What’s one thing that can improve even the most captivating, Oscar-worthy film? A dog, of course! Every movie gets better when a pup appears on screen. That’s why we’ve rounded up the 50 best movie dogs in history, from classic film hounds to modern-day movie mutts. These canine characters span both live-action and animated films from Hollywood and all across the globe.
OK, but just how did we choose between all of these impressive pups? We’ve ranked them according to cuteness, acting chops, significance to their film and the mark they’ve made on Hollywood history—but they’re all very good dogs who deserve the spotlight. Find out where your favorite film dog ranks on our list below!
Note: The descriptions below contain plot spoilers for the films in which these dogs appear.
50 Hooch from “Turner & Hooch” (1989)
Who needs a human partner when you can have a dog instead? Tom Hanks’ Turner is dragged through a string of wacky circumstances by the Dogue de Bordeaux Hooch after he’s adopted in order to help solve a crime. Hooch is such a rambunctious pooch, bringing not just chaos but some actual spice and excitement into Turner’s perfectionist life. By the end of the film, he’s convinced Turner (and the rest of us) that dogs are more than worth a little—or a lot—of mess.
49 The Dog from “The Artist” (2011)
His character didn’t get a name in the “The Artist,” which won the Best Picture Oscar in 2012, but Uggie the Jack Russell Terrier was a silent film star in his own right. In this contemporary silent film, Uggie stole every scene in which “The Dog” appears, from staying by the side of the actor who cares for him even after he falls into bankruptcy to helping rescue the actor from a fire. He’s definitely among the best movie dogs in history, but don’t take our word for it—you can also ask the judges of the Cannes Film Festival, who awarded Uggie the much-coveted Palm Dog award.
48 Skip from “My Dog Skip”(2000)
Of all the many Jack Russell Terriers in cinema, Skip is one of the greatest. His relationship with his shy human bestie Willie (Frankie Muniz) is as wholesome as it gets. We really can’t overstate how many charmingly unlikely things Skip does throughout “My Dog Skip,” from eating popcorn at the movies to driving an actual car! But more importantly, he helps Willie make friends and is friendly to everyone, no matter what heavy situations they’re going through. What more can you ask of a pup?
47 Daisy from “John Wick” (2014)
If you’ve seen “John Wick,” you know that Daisy deserved better. This Beagle puppy, who was gifted to Wick by his dying wife, plays a short but pivotal role in the film’s early scenes, ultimately leading to her demise. Daisy simply wanted to spend time covering her person with licks and cuddles, but she didn’t die in vain—in fact, you could say that Wick spends the rest of the film, and perhaps even the rest of the sequels, avenging her. Without Daisy, would there even be a “John Wick” film franchise? Luckily, we’ll never know.
46 Miss Agnes from “Best in Show”(2000)
All of the contenders (and their bafflingly goofy owners) in “Best in Show,” a mockumentary about dog shows, deserve a treat and a trophy. But one stands above the rest: Miss Agnes, the Shih Tzu who recreates scenes from various films (like “Gone With the Wind”) with the help of her parents, Scott Donlan and Stefan Vanderhoof (John Michael Higgins and Michael McKean). She’s photogenic. She’s flawlessly groomed. She’s exceptionally well-behaved. And, on this list of best dogs in films, she’s the only one who actually pays homage to film history. Brava, Miss Agnes.
45 Bruno from “The Triplets of Belleville”(2003)
In Sylvain Chomet’s ceaselessly imaginative animated film “The Triplets of Belleville,” Bruno embarks on a series of adventures with his pet parent, Madame Souza, teaming up with a song-and-dance trio to rescue Souza’s grandson from a kidnapping. Throughout the film, Bruno’s comically droopy ears and steadfast presence is both a balm for its saddest moments and a means of delivering laughs through something as simple as a fart. Uniquely drawn and full of personality, Bruno isn’t the most famous dog, but he’ll stay in your heart long after the credits have rolled.
44 Arthur from “Beginners” (2010)
Mike Mills’ film is about a man navigating his strained relationship with his father, who has come out of the closet at 75—but its actors are frequently upstaged by the perky pup Arthur, whose thoughts are often shown on screen via subtitles in the most precious way. The pairing of his scruffy face and personality-packed inner thoughts serve as bright points throughout this emotional film. If you’re the kind of person who has real conversations with your dog, you’re sure to relate.
