A Dog’s Journey, the sequel to the heart-warming film A Dog’s Purpose, is released in the UK on Friday (May 3). Unsurprisingly, it looks from the trailer like it’s going to be pretty similar to the first film. Watching it will undoubtedly be a popular choice for people looking for something to do over the bank holiday weekend and beyond.
Although A Dog’s Purpose was generally a bit of a flop with critics, and was also affected by allegations of animal abuse which were later found to have been falsified, dog lovers around the world enjoyed having their heart-strings pulled. In our household, it has leapt to top spot in our list of favourite dog movies.
The rest of the list, however, was more hotly debated. Here’s my personal top 10, followed by some extra titles that I know are popular but I couldn’t include because I haven’t seen them – yet. All the films are rated PG or below so grab the family, watch the ones you haven’t seen, and think about how you would rank them.
Everyone knows who Lassie is, even if they have never seen any of the numerous Lassie films or the TV series that have been made over the decades. Lassie is the clever and loyal Rough Collie that has been delighting audiences since the 1940s. Lassie Come Home was the first feature film, in 1943, about a dog and a boy in Yorkshire whose love for one another allowed them to find each other against all obstacles. A long-running TV series launched in 1954. Lassie played a part in my childhood desire for a four-legged friend of my own and I’m pretty sure many other people would say the same.
9. Lady and the Tramp
Famed for one of cinema’s most iconic scenes, the spaghetti kiss scene, this 1955 Disney film (certified G, for general audiences) will always be regarded as a classic. It tells the love story of a Cocker Spaniel called Lady and a stray mixed-breed dog called the Tramp. A live action adaptation is scheduled for release towards the end of this year.
8. 101 Dalmatians
Disney’s 17th animated feature film, released in 1961 (with a G certificate), encouraged me to read the book it was based upon, by Dodie Smith, when I was a child. The film tells the story of a litter of Dalmatian puppies who are kidnapped by Cruella de Vil, who wants to make fur coats out of them. Their parents set out to save them and also rescue additional puppies that were bought in pet shops. It was remade into a live action film in 1996.
7. The Secret Life of Pets
The sixth-highest-grossing film of 2016, and the year’s most profitable release, The Secret Life of Pets is another film with a sequel due out this summer. It’s an animated film (rated PG) about a Jack Russell called Max who hangs out with other pets while his owner is out at work. His quiet life is turned upside down when his owner takes in Duke, a stray Newfoundland mix whom Max instantly dislikes.
This 2008 computer animated film (PG) was nominated for an Oscar and was credited with playing an important role in what is widely referred to as the Disney Revival. It’s about a dog named Bolt who, having spent all his life on the set of a TV series, thinks he has superpowers. When he believes that his human, Penny, has been kidnapped, he sets out on a journey to rescue her. It’s entertaining viewing for all ages.
5. The Incredible Journey
This 1963 film (certified G) is about an aging bull terrier, a Labrador retriever and a Siamese cat who go on an epic adventure through the Canadian wilderness to find their way home after being taken to stay with a family friend for the summer. It was another childhood favourite, particularly as at that time I was just as keen on cats as dogs. A remake, Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, was released in 1993, only this time the journey was set between California and San Francisco.
This film was made in 1992 and was one of my favourites as a child. I was younger than the oldest child in the movie when I last saw it, but I have fond memories of it. It’s similar to the film at number three in that it’s about a slobbery and destructive dog, on this occasion a St Bernard, who wins over his initially-reluctant new owner while the baddies get their comeuppance. Unbelievably, this movie was followed by a further seven featuring Beethoven.
3. Turner & Hooch
Tom Hanks is his usual brilliant self in this classic 1989 comedy (rated PG) about a detective who adopts the dog of a dead man to help him find the murderer. Turner is a neat freak and Hooch is an ugly, slobbery, destructive Dogue de Bordeaux (French mastiff) and the development of their relationship is heart-warming stuff.
2. Marley & Me
This 2008 comedy-drama, also rated PG, owes much of its success to its big stars Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston. I particularly enjoyed it because it’s about a newspaper columnist whose mischievous Labrador puppy provides endless inspiration for his writing. Others enjoy it because it shows how a puppy can bring a family together. But I have watched this movie two or three times and the ending still brings a tear to the eye.
1. A Dog’s Purpose
This film, released in 2017, has a PG rating but is a real tear-jerker – as you would expect of a story about a devoted dog that dies and is reincarnated multiple times over the course of several decades. Sometimes it’s a good life and sometimes it’s not, either way it’s emotional viewing that’s guaranteed to make loving dog owners hug their pets a little bit tighter afterwards.
So there’s my list, but it will undoubtedly need a reshuffle when I get round to watching other dog movies such as K-9, Benji, Old Yeller, All Dogs Go To Heaven, Iron Will, Eight Below, My Dog Skip and Hachi: A Dog’s Tale. Have I missed any out? Get in touch and let me know your favourite dog movie.