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Best dog movies of all time ranked by popularity

  • Best dog movies of all time ranked by popularity

    If there’s one animal nearest and dearest to the collective heart of mankind, it’s the canine, which has been a staple in cinema for more than a century. In fact, the trend dates all the way back to 1905, when a male Collie named Blair starred in the British short film, “Rescued by Rover.” True to its name, the film follows Rover as he helps in the recovery of a kidnapped baby. Good boy, Rover!

    On the heels of Blair came a female Collie named Jean, widely considered to be the first true canine movie star. A number of famous dogs would emerge in Jean’s wake, including Rin Tin Tin, who was popular enough to have a book written about him decades after he passed away. Of course, it’s the films and franchises themselves that truly endure and continue to enrapture new generations. After all, a movie like “Old Yeller” might seem dated in terms of style, but emotionally speaking, it’s as poignant now as ever.

    All this talk of dogs in film might lead one to wonder: what are the most popular dog movies of all time? Like a well-trained canine, Stacker is here to heed the call. Using voter data from IMDb, Stacker has ranked the top 50 dog movies of all time. Some of the films are exclusively about dogs, while others feature a dog (or dogs) in a prominent role. Only English-language movies released in the USA were considered. Each movie needed at least 5000 votes to make the list, with six exceptions: “Shiloh,” “The Incredible Journey,”“The Call of Wild,” “The Shaggy Dog (1959),” “Benji (1974),” and “Lassie Come Home.” We included these exceptions because of their age, which reduces the number of IMDb votes, and their cultural impact. If two movies had the same rating, then the number of votes was used to break the tie. Without further ado, here are the most popular dog movies of all time.

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  • #55. See Spot Run

    IMDb rating: 5.4

    IMDb votes: 8,043

    Release year: 2001

    Director: John Whitesell

    Can old dogs really learn new tricks? After Agent 11, a crime-fighting bullmastiff who works for the FBI gets on the wrong side of a crime boss, he’s relocated to Alaska, where he meets a mailman and his family, who takes him in and renames him “Spot." The duality of man’s best friend is explored in this 2001 production starring David Arquette and Michael Clarke Duncan.

  • #54. Hotel for Dogs

    IMDb rating: 5.4

    IMDb votes: 18,772

    Release year: 2009

    Director: Thor Freudenthal

    Two orphans, played by Jake T. Austin and Emma Roberts when they were 15 and 18 respectively, attempt to hide their dog Friday in an abandoned hotel to keep him safe from their foster parents. However, as more and more dogs take refuge in the hotel, the orphans find that they bit off far more than they can chew.

  • #53. Firehouse Dog

    IMDb rating: 5.5

    IMDb votes: 5,144

    Release year: 2007

    Director: Todd Holland

    At the heart of this 2007 film is a talented dog named Rexxx, who’s living the good life as a Hollywood movie star until he gets lost during a skydiving stunt. While searching for his owner, Rexxx is taken in by the crew at a rundown firehouse. After coming to terms with his new digs, Rexxx teams up with a local boy to help get the firehouse back into shape.

  • #52. Beethoven

    IMDb rating: 5.6

    IMDb votes: 56,953

    Release year: 1992

    Director: Brian Levant

    Like Dennis the Menace in canine form, Beethoven is a mischievous St. Bernard in this wildly popular 1992 film. As the slobber flies, Beethoven drives a man (Charles Grodin) crazy, earns the affection of a family and is targeted by a sadistic dognapper. Hollywood legend John Hughes co-wrote the screenplay under a pseudonym. The film would ultimately spawn numerous sequels, a cartoon series and even a video game.

  • #51. 101 Dalmatians (live action, 1996)

    IMDb rating: 5.7

    IMDb votes: 86,792

    Release year: 1996

    Director: Stephen Herek

    An animated classic gets a live-action upgrade in this 1996 film, which features a demented fashion designer named Cruella De Vil (Glenn Close), who tries to steal a litter of Dalmatian puppies to make into a lavish fur coat. While the movie received somewhat tepid reviews, it was a veritable box office success, earning more than $320 million worldwide. A sequel followed in 2000.  

  • #50. Wiener-Dog

    IMDb rating: 5.9

    IMDb votes: 7,772

    Release year: 2016

    Director: Todd Solondz

    Few (if any) contemporary directors are more subversive than Todd Solondz, which makes 2016’s “Wiener-Dog” an acquired taste, to put it mildly. The film centers on the adventures of its title character, an unassuming daschund who gets passed around from owner to owner. Needless to say, this one is not for the faint of heart, or even the average dog lover.

  • #49. Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco

    IMDb rating: 5.9

    IMDb votes: 12,006

    Release year: 1996

    Director: David R. Ellis

    On the heels of 1993’s “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey” came this 1996 sequel, in which two dogs and a cat get stranded at the San Francisco airport, and subsequently make their way home through the city. Not only is the adventure chronicled from the animals’ perspectives, but like the original, their thoughts and intentions are brought to life by way of human dialogue. Providing the voices are a range of notable talents, including Michael J. Fox and Sally Field.  

  • #48. Must Love Dogs

    IMDb rating: 5.9

    IMDb votes: 28,370

    Release year: 2005

    Director: Gary David Goldberg

    In this 2005 comedy, a divorced preschool teacher (Diane Lane) embarks on a series of romantic misadventures after signing up for a dating site. One prerequisite she insists upon: the man must love dogs—hence the title. Eventually, she finds love, but not through the dating site. In fact, it’s at the dog park where she meets the man of her dreams (John Cusack).

  • #47. K-9

    IMDb rating: 6.0

    IMDb votes: 28,214

    Release year: 1989

    Director: Rod Daniel

    More than just man’s (and woman’s) best friend, dogs occasionally make for supremely effective police partners. So goes this 1989 film, which stars Jim Belushi as a sarcastic cop who teams up with a highly intelligent—and highly intrusive—drug-sniffing dog to take down a kingpin. True to the buddy cop paradigm, the unlikely pair doesn’t see eye-to-eye at first, but eventually forms a substantial bond. Some direct-to-video sequels followed.  

  • #46. Absolutely Anything

    IMDb rating: 6.0

    IMDb votes: 31,453

    Release year: 2015

    Director: Terry Jones

    “Monty Python” alumnus Terry Jones wrote and directed this poorly received 2015 comedy, in which a man named Neil (Simon Pegg) is given the power to do anything he wants by a group of aliens. Though Neil isn’t aware that he’s being tested, Earth will be spared from annihilation if he uses his power for good. In the meantime, he increases his own muscle mass, modifies the behavior of others and gives his dog, Dennis, the power to speak. Providing the voice for Dennis the Dog is actor Robin Williams in his final role.

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