43 Olivia from “Widows” (2018)
This West Highland White Terrier steals every scene she’s in. Though Olivia isn’t the star of “Widows,” a film about a collective of women who get together to take back their lives when their husbands’ criminal activities leave them in debt, this pup’s chemistry with Veronica (played by Viola Davis) is irresistible. She’s the companion that Veronica’s husband never was, the kind of dog you’d ride or die for—and who you, like Veronica, would be grateful to have even when everything is falling apart. If you’ve ever relied on the companionship of a dog during a dark moment, we know Olivia will steal your heart too.
42 Puffy from “There’s Something About Mary” (1998)
Puffy is, hands down, one of the most memorable bit characters in director Peter Ferelly’s film catalog. The Border Terrier (“just like Benji!” as Mary inaccurately claims in the movie) is flat out hilarious in his couple of scenes, each of which involve him attacking Mary’s romantic interests. Sure, he may not be the nicest dog on this list, but you can’t say he isn’t loyal and ready to protect his people.
41 Hachikō from “Hachikō Monogatari” (1987) and “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” (2009)
The true story of Hachikō (Hachi, for short) follows the Akita dog who lived in Japan in the 1920s, from his birth on a farm in 1923 to being adopted by an agricultural professor and forging a strong bond. After the professor suddenly dies while giving a lecture to his class, Hachi follows his funeral procession to Tokyo’s Shibuya railway station. And that’s where the dog waited every day for the professor to return—for nine whole years, until Hachi’s own death in 1935. Hachi’s story is such a heartwarming yet heart-wrenching tale of dog loyalty that he was honored with a bronze statue at Shibuya Station after his death. We think the film version deserves his own accolades on our list, too.
40 The Norwegian Dog from “The Thing” (1982)
OK, so this dog isn’t cute, or loyal or especially friendly. If you’re a fan of horror and sci-fi, however, the Norwegian dog is definitely badass. The Alaskan Malamute who wanders into the lives of a team of researchers in the middle of Antarctica isn’t just your regular dog—it’s a dog who has assimilated with an alien being. The more this pup ingests and transforms, the more it mutates into a freaky dog-alien monster. It’s gross, but it rocks—and without it, we wouldn’t have this 1980s horror classic.
39 Milo from “The Mask” (1994)
The very greatest dogs stay by your side even after seeing your worst self unfold—and that’s precisely what Milo, who belongs to film protagonist Stanley Ipkiss (Jim Carrey), does when he’s faced with his human transforming into an utterly wacky version of himself after popping on the mask of Loki. Even better: Milo himself ends up wearing the mask, transforming into a green alter-ego himself. If that’s not loyalty, we don’t know what is.
38 Bolt from “Bolt” (2008)
You’d never expect John Travolta to be one of the top dogs in cinematic history, but his voice brings to life this modern-day classic character. The animated Bolt is an actor on a TV show but, being a dog, he does not understand the difference between the fictional series and reality. When he believes his co-star and human best friend Penny is in danger, he escapes from his trailer to save her. Bolt’s dedication to Penny is unwavering—a perfect example of our dogs at their best.
37 Verdell from “As Good as It Gets” (1997)
When Verdell’s parent, a gay artist living in New York City, suffers a serious injury, he asks his neighbor, the misanthropic Melvin Udall, to care for his dog. That’s how Verdell, a goofy little Brussels Griffon, kicks off a series of events that will forever change Melvin’s life. Though he doesn’t care much for humans, Melvin comes to love this little dog—and with his floppy little ears and big, innocent eyes, who wouldn’t?—which helps his regular waitress Carol see him in a new light (and kicks off their untraditional love story). Can dogs make us better people? In the case of Verdell: Absolutely.
36 Frank the Pug from “Men in Black” (1997)
OK, so Frank the Pug isn’t actually a dog; he’s an alien disguised as one. He’s also a top-notch spy and informant, providing the Men in Black with information at the flip of a coin. Still, he does have plenty of Pug-like tendencies: He’s silly and delightful through and through, pairing his small stature with a powerful punch of personality. That’s enough to qualify him for number 36 on our list.
35 Flike from “Umberto D.” (1952)
Flike the dog isn’t a central character in Vittorio De Sica’s tale of a poor elderly man, but the Italian film’s emotional weight does hinge on its final moments between Umberto and his pup. Flike isn’t just the kind of dog who brings love and joy into his person’s world when they need it most—he actually inspires Umberto to go on living in an especially dark moment, proving that our beloved dogs really do make life worthwhile.
