I love books, but especially books about dogs or with dogs. So, I thought it would be awesome to go through every single dog book I could find and make a list of the best dog novels (and non-fiction stories) of all-time.
Faith In Every Footstep
How the books were ranked
I probably spent over 50 hours just putting this together in excel. I even created a specific algorithm for ranking books (like I did in the past) based on a combination of reviews, ratings, sales, etc.
Before we get to the list, there was one basic rule that each book had to meet in order to qualify for this list: dogs have to be important characters. I love Nicholas Sparks, but it’s not enough to slap a dog on the cover of the book and label it a “dog book.” The book doesn’t have to be about dogs alone, but they must be front and center with the other characters, or at least critical to the story.
In addition, while I did include many non-fiction books, I tried to avoid:
- Books specifically about dog training
- Collections of true stories
- Multiple books in one series (though I included a couple sequels)
- Children’s books. Not because I don’t like them, just wanted this list to be more novel based.
I’ve received many emails and comments of books to add. I just want you to know the complete list of books is now around 220. As you can see I’ve pared down the list quite a bit, but if you still feel strongly I’ve left one off don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.
One new feature I’ve added is “Current Rank” and “Last Year’s Rank.” The list is updated January of each new year, so “Last Year’s Rank” always refers to the previous year we are currently in. This let’s you track popularity over time.
Lastly, I’ve probably read ~20% of the books on this list. At some point I’m sure I’ll read all or most of them, but for now I had to rely on the reviews and ratings of thousands of other readers. There were some books left off the list, that I thought for sure were top 100. I let my algorithm do its thing and included those books as honorable mentions below the table.
(Special Note: If you’re more of a movie person, be sure to check out my list of dog movies here.)
Top 100 Dog Books Every Dog Lover Should Read
- NR = Not Ranked (this could be a book that wasn’t previously on the Top 100 or a book that has moved out of the Top 100)
- True Story Vs. Non-fiction. A “true story” is technically non-fiction, but I’ve separated “true stories” to be more of memoir style novels, whereas “non-fiction” is reserved for more training or scientific/informative books.
Note: You can filter the table by simply clicking on the column headings (i.e. genre or title).
|Current Rank||Last Year's Rank||Cover||Title||Author||Genre||Where to Find|
|1||6||Where the Red Fern Grows||Wilson Rawls||Fiction||Buy it here|
|2||5||The Art of Racing in the Rain||Garth Stein||Fiction||Buy it here|
|3||1||A Dog's Purpose||W. Bruce Cameron||Fiction||Buy it here|
|4||8||Because of Winn-Dixie||Kate DiCamillo||Fiction||Buy it here|
|5||4||Watchers||Dean Koontz||Fiction||Buy it here|
|6||NR||Say Goodbye for Now||Catherine Ryan Hyde||Fiction||Buy it here|
|7||13||Hello Love||Karen McQuestion||Fiction||Buy it here|
|8||14||The Call of the Wild||Jack London||Fiction||Buy it here|
|9||NR||No Ordinary Dog||Will Chesney||True Story||Buy it here|
|10||2||A Dog's Journey||W. Bruce Cameron||Fiction||Buy it here|
|11||21||Old Yeller||Fred Gipson||Fiction||Buy it here|
|12||24||Shiloh||Phyllis Naylor||Fiction||Buy it here|
|13||27||Rescuing Sprite||Mark R. Levin||True Story||Buy it here|
