness.
You can check out Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island on Boomerang, Hulu, YouTube, Sling TV, Vudu, Amazon Prime, Redbox, Google Play Movies & TV, and Apple TV. The other 22 films in this franchise can be found on a variety of platforms, including these and others.
If you were a kid in the 1990s in the U.S., then you’re definitely familiar with the Beethoven franchise. The original film follows a family who end up adopting a St. Bernard who escapes from dognappers. While most of the family adores the new pup named Beethoven, the father is having trouble adjusting to having him in the home. There’s also a plotline about a villain doing animal experimentation in there.
The film was popular enough that a sequel (Beethoven’s 2nd) came out the following year, and after that came six more movies—Beethoven’s 3rd, Beethoven’s 4th, Beethoven’s 5th, Beethoven’s Big Break, Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure, and Beethoven’s Treasure Tail—with the franchise finally ending in 2014. There was even a Beethoven animated television show in 1994! The immediate sequel was the only other Beethoven to be released in theaters, though; all the rest were straight-to-video.
You can watch the original Beethoven on Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, Vudu, Redbox, and Apple TV. You should be able to find all the sequels on these services, too.
The 1943 classic, Lassie Come Home, made our list of Top 10 Dog Movies of All Time, but did you know there were sequels? Seven movies followed that one, with the last coming out in 2005. 1945 saw the release of Son of Lassie; in 1946 came Courage of Lassie; Hills of Home was released in 1948; 1949 saw The Sun Comes Up and Challenge to Lassie released; Painted Hills came out in 1951, and finally, in 2005, Lassie was released (which was a remake of the 1943 film).
The immediate sequel saw Lassie’s pup, Laddie, becoming a war dog, while the following film didn’t involve Lassie at all. Lassie is back for the fourth film, though, where they are adopted by a doctor. The next film has Lassie living with an opera singer, while in Challenge to Lassie, Lassie’s character is based on Greyfriars Bobby, a pup who stood guard at the grave of his owner for 14 years. Finally, the last film before the remake is a Western drama about revenge.
You can view the original Lassie Come Home on Google Play Movies & TV, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Apple TV, and Vudu, as well as most of the sequels. It appears the 2005 remake is only on Amazon Prime.
You’ve probably at least heard of the Air Buddies franchise. This series was a spin-off from the original Air Bud franchise and featured five Golden Retriever puppies doing everything from escaping dognappers to going to space to having adventures in the pyramids of Egypt. Air Buddies was the first in the spin-off series, followed by Space Buddies, Snow Buddies, Santa Buddies, Spooky Buddies, Treasure Buddies, and Super Buddies. This spin-off franchise ran from 2006 to 2013, with all films being direct-to-video.
You can find the original on Amazon Prime, YouTube, Vudu, Google Play Movies & TV, and Apple TV. You should also be able to find the sequels on these platforms (and a couple are on Disney+).
5. Air Bud
And here’s the franchise that started the Air Buddies one! Air Bud and its sequels were the original franchise featuring Buddy, the Golden Retriever, who has the ability to play basketball. (The Air Buddies franchise features Buddy’s puppies.) The original film has the basketball-playing pup befriending a young boy in need of help, while the subsequent four films see the dog taking up football, soccer, baseball, and volleyball. Only the first two films were released in theaters (with the sequel failing miserably), while the rest were straight-to-video. This series ran from 1997 to 2003; then there was a three-year gap before Air Buddies came out in 2006. Unfortunately, the original dog actor from Air Bud passed away before production on the sequel began; the 2nd film of the series is dedicated to him.
Air Bud and its sequels are on Disney+, YouTube, Vudu, Google Play Movies & TV, Apple TV, and Amazon Prime.
Benji is another classic dog character who stole the hearts of millions, much like Lassie, but you might be a bit less familiar with this pup. The original Benji came out in 1974, and the next three films were released in 1977, 1978, and 1987. The last and final Benji film came out in 2004, though. 1974’s Benji was about a popular stray dog that almost everybody in town loves. However, when two children want to adopt him, their father says no. But when those children are kidnapped, it’s Benji to the rescue! The original film only had a budget of $500,000 but ended up grossing $45,000,000!
The sequel to this film was quite different from the original as it involved spies, dognapping, and smuggled coordinates. The third in the franchise was a Christmas TV special, while in the fourth film, Benji is shipwrecked and must survive in the wilderness while protecting cougar cubs. The final movie in the franchise is a bit meta, as it involves the producers of the Benji films going town-to-town to find the next dog actor to play Benji.
Unfortunately, it looks like only the 4th film is available for streaming; you should be able to find it on Disney+, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play Movies & TV, Apple TV, and Vudu.
