10 heart-breakingly sad dog movies to make you cry holiday cottages

Just for fun

10 heart-breakingly sad dog movies to make you cry

Kate W 27 April 2022

Sometimes a good ol’ cathartic cry is just what is needed to recharge the batteries and let out the emotions, and nothing can make us weep like a sad movie about the beloved family dog.

But how do you know which film will make you sob the hardest? Well, to help you out when you need a truly tear-jerking movie at the ready, we decided to do the research to track down ten of the most emotional dog films out there.

How we assigned a sadness rating:  

To pick our top ten, we began with 100 dog films with 50 or more reviews from IMDB. Then we had the tricky job of determining the level of sadness – how on earth do you measure an emotion?

In the end, we counted the number of reviews that mentioned sad words – cry/cried, sad, sob, emotional and tears. This number was divided by the number of reviews and multiplied by 100 to give each film a score (and, if the dog dies, this score is multiplied by two!)

This is our round-up of the top ten sad dog movies and the most likely to offer up a solid sob-fest for when you just need a good cry. Please make sure there is a box of tissues to hand; we can’t be held responsible for snotty noses or streaked mascara.

Don't forget to browse our pet-friendly cottages and plan a holiday movie night with your dog while away. 

Spoiler warning: We have included if and how the dog dies and referred to plot points in order to review each movie. 

Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993)

Two dogs and a cat from the Homeward Bound film

At number ten on our list of sad dog movies, we have a family-friendly Disney hit that many people will have heard of and might even remember from their youth.

Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey is a heartwarming story of two dogs and a cat, whose owners go on holiday without them. Trouble is, they believe they’ve been abandoned and set out on a long, treacherous journey to be reunited with them.


There are several close calls along the way, however, you can rest assured that there are no dog deaths during this film. That doesn’t mean you'll avoid bursting into tears, though.

Sequel: Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco (1996) 

Don’t leave the family dog behind! Bring your pup along on your next holiday by planning a break to one of our pet-friendly holiday cottages. 

Umberto D. (1952)

A black and white illustration of Flike the dog from the film Umberto D.

While the last film was aimed at children and families, this is a movie firmly reserved for adults. Released in 1952, this Italian neorealist film homes in on the eternal themes of poverty, isolation and loneliness which have turned this old black-and-white movie into a timeless classic.

This film follows a retired civil servant (Carlo Battisti) as he struggles to raise the funds to pay his rent and care for his four-pawed best pal – and it’s nothing short of devastating.


Umberto D. is the best-rated dog film out of our selection so comes highly recommended. And while it remains the ninth most emotional film on our list, it is also the most emotional film where no leading dogs die. Phew.

My Dog Skip (2000)

An illustration of the Jack Russell called Skip

A beautiful story of loyalty and friendship between a boy and his dog, My Dog Skip is a film to make you ugly cry. Willie Morris (Frankie Muniz) receives a dog called Skip for his ninth birthday who helps him navigate bullies, moonshiners and girls.

Father and son duo, Moose and Enzo, both play the Jack Russell dog Skip and even have their own IMDB biographies if you want to know more about these fine four-pawed actors.


While the final death is a peaceful one, it’s worth mentioning that the dog gets hit by its owner, so if you’re sensitive to this kind of thing, it may be one to miss.

Red Dog (2011)

The Australian cattle dog nicknamed Red Dog

Based on the best-selling book and true story written up by Louis de Bernières, Red Dog is a sad dog movie about an Australian cattle dog who roamed the outback looking for his lost master, uniting the community as he went.

He was also known as ‘The Pilbara Wanderer’ and there is a statue that was erected in his memory in 1979 in the city of Dampier where Red Dog often visited.


There are moments of violence throughout including drinking and fistfights, attempted suicide, and a dog is shot but survives.

Sequel: Red Dog: True Blue (2016)

Red Dog also makes our list of the world's top dog pioneers - why not have a look through the full list of brave pooches?

Eight Below (2006)

A husky from the sad film Eight Below

A dogsled team is left behind at an Arctic research station when the humans are forced to leave in a hurry and must find a way to survive the winter. The initial tears may well flow at beginning of the film when the humans are seen pulling away.

While our human protagonist Jerry Shepherd (Paul Walker) worries about the dogs, there’s nothing he can do except wait to return in the spring. It’s up to the pack to survive on their own.

Two of the dogs die in this film.

The dogs are shown suffering from cold, hunger and injuries throughout the film and they hunt and fight other animals too.

Treat yourself and your pal to a winter retreat where you can snuggle around the wood burner while watching this film and ensure no one is left out in the cold. 

A Dog's Purpose (2017)

A Dog's Purpose (2017)

A dog (Josh Gad) is reincarnated through five lifetimes while searching for life’s purpose. This dog comes to different conclusions throughout the movie based on the various situations and humans that come into this dog’s many lives.

It is a sad film all about loyalty and determination, with some nice owners and some nasty ones who influence the dog’s lives. But this strong-willed pup never gives up on the mission to discover life’s true purpose, making this both a heart-breaking and heartening dog movie.


