Whether they be animated, talking, anthropomorphized or just regular pooches cinema loves dogs. And while movies like Strays don’t show our fluffy friends best side there are some great films out there where dogs play important roles. So today I’m going to recommend 6 fantastic films that have a dog as a lead character (in whatever form). Grab your leads and let’s begin.
The Wizard of Oz
Toto is film’s most famous dog for a reason. His relationship with Dorothy is central to The Wizard of Oz’s narrative. It’s because of Toto getting in trouble that Dorothy runs away from home ultimately leading to her trip to Oz. Throughout the film, Toto acts as Dorothy’s tether to the real world and he embodies the story’s themes of courage, love, and brains through his actions and symbolises home for Dorothy. Toto is still the high watermark of cinematic canine characters because of how much personality he has and how he brings out the best in his human partner.
Here comes the list’s first tear-jerker. This classic neo-realist film follows Umberto Domenico Ferrari, an older man who is having trouble paying his rent on a meagre pension. Umberto’s one constant companion is his dog Flike who both love each other unconditionally. Umberto does everything to find Flike when he goes missing and Flike provides meaning to Umberto when he becomes homeless. Umberto D. is a beautiful plea to hold onto what is precious to you and to know that love can always be found somewhere.
The Plague Dogs
Watership Down’s spiritual successor focuses on Rowf and Snitter, two dogs who escape from an animal testing facility. With them having nowhere to go and humanity beginning to hunt them down for fear they are carrying the plague they soon find themselves reverting back to their wild state of being. Plague Dogs is a hard watch but its exploration of humanity’s cruelty to animals through the perspective of its supposed best friend makes the message extra poignant.
A beloved nostalgic treat for many, Scooby-Doo translates the Mystery Inc. crew into live-action form with hilarious results. The crowning achievement is Scooby’s on-screen realisation, who, poorly aged CG aside, manages to have a real presence thanks to some good direction, Neil Fanning’s great voice work and committed performances from the main cast particularly Matthew Lillard as Shaggy. This definitely shows the funner side of our dog friends.
Hachi: A Dog’s Tale
Another tear-jerker. Hachi is based on the real-life story of Hachiko, an Akita who would wait at the train station every day for his master to return from work (If you don’t know anything more about the story then please watch the film before reading anything else). This emotional story really shows how loyal dogs can be to their owners and drives home the importance of memories. Be sure to bring the tissues.
This unique documentary follows stray dog Zeytin as she and her companions journey around Istanbul where it is illegal to euthanise stray dogs. Stray is an interesting commentary on the nature of dogs free from human constraints. But it also yet again provides a great amount of commentary on humanity. As we see Zeytin is treated with much more compassion than many humans living on the streets. A definite call for us to show as much kindness to our fellow people as our animals.
So ends our recommendation round of good dog movies. We hope you enjoy these suggestions. Don’t worry cat lovers, your time will come.