Watchworthy

The Best Animal Performances in Film History 

Kel Varnsen
Updated October 1, 2019 1.6k votes 219 voters 21.4k views 44 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, including the best dog movies ever.
 

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list ordered by
1
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Terry in The Wizard of Oz
Played by Toto the Dog
2
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Played by Lassie the Dog
3
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Played by Ben the Dog
4
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Played by Rattler the Dog
5
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Played by Beethoven the Dog
6
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Played by Benji the Dog
7
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Spike in Old Yeller
Played by Spike the Dog
8
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Peter Kay in Going Off Big Time
Played by Mitzi the Dolphin
9
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Played by Buddy the Dog
10
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Einstein Chris Frampton in Life
Played by Tiger the Dog
11
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Amy Boal added
Played by Tiki the Cat
12
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Hooch
Played by Beasley the Dog
13
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Willy Keiko in Free Willy
Played by Keiko the Orca
14
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Baxter
Played by Peanut the Dog
15
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Winn-Dixie
Played by Lyco and Scott the Dogs
16
Joey is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Animal Performances in Film History
LanaYoshii added Joey
Played by multiple Horses
17
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Played by Enzo the Dog
18
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Played by Mushu the Dog
19
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Winter
From Dolphin Tale
Played by Winter the Dolphin
20
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Paulie Jay Mohr in Paulie
Played by Paulie the Parrot
21
Hachi is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Animal Performances in Film History
LanaYoshii added
Played by Chico, Layla, and Forrest (dogs)
22
Verdell is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Animal Performances in Film History
704792 added Verdell Jill in As Good as It Gets
23
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Andre
Played by Cassie the Sea Lion
24
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Jerry Lee Koton in K-9
Played by multiple Dogs
25
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Bruiser Woods
Played by Bruiser the Dog