At Hounds Lounge, we’re experts on all things dogs, including the best dog movies! However, we know that not every dog movie is created equal. Some can make you laugh, while others can make you cry, smile, feel nostalgic, feel inspired and more. Since there are so many options, we wrote this blog to help you find the best dog movies for every mood!

We’ll kick things off with the characteristics that make a grreat dog movie, then we’ll go through our list of the best dog movies for every mood, featuring a spoiler-free plot synopsis for each film. Finally, we’ll wrap up with what dog movies can teach us.

Hounds Lounge is your trusted partner for doggy daycare, overnight stays and grooming, so you know you can trust us to provide the best dog movie recommendations pawsible! Grab the pupcorn (a dog-friendly table food when it’s plain and eaten in moderation!) and let’s tune into the best dog movies for every mood! 

What Makes a Grreat Dog Movie?

Dog movies have been entertaining audiences since the early days of cinema. Rescued by Rover – a 1905 silent short film – is regarded as the first film to star a pooch, and the rest is history. New dog movies are released every year, and the best dog movies of all time have similar characteristics, listed below.

Emotional Connection

The best movies about dogs create an emotional connection between viewers and canine characters. Strong feelings evoked by a movie can help strengthen the bond you have with your own pooch – especially when you watch the movie together! Many dogs actually seem to enjoy viewing movies and TV shows.

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Relatable Themes

A good dog movie needs to be relatable, whether it’s in a happy or sad way. Viewers enjoy seeing aspects of their own lives and traits of their own pets in films! Common themes of the best dog movies include loyalty, friendship, courage and the human-animal bond. These themes can even help teach viewers lessons about pet ownership.

Engaging Plot

Like all dogs, all dog movies are different! The one thing the best dog movies have in common is an engaging plot – no matter the film’s content, it needs to keep viewers invested. A mix of adventure, humor, drama and heartwarming moments is a recipe for a dog movie masterpiece!

Memorable Dog Characters

Lassie. Beethoven. Old Yeller. These are just a few of the characters from dog movies who have become pop culture icons, beloved by movie-watchers of all ages. They are proof that unique traits, personalities, and stories go a long way – even more so when a true story is involved, like in Balto’s case. Some pooch parents are so impacted by iconic dog characters, they choose to name their pups after them.

Now that you know what makes a grreat dog movie, let’s find the best dog movies for your current mood!

Impawtant Note: All of the movies listed below are family-friendly. However, the films below marked with a halo icon (😇) contain a character’s death and may not be suitable for younger viewers.

The Best Dog Movies for Your Current Mood

Dog Movies to Make You Laugh

Beethoven (1992)

In this fun, lighthearted flick, a mischievous St. Bernard named Beethoven is adopted by the Newton family. Initially met with resistance from the father, Beethoven quickly wins the hearts of the rest of the family despite causing chaos with his enormous size and playful antics. The plot thickens when the Newtons must rescue their beloved pooch from a scary situation.

Turner & Hooch (1989)

In this buddy-cop comedy, a detective’s life is turned upside down when he inherits a large and unruly canine partner, who just might be the key to a murder case. As they work together to catch the killer, the pair develops an unexpected bond.

Honorable Mention: Hotel for Dogs (2009)

Dog Movies to Make You Cry

Marley & Me (2008) 😇

A young couple adopt a playful and mischievous Labrador Retriever named Marley to test their readiness for parenthood, with the pup becoming an integral part of their lives. This true story is based on John Grogan’s memoir of the same name – and tears are guaranteed.

Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009) 😇

Based on a true story, this drama follows the deep bond and unwavering loyalty between a college professor and the Akita puppy he rescues. 

Honorable Mention: The Fox and the Hound (1981) 😇

Dog Movies to Make You Smile

Lady and the Tramp (1955)

This Disney classic is one of the best animated dog movies of all time! It follows Lady, a pampered Cocker Spaniel, who falls in love with Tramp, a street-smart mutt. They share adventures, including their famous spaghetti dinner, and overcome challenges to find love and acceptance in each other’s worlds. 

The Secret Life of Pets (2016)

This dog movie explores a topic every dog pawrent ponders: what pets get up to when their owners are away! The story revolves around Max, a pampered terrier, whose life is turned upside down when his owner brings home a big, sloppy stray dog named Duke. The two dogs must put aside their differences when they find themselves lost in the city and hunted by animal control. 

