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The Best Live Action Animal Movies for Kids 

Stan Holton
Originally by
Updated May 18, 2020 16.5k votes 1.2k voters 152.2k views 83 items

List Rules Only children's films that feature live animals. No movies that are only animated.

What are the best animal movies for kids? This list of great live animal movies for children includes some of the most classic, iconic movies in cinema history. Many of them, not surprisingly, rank among the best children's movies and films of all time, and several are Disney live action movies, as well. Which ones are your favorites, and which ones do you believe are the most appropriate for youngsters? Time to vote! And, by all means, if you know of an outstanding (live action) animal movie that's great for the kiddos and isn't on the list right now, add it!

Many of the greatest animal movies ever made are geared, at least in part, towards children. From the loveable, wonderful, Academy Award-winning 'Babe' to the adventures of one of the cinema's greatest pooches, Benji, live action animal movies have entertained generations of children over the decades.

Obviously, any list of the best animal movies for children must include the animals (perhaps the greatest dog movies?) From 'Beethoven' to 'Air Bud' and Disney's 'The Shaggy Dog,' these pooches gave their all with their outstanding performances, all of our entertainment.

But it isn't just the dogs who should get all the credit: Several films on this list are among the best cat movies and cat movies for kids, including 'That Darn Cat!' and the campy classic 'The Cat From Outer Space.' Cats and dogs share the screen too, in excellent kids animal movies like 'Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey,' 'The Adventures of Milo & Otis' and the aptly titled 'Cats & Dogs.' You might also like our list of dog movies for kids and Disney animal movies.

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1
Ranker Video
1993

Actors: Sally Field, Michael J. Fox, Frank Welker, Don Ameche, Jean Smart, + more

Directed by: Duwayne Dunham

Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey is a 1993 American remake of the 1963 film The Incredible Journey, which was based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Sheila Burnford. Directed ...more

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#200 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies #68 of 322 The Best Movies for Kids #42 of 143 The Best Disney Live-Action Movies

2
Ranker Video
1996

Actors: Hugh Laurie, Glenn Close, Jeff Daniels, Joely Richardson, Frank Welker, + more

101 Dalmatians is a 1996 family comedy film written and produced by John Hughes and directed by Stephen Herek. It is the second adaptation of Dodie Smith's 1956 novel The Hundred and One ...more

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The Live Action 101 Dalmatians Is The Most Insane Fever Dream Of A Movie #240 of 367 The Best Movies Based On Books #207 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies

3
Ranker Video
1995

Actors: Hugo Weaving, James Cromwell, Miriam Margolyes, Roscoe Lee Browne, Magda Szubanski, + more

Directed by: Chris Noonan

Babe is a 1995 comedy-drama film, co-written and directed by Chris Noonan. It is an adaptation of Dick King-Smith's 1983 novel The Sheep-Pig, also known as Babe: The Gallant Pig in the USA, ...more

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#99 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies #398 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

4
Ranker Video
1993

Actors: Danielle Harris, Michael Madsen, Michael Ironside, Mykelti Williamson, Richard Riehle, + more

Directed by: Simon Wincer

Free Willy is a 1993 American family drama film that was released by Warner Bros. under its Family Entertainment label. The film stars Jason James Richter as a delinquent boy who becomes ...more

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#326 of 581 The Greatest Film Scores of All Time #12 of 18 18 Movies With 'Happy Endings' That Were Actually Unspeakably Tragic #447 of 529 Things That Are Not As Cool As People Think They Are

5
Ranker Video
1999

Actors: Hugh Laurie, Geena Davis, Michael J. Fox, Jennifer Tilly, Jeffrey Jones, + more

Directed by: Rob Minkoff

Stuart Little is a 1999 American family comedy film directed by Rob Minkoff. It is loosely based on the novel of the same name by E. B. White. It combines live action and computer animation. The ...more

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6
Ranker Video
1997

Actors: Mark Jackson, Kevin Zegers, Michael Jeter, Wendy Makkena, Bill Cobbs, + more

Directed by: Charles Martin Smith

Air Bud is a 1997 American family comedy film that sparked the franchise centered on the real-life dog, Buddy, a Golden Retriever. The film was financially successful, grossing $4 million in its ...more

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#291 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies #56 of 181 The Greatest Animal Movies Ever Made #16 of 25 The 25+ Best Sports Movies for Kids

7
Ranker Video
1994

Actors: Michelle Williams, Helen Slater, Richard Farnsworth, Frederic Forrest, Jon Tenney, + more

Directed by: Daniel Petrie

Lassie is a 1994 adventure family film directed by Daniel Petrie and featuring the fictional collie Lassie.

