Dogs make for some of the most iconic movie characters, especially in dog-led films. Canine-centric films have us laughing, sobbing, or clinging to a warm, wholesome feeling. What is great about these films is that they depict a truly relatable bond between a dog and its owner. There might even be some that we have to skip emotional scenes because it’s all a bit too much to watch all over again – Marley and Me, we’re looking at you.
Despite their heartstring-tugging potential, few of these films get the award recognition they deserve. With this in mind, we wanted to look at the most popular dog films compared to Oscar-winning motion pictures. By comparing four-legged films to some of the world’s best, we can pick out those which are truly the top dogs.
How did we do it?
We looked at the winners of the Best Picture at the Oscars over the last five years and collated their IMDb ratings:
- Nomadland (IMDb – 7.4)
- Parasite (IMDb – 8.6)
- Green Book (IMDb – 8.2)
- The Shape of Water (IMDb – 7.3)
- Moonlight (IMDb – 7.4)
We then worked out the average, which was 7.78, and gathered dog films that had been rated around the same. Here are Oscar-worthy dog films that you need to watch if you haven’t already.
1. Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (IMDb – 8.1)
Hachi: A Dog’s Tale is the dog Oscar-winner. This 2009 film is an American adaptation of the 1987 Japanese film Hachikō Monogatari, based on a true story. The film, starring Richard Gere, is about a strong bond between a dog and its owner, who found an Akita puppy lost and alone on his way home from work. When his master eventually passes away, the loyal pooch waits at the place he greeted him every single day for more than 10 years.
Guaranteed to make you cry and hold your four-legged friend that little bit tighter, this critically acclaimed film is certainly worth a watch. Hachi: A Dog’s Tale was rated higher on IMDb than three winning Best Picture films at the Oscars.
2. Togo (IMDb – 8.0)
Togo is an award-winning film that will have you on the edge of your seat, coming in second place of our dog Oscars. This film is also rated higher on IMDb than three Best Picture winners over the last five years.
Togo, starring William Dafoe, was released in 2019 and is about a musher raising his Siberian Husky puppy (Togo), who is small and weak. The puppy refuses to be left in the kennel and is determined to be a part of the team pulling the dog sled.
Later in the film, in 1925 when Togo is fully grown, there is a diphtheria outbreak mainly affecting children. However, the treatment can’t be flown in due to extreme snowy weather. Togo and his team need to make a 600-mile journey to collect the vaccine and bring it back. Although Togo is old, he is a crucial member of the team and needs to venture out onto the mission of a lifetime.
3. A Dog’s Journey (IMDb – 7.5)
Ranking third in the dog Oscar awards is A Dog’s Journey, released in 2019. This film is a sequel to A Dog’s Purpose and follows the life of St Bernard/Australian Shepherd mix Bailey. This film explored the theme of reincarnation – before Bailey passes away, his owners’ young granddaughter, CJ, leaves to go back to her mother. Seeing his owners devastated, he promises to find and protect their granddaughter. Later, Bailey is reborn as a Mastiff into CJ’s family, and he makes it his mission to protect her.
This film is incredibly heart-warming and leave us feeling comforted at the thought of our beloved pets being reborn into another form and meeting us again.
4. Eight Below (IMDb – 7.3)
Ranking fourth is Eight Below from 2006. This film focuses on two Antarctic explorers who are out in extremely cold weather following an accident, forcing them to leave their team of sled dogs behind. The film celebrates dogs’ natural instincts as they try to survive the brutal weather over 175 days. Each dog’s unique personality is shown in their adventures, giving us a real idea of how dog packs work together with compassion and authority.
Being forced to abandon our four-legged friends is any dog owner’s nightmare, which makes this film an emotional journey.
5. I Am Legend (IMDb – 7.2)
Fifth is I Am Legend, featuring a dog guaranteed to hold a special place in every viewer’s heart. Different from the rest in this list, this film depicts a dystopian future following an outbreak that turns people into monster-like creatures and has all but one survivor. Set in New York, scientist Robert (played by Will Smith) is left with only his German Shepherd, Samantha, for company. The film shows how he and his dog survive among the zombies and the vital role his dog plays. The two have an inseparable bond, making this film a sure tearjerker for any dog owner.
Watching dogs in films is often an emotional ride, but it only brings us closer to our best furry friends. Watch these films to experience the bond between man and dog like never before.
Kevin Glynn and David Nolan are co-founders of Butternut Box, a fresh dog food business, supplying hypoallergenic dog meat for sensitive stomachs, sensitive skin, weight loss and more.