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Best Picks of Dog Father Movies
Because of Winn Dixie
Because of Winn-Dixie One of the few “dog” movies featuring a little girl (the other is our pick, “Cave of the Yellow Dog”), in this case, a lonely 10-year-old named Opal. Having been abandoned by her mother when she was only three, finding a large scruffy dog at the supermarket, gives Opal another way to explore the world and her community and come out of her shell. Also because of Winn-Dixie, her father, played by Jeff Daniels, agrees to tell her ten things about her missing mother. Inspired by her attachment to her dog, Opal learns many things that summer.

Lassie Come Home This is the first film in the Lassie series, made in ’43 and starring Roddy McDowall and canine actor, Pal, in a story about the profound bond between the boy and his dog. When a poor Yorkshire family is forced to sell their beloved Rough Collie to a rich duke, the dog does everything to escape and make her way back to her “boy.” A lovely young Elizabeth Taylor plays the duke’s granddaughter who, sensing how much the dog loves her family helps Lassie escape. A movie classic that launched an industry, but its poignant and uplifting story is well worth your viewing.

Umberto D
Umberto D  This is one of the greatest films of all time and a classic masterpiece by Vittorio De Sica. This is a story about a retiree, played by a 70-year-old non-actor Carlo Battisti, who finds that the bond he has with his dog, Flike keeps him tethered to his own fading life. In fact, the dog shows him why he must continue to live. As Roger Ebert summarized it: “Umberto loves the dog and the dog loves him because that is the nature of the bond between dogs and men, and both try to live up to their side of the contract.” (This film was recently remade starring Jean Paul Belmondo, in a French version, “Mon Chien Un Homme et Son Chien.”)

Thin Man
The Thin Man (any or all of this six-part series) Although it starred the sophisticates William Powell and Myrna Loy (as Nick and Nora Charles) it’s the performance of Asta that made this series from the ’30s all the more enjoyable. Adapted from the last novel written by Dashiell Hammett, Asta, the Charles’ dog/child was a female Schnauzer in the book, but in the movies the role went to male Wirehaired Fox Terrier(s). As a Bark reviewer noted, Skippy who played Asta in the first two movies, was “a consummate canine comedian who was the perfect counterpart to the socialites lushes the Charles.”

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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.