Famous Dogs: 7 Great Movies About Man’s Best Friend

John Moore/Getty Images

Source: John Moore/Getty Images

Today is National Dog Day! To help celebrate, here are a few films canine lovers will appreciate, both the dark and the family friendly.

1. Old Yeller

Old Yeller is one of those old movies that you have to see at least once, if only so you can say you’ve watched him get shot and shared in that iconic cinematic death like the rest of America. Only then can you truly understand the millions of depressing references to this classic film. It doesn’t get much more dismal than a family dog, adopted in the wild west by a young pioneer boy, saving the family time and again only to get rabies and eventually be shot by the very boy he so loves.

Fun for the whole family. As long as the family doesn’t particularly like dogs or smiling. That being said, it’s a classic for a reason; the film’s heartbreak accurately mirrors man’s journey with our short-lived companions who almost always die years before us.

2. Cujo

While Cujo might not seem the obvious choice for man’s best friend, watching it as a follow up to Old Yeller is oddly comforting. It’s basically the story of what would have happened if Old Yeller hadn’t gotten shot but had instead pre-emptively taken out the rage of his impending death and betrayal on humanity.

3. The Plague Dogs

The Plague Dogs was an animated film made in 1982 told from the perspective of two test dogs who made a break for it fro the laboratory they were kept in. The only problem? Those pursuing them believe them to be carrying a strain of the plague and begin to panic. Snitter and Rowf both survive with the help of a fox they meet in the forest. The film is oddly adult in content, in the same way the animated version of the novel Watership Down deals with darker themes, but it’s darker style makes for a very unique and highly creative film.

4. Where the Red Fern Grows

Like Old Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows is a story about the relationship between a boy and his dog, or in this case, two dogs, Dan and Ann, as they go hunting for a famous ghost racoon. The film, like so many about man’s best friend, ends on a sad note, but the boys coming of age story wraps up with the end to an adventure remembered until he’s an old man.

5. All Dogs Go to Heaven

All Dogs Go to Heaven is an older animated film about where dogs go when they die, and follows a con-artist ghost dog in his search for revenge against the person who killed him. He’s aided in his journey by other dogs and a small girl who is able to communicate with him who is in search of a family. Unlike The Plague Dogs, this animated film is what you’d expect from a kids film, and is considerably more cheerful despite the fact that it deals with dead dogs, confidence men, murders, and orphans at the race track.

6. Fox and the Hound

Disney’s Fox and the Hound begins innocently enough with the tale of two young animals, a fox and a hound in the innocence of youth. As the two grow older though, their natures and the role they play in hunting pits one against the other, turning the two old friends into enemies. The film gets rather dark as one hunts the other, forcing him to flee in fear from his old playmate. Ultimately, it ends on a happy note, with the hound allowing the fox to live and escape with his mate.

7. 101 Dalmatians

This is by far one of the best movies about dogs out there, including other well known films like Beethoven, Homeward Bound, Turner & Hooch, Benji, and Air Bud. Not only is the animation superb and timeless, the story allows one to imagine a world in which having over 100 puppies wouldn’t be a complete and utter nightmare of ruined carpets and yapping, in the way only fantasy can. Instead, they’re adorable, adventurous, but unfortunately much in demand for the making of a Dalmatian coat for Cruella De Vil — hands down one of the best villains in animated film.

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