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#39 of 181 The Greatest Animal Movies Ever Made #12 of 101 The Greatest Dog Movies Of All Time #13 of 177 The Best Family Drama Movies of All Time

8
Ranker Video
1996

Actors: Sally Field, Michael J. Fox, Carla Gugino, Tommy Lasorda, Sinbad, + more

Directed by: David R. Ellis

Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco is the 1996 sequel to the 1993 film Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey. Directed by David R. Ellis, the film features the three animals from the ...more

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#307 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies #93 of 107 The Best Movies To Stream On Disney+ #41 of 181 The Greatest Animal Movies Ever Made

9
Ranker Video
2001

Actors: Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon, Jeff Goldblum, Charlton Heston, Tobey Maguire, + more

Directed by: Lawrence Guterman

Cats & Dogs is a 2001 American-Australian action-comedy film, directed by Lawrence Guterman. The screenplay by John Requa and Glenn Ficarra centers on the relationships between cats and ...more

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#24 of 58 The Best Movies Released July 4th Weekend #48 of 181 The Greatest Animal Movies Ever Made #465 of 573 The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies of All Time

10
Ranker Video
1957

Actors: Chuck Connors, Fess Parker, Dorothy McGuire, Tommy Kirk, Kevin Corcoran, + more

Directed by: Robert Stevenson

Old Yeller is a 1957 American family tragedy film produced by Walt Disney. It stars Tommy Kirk, Dorothy McGuire and Beverly Washburn. It is about a boy and a stray dog in Texas. It is based upon ...more

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#83 of 395 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #1,118 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #8 of 293 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry

11
102 Dalmatians is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Live Action Animal Movies for Kids
celia-yahccs added 2000

Actors: Glenn Close, Ioan Gruffudd, Gérard Depardieu, Eric Idle, Ian Richardson, + more

Directed by: Kevin Lima

102 Dalmatians is a 2000 family comedy film directed by Kevin Lima in his live action directorial debut and produced by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the sequel to the 1996 film 101 Dalmatians and ...more

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#149 of 181 The Best Movie Sequels Ever Made #9 of 25 The Best Live Action Remakes of Animated Films #35 of 101 The Greatest Dog Movies Of All Time

12
Ranker Video
2011

Actors: Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Kris Kristofferson, Harry Connick, Jr., + more

Directed by: Charles Martin Smith

Dolphin Tale is a 2011 family drama film directed by Charles Martin Smith from a screenplay by Karen Janszen and Noam Dromi and a book of the same name. It stars Nathan Gamble, Harry Connick, ...more

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#316 of 466 The Best Feel-Good Movies #165 of 168 The Best 3D Films #36 of 57 The Best Morgan Freeman Movies

13
Ranker Video
2004

Actors: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Bill Murray, Debra Messing, Nick Cannon, Jimmy Kimmel, + more

Directed by: Peter Hewitt

Garfield: The Movie, or simply Garfield, is a 2004 American live-action comedy film directed by Peter Hewitt based on the Jim Davis comic strip of the same name. It stars Breckin Meyer as Jon ...more

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#127 of 186 The Greatest Comic Book Movies of All Time #88 of 181 The Greatest Animal Movies Ever Made #4 of 40 The Funniest Movies About Animals

14
The Jungle Book is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Live Action Animal Movies for Kids
Tom Islava added The Jungle Book

Actors: Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong'o, Scarlett Johansson

Directed by: Jon Favreau

The Jungle Book is a 2016 fantasy adventure film directed and co-produced by Jon Favreau. Based on Rudyard Kipling's eponymous collective works and inspired by Walt Disney's 1967 animated film ...more

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#37 of 143 The Best Disney Live-Action Movies #66 of 96 The Best Movies to Watch on Mushroomslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

15
Ranker Video
1998

Actors: Naomi Watts, Mickey Rooney, Hugo Weaving, James Cromwell, Steven Wright, + more

Directed by: George Miller

Babe: Pig in the City is a 1998 Australian-American comedy-drama film and the sequel to the 1995 film Babe. It is co-written, produced and directed by George Miller, who co-wrote and produced ...more

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#1,296 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #1,020 of 1,210 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time #139 of 181 The Best Movie Sequels Ever Made

