They say that a dog is a man’s best friend. They also say that Christmas time is the most wonderful time of the year. Combine those two facts, put them in a movie, and you’ll get some of the most heartwarming, beautiful movies you could ever wish for.
In some, the dogs are actually the lead characters, whereas, in some, they only serve as a cute comic relief or something in between. So, without further ado, here’s a list of the 15 best Christmas movies with dogs to watch these holidays that’ll make every dog lover want to kiss their best friend. The dog, not the human. The list is ranked according to IMDb rating.
15. A Doggone Christmas (2016)
IMDb Rating: 4.1/10
What it’s about: Murphy is a dog that has amazing powers. Powers that allow him to communicate with humans telepathically. Of course, the CIA gets him, planning on turning the dog into a weapon. Fortunately, Murphy escapes their clutches and ends up living with two boys and their father in the countryside.
However, the brothers are having a hard time with their new friends, especially due to their father losing his job. To add to it, federal agents try to track down the puppy and take him away. The boys use all the help they can get from their friends to save Murphy with the true spirit of Christmas.
Why you should watch it: Clearly, it’s not the greatest movie on this list, but it’s absolutely good enough to make the cut. Your kids will probably enjoy it more than you do, especially because it’s starring ‘Just Jesse’ – the YouTube sensation Jack Russel Terrier.
14. Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure (2011)
IMDb Rating: 4.3/10
What it’s about: Beethoven – the well-known St. Bernard – has to find a way to save Christmas after a Christmas Elf accidentally takes off in Santa’s sleigh right before Christmas and crashes it in a small town. Not only was the sleigh messed up, but the Elf also lost Santa’s magical gift bag.
Now, it’s up to Beethoven to find the bag, take it away from the petty thieves that found it, and return it to Santa along with the sleigh to save Christmas just in time.
Why you should watch it: Beethoven might be the most popular movie dog of all time, or at least right near the top of the list. Now, this isn’t the best Beethoven movie ever, but it’s the only one revolving around Christmas.
If you love the grumpy-looking, kind-hearted Beethoven as much as I do, you’ll still enjoy the film on a nice, relaxing, cozy evening with hot cocoa and marshmallows.
13. An All Dogs Christmas Carol (1998)
IMDb Rating: 4.9/10
What it’s about: In this sweet, funny animated movie, three dogs are the only ones who can save Christmas from an evil spirit known as Carface. The evil Carface is joined by a demon named Belladonna, who wants to manipulate dogs worldwide and control them to destroy Christmas, but the three pups, Charlie, Itchy, and Sasha, have different plans.
Why you should watch it: You probably know the cult-classic story of Ebenezer Scrooge and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Well, this movie is actually a retelling of the story, only with dogs as the main characters. There are some sweet musical numbers and funny, child-appropriate jokes, and you’ll likely enjoy it as much as your kid does.
12. The Search for Santa Paws (2010)
IMDb Rating: 5.3/10
What it’s about: Santa Clause is alive but not well. He completely loses his memory and has no idea who he is, what he does for a living, and what Christmas is all about. It’s on the five magical talking golden retriever puppies to rescue Santa, get his memory and spirits back, and save Christmas before it’s too late.
Why you should watch it: It’s a Disney Channel movie for kids that’s rated G, so don’t expect some crazy, elaborate storylines or a masterpiece of a movie. It’s a fun movie for kids revolving around the well-known pups, usually known as Buddies.
Trust me; this one is a great tool to keep your kids entertained for an hour and a half while you relax and unwind. You might even get a nap in before they lose interest, which is quite enough for me to call the movie awesome.
11. The 12 Dogs of Christmas (2005)
IMDb Rating: 5.4/10
What it’s about: The story follows Emma O’Conner, a young girl that has 12 doggy friends, all different yet unique. She uses them to teach people during the Great Depression that the true meaning of Christmas is not presents, money, or anything like that. Christmas is a time of love, friendship, care, compassion, and understanding.