Honorable Mention: Because of Winn-Dixie (2005)

Dog Movies to Make You Feel Nostalgic

Old Yeller (1957) 😇

This classic – and even infamous – film centers around a young boy who forms a deep bond with a stray dog in post-Civil War Texas. Together, they face various challenges, including bear attacks and conflicts with neighboring ranchers. Fair warning: This film’s been breaking hearts for decades.

Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993)

If your heart is broken by the ‘50s classic Old Yeller, it can be warmed by the ‘90s classic, Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey. This movie follows the journey of two dogs and a cat as they embark on a perilous trek across the wilderness to reunite with their owners. 

Honorable Mention: Air Bud (1997)

Dog Movies to Inspire You

Balto (1995)

Based on a true story, this animated pooch production follows a sled dog’s heroic journey to deliver medicine to Nome, Alaska during a diphtheria epidemic.

Eight Below (2006) 😇

Eight Below is one of the best dog movies for kids, because it’s inspiring, adventurous and, as a true story, it’s even educational! It follows a team of sled dogs left behind in Antarctica by their human companions due to an emergency evacuation. Be prepared for jump scares in this one!

Honorable Mention: The Call of the Wild (2020) 😇

Dog Movies to Watch Anytime

101 Dalmatians (1961)

No matter your mood, 101 Dalmatians is always a hit! One of the best dog movies of all time, this Disney classic follows a daring Dalmatian escape mission from the iconic villain, Cruella de Vil.

Lassie (2005)

Does it get more classic than a Lassie story? This newer Lassie adaptation follows the loyal collie as she embarks on a perilous journey across the Scottish Highlands to reunite with her family after being sold to a wealthy duke.

Honorable Mention: Bolt (2008)

What the Best Dog Movies Can Teach Us

Hounds Lounge is all about educating dog owners, and watching dog movies can be a good way to learn. The best dog movies often provide heartwarming, insightful and sometimes humorous lessons about dogs and their relationships with humans. We’ve listed out some of these lessons below!

Loyalty and Unconditional Love

At Hounds Lounge, we know that hoomans don’t deserve dogs! Many dog movies highlight the unwavering loyalty and unconditional love dogs have for their owners. Tearjerkers like Hachi: A Dog’s Tale and Marley & Me show how dogs remain devoted companions through thick and thin, proving that pooches truly are man’s best friend.


Other movies – like Beethoven and Old Yeller – illustrate the responsibility that comes with owning a dog, including the commitment required in terms of time, effort and care. It’s extremely important to us that any potential pet pawrent knows what it takes to own a dog and give them the best life pawsible.

Communication and Understanding

Lady and the Tramp and 101 Dalmatians are two of the best dog films that show the importance of understanding and communicating with dogs. These movies emphasize that while dogs cannot speak, they express their needs and feelings through their behavior. At Hounds Lounge, we’re experts in dog body language and know how impawtant it is to pay attention to dogs’ mannerisms and actions.

Adventure and Socialization

Some of the best movies about dogs demonstrate that woofs seek adventure and experiences with their owners and other animals. The Secret Life of Pets is a grreat example. Off the screen, Hounds Lounge doggy daycare provides a place for dogs to make new furriends, and we also promote dog-friendly activities that allow dogs – and their pawrents – to get outside their comfort zones.

Courage and Protection

While it’s easy to forget in day-to-day life, dogs can be brave and protective animals, as depicted in movies like White Fang and The Call of the Wild. At Hounds Lounge, we’re thankful for the protection that many dog breeds provide – take our quiz for first-time dog owners to find out if a guard dog is right for you.

Acceptance and Inclusion

Hounds Lounge welcomes all types of dogs, from purebreds to rescues. Hotel for Dogs and Isle of Dogs are two movies that promote the importance of inclusion and kindness toward all animals, no matter their background. Every dog deserves love!

The lessons taught in dog movies can help current and potential dog owners understand the profound impact pooches can have on their lives, giving them a deeper appreciation for these loyal and loving creatures.

Ready to Press Play on One of the Best Dog Movies?

We hope you’ve found the pawfect dog movie for your current mood, as well as learned what makes a grreat dog movie and what dog movies can teach us. We hope that watching one of the best dog movies will only strengthen your bond with your own pooch!

As you can tell, we love dogs and want the best for every woof! If you have any questions about Hounds Lounge or dog ownership in general, do not hesitate to reach out. Contact us today!

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