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Best Picks of Dog Father Movies


From celluloid reels and family classics to foreign cinema and indie flicks, The Bark presents its list of 12 favorite dog “father” movies showcasing a father (or a paternal figure) and a leading canine character. These movies explore familial bonds, rights of passage and, of course, love. Invite your dad, son or daughter for a night at the movies—all the films on our list are guaranteed to tug at your heart. Most can be seen on Netflix, hulu or youtube. If you have a favorite that didn’t make this list, let us know! (Be sure to click on the titles for trailers and videos.)

Beginners Probably the only film that garnered an Academy Award for an actor, Christopher Plummer, who plays both a devoted dog “father” but also a father to a human son. This charming, true-to-life movie also costars Ewan McGregor, as the son, and a remarkable performance from Cosmo, a Jack Russell Terrier, who steals each scene. An understated story of self-discovery, life and love. See our interview with McGregor and Cosmo’s trainer too.

Yellow Dog
The Cave of the Yellow Dog This is a quasi-documentary that concentrates on a nomadic family in Mongolia—father, mother, three small children—and the impact made upon them by a stray puppy. The acting from six-year-old Nansalmaa Batchuluun is remarkable. As Bark’s reviewer noted, “this is one of the great joys of the movie-lover: to see a soul revealed, to witness a blending of part and actor so complete that we can’t distinguish where one emerges and the other disappears.” This is revelatory story about a culture in transition and the universality of the strength of the human-dog bond. See Bark’s interview with the director. 

Sounder Let’s not mince words, this is a tearjerker, but one that is devoid of mawkish sentiment. A story of a black’s sharecropper family in the 1930s and their trusted dog, Sounder, a great hunter and loyal companion. He’s affectionate and joyful, and the pride of the family. With amazing performances from Paul Winfield, Cicely Tyson and the young, Kevin Hooks, this four-time Oscar-nominated film is a powerful story about racism and injustice, but also about how a family overcomes insurmountable obstacles and about the hope that is represented by their dog, Sounder.



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Submitted by Gaby | June 14 2012 |

You left the recent Australian movie "Red Dog" based on the true story of
a Kelpie/cattle dog cross that was well known for his travels through Western Australia's Pilbara region.

Submitted by Bridget | June 15 2012 |

Gosh, how can you forget the most 1970s touching animal draama movie Bim Black Ear ?

I see the writer has a slavic family name, and still she left this out .


Submitted by Lyn Honzel | June 15 2012 |

I hate that Old Yeller was included in your recommended Dog Father movies! This movie traumatized me as a child, to this day I will not see a movie or read a book with a dog or a horse in it because the animal usually ends up in a perilous situation that I just cannot tolerate. I have never forgiven Walt Disney for presenting this as a children's movie and I don't care how "classic" the story is considered, it is just HORRIBLE!!!!!!!

Submitted by Nina L. | June 15 2012 |

Great List. I love many of those films and just recently re-viewed "Because of Winn Dixie" and was moved by how tender and kind Jeff Daniels character is despite all the hardship - the thunderstorm scene is a lovely surprise.
Discovered a little treasure while perusing the library stacks - Bombón: El Perro - about a 54 year old man who has lost everything and when all is lost, his unexpected introduction to the world of siring and dog shows. He receives a beautiful Dogo Argentino and life begins to get interesting. Funny, touching and humane.

Submitted by Leslie | June 15 2012 |

You forgot "Up" (Pixar). In this animated feature, the old grump Mr. Fredrickson becomes a stand-in father figure to Russell thanks mostly to the hard work of the surprisingly realistic efforts of the golden retreiver "Dug"

In the original animated version of "101 Dalmations" (Disney) Pongo is the moving force that rescues his own family puppies when they are kidnapped, but also takes fatherhood to a whole new level and adopts the entire group of pups bringing his family count up to 101. His wife, Mrs. Pongo is basically a supporting character while Pongo is the brains behind the whole rescue.

Submitted by Amy Frazer | June 15 2012 |

There is a lovely movie (2008) with Sam Neill, Peter O'Toole, and Jeremy Northam called "Dean Spanley" that I highly recommend.

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