Why you should watch it: Perhaps the rating of the film is a bit low, if you ask me, because, despite the movie not having the highest production value, it teaches some valuable lessons, not just to kids, but grown-ups as well. We get caught up in the materialistic side of Christmas way too much, and Emma and her pups will certainly make you see the true meaning of Christmas.
10. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
IMDb Rating: 6.2/10
What it’s about: The Grinch is a nasty green creature that lives just outside of Whoville, a tiny little place that exists inside a snowflake. The people of Whoville adore Christmas, but Grinch hates it almost as much as he hates the Whos – the people of Whoville.
He develops a plan to steal Christmas, but an unexpected friendship with one of the Who girls, Little Cindy Lou Who, makes Grinch reconsider at the last second.
Why you should watch it: I was honestly abhorrently shocked that the Jim Carrey-led Grinch movie has such a low IMDb rating overall. It’s one of my favorite Christmas movies ever, especially after learning the backstory of Max, aka Grinch’s loyal dog companion.
You see, the role of Max was played by six different mixed-breed dogs rescued from a shelter. After the movie was released, all six of those dogs found a forever home and were adopted into loving families. It warmed my heart learning that, even more than the Grinch’s change of heart in the movie did.
9. The Christmas Shepherd (2014)
IMDB Rating: 6.6/10
What it’s about: Sally Brown loses her husband, who was an army veteran. His dog, Buddy, is left behind with Sally, who writes children’s books for a living. A storm rages through their town, and Buddy gets lost, only to be found by another loving family – a single dad and his daughter.
One thing leads to another, and as Sally and Buddy are reunited, a new romance sparks between her and the single dad who found Buddy and provided shelter for him.
Why you should watch it: Romantic movies are not my cup of tea, usually, but this one was kind of heartwarming for me. It wasn’t a classic story of two strangers stumbling into each other and falling in love at first sight. Instead, a lovely German Shepherd helped them find each other and help each other mend their broken hearts.
8. Marley & Me (2008)
IMDb Rating: 7.0/10
What it’s about: John and Jennifer Grogan get married and move to Florida, where they get a puppy to ‘prepare them for children. However, Marley is not just your typical dog – she’s a total wrecking ball with no self-discipline, but also with cuteness that’s just out of this world.
Over time, Marley teaches the family important lessons in life even after they get kids of their own, and as she matures, so does the entire Grogan family.
Why you should watch it: This one is an absolute tear-jerker, and if you’ve never seen this film, you’ll probably hate me for scarring you emotionally for at least a month. It might not be your classic Christmas movie, but it did come out on Christmas Day in 2008, and Marley was a Christmas present for Jennifer. There are numerous Christmas scenes throughout as well.
7. Lady and the Tramp (1995)
IMDb Rating: 7.3/10
What it’s about: Lady and the Tramp is a romantic story of two dogs coming from diametrically opposite places in life, falling in love and coexisting as one. Lady is a high-end cocker spaniel living a luxurious life, whereas Tramp is a stray mutt living off of scraps from a nearby restaurant.
Why you should watch it: Lady and the Tramp is one of the biggest Disney classics ever and one of the most popular dog movies ever. You might not consider it to be a Christmas movie, but Lady and Tramp actually meet and start ‘dating’ on Christmas Day and then make their romance official exactly a year later, again, on Christmas.
6. Gremlins (1984)
What it’s about: Billy receives a new pet as a gift – an adorable little creature called the mogwai. Gizmo, as he is subsequently named, is a little cutie, but there are rules that cannot be broken – no water, no food after midnight, and no bright lights. Well, the rules get broken, and the sweet little mogwais turn into nasty, murderous, destructive Gremlins wreaking havoc all over town.
Why you should watch it: Gremlins are one of Steven Spielberg’s most famous movies that became a classic almost instantly. The sweet, sweet friendship that Gizmo strikes up with Barney, the family’s pup, is the most heartwarming thing about the entire film.
