A round-up of the best dog movies
The Oscars and the dazzling awards season may be over for another year, but that doesn’t mean that the fun should stop here. We’ve compiled a list of the Lyka team’s favourite dog movies (and some fun facts!) to help keep that film spirit alive and help you out when you just can’t decide what to watch on Netflix. Let’s meet the contenders!
Marley & Me
If ever a dog movie had heart, this is it. In case there was any doubt about the credentials of this labour of love, over 22 dogs contributed performances to playing Marley at all his ages and stages. And while the fictional Marley may have been a terror, the real life canine actors were incredibly well trained. Whenever the movie had a scene of Marley licking something, baby food was used to entice the dog. Owen Wilson’s real parents even played his fictional mother and father in the movie to add to the heart-warming nature of this whole film. Get the tissues ready, trust us – you might need the whole box!
Potentially a big part of the reason why Golden Retrievers are so beloved, this 1997 film about a pup named Buddy, who took to the basketball court because there was nothing in the rule book that said he couldn’t, delights little and big kids alike. The talented dog who played Buddy also appeared in Full House as Comet, and the film was so popular it spawned a film franchise to rival Marvel; Buddy’s now been a “golden receiver” on the football field in the Air Bud sequel, a soccer star in World Pup and even been to space in Air Buddies!
This was the first non-animated Disney film to ever get the honour of being preserved in the National Film Registry in the Library of Congress for being ‘culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant’, and it’s definitely cemented its place in pop culture. It even made it into a Friends episode – ‘The One Where Old Yeller Dies’. Phoebe says her mother always turned off the movie before the infamous sad scene, and she finally sees the ending for the first time, to devastating effect – if you know, you know.
Fun Fact: the wolf who fights Old Yeller wasn’t actually a wolf: it was a German Shepherd who they made to look like a wolf. The dogs were trained to play fight whilst muzzled so that they wouldn’t get hurt during the dramatic scene.
The author of 101 Dalmations was inspired by her own pets, she had 9 Dalmatians of her own! The idea for the book came one day when a friend remarked “Those dogs would make a lovely fur coat”, and the idea for the villainous Cruella DeVil was born. The Disney animated version was a departure for Walt Disney, with its much more sophisticated mid-century illustrations and highly stylised human characters that resembled their puppy pals to a tee.
But perhaps the most iconic version is the live action remake with Glenn Close as the high-fashion grotesque, Cruella. With her monochrome costume and wicked puppy plans, she almost stole the show from the scores of real Dalmatian puppies. Almost.
Keanu Reeves’ cult action thriller series, John Wick, is as well known for its beloved pooch storyline as it is for its impeccably choreographed fight scenes.
In the first draft of the script, the dog was meant to be 18 years old and a gift from John Wick’s dying wife. In the final version of the film though, the dog is an adorable Beagle puppy, and Wick’s only friend, with his revenge plot fueled by the dog’s tragic fate. We’re still crying.
Lady and the Tramp
Another Disney movie in the cannon that can’t be overlooked! You probably remember the iconic spaghetti eating scene when you think back to this movie, but did you know Walt Disney originally didn’t want to include the scene? Fortunately, better animation heads prevailed and the romantic back alley doggy date lived to be included in the final cut.
The film’s opening sequence, with Darling opening the hat box to find Lady inside, is based on a real story, where Walt Disney forgot about a date night with his wife so surprised her with a puppy in a hat box and all was forgiven. That’s certainly one way to do it!
Perhaps the most quintessential dog film there is, every subsequent Lassie movie features a dog directly descended from the original dog who played the role. In real life, ‘Lassie’ was named Pal, and clearly birthed a Hollywood dynasty with generations of Rough Collies winning over kids’ hearts ever since.
Isle of Dogs
This Wes Anderson stop-motion film was released in 2018, the Year of the Dog in the Chinese Zodiac. Visually dazzling, with Anderson favourites like Bill Murray and Jeff Goldblum, lending their voices to the titular dogs, the film is in both English and Japanese and plays around with the idea of language in the tale of dogs banished to an island following an outbreak of dog flu. Even the title, ‘Isle of Dogs’ is a play on words of ‘I Love Dogs’.
An old classic inspired by Lady & the Tramp, the movie’s director initially had to create a production company just to get the movie off the ground. The movie ended up being a huge success, raking in more than $45 million USD at the box office when it was released in 1974 – off just a $500,000 budget. And the star of the film? The leading dog was found in an animal shelter, completing the Cinderella story to perfection.
This movie tells the true story of a dog named Togo who led a dangerous sled journey to deliver diphtheria vaccines to a town hit by an outbreak in 1925. Truly a heroic pooch, Togo was named by Time Magazine as ‘The Most Heroic Animal of All Time’ in 2011 as a testament to his incredible lifesaving journey. The dog’s owner, Leonhard Seppala was known for his extremely humane way of treating his dogs, which was uncommon at the time.
So, which is your fave? Did yours make the list?
Movie time = Chow time
There’s nothing better than a cosy night in, especially when the weather is cold, so why not order your best furry friend a custom Starter Box and pencil in a movie night whilst you both chow down on your favourite food!