There’s not one, not two, but FOUR dog deaths throughout the course of this film. Brace yourself for tears.

Sequel: A Dog’s Journey (2019)

Old Yeller (1957)

The classic sad dog film: Old Yeller

Possibly the most iconic sad dog film on our list, Old Yeller is famous for THAT scene that pulls at the heartstrings every time and is sure to leave viewers a crying mess.

It was released back in 1957 based on the novel of the same name but has stood the test of time. Set on a Texas ranch just after the Civil War, this story is about a boy called Travis (Tommy Kirk) and a stray dog who enters his life for the better.


Old Yeller protects the family and is injured as a result. There is the death of a cow off screen with gunshots heard and, of course, the death of Old Yeller himself.

Sequel: Savage Sam (1963)

Marley & Me (2009)

Marley & Me starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston

The third-saddest dog film on our list is the ever-popular tale of Marley & Me. The story of Marley is based on John Grogan’s book about his own family and their pet – one that he called ‘the world’s worst dog’.

When John (Owen Wilson) and Jennifer Grogan (Jennifer Aniston) take in a badly-behaved puppy they don’t know what they are in for. Cue funny dog antics alongside important milestone moments for the family who quickly realise just how much they rely on their troublesome pup.


Much of this movie is a light-hearted comedy/drama and this, perhaps, is what makes the final death even more of a gut punch despite it being a gentle and touching end for the beloved family dog.

Sequel: Marley & Me: The Puppy Years (2011)

Fluke (1995)

Fluke the dog from the film of the same name

Fluke is about a family man… well, a dog that used to be a man. Tom (Matthew Modine) comes back reincarnated as a stray pup called Fluke and works to piece together his past life.

Number two on our list of most emotional dog films will make you tear up several times for a variety of reasons but it is perhaps Fluke’s best pal Rumbo (Samuel L. Jackson) who will stick around in your memory.

Yes – but not the lead dog.

Against all odds, Fluke himself doesn’t actually die – at least not while he’s a dog. But there are a couple of human deaths and another leading dog dies during this sad movie.

Hachi: A Dog's Tale (2010)

The saddest dog film of all: Hachi

No one was surprised when the saddest dog film of all was revealed. Hachi: A Dog’s Tale encapsulates the bond between a man and his dog in a beautiful and entirely depressing way. It's based on the true story of a dog who would travel to the station every day to wait for its owner. One day, his owner didn't return but Hachi continued to make the journey to the station to wait every day for the next nine years and now, there's a statue in his memory. 

We’d better warn you: in our results, crying is mentioned on average 0.8 times per review, and 416 times overall – 2.3 times more than the next film. It's well worth a watch but only if you are ready for a lung-bursting, end-of-movie sob.

It’s adapted from a 1987 Japanese-language film, Hachiko Monogatari, which follows a similar storyline. In comparison to the 2010 adaptation, the original film only has 27 reviews yet has 29 emotional words mentioned, proof that no matter who tells this sad story, it always packs a punch.

It’s also worth mentioning that, after Umberto D., this movie has the second-best IMDB rating out of the films on our list. Even more reason to go and watch it. Right now.

This is the saddest dog movie on the entire list so, of course the dog dies. Bawl your eyes out with this sad dog film.

Special mention...

We had to give a special shout out to the most reviewed film on the list: Scooby Doo. I think we can all agree that, while it’s far from being a sad film, it’s a well-loved film that’s worth looking up for the days you need something a little cheerier and it's a great way to finish any dog-movie-athon on a high!

It’s one of the least sad on our list of 100 dog movies and we also found out that the film's sequel, Scooby Doo: Monsters Unleashed, is more emotional than its predecessor.

No way! This is Scoob we’re talking about here.

Sequel: Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004)

Ready for a good cry?

So, there we have it: ten sad dog movies that’ll have you weeping by the credits.

Whether you’re on holiday with your whole family or snuggled up with your partner and your waggy-tailed water bottle, there’s nothing like a good film night – especially a film night that will have you bawling your eyes out!

Pick out one of these sad dog movies to watch during a break to one of our pet-friendly holiday cottages so you can snuggle up on the sofa with your best pup pal while the movie plays. You’ll never have to leave the dog behind with a stay in one of our pet-friendly retreats.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

Canine Critics is back for 2024 – with a twist!
Canine Critic
Kate W 11 April 2024
Our top dog-friendly luxury retreats
Kate Williams 06 April 2024
The Travel Chapter Limited trading as Canine Cottages is an appointed representative of ITC Compliance Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (their registration number is 313486) and which is permitted to advise on and arrange general insurance contracts as an intermediary.
The Travel Chapter Limited trading as Canine Cottages | The Travel Chapter Limited is registered in England and Wales. | Registered office Travel Chapter House Gammaton Road Bideford EX39 4DF Company No. 02431506 | VAT reg: 143053210.