15 Dog Movies to Watch During the Holidays
by Jessi Larson
The holidays are a great time to curl up on the couch and watch a good movie with your significant other, kids, friends, extended family or by yourself with your trusty dog snuggled up on you. And speaking of dogs, consider adding a dog movie to your holiday viewing list this year. Movies centered on a dog (or dogs) are perfect for the holiday season. They are family friendly, feature adorable furry stars and include great messages about working together to grow and overcome obstacles, and of course, have fun along the way.
As you get your DVD player or online queue ready for the holiday season, check out this list of 15 classic dog movies.
- Marley & Me
Get the hankies ready. Based on the book by the same name, Marley and Me recounts the Grogan family’s adventure raising a naughty, high-strung albeit completely adorable Yellow Labrador Retriever. Marley means well, although he can’t seem to stay out of trouble. In the end, he teaches the family many valuable lessons.
- 101 Dalmatians
“Cruella de Vil. Cruella de Vil. If she doesn’t scare you, no evil thing will!” Darn Cruella de Vil. All those 101 Dalmatians wanted to do was be cute and have fun, but she had to go and kidnap them to make a dog-skin fur coat. This may be a little dark, but don’t worry, the movie is very family friendly. You can choose from the 1961 animated version or the 1996 life-action film starring Glenn Close. Both are fun classics to watch during the holidays!
You may have forgotten about this classic early 90s flick. A St. Bernard puppy is let loose when a pet store is robbed and eventually finds a home with the Newton family, led by parents George (Charles Grodin) and Alice (Bonnie Hunt). Everyone in the family is a big fan of the giant dog, except for George. Beethoven is smarter than he looks, however, and eventually George comes around after a dramatic event. It’s a perfect film for millennials looking for a trip down memory lane.
- The Fox and the Hound
Tod, an orphaned red fox, and Copper, a young hound, become the best of friends in their younger years, but according to society, they should be enemies. This tale showcases their struggles as they grow up and are faced with fulfilling predetermined roles.
- The Adventures of Milo and Otis
In this 1986 film, an orange Tabby cat named Milo and a Pug called Otis are accidentally separated and find themselves each on a treacherous adventure, encountering bears, raccoons, snakes and more. Originally a Japanese movie, the film was re-recorded in English and then released in the United States to acclaim. It’s a charming, sweet film, and let’s face it, in the world where Yellow Labradors and Golden Retrievers are always the star, having a Pug in the starring role is quite refreshing.
The most recent dog movie on the list, Bolt is an animated film about the canine star of a fictional sci-fi/action show. He believes his powers are real and embarks on a cross-country journey to save his co-star from a threat he believes is just as real. Think the delusion of Buzz Lightyear but in the form of an adorable dog.
- Turner & Hooch
The premise is pretty silly, but that’s what makes this film so much fun to watch. When Hooch, a large slobbery Mastiff, is the only witness to a murder, detective Scott Turner (played by Tom Hanks) must work with him to solve the crime.
Believe it or not, this 1974 film was turned down by every major studio and had to be produced independently. Flash forward, and the story of a lovable stray dog who helps rescue two kidnapped child went on to rank #3 at the box office for that entire year. The dog who played Benji was so good that many film critics said he deserved a Best Actor Oscar for his acting.
- Lady and the Tramp
Oh, the adorable pasta scene! Who can forget the two love-dogs slurping up spaghetti together? There’s much more to this tale, though, so now is a great time to rewatch and reminisce about the story of a sheltered uptown Cocker Spaniel dog and a streetwise downtown Mutt.
- Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey
Left behind when their family goes on vacation, three pets (Chance, a young dog Bulldog; Shadow, an aging Golden Retriever; and Sassy, a snobby cat) are left behind when their family goes on vacation, and unsure of what happened, they set out to find their owners. Their adventure takes them across America and eventually they are united with their family.
- Iron Will
If you’re looking for a holiday movie with a wintery terrain and a triumphant message, Iron Will is the film for you. The plot: Will Stoneman’s father has died, and he is left to care for his mother and their land. They need money to maintain their property, so Will decides to join a cross country dogsled race which requires intensive stamina through harsh weather and conditions. His courage and the help of his dogs carries him through.
- White Fang
Starring a young Ethan Hawke, this 1991 movie is based on Jack London’s classic adventure story about the friendship developed between a Yukon gold hunter and the mixed dog-wolf.
- Lassie Come Home
If you want to go way, way back, check out the classic 1943 film Lassie Come Home, and get the tissues. The plot involves a destitute family forced to sell their collie Lassie to make ends meet. The dog, however, is unwilling to forget the family he loves so much, in particular son Joe, and sets out on epic journey to return home. It’s doesn’t get much more nostalgic than this! Fun fact: Many have forgotten that the film stars a young Elizabeth Taylor in one of her first movie roles.
- Old Yeller
Fast forward a decade to another classic film, Old Yeller. Released in 1957, the story revolves around young Travis Coates who is left to take care of his family ranch with his mother and younger brother while his father if off on a cattle drive. When an uninvited yellow dog arrives at the farm, the family reluctantly takes him in. Named Old Yeller, the dog has many scrapes involving snakes, bears and other animals, and slowly Travis grows to love and respect the dog. Ultimately, Old Yeller has a profound effect on his life.
- Air Bud
Last but not least is Air Bud, the story of a Golden Retriever that joins the school basketball team. The film spurred more than 10 other films, including the Air Buddies franchise. If you really want to get in the holiday spirit, watch Santa Buddies.