A Dog’s Purpose tells the story of Toby, a dog with the voice of the snowman from Frozen, who dies and is reincarnated four times in an attempt to reunite with his master. That’s pretty impressive loyalty, even by the standards of man’s best friend; to celebrate the movie’s release, we picked 10 fictional pooches we’d love to own ourselves. As a famous Twitter account once said: “They’re good dogs Brent.”
10. Einstein (Back to the Future, 1985)
Einstein may not be present for much of the action in the Back to the Future trilogy, and he doesn’t do much to drive the plot forward. But damn it, he went into the DeLorean for its maiden voyage, which makes him – and not Marty McFly – the world’s first time traveller. So much could’ve gone wrong: the car could’ve disintegrated, or been flung across the space-time continuum, but when it arrives in the future one minute after it left, he’s completely unphased. If that isn’t a good dog, we don’t know what is.
9. Goddard (Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, 2002)
Given that he’s made out of metal and has a plasma globe for a brain, Goddard might not sound like the greatest companion for a young boy. But owning a robot dog does have its perks – particularly if it’s a robot dog that, among other things, has a tape dispenser in its mouth and can turn into a flying motorcycle at will. Just don’t ask him to play dead, since that involves exploding into a thousand sentient pieces, Iron Giant style.
8. Bruno (The Triplets of Belleville, 2002)
There are a lot of strange-looking things in Sylvian Chomet’s near-wordless animation The Triplets of Belleville, but Bruno the morbidly obese dog is among the strangest. Still, his physique doesn’t stop him from accompanying the elderly Madame Souza across oceans to find his master, Champion. But perhaps his most charming moment is early in the film, when we see Bruno’s evening routine: dragging himself upstairs every evening like clockwork to bark at passing trains, and one passenger in particular who bears an odd resemblance to him.
7. Toto (The Wizard of Oz, 1939)
Toto the dog really doesn’t get enough credit in the narrative of The Wizard of Oz. Sure, he’s got no lines, but he’s the only one of the protagonists who’s smart enough to see through the wizard’s smoke and mirrors and take a peek behind the curtain, and he saves Dorothy from Margaret Hamilton even before she becomes the Wicked Witch of the West. Interestingly, the Cairn Terrier who played Toto was paid $125 per week; far more than any of the actors playing the Munchkins received for their work.
6. Zero (The Nightmare Before Christmas, 1993)
According to the website Does The Dog Die?, no pets are killed in the course of stop-motion classic The Nightmare Before Christmas. Which is true, but only because Jack Skellington’s ghost dog Zero is already dead when the film begins. But Zero doesn’t let a little thing like not being alive anymore stop him from being a good dog: he even saves Jack’s fake Christmas with his adorable glowing pumpkin nose.
5. Uggie (The Artist, 2011)
Whether Michel Hazanavicius’s silent film The Artist deserved all the hype it got at the Oscars five years ago is a debate for another day. In fact, we’ve already had it. But there’s one actor whose recognition was absolutely merited: Uggie the Jack Russell Terrier, whose performance won him the coveted Palme Dog at the 2011 Cannes Festival. Not only is his playing dead a constant delight, but he also saves his master George Valentin’s life. It’s just a shame Hazanavicius couldn’t find a way to write a scene into the movie where Uggie got to show off his skateboarding skills.
4. Bosco (The Voices, 2014)
Anyone who owns a dog will tell you that they make great therapy animals. Doubly so if you’re the kind of person who has a history of mental problems and an overwhelming urge to kill your coworkers. If you find yourself in a pretty bad situation, he can urge you to turn yourself in to the police and reassure you that you haven’t crossed the invisible line between good and evil. And if you also have to contend with a cat with a Scottish accent that urges you to give in to your base desires, surely that’s a small price to pay?
3. Snoopy (The Charlie Brown Movies)
Let’s be honest: who wouldn’t want to have a dog like Snoopy? He’s been the canine embodiment of the word “cool” for over 50 years. Over the course of his onscreen adventures he’s played tennis at Wimbledon, sailed rafts in the wilderness, written novels, and taken to the skies on the top of his bright red doghouse to save his love from the evil Red Baron. Why he hangs out with a putz like Charlie Brown is a mystery.
2. Dug (Up, 2009)
We’ve had talking animals in movies for almost as long as movies have had sound, but very few of them have given us a real insight into what it might be like if our pets could actually talk to us. As voiced by a note-perfect Bob Peterson (who’s also appeared in Monsters, Inc. and Finding Nemo), Dug the golden retriever is the perfect dog: loyal to a fault, boundlessly optimistic and full of a neverending supply of love for every new person. Just don’t put him in the Cone of Shame. He does not like the Cone of Shame.
1. Gromit (Wallace & Gromit series, 1989-2009)
Some of the dogs on this list talk. Some of them don’t. But despite being the only character on this list without a mouth Gromit has perhaps said more than all of them put together, giving the kind of straight-man performance that Bud Abbott or Gene Wilder would have been proud of. Watching him assemble a model train track a half-second in front of the speeding locomotive in The Wrong Trousers is one of the finest moments in all of comedy. And, as is fitting of the companion of an accomplished inventor, Gromit is a real renaissance dog: graduating from Dogwarts University, and reading novels by the likes of Fido Dogstoyevsky (Aardman do love their puns).