The 11 Greatest Animated Movie Dogs

Best Animated Dogs

With the release of Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogsthere is an important question that has been stuck in the center of my mind: who are the best animated dogs in movie history?

There is no shortage of options. From Disney’s personal collection of pups, to those created by other studios, who are the best of the best when it comes to animated canines? Let’s take a look at some of those fantastic four-legged friends. Some you will know instantly, while others deserve so much more respect than they’ve been given over the years. So sit back, grab a bone, and let us explore the greatest animated dogs!

Balto from Balto

Whenever I think of the most heroic and stand-out dogs, Balto always comes to mind. Not only was he voiced by Kevin Bacon (which made him certified ’90s cool), but with the help of the underrated Amblimation Studios, this pup had a unique and lovable design that was hard not to fall in love with. In fact, as a youngster, whenever my family would ask what kind of dog I’d want, I’d simply say “Balto. I want Balto”, and though I would end up with a dog who looks much more like a later entry on this list, I still dream of one day owning a pet that’s as cool as this guy.

But why so much celebration over this specific dog? Well, he actually existed in real life! In fact, the real Balto did indeed save the day by leading the last team with the serum to the town of Nome, Alaska, and he does have a statue in his honor in Central Park. Yeah, he might have not been half wolf, nor did he have intense doggie-on-doggie drama with the evil stead, but his story (even with dramatic embellishments) makes for quite the epic tale. And with a James Horner score to back of some of his best moments, we’ll never forget this four-legged hero of both animation and real life.

Copper from Fox and the Hound

Okay, go grab your tissues – you know what’s coming! For indeed Fox and the Hound might be one of the saddest movies that Disney has ever made, and the relationship between Copper and Tod is at the center of those emotional tugs on our heart strings. But what makes Copper himself a fantastic dog all on his own, even without his fox friend by his side? It’s all about loyalty.

At the beginning of the movie, Copper is like any puppy. He’s curious and his Bloodhound genes allow him an incredible sense of smell, even better than other hunting dogs (including the much older Chief.) This comes into play with how he eventually meets his friend Tod, and later when they break their ties because of their natural roles in society. Copper is the hunter, while Tod is the prey. But even with the separating their relationship, Copper still watches out for Tod as time passes. Sure, the two don’t have the kind of relationship they did as kids, but Copper never lets their bond truly become broken and that makes him a stand-up pup for life.

Dodger from Oliver and Company

Much like Balto, Dodger from Oliver and Company will always be the gold standard of cool animated dogs in my nostalgic eye. He sings one of the catchiest songs in any Disney movie to date (seriously, try not getting “Why Should I Worry” stuck in your head), is voiced by the musical god Billy Joel, and wears sunglasses with a bandana like a true pro. Clearly, he checks all the boxes of awesomeness.

But what makes Dodger a clear choice for this list is his journey from stand-off, too cool for school street dog, to the caring hero that saves Oliver and the gang with true heart and soul on his puppy sleeve. In fact, even more so than a lot of other dogs on this list, Dodger has quite an arc, and that makes any viewer of this Oliver Twist retelling a bit mushy, especially when looking at the more non-dialog driven scenes of Oliver cuddling up to Dodger. You see his “cover” of tough guy melt away, and he continues to grow even through the climatic battle on the Brooklyn Bridge. And finally, during his reprise of his signature tune, he lets the other dogs from his crew join in the melody – making him more than just “one bad puppy”.

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