fbpx

Best Dog Documentaries: Docs About Dogs!

Dog Data By Ben Team 8 min read April 2, 2019

dog documentaries

Documentaries often fail to generate anything more than lukewarm interest among the masses — likely because many educationally-oriented filmmakers appear to choose subject matters that are only slightly more interesting than watching paint dry.

But documentaries about, you know, interesting things are a different matter. When the topic is truly compelling, these types of films not only inform; they inspire as well. They help provide the viewer with unique insights and important knowledge.

And if you are reading these words, I’m going to venture a guess that you find dogs (and therefore, documentaries about them) to be extremely compelling.

Today we’ll be sharing the very best of dog docs. Grab your pooch and get ready for movie night!

Qualities of a Great Documentary

While you can rest assured that the five dog documentaries we’ve detailed below make great viewing, there are a million other doggie docs out there, waiting to be enjoyed.

However, you don’t want to take a chance on watching a boring, amateurish flick – you want to make sure the movie is worth your time and popcorn.

Keep the following tips in mind, when looking for a good example of canine cinema:

  • Give extra attention to films produced by documentary powerhouses. Documentaries may look simple, given their lack of special effects and elaborate wardrobes, but they require exceptional film-making skill to pull off well. So, always give special attention to those produced by National Geographic, Nova, BBC or PBS, among others.
  • Don’t confuse length with thoroughness. A lot of sub-standard documentaries try to make up for their thin content by just adding more length. There is certainly nothing wrong with a 3-hour-plus, marathon-caliber documentary, but this doesn’t necessarily speak to its quality. Some of the best documentaries in the world are less than 90 minutes.
  • Look for professionally produced cover art. Despite the old maxim, you can judge a book by its cover – at least partially. A high-quality cover doesn’t necessarily indicate that the documentary it contains is fantastic, but it is a pretty good clue.

The Best Doggie Documentaries

If you’re ready to curl up with your pooch and a bucket of snacks (be sure to bring a few snacks for your dog too – don’t be rude), any of these doggie documentaries will surely entertain and inform.

1. Dogs Decoded

dogs decoded

“Dogs Decoded” is not a stand-alone documentary per se; rather it is an episode of the incomparable series NOVA. But technicalities aside, it is one of the best ranked films on our list.

Length

54 minutes

IMDB Score

7.9/10

Rotten Tomato Score

Not rated

Synopsis

Dogs Decoded explores the intimate relationship between domestic dogs and their people, by sharing several different research projects and exploring the implications of the researchers’ findings. Topics covered in the documentary include the domestication of the wolf and the manner in which humans and dogs communicate with each other, among other things.

Where to Watch

You can watch at least one or two episodes of Dogs Decoded for free online, from channels like YouTube (on awkwardly shrunken dimensions) or Vimeo, but it is also available on Amazon, if you’d rather have your very own copy.

Ideal Audience

Scientifically curious dog lovers, who won’t mind that the time-limited format precludes the producers from covering every topic exhaustively.

2. Beyond the Myth

best dog documentaries

The highest-rated film on our list, “Beyond the Myth” tackles the issue of pit-bull prejudice, and the challenges pit owners must often overcome. Directed by Libby Sherrill and produced by Cover Y’all Productions, the film is guaranteed to change the ways you think about these much-maligned pups.

Length

92 minutes

IMDB Score

8.2/10

Rotten Tomato Score

87%

Synopsis

Pitt-bulls have a troubling breed history, but the myths regarding their temperaments and pet-suitability bear little resemblance to the truth. “Beyond the Myth” seeks to set the record straight and cast this affectionate and lovable breed in the proper light.

The film takes the time to examine how breed-specific legislation in San Francisco, Miami, Denver and Cincinnati has affected the lives of pit bulls and those who love them, as well as the greater effects on the cities themselves.

Where to Watch

You can watch “Beyond the Myth” in its entirety for free on YouTube, or you can also watch it for free on Amazon if you’re an Amazon Prime member. If you want to own it yourself, it’s available for purchase online as well!

Ideal Audience

I’ll be honest, much of the subject matter in this film had me fuming with rage, as one ignoramus after another spewed nonsense about these amazing dogs; so, emotional viewers beware. But, it was also quite heartening to see all of the educated, dedicated and wonderful people working on behalf of the breed and the people who love them.

It should be mandatory viewing for any lawmakers considering breed-specific legislation.

3. Dogs: Their Secret Lives

dogs their secret lives

Dogs: Their Secret Lives began as a stand-alone documentary about the crazy things our pooches do while we aren’t home. However, the show received such a positive response that several follow-up episodes were filmed, giving viewers the chance to watch hours of dog antics.