16
Ranker Video
1994

Actors: Sean Bean, Alan Cumming, Peter Cook, David Thewlis, Peter Davison, + more

Directed by: Caroline Thompson

Black Beauty is a 1994 film adaptation of Anna Sewell's novel by the same name directed by Caroline Thompson in her directorial debut. The film stars Andrew Knott, Sean Bean and David Thewlis. ...more
17
Ranker Video
2005

Actors: Elle Fanning, AnnaSophia Robb, Jeff Daniels, Dave Matthews, Eva Marie Saint, + more

Directed by: Wayne Wang

Because of Winn-Dixie is a 2005 American family comedy-drama film adapted from the book of the same name by Kate DiCamillo, written by Joan Singleton, produced by Trevor Albert and directed by ...more

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18
Ranker Video
1986

Actors: Dudley Moore, Shigeru Tsuyugushi

Directed by: Masanori Hata

The Adventures of Milo and Otis is an Japanese adventure comedy-drama film about two animals, the titular characters, Milo and Otis. The original English version was released on June 27, 1986, ...more

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#31 of 181 The Greatest Animal Movies Ever Made #19 of 33 The Greatest Classic Films the Whole Family Will Love #3 of 40 The Funniest Movies About Animals

19
Ranker Video
1992

Actors: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, David Duchovny, Patricia Heaton, Stanley Tucci, Oliver Platt, + more

Directed by: Brian Levant

Beethoven is a 1992 family comedy film, directed by Brian Levant and starring Charles Grodin as George Newton and Bonnie Hunt as Alice Newton. The film is the first in the Beethoven film series. ...more

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20
Ranker Video
2002

Actors: Hugh Laurie, Geena Davis, Michael J. Fox, James Woods, Melanie Griffith, + more

Directed by: Rob Minkoff

Stuart Little 2 is a 2002 American live-action film, directed by Rob Minkoff and starring Geena Davis, Hugh Laurie and Jonathan Lipnicki and the voices of Michael J. Fox, Nathan Lane, Melanie ...more

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#67 of 181 The Greatest Animal Movies Ever Made #49 of 92 The Best James Woods Movies #36 of 66 The Best Cat Movies

21
A Dog's Way Home is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Live Action Animal Movies for Kids
2019

Actors: Ashley Judd, Edward James Olmos, Alexandra Shipp, Wes Studi, Chris Bauer, + more

Directed by: Charles Martin Smith

A Dog's Way Home is a 2019 American family drama film directed by Charles Martin Smith, based on the book by W. Bruce Cameron. A dog (Bryce Dallas Howard) embarks on a 400-mile journey home ...more
22
Ranker Video
1998

Actors: Eddie Murphy, Ellen DeGeneres, Chris Rock, Paul Giamatti, Raven-Symoné, + more

Directed by: Betty Thomas

Dr. Dolittle is a 1998 American family comedy film starring Eddie Murphy as a doctor who discovers that he has the ability to talk to animals. The film was inspired by the series of children's ...more

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23
Ranker Video
1974

Actors: Edgar Buchanan, Frances Bavier, Peter Breck, Herb Vigran, Deborah Walley, + more

Directed by: Joe Camp

This tail-wagging tale begins as Benji visits his pals Cindy and Paul, whose father Paul Chapman, won't let them give the mutt a home. But the shaggy stray changes his mind by saving the day ...more

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#165 of 293 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry #211 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #196 of 322 The Best Movies for Kids

24
Ranker Video
1959

Actors: Annette Funicello, Fred MacMurray, Jack Albertson, Strother Martin, Paul Frees, + more

Directed by: Charles Barton

The Shaggy Dog is a black-and-white 1959 Walt Disney film about Wilby Daniels, a teenage boy who by the power of an enchanted ring of the Borgias is transformed into the title character, a ...more

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#24 of 143 The Best Disney Live-Action Movies #127 of 181 The Greatest Animal Movies Ever Made #8 of 24 The Best Disney Movies Starring Dogs

25
Air Buddies is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Live Action Animal Movies for Kids
2006

Actors: Abigail Breslin, Michael Clarke Duncan, Molly Shannon, Don Knotts, Wallace Shawn, + more

Directed by: Robert Vince

Here's the delightful tale of teamwork and adventure your whole family will love! Air Bud is the proud father of five adorable puppies -- the hip-hoppin' B-Dawg, lovely RoseBud, mellow Bud-Dha, ...more