This holiday season, don’t forget to get cozy on the couch with your dog and some beloved films. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any dog Hanukkah or Kwanza movies, so this list is heavy on Christmas films, and for that my apologies.
In no particular order, here are a few favorite dog Christmas films:
It’s perfect for all seasons, but we love the Christmas ending of the film with Lady and the Tramp, all the puppies and their dog friends under the Christmas tree. This film, as precious as it is, isn’t a great example of contemporary, responsible dog guardianship, and it paints animal control workers as the enemy but … it’s a classic, and I still love it. And the live-action version of the film starring rescue dogs will release this winter on Disney+ just in time for the holiday season. (First released 1955.)
In a town that has rounded up and banned dogs, one girl (Emma) stands up to save them by showing everyone the true meaning of Christmas. (Released 2005.) The film’s sequel, 12 Dogs of Christmas: Great Puppy Rescue, will inspire viewers to think about how giving back to dogs (and people) in need is a great holiday tradition to start for every family as they watch Emma save a puppy orphanage. (Released 2012.)
The underrated star of Tim Burton’s spooky holiday classic has to be Zero, the ghost dog belonging to Jack Skellington. He’s loyal and trustworthy — everything a dog should be. I love when he impersonates Santa’s reindeer by lighting the foggy Christmas Eve sky with his illuminated pumpkin nose and how he is always by Jack’s side in this spooky Christmas adventure. (Released 1993.)
This might be my all-time favorite Christmas film — the 1966 animated version. Max, the Grinch’s dog, is the unsung hero of this film, working hard to please his grumpy guardian. That said, don’t take any of this film as training advice or an example of appropriate ways to train your dog. Poor Max spends much of the movie very poorly treated, but it does have a happy ending.
It’s a really bad idea to give a dog as a Christmas gift (are you listening, Santa?). But Snoopy is one of the most beloved animated dogs, and this tender Christmas story about loneliness and community
is too charming to miss. (Aired on ABC in 2003; re-released as part of Snoopy’s Holiday Collection in 2013.)
Lassie is just about the most iconic canine star. In this beautiful film, Lassie works her magic to get home in time for Christmas. In all her films and television appearances over the generations, Lassie teaches everyone — young and old — important lessons not just about dogs but about us at Christmas and year-round. (Released 1963.)
From 1978, this is another oldie but goodie. Benji was a beloved character from my childhood, and it’s hard not to enjoy any film with his scruffy face. In this film, Benji gets the chance to visit all his families around the world in a tender festive story.
I know, it doesn’t sound like this is a holiday dog movie, but it really is! The beloved animated film features the one and only Yukon Cornelius musher. Yukon and his misfit sled dog team, comprised entirely of small, unlikely sled dogs, not only help Rudolph and his friends but absolutely steal the show in this classic holiday movie for the whole family. (Aired on TV 1964.)