IMDB Score

7.2/10

Rotten Tomato Score

Not rated

Synopsis

Although subsequent episodes of Dogs: Their Secret Lives cover a wide variety of topics, including obesity and other common health concerns, the original documentary focused primarily on the activities our dogs engage in when we leave them alone. The producers met with several different families and set up cameras throughout their homes, to monitor the dogs’ behavior.

The show weaves plenty of interesting science throughout the script, including the use of thermal vision cameras (did you know your dog’s left ear may warm up when he is upset?) and vision-tracking headgear, as well as blood tests that sought to distinguish between the stress hormone levels of dogs with separation anxiety and those without.

Where to Watch

You can watch the original documentary for free on Dailymotion, which is nice, because we weren’t able to find it for sale anywhere (please let us know if you find a place to purchase the documentary in the comments below).

Ideal Audience

Science-minded dog lovers are sure to love this documentary, which explores both the emotional side of dog ownership and the ways we can use science to help give them the best lives possible. Be warned though: Some of the imagery is pretty heart-breaking, and plenty of dog-owner tears are shed on camera.

4. And Man Created Dog

Directed by Pierre de Lespinois and distributed by National Geographic Channel, “And Man Created Dog” takes viewers on a journey through the history of dogs and their domestication.

Length

131 minutes

IMDB Score

8.0/10

Rotten Tomato Score

Not rated

Synopsis

“And Man Created Dog” focuses on the important role humans and dogs have played in each other’s evolutionary histories.

The film captures the symbiotic nature of the relationship we share with our four-footed friends, and emphasizes the fact that we’ve both needed each other throughout the ages. As best put by the scriptwriters, “We humans, have become their ecological niche.”

Among other things, “And Man Created Dog” explores the genetic ties between all modern dogs, which hints at their common ancestry, and the ways in which humans have created the diversity of breeds we have. Starting with the lives of wolves, the documentary traces their path from scrap-stealing interlopers to oxytocin-eliciting companions, who would hunt alongside us and protect us from danger for thousands of years.

Where to Watch

You can watch “And Man Created Dog” for free (and with low resolution) on YouTube. There’s also a higher-quality version on YouTube that’s shorter, but it also seems to be a different format and story structure.

Alternatively, you can purchase the DVD on Amazon.

Ideal Audience

Although the film shares a number of interesting stories that will appeal to any dog-lover, it doesn’t include a lot of hard-science or cutting-edge research, so the nerdier canine fans among us (and I count myself among those) may not find a lot of new information here. But still – it’s over 2 hours’ worth of dogs being dogs, what else do you need?

5. MINE

mine movie

“MINE” is a moving documentary that tells the tale of the displaced pets – and the people who helped them – who were left behind in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

While the subject matter is admittedly dark, the documentary manages to share the story in a compelling manner, that leaves the viewer full of emotion, and feeling closer to his or her own dog. “MINE” was also the winner of the South by Southwest Film Festival

Length

81 minutes

IMDB Score

7.8/10

Rotten Tomato Score

81%

Synopsis

Hurricane Katrina was a catastrophic event, that displaced thousands of residents of Louisiana and Mississippi. And unfortunately, many of these people were unable to take their pets with them as they fled the encroaching floodwaters. These poor animals were often left behind to fend for themselves, until animal welfare professionals arrived to care for these animals.

But soon after the waters receded, and formerly displaced residents started returning, many sought to be reunited with their former pets. As you can imagine, many of the neglected animals had already been placed in new homes, which led to one heart-wrenching custody battle after another.

Where to Watch

You can watch “MINE” for free at TubiTV, or you can purchase your own copy online, from the filmmaker’s website.

Ideal Audience

Pet lovers who have yet to consider their plan in the case of a natural disaster or some other catastrophe. You are guaranteed to develop a plan before the movie even concludes.

***

Give one (or all) of these great documentaries a look the next time you are in the mood for a great flick! They may not feature any explosions or glamorous love scenes, but they’ll help you to better understand your four-footed friend.

Personally, my favorite of the bunch is “Dogs: Their Secret Lives,” because I enjoyed the unique insights the technology used in the film afforded the viewer. But what about you? Let us know which one you liked the most, and be sure to share the names of any great doggie documentaries we missed in the comments below.

best male dog names
Recommended For You

Male Dog Names 2017: Top 100 Male Dog Names

Written by

Ben Team

Ben is the senior content editor for K9 of Mine and has spent most of his adult life working as a wildlife educator and animal-care professional. Ben’s had the chance to work with hundreds of different species, but his favorite animals have always been dogs. He currently lives in Atlanta, GA with his spoiled-rotten Rottweiler named J.B. Chances are, she’s currently giving him the eyes and begging to go to the park.

Dog

Join our pup pack!

Get tons of great dog training advice and tips about gear!

Mailbox

No Comments

Leave a Comment

Name
Email Address
Comment

Also Worth Your Time