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Animated Dog Movies: Our 12 Favorite Characters

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Animated movies bring fans of all ages together to experience imaginative, enriching stories. Some of the best animated movies of all time have featured canines as their stars, creating characters that have catapulted their way into our culture’s collective hearts and minds. 

Here we look at some of our favorite animated dog movies and the characters who have stood the test of time and remain revered by fans of all generations.  

Top Animated Dogs

Zero, the “Nightmare Before Christmas” Dog

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Christmas movie? Halloween movie? That timeless debate over Tim Burton’s “Nightmare Before Christmas” will never go away. But what remains undebatable is the love fans bear for Zero, Jack Skellington’s adorable ghost-dog companion.

Zero is Jack’s best friend…always there for him despite Jack’s ill-advised attempt to have Halloweentown take over the role of Christmastown.

Snoopy, of the Peanuts Universe

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Few animated dogs capture the imagination like Snoopy, whose friendship with Charlie Brown has been woven into the fabric of American culture for decades. Snoopy has been a fixture across film and television movie specials, connecting with fans across all generations then and now. 

Pluto, of the Disney Universe

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Pluto is the adorable canine companion who is never found far from his pet parents, Mickey and Minnie Mouse. He’s permeated culture as one of the Disney universe’s most famous characters, and has been loved by generations of fans for his unconditional friendship. 

Pongo, Perdy, and the Rest of the “One Hundred and One Dalmatians” 

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“One Hundred and One Dalmatians” remains one of the most iconic animated dog movies of all time. And that’s largely due to the admiration fans have for the titular characters…the dalmatians the movie’s plot revolves around. Who could forget Pongo and Perdy’s efforts to rescue their pups from the clutches of Cruella De Vil, and the additional dalmatians they take on along the way?

Lady and Tramp, the “Lady and the Tramp” Dogs

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“Lady and the Tramp” is one of the cinema’s unforgettable love stories, let alone dog movies. The unlikely romantic combination of Lady, an American Cocker Spaniel with a refined upper-class family, and Tramp, a male stray, reminds us that love knows no boundaries. And the scene where they share a single strand of spaghetti? Simply iconic. 

Max, the Dog From “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”

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“How the Grinch Stole Christmas” remains one of the holiday season’s most popular animated movies. The animated movie dog, Max, stands out as one of the film’s most loved characters. Despite being a pet and sidekick to the notoriously nasty (in the beginning) Grinch,  Max and his love of the Whos and Christmas continues to warm our hearts at the very thought of him. 

Balto

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“Balto” is an animated dog movie that tells the story of a sled dog of the same name, whose heroic efforts transporting medication across the Alaskan wilderness helped save the lives of children infected with diphtheria. Balto’s bravery and fearlessness has earned him the admiration of our culture, and the animated dog movie that tells his story has earned the same praise. 

Bolt

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“Bolt” tells the story of a bond between a Hollywood acting dog (who doesn’t know he is an actor, and is made to think he has superpowers for filming a TV show) and the 8-year-old actress Penny, who he considers family. After disappearing and learning that he’s a normal dog, he experiences ups and downs that allow him to exhibit his true bravery and results in a reuniting with the actress he holds so dear to his heart. Bolt’s love for Penny has tugged on our heart strings for over a decade since the film was first released, and it’s for that reason he remains loved to this day. 

Dante, the “Coco” Dog

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When it was first released, “Coco” captured our collective hearts and imaginations. Dante, the animated dog from that movie, is still one of canine cinema’s most loved characters, thanks mainly to the love and loyalty he shows his family member Miguel. 

Dug, the Dog From “Up”

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“Up” is still recognized as one of the most critically acclaimed animated dog movies of all time, a sentimental tale of the love of life and love of adventure for fans old and young. Dug, a dog with a special collar that allows him to speak human, plays a critical role in the story and the development of the film’s lead, Carl. The bond he forms with Carl and his ability to help him navigate through the toughest of adventures is what fans will always remember. 

Copper, from “The Fox and The Hound”

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“The Fox and the Hound” is an animated dog movie tearjerker, that tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a hunting dog, Copper, and a fox named Tod. After growing up as best friends, they discover they are meant to be natural enemies. Their friendship struggles to survive the pressures around them, but the bond they formed lasts when it matters most. 

Clifford the Big Red Dog

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Clifford the Big Red Dog, of Scholastic children’s book fame, made his animated movie debut in 2004’s “Clifford’s Really Big Movie.” He also made an appearance in a new movie bearing his name for the 2021 holiday season. There’s no doubt Clifford is an iconic animated movie dog for modern-day children.

Main image via Sarunyu L / Shutterstock.com

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