Dog Movie Franchise Honorable Mentions
7. Beverly Hills Chihuahua
Here’s another film discussed in this article under Top 10 Highest-Grossing Dog Movies of All Time! Considering Beverly Hills Chihuahua grossed $149,300,000 at the box office, it’s not a shock that they continued the series. Unlike some of the other most popular franchises, though, this one only has three movies total—the original, Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2, and Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3: Viva la Fiesta!. While the original film sees Chloe, the Chihuahua from Beverly Hills, lost in Mexico, the second sees her married with five puppies and involves a dog show and a bank robbery. The third and final film involves the entire Chihuahua family (and their humans) moving to a hotel to work and go to Doggie Day School. Both sequels were straight-to-DVD rather than being released theatrically, and while the original film made $149,300,000, the final film of the series only made $14,557,203.
Make your way to Disney+, Google Play Movies & TV, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, or Vudu to watch this franchise.
Shiloh was the first film of the Shiloh trilogy and tells the story of a boy trying to save a Beagle from their abusive owner. The film was called “mature and complex” by Roger Ebert, who also said it dealt with real moral issues. The next two films of the series, Shiloh 2: Shiloh Season and Saving Shiloh, continue the storyline of the first film by following the relationships of the boy and the Beagle, the boy and the abusive owner, and the Beagle and the abusive owner.
The Shiloh franchise can be found on many streaming services, including Google Play Movies & TV, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Apple TV, and Vudu.
Awards for the Most Memorable Dog Actors of All Time
It’s so easy to fall in love with the amazing dog characters in these brilliant dog movies that we sometimes forget that there are real-life dog actors behind the fictional characters portrayed in dog movies. The working pups undergo months of training, long filming hours, intense travel, and lots of treats (of course). From Lassie to Benji to Marley, which dog actors made the most memorable impact in Hollywood and left a paw print on every movie lover’s heart? Check out our awards below to find out!
The Most Spectacular Dog Acting Career in Film History Award
Which canine was declared to have The Most Spectacular Dog Acting Career in Film History by The Saturday Evening Post in 1992? The dog actor who played Lassie, of course! Born in 1940, Rough Collie Pal played Lassie in the 1943 film Lassie Come Home. Pal was the first dog to play Lassie and continued to play the character until 1955. It’s estimated this doggie actor made around $1,000 a week for the role (which is about $22,000 today!).
The Sweetest & Most Well-Known St. Bernard in Film History Award
Who else could be the sweetest and most well-known St. Bernard in film history besides the dog who played Beethoven? Beethoven, from the 1992 film of the same name, was played by St. Bernard actor Chris. It appears the same pup was in the second Beethoven film, as well as an episode of the television show Step by Step, but it doesn’t look like they did any other acting after that. According to IMDb, after Chris had their fill of acting, he retired to a farm with his trainer and spent his time lazing about. Unfortunately, this famous St. Bernard passed away in 2007.
The Hardest Working Chihuahua in Film History
Legally Blonde is a classic, and as much as the movie is about Reese Witherspoon’s character, Elle Woods, the real star of the film is her Chihuahua, Bruiser Woods. This role was played by Chihuahua Moonie, who didn’t stop acting after their breakout role in Legally Blonde. This doggie went on to play Bruiser in the second Legally Blonde film, then went on to appear in commercials, a music video with Cher, and in television shows. He was even present at the ceremony when Reese Witherspoon received her star on the Walk of Fame!
Moonie also had other famous canine actor friends; this pup was roommates with the infamous Taco Bell Chihuahua! Born in 1998, Moonie passed away in 2016 after a lifetime of hard work in the film industry.
What Does It Take to Be a Dog Actor?
While a dog’s appearance certainly factors into them getting a role (after all, you can’t have a Yorkie playing a role meant for a German Shepherd!), it takes much more than that to be a dog actor. Dog actors require a lot of training to work on a film set. A dog must know not only basic commands, such as “sit” and “stay,” but also how to hit the mark on set. And though trainers or owners are on set with their pups, they aren’t allowed to speak during filming, so canine actors must be able to understand and obey hand commands. A dog might also need to learn specific tricks or commands for a particular role.
Other than the training a dog needs, a canine actor must be able to be calm while on set (so if your pup is the skittish type, being an actor is probably out of the question for them). Sets are full of people and sounds, so dogs also can’t be distracted easily by these things.
What Do Dog Actors Get Paid?
How much a dog actor gets paid really depends on the film, the role, and the pup’s popularity. Most canine actors will only make between $4,000 and $10,000 a year, but dogs who are established and more “famous” (the Lassies of the world) could make up to $100,000 a year. So, if your pup becomes an actor, they’re probably not going to get rich, but on the off chance they become a sought-after actor, they could do pretty well for themselves!
Dog actors don’t always get the deserved recognition, even when the movies they star in make a bundle. But animals working on movie sets have extremely hard jobs! The pups on this list worked hard, made excellent films, and, in some cases, made studios bundles of money. So, let’s hear it for our four-legged friends in the film industry!