The Best Animal Performances in Film History  

Kel Varnsen
1.6k votes 210 voters 21.1k views 45 items

The best animal performances in film history includes some of the greatest cinematic achievements by dogs, cats, monkeys, dolphins and even bears. These animals provide great supporting roles in major motion pictures. Whether they're acting heroically or just providing some much-needed comic relief, animals in movies always add a little extra something on the big screen. Be sure to vote for your favorite animal performances in film history -- and vote down those animals whose performances you feel lacked a certain...humanity.

From Einstein in 'Back to the Future' to Uggie from 'The Artist,' dogs definitely lead the pack (so to speak) when it comes to great animal movie performances. These four-legged thespians are highly trained professionals who can steal entire films away from the humans. They can make us laugh (Crystal the Monkey from 'Hangover II') and cry (Old Yeller, we're talking to you). Hats off to the dogs of cinema, and their wonderful trainers!

It's not fair or right to exclude other brilliant animal movie performers, either. Monkeys and orangutans are also on this list. Who can forget Clyde from 'Every Which Way But Loose,' or Crystal from 'The Hangover Part II?'

In case you're wondering, I've only included movies that feature actual live animals. This, unfortunately, disqualifies the Gopher from 'Caddyshack.' Sorry, Mr. Gopher. It also disqualifies animated movies like Disney's '101 Dalmatians' and 'Lady and the Tramp.' Enjoy this list and be amazed - animals have been a huge part of some of the best movies ever made.

list ordered by
Ranker Video
The Wizard of Oz
Played by Toto the Dog
Ranker Video
Lassie, Courage of Lassie, Lassie Come Home
Played by Lassie the Dog
Ranker Video
Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey
Played by Ben the Dog
Ranker Video
Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco
Played by Rattler the Dog
Ranker Video
Old Yeller
Played by Spike the Dog
Ranker Video
Benji, Benji: Off the Leash!, For the Love of Benji
Played by Benji the Dog
Ranker Video
Beethoven, Beethoven's Big Break, Beethoven's 4th
Played by Beethoven the Dog
Ranker Video
Amy Boal added Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey
Played by Tiki the Cat
Ranker Video
Played by Mitzi the Dolphin
Ranker Video
Air Bud films
Played by Buddy the Dog
Ranker Video
Einstein Back to the Future
Played by Tiger the Dog
Ranker Video
Willy Free Willy, Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home, Free Willy 3: The Rescue
Played by Keiko the Orca
Ranker Video
Winn-Dixie Because of Winn Dixie
Played by Lyco and Scott the Dogs
Ranker Video
Hooch Turner and Hooch
Played by Beasley the Dog
Ranker Video
Winter Dolphin Tale
From Dolphin Tale
Played by Winter the Dolphin
Joey is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Animal Performances in Film History
LanaYoshii added Joey War Horse
Played by multiple Horses
Ranker Video
Baxter Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
Played by Peanut the Dog
Ranker Video
Andre Andre
Played by Cassie the Sea Lion
Ranker Video
My Dog Skip
Played by Enzo the Dog
Ranker Video
Men in Black
Played by Mushu the Dog
Hachi is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Animal Performances in Film History
LanaYoshii added Hachi A Dog's Tale
Played by Chico, Layla, and Forrest (dogs)
Ranker Video
Paulie Paulie
Played by Paulie the Parrot
Ranker Video
Keanu Keanu
The Black is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Animal Performances in Film History
LanaYoshii added The Black The Black Stallion
Played by Cass Ole and Fae Jur
Asta is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Animal Performances in Film History
ColdPizzaNY added Asta The Thin Man, After the Thin Man

Played by Skippy the fox terrier