34 Cujo from “Cujo” (1983)
Every great horror film has a great monster—a truly terrifying beast who hunts the rest of the characters to thrilling effect. In Stephen King’s “Cujo,” that monster is a formerly friendly St. Bernard who is transformed by a rabid bat. This isn’t just a horrifying story, with Cujo deteriorating and attacking everyone around him—it’s also a horror classic. Even if you haven’t seen the film, you probably know Cujo isn’t exactly man’s best friend. Plus, it’s a heartbreaking reminder that, while Cujo is a fictional dog, rabies poses a very real threat to our pups. Who knew a horror movie could double as a reminder to check your dog’s vaccinations?
33 Shiloh from “Shiloh” (1996)
You can’t look into Shiloh’s big, brown eyes without your whole heart melting. This Beagle begins his life in an abusive home, but nothing can break his friendly, optimistic spirit, especially after he’s rescued by a boy named Marty. Marty’s fight to keep Shiloh is a tale of abuse and redemption, of the strength of the bond that exists between dogs and their people—earning him a well-deserved place on our list.
32 Benji from “Benji” (1974)
No list of best cinematic dogs would be complete without the mixed breed known as Benji. In the 1974 film, this stray dog makes friendly daily visits to everyone in town, but he likes two children named Cindy and Paul most of all. He’s smart enough to evade notice by Cindy and Paul’s father, who doesn’t like dogs, and he’s brave and loyal, trying to rescue the children after they’re kidnapped. Through it all, Benji wins all our hearts. When he succeeds in rescuing Cindy and Paul, we aren’t only relieved that the kids are home safe and sound, but also that Benji has finally found a family to belong to.
31 Beethoven from “Beethoven” (1992)
If you were a child in the 1990s, chances are that Beethoven (the dog, not the composer) already has your heart. From the moment this Saint Bernard begins barking along to Ludwig van Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony at the beginning of “Beethoven,” he’s almost supernaturally charming, working his way into the heart of the workaholic and perpetually frustrated George. He’s smart, protective of his family, and with those big brown eyes? It’s no surprise he inspired a series of sequels—you just can’t get enough of this faithful furball.
30 Sam from “I Am Legend” (2007)
In the midst of a zombie apocalypse, Samantha the German Shepherd (aka Sam) is the only friend “I Am Legend” protagonist Robert Neville, played by Will Smith, has left. She’s not just a loyal pup who helps Neville with hunting and protection; she’s his only chance for real connection (aside from the mannequins and film recordings he also has one-sided conversations with). Sam’s untimely demise is utterly heartbreaking, but to great effect: She’s precisely the reason why this story is so memorable, and for that, we salute her.
29 Marley from “Marley & Me” (2008)
Alongside Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston, Marley is the Labrador Retriever who stole the hearts of everyone in America in this late 2000s box office hit. He may have been billed as “the world’s worst dog,” with on-screen antics like getting kicked out of obedience school and chewing up everything in the house, but his parents love him through it all—and in return, Marley loves them back through their struggles with fertility, new parenthood and mental health issues. Like all dogs, Marley is part of the family, so have your tissues ready for the end of this tearjerker.
28 Shadow from “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey” (1993)
Shadow, the wise Golden Retriever, is the heart and soul of this motion picture that throws him, Chance (an American Bulldog), and Sassy (a Himalayan cat) into an epic adventure across America to get back home. Shadow is a survivor through and through, unfailingly loyal to his friends, and it’s his belief and spirit that keeps them all going, no matter what they face.
27 Napoleon and Lafayette from “Aristocats” (1970)
Sure, the stray dog duo of Bloodhound Napoleon and Bassett Hound Lafayette are minor characters in this movie all about cats. But their presence in the film is unforgettable—especially when they’re attacking the film’s evil butler and driving him off road and into a river. They’re not exactly heroic—they chase the butler just because they love to chase, not to save the cats he’s stolen—but without them, the Disney classic “Aristocats” would be a much shorter and far more tragic story.
26 Sparky from “Frankenweenie” (1984 & 2012)
Both versions of Tim Burton’s “Frankenweenie”—the 1984 short film and the 2012 feature—include the greatest zombie dog in cinematic history: Sparky. The charming little Bull Terrier, who is dug up and revived by his loving pet parent in the style of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” (but for kids!), doesn’t let death extinguish his happiness and boundless energy. He’s enough of a charmer to even have his own Bride, complete with the iconic hairdo from the 1930’s original “Bride of Frankenstein.” Sparky makes it fun to root for the zombies in a film for once—and no other undead creature in Hollywood is this full of life.
