Ok, ok, OK! We all know even attempting to rank all of these on extreme cuteness is impossible, but we had to try anyway. A few ground rules: Dogs that resemble humans are not fully dogs, so they have to be eliminated from the animated dog discussion. Next, this list does include live-action dogs, included all dogs in the Disney family, even if not directly under the Walt Disney production umbrella.
Dogs were ranked by the overall role they played in their respective films, by the amount of “Awwwwwwwwwww” they made us uncontrollably emit from our bodies, and finally the tear factor–meaning “Did they make us experience a full range of emotions in about 90 minutes or less?”
And away we go!
10. Percy (Pocahontas)
Hard to imagine Percy as any other breed, but a pug. Percy is the former pug of Governor Ratcliffe in Pocahontas and the sequel. He’s spoiled to the core, complete with his own tub and carousel of dog biscuits. Eventually, Percy leaves his life of luxury, exhibiting an uncanny dog trait of character assessment, as he joins Pocahontas, Meeko, and Flit by the first film’s end (Oops, sorry for the spoiler!).
9. Copper (The Fox and the Hound)
Like so many other Disney animated classics, The Fox and the Hound doesn’t receive the fanfare it deserves. For that reason, we gotta throw Copper some love. Copper is a Bloodhound and the protagonist of the film. Despite the two being natural enemies, Copper befriends Tod, a young red fox. Despite the mental image of Corey Feldman’s adulthood, Feldman does a fantastic job of voicing Copper (Feldman was a child himself then) and Kurt Russell voices Copper as an adult. Copper goes through great character development in the film, and even spares Tod the fox from being killed by his master the hunter (kinda see why Disney doesn’t want to talk this film in 2015).
8. Chance (Homeward Bound)
Did you really think we’d create this list without an American bulldog with floppy ears and insatiable curiosity, voiced by Michael J. Fox? Forget about it! Kids born in the 90s likely will have no idea what we’re talking about, but we don’t care. The story of three friends (two dogs, and a cat literally named “Sassy” and voiced by Sally Field) get separated from their family while their family leaves on vacation. They journey through plains and wildernesses to return to their family, and must deal with the perils and dangers of the great outdoors as domesticated pets. Chance is a young pup, whose curiosity is constanting getting him in trouble, despite repeated warnings from his golden retriever mentor, Shadow. Fox’s voiceover of the character is spot on and timeless.
7. Zero (Nightmare Before Christmas)
We said dogs that look like people are out, but we didn’t say a ghost dog wearing a bedsheet couldn’t be included! Zero has the cutest little Rudolph red nose and plays fetch with a rib bone from Jack Skellington himself.
For crying out loud, it’s just a cartoon! Why does it hit us so hard right in the feels!? Oh yeah, because who doesn’t want to be reunited with their best friend after we move on from this life? Duh.
6. Patch (101 Dalmatians)
C’mon, we’ve all identified with Patch once or twice in our lives. We all had our favorite shows growing up, and Patch’s obsession with The Thunderbolt Adventure Hour is adorable. For bonus points, he even curses (Disney-style) at the villains of the show. That little attitude factor lands him on our list, and firmly in our hearts.
Take a Kleenex break before the top five of the list.
5. Slinky Dog (Toy Story)
RIP Jim Varney. Varney is a voice-over legend. Slinky Dog’s loyalty to Woody is what we all admire about our own dogs, even though we secretly wish those same dogs could bend from the couch to the floor and help us pick up the remote.
4. Bolt (Bolt)
A dog that thinks he’s a superhero, then it turns out he is. The rest of us can only get halfway to Bolt’s awesome sauce.
3. Lady & Tramp (Lady and the Tramp)
Raise your hand if Disney has taught you everything you know about relationships? Wow, that’s a lot of hands, knew it! But Disney nailed the puppy love story without ever mentioning spaying or neutering. Bob Barker is sad…but seriously, this one’s a classic and no-brainer.
2. Dug (Up)
Say the title next to the number two above with a pause; otherwise, it sounds creepy. Dug is hilarious, charming, and a naive disaster, but we love him all the same. Through a speaking box on his collar, he delivered two hours of boundless entertainment and kept us laughing until our cheeks hurt and we couldn’t breathe. Well done.
1. Pluto (Disney Classics)
The O.G. of Disney dogs. If you don’t know why, remember who taught us how to laugh.
Honorable Mentions: Max (The Little Mermaid), Sparky (Frankenweenie), Dodger (Oliver and Company)