Photo: MGM

Film Characters The Best Animal Performances in Film History  

Kel Varnsen
1.6k votes 202 voters 20.9k views

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

87 16
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The Wizard of Oz - Played by Toto the Dog

66 15
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Lassie, Courage of Lassie, Lassie Come Home - Played by Lassie the Dog

43 8
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Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey - Played by Ben the Dog

44 9
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Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco - Played by Rattler the Dog

43 14
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Benji, Benji: Off the Leash!, For the Love of Benji - Played by Benji the Dog

41 14
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Old Yeller - Played by Spike the Dog

47 19
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Beethoven, Beethoven's Big Break, Beethoven's 4th - Played by Beethoven the Dog

37 16
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Flipper - Played by Mitzi the Dolphin

26 7
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Amy Boal added Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey - Played by Tiki the Cat

34 14
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Air Bud films - Played by Buddy the Dog

23 7
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Willy Free Willy, Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home, Free Willy 3: The Rescue - Played by Keiko the Orca

28 12
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Einstein Back to the Future - Played by Tiger the Dog

27 12
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Winn-Dixie Because of Winn Dixie - Played by Lyco and Scott the Dogs

34 23
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Baxter Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy - Played by Peanut the Dog

23 13
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Winter Dolphin Tale - From Dolphin Tale
Played by Winter the Dolphin

24 14
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My Dog Skip - Played by Enzo the Dog

27 17
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Men in Black - Played by Mushu the Dog

27 17
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Hooch Turner and Hooch - Played by Beasley the Dog

19 10
Joey is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Animal Performances in Film History
LanaYoshii added Joey War Horse - Played by fourteen horses

20 11
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Andre Andre - Played by Cassie the Sea Lion

21 12
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Paulie Paulie - Played by Paulie the Parrot

19 11
Hachi is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Animal Performances in Film History
LanaYoshii added Hachi A Dog's Tale - Played by Chico, Layla, and Forrest (dogs)

8 2
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Keanu Keanu - Played by seven different kitten actors.

18 13
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Joey War Horse - Played by multiple Horses

6 2
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