Sure, it may not be a Christmas movie, per se. I mean, it is a horror flick, after all. But, it revolves around Christmas time in a small town. And how about those caroling Gremlins? If that’s not one of the best Christmas scenes you’ve ever seen, then it’s time for you to watch the movie again and reconsider.
5. A Christmas Story (1983)
IMDb Rating: 7.9/10
What it’s about: Ralphie Parker is a young boy living with his family in a small town in the 1940s. He really wants a new BB gun for Christmas, known as the Red Ryder Range 200 Shot, so he does everything in his power to convince everybody that it’s the perfect Christmas gift. That includes his parents, teachers, and even Santa himself.
Why you should watch it: A Christmas Story is another one of those Christmas cult classics, but one doesn’t necessarily associate it with dogs right away. However, that scene where the group of dogs from next door steals an entire turkey from the Parkers remains one of the most iconic scenes of the movie. Enough for me to go for a rewatch!
4. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
IMDb Rating: 7.9/10
What it’s about: Jack Skellington is the King of Halloween Town – in a universe where every holiday has its own place. Jack feels empty, doing the scary thing over and over again, so when he discovers Christmas Town, he really wants to shake things up, get Christmas back to Halloween Town, and do Santa’s job with the presents.
As you can imagine, it goes horrifyingly wrong…
Why you should watch it: I rewatch Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas twice a year – on Halloween and on Christmas. It’s one of the most epic stop-animated films ever and one of the best-animated films in general, if you ask me.
Now, you might not consider this to be a dog-related movie, but what about Zero? Jack’s ghost doggo leads the Pumpkin King through the night with his shiny red nose after Jack takes Santa’s Sleigh. Rudolph has nothing on our guy Zero!
3. Project: Puppies for Christmas (2019)
IMDb Rating: 8.0/10
What it’s about: There’s this grumpy old guy who doesn’t like Christmas at all and just wants it to end. However, two young girls do their best to bring back that Christmas joy and spirit to the old man in hopes that Santa Claus will reward them with puppies for Christmas.
Why you should watch it: This movie is a bit obscure and went totally under the radar for many since it wasn’t a huge production. However, the story is incredibly heartwarming, and the puppies are just insanely adorable (go figure, huh?). I watched it with my nephew, thinking it’ll be a cool film for him. He fell asleep, and I enjoyed the movie alone. Call it my guilty pleasure.
2. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
IMDb Rating: 8.0/10
What it’s about: Rudolph is a young, tiny reindeer living at the North Pole with Santa Claus and his reindeer – one of which is Rudolph’s dad. However, the other reindeer cast Rudolph away due to his big, shiny red nose, until one day, Santa needs that light to shine bright through the night and save Christmas and an island full of misfit toys…
Why you should watch it: Despite having the same rating as the movie a spot before on the list, I’ve decided to put Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at number two because it’s a much more well-known movie. I’d dare to say it’s a classic.
The best part about the movie for me, though? Yukon Cornelius and his sled dogs are not your typical huskies or another majestic sled dog breed. Instead, the pups that steal the show are a dachshund, a border collie, a St. Bernard, a cocker spaniel, and a poodle.
There have been countless stories about Rudolph over the years, but I guarantee you’ll love this one the best because of the pups. I know I do!
1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966)
IMDb Rating: 8.3/10
What it’s about: The Grinch, a hateful, bitter, naughty hermit, absolutely hates Christmas and all the people of Whoville that celebrate it. He devises a plot to steal Christmas by impersonating Santa Claus, using his little dog, Max, as a reindeer. The pair steals every present, and every ornament in the village, leaving it a depressing, Christmas-less place.
Why you should watch it: We all know the story of the Grinch, but nobody can argue that this original animated movie is by far the best version of the story ever created. Just like in the live-action version with Jim Carrey, Max absolutely steals the show for me in this film.
His love for the Grinch, despite what he puts up with every day, is, in fact, what Christmas is all about. If you’ve never given the original a chance before, I urge you to do it right away and make this holiday season one to remember.