25 Rin Tin Tin from “Where the North Begins” (1923)
Rin Tin Tin stole the hearts of many a home viewer as a staple of 1950s television, but his original incarnation on film is just as significant in film history. The silent film star helped bring Warner Bros back from financial ruin by starring in “Where the North Begins” and many other films that drew large audiences to theaters nationwide. It might sound like a strange thing to say about a dog, but Rin Tin Tin had a unique and inimitable persona as an actor—you just have to see him on screen to understand. “Where the North Begins” is a great place to start, a tale of a German Shepherd puppy who’s adopted by a wolf pack and ends up befriending a fur trapper.
24 Brandy from “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” (2019)
Brandy is the iconic American Pit Bull Terrier who gets to cover Cliff Booth (aka Brad Pitt) in smooches in Quentin Tarantino’s 2019 film. She gets a truly show stopping moment during one of the film’s climactic scenes, when she attacks one of Charles Manson’s lackeys to save Sharon Tate. Name another dog who has successfully rewritten history with their bravery. We’ll wait.
23 Slinky Dog from “Toy Story” (1995)
What other dog has a theme park ride based on them? With his stretchy, springy body, Slinky Dog is one of the “Toy Story” franchise’s most memorable characters. The toy Dachshund is as charming as can be and loyal, too, both to his human Andy and his best friend Woody. In fact, his loyalty helps keep the toys and their buddy together in a climactic van chase where Slinky’s springy body makes all the difference. Clearly, it’s no stretch to include him on our list. (See what we did there?)
22 Max from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (1966)
Poor Max, stuck living in a cave with the angry, holiday-hating Grinch. He never gets the respect he deserves from his grumpy green pet parent, and is even forced into plans to ruin Christmas for a whole town, despite clearly knowing better. But Max shows us that for dogs, loyalty to your person comes first, even when your person is a borderline sociopathic misanthrope—and Max sure looks cute in a pair of antlers to boot. When the Grinch finally comes to his senses at the end of the film, it isn’t just a relief for the citizens of Whoville—it’s a relief to all of us dog lovers, knowing that Max’s quality of life just went up 1,000 percent.
21 Balto from “Balto” (1995)
Balto was a real-life Siberian Husky who led a team of sled dogs to deliver a life-saving serum to combat an outbreak of diphtheria, so of course the animated character based on him is one of the greatest dogs ever. Loyal, brave, adventurous—this dog is the whole package, and it’s impossible not to fall in love with his cartoon version (as voiced by Kevin Bacon) while watching his thrilling journey unfold on screen.
20Copper from “The Fox and the Hound” (1981)
Both Tod the fox and Copper the hound are perfect (and perfectly adorable) creatures who become the best of friends—but this is a list of dogs, so Copper gets top billing here. It’s impossible not to fall in love with a dog as cute as Copper in his puppy phase, innocently playing and making friends with a little fox. And just when you thought you couldn’t love him more, he grows up and saves the life of his fox friend. If you haven’t seen this animated classic, prepare to have your heart torn apart and put back together as Copper navigates his friendship with Tod in a world that wants to pit them against each other.
19 Lucy from "Wendy and Lucy" (2008)
In this film about Wendy, an unhoused woman trying to care for her canine companion and get by in an uncaring world, Lucy the dog is the heart and soul of the story. Through crisis after crisis, from searching for a job, car breakdowns, and even being caught shoplifting in a low moment, the loyal Lucy remains the kind of dog—no, the kind of best friend—who inspires Wendy (and the rest of us) to keep moving forward.
18 Old Yeller from “Old Yeller” (1957)
Even if you’ve never seen this film, which was once billed as Walt Disney’s “Most Dramatic Motion Picture,” you’ve probably heard of Old Yeller. Based on the novel by Fred Gipson, the movie is a quintessential “boy-and-his-dog” story, following the relationship between a boy named Travis and the Black Mouth Cur he adopts and names Old Yeller (both as a play on his yellow fur and because, boy oh boy, that dog can yell). Old Yeller’s warm personality and loyal devotion to Travis have sparked a love for dogs in generations of movie fans—and thanks to the film’s tragic ending, it’s still frequently referenced among the saddest dog movies of all time.
