Movies have the power to make us squeal with delight, cheer in victory, laugh hysterically, and sob uncontrollably. For dog lovers, movies that feature pups in peril, saving the day, or crossing the rainbow bridge are enough to bring us to our metaphorical knees. We’ve wrapped up a list of dog movies that are sure to pull at your dog lovin’ heart strings. Grab your box of tissues and snuggle up close. This is going to be sad-but great.
#1 – Where the Red Fern Grows
This original film adaptation, and the classic children’s book it was based on, have been making people bawl since 1961. Billy is a country boy living in the Ozarks who has dreamed of owning two hound dogs his entire life. He finally gets his wish when he brings home Old Dan and Little Ann, two adorable and talented Redbone Coonhound pups.
Old Dan is not as bright as Little Ann, but he makes up for it with his grit and brawn. Soon the team proves themselves to be the best hunters in the area, bringing home plenty of coonskins to help support the financially struggling family. If it’s been a while, you may not remember exactly how it happens but you know how the story ends. This one will have you choking back tears retelling it the morning after.
#2 – Marley and Me
John and Jenny were freshly married and beginning a new chapter in their lives after a relocation to sunny Florida from snowy Michigan. Jenny starts feeling the itch to start a family but John isn’t quite ready yet. Thinking a puppy may pacify his bride for a while, he brings her to pick out a squirmy, squishy yellow lab.
They name him Marley and he definitely brings love to their lives but he is rambunctious, destructive, and not into following orders. As their family grows, Marley proves just how close the bond between human and dog can be in this heartwarming and funny tale about life with your first best friend.
The New York Times bestselling memoir that inspired this film was written by John Grogan and delivers as many laughs and tears as the movie adaptation.
#3 – A Dog’s Purpose
Whether you believe in it or not, Bailey’s death and rebirth as many different dogs with the same sweet soul over the course of several lifetimes will have you hoping reincarnation is real. Right away we witness a rough little stray being put down tragically early in life but are relieved when he awakens again in a brand new body. With Bailey narrating, it’s clear that he remembers everything from his previous life and he begins to question what this journey is all about.
This time around he is welcomed into a loving home with an 8 year old boy named Ethan who spends a long and happy time with Bailey well into his college years. We get to see several iterations of Bailey but he is eventually brought back into Ethan’s life, just when Ethan needs him most. Opportunities for happy and sad tears abound in this touching story.
#4 – Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey
This is the story of two dogs and a cat who are taken to stay with a friend while their family goes on vacation. Confused and heartbroken, thinking they’ve been deserted for good, they set out to make the long journey back home through the sometimes treacherous California wilderness. Faced with a mountain lion, a grizzly, hunger, raging rivers, and more, the trio find their way home against all odds. Although sometimes a close call, we are spared of any lost lives but when they reunite with their people after the journey, you’ll be snivelling into your shirt sleeve.
#5 – Turner and Hooch
Turner is a bored cop working the beat in a small town that never has any real criminal action. Just before transferring to a bigger, and more crime ridden, city Turner’s friend Amos is murdered. Turner finds himself with a huge, personal case to solve and the reluctant inheritor of a massive, slobbery pooch named Hooch. The pair have a hard time working out their relationship at first, but puppy love prevails, despite Hooch’s insatiable appetite for car upholstery and thunderous snoring problem. What gets this buddy cop film on our list is an ending that leaves star Tom Hanks sobbing and will likely have the same effect on you.
#6 – Hachi: A Dog’s Tale
If you’ve ever doubted that dogs are devoted to their humans (we know, you haven’t) this movie based on a true story will snap you back to reality real quick with a bucket of tears for good measure. Based on the true story of a Japanese professor and his Akita, Hachiko, the movie retells this tale of love and loyalty. Hachiko would go to greet Professor Ueno every day as he departed the train at Shibuya Station in central Tokyo. One day, Ueno suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and lost his life. Hachiko waited at the station but his favorite person never came back.
Hachiko returned to the station each day, showing up at just the time the usual train arrived to faithfully wait for his human. This went on for nearly a decade. Reading those words are enough to choke up any dog devotee. Hachi has been the subject of numerous films, has a statue in his likeness erected outside the station, and his preserved body is permanently on display at the National Science Museum in Tokyo.
#7 – Old Yeller