17 Baxter from “Anchorman” (2004)
Baxter is the beloved little pup of “Anchorman” main character Ron Burgundy, who bonds with his canine companion through deeply personal conversations that Baxter, smart little fella that he is, truly seems to understand. And while Baxter’s so-awful-it’s-funny mishandling at the hands of a biker led to one of Burgundy’s most memorable lines—“I’m in a glass case of emotion!”—this pup still manages to save the day at the end of the film.
16 Nana from “Peter Pan” (1953)
As Wendy and her brothers’ canine nanny, Nana is helpful to a fault and able to guilt any human with her exhausted but determined eyes. True to her breed, a Saint Bernard, Nana is a dedicated servant, and a fine one at that (despite the complaining of the children’s father George Darling). She’s able to care for the Darling children and nurse them herself, literally organizing their toys and serving them medicine. She couldn’t prevent her charges from flying off to Neverland with Peter Pan, but she sure loved those kids, just like we love her.
15 Zero from “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)
Many of the greatest dogs in cinematic history are animated, but only one of them also happens to be a ghost. Zero is gorgeously drawn, with a cute-yet-ghastly sheet body that floats throughout Halloweentown. But his true talent is his ceaseless energy and upbeat spirit (no pun intended) that always seems to keep his pet parent Jack Skellington looking on the bright side. There’s no ghost we’d be happier to see on a dark, spooky night.
14 Wiener-Dog from “Wiener-Dog” (2016)
Todd Solondz’s loose sequel to “Welcome to the Dollhouse” follows Wiener-Dog, an adorable Dachshund, as she wanders across the country, interacting with character after character and changing all of their lives—for the better and worse. This dark comedy has bleak moments, but from veterinary offices to roadside motels to college campuses, Wiener-Dog is always there lifting the mood—proof that pups really do improve just about any situation.
13 Barf from “Spaceballs” (1987)
Alright, so Barf (short for Barfolomew) isn’t 100% a dog. This goofy John Candy character—a parody of “Star Wars”’ Chewbacca—is a “mawg”: half-dog, half-man. But we’re making an exception because, though Mel Brooks’ “Spaceballs” has its fair share of colorful characters, Barf, with his shaggy, nostalgically ‘80s animatronic ears and tail and penchant for jamming out to Bon Jovi, just might be the most delightful.
12 Asta from “The Thin Man” (1934)
Dog actor Skippy made many showstopping appearances in 1930s comedies like “The Awful Truth” and “Bringing Up Baby,” but the character that really steals hearts is that of Asta in “The Thin Man.” Asta’s playful spirit and solid detective skills in that film turned Skippy into an overnight star—so much that his breed, Wire Fox Terrier, suddenly came into high demand. Viewers fell in love with Asta, leading to a full-on career for Skippy, who went on to work with Hollywood legends like Cary Grant and Mae Clark.
11 Rolly from “101 Dalmatians” (1961)
You may have expected canine parents Perdita or Pongo to represent “101 Dalmatians” on this list, but for us, it’s all about Rolly. Named for his “rolly-poly” build, this chubby Dalmatian puppy exists to be carefree and relaxed at any given moment—except for when he’s hungry. He’ll throw himself into any situation to have his large appetite satiated, even risking the wrath of Cruella de Vil for a bite, and his constant requests for food are some of the film’s funniest moments. If you’ve got a constantly hungry pup who’ll eat just about anything and then ask for seconds, Rolly hits you right in the feels.
10 Georgette from “Oliver & Company” (1988)
9 Dug from “Up” (2009)
8 Toto from “The Wizard of Oz” (1939)
7 Bruiser from “Legally Blonde” (2001)
6 Buddy from “Air Bud” (1997)
5 Peg from “Lady and the Tramp” (1955)
4 Lassie from “Lassie Come Home” (1943)
3 Rowlf from “The Muppet Movie” (1979)
2 Gromit from “Wallace & Gromit: The Wrong Trousers” (1993)
1 1. Snoopy from “A Boy Named Charlie Brown” (1969)
Looking for even more movies and shows picked especially for pet parents? Check out our guide to this month’s newest streaming TV and film releases.
Photo credits, from left to right: The Jim Henson Company; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; MGM Studios; Fox 2000 Pictures; Pixar Animation Studios; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; Walt Disney Productions; Walt Disney Pictures; Cat in the Hat Productions MGM Animation.
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