|14||45||Rescuing Finley||Dan Walsh||Fiction||Buy it here|
|15||46||The Bravest Dog Ever||Natalie Standiford||True Story||Buy it here|
|16||85||Ellie's Story||W. Bruce Cameron||Fiction||Buy it here|
|17||NR||The Forever Dog||Rodney Habib||Non-fiction||Buy it here|
|18||NR||The Speckled Beauty||Rick Bragg||True Story||Buy it here|
|19||3||Until Tuesday||Luis Montalvan||Fiction||Buy it here|
|20||7||Merle's Door||Ted Karasote||Memoir||Buy it here|
|21||9||Following Atticus||Tom Ryan||True Story||Buy it here|
|22||12||Marley and Me||John Grogan||Memoir||Buy it here|
|23||20||The Other End of the Leash||Patricia McConnell||Non-fiction||Buy it here|
|24||22||A Big Little Life||Dean Koontz||Memoir||Buy it here|
|25||23||One Good Dog||Susan Wilson||Fiction||Buy it here|
|26||29||Cujo||Stephen King||Fiction||Buy it here|
|27||36||A Wolf Called Romeo||Nick Jans||True Story||Buy it here|
|28||NR||Thunder Dog||True Story||Buy it here|
|29||NR||When Harry Met Minnie||True Story||Buy it here|
|30||10||White Fang||Jack London||Fiction||Buy it here|
|31||11||Suspect||Robert Crais||Fiction||Buy it here|
|32||19||Travels with Charley||John Steinbeck||Memoir||Buy it here|
|33||NR||To Dance With White Dog||Terry Kay||Fiction||Buy it here|
|34||15||Dog On It||Spencer Quinn||Fiction||Buy it here|
|35||17||Cesar's Way||Cesar Milan||Non-fiction||Buy it here|
|36||35||Inside of a Dog||Alexandra Horowitz||Non-fiction||Buy it here|
|37||NR||As The Stars Fall||Steven N. Lee||Buy it here|
|38||NR||On Talking Terms With Dogs||Turid Rugaas||Buy it here|
|39||18||How Dogs Love Us||Gregory Berns||Fiction||Buy it here|
|40||42||Top Dog||Maria Goodavage||True Story||Buy it here|
|41||50||A Hairy Tail||Jamie Campbell||Fiction||Buy it here|
|42||NR||In Dog We Trust||Non-fiction||Buy it here|
|43||NR||How Dogs Love Us||Gregory Berns||Non-fiction||Buy it here|
|44||16||Amazing Gracie||Dan Dye||True Story||Buy it here|
|45||33||Winterdance||Gary Paulsen||True Story||Buy it here|
|46||44||A Dog's Life||Ann Martin||Fiction||Buy it here|
|47||47||Sergeant Rex||Mike Dowling||True Story||Buy it here|
|48||62||Max||Jennifer Li Shotz||True Story||Buy it here|
|49||81||Woodsong||Gary Paulsen||True Story||Buy it here|
|50||92||Bailey's Story||W. Bruce Cameron||Fiction||Buy it here|
|51||NR||The Lost Dogs||Jim Gorant||True Story||Buy it here|
|52||25||Oogy||Larry Levin||Fiction||Buy it here|
|53||28||The Story of Edgar Sawtelle||David Wroblewski||Fiction||Buy it here|
|54||48||Lily and Octopus||Steven Rowley||Fiction||Buy it here|
|55||49||Sounder||William Armstrong||Fiction||Buy it here|
|56||52||I Will See You in Heaven||Jack Wintz||Non-fiction||Buy it here|
|57||55||Lone Wolf||Kathryn Lasky||Fiction||Buy it here|
|58||60||The Incredible Journey||Shiela Burnford||Fiction||Buy it here|
|59||61||Dog Medicine||Julie Barton||Memoir||Buy it here|
|60||67||The Dog Who Could Fly||Damien Lewis||True Story||Buy it here|
|61||74||Navy SEAL Dogs||Mike Ritland||True Story||Buy it here|
|62||97||Tornado||Betsy Byars||Fiction||Buy it here|
|63||NR||Stepdog: A Novel||Nicole Galland||Buy it here|
|64||NR||The Cruelest Miles||Gay Salisbury||Buy it here|
|65||NR||Judy||Damien Lewis||Buy it here|
|66||30||It's Just a Dog||Russ Ryan||Fiction||Buy it here|
|67||32||A View to Die For||Richard Houston||Fiction||Buy it here|
|68||37||Kelly's Koffee Shop||Dianne Harman||Fiction||Buy it here|
|69||40||Pukka's Promise||Ted Kerasote||Fiction||Buy it here|
|70||64||Flash||Donna Ball||Fiction||Buy it here|
|71||82||The Dog Who Saved Me||Susan Wilson||Fiction||Buy it here|
|72||NR||Unsaid||Neil Abramson||Buy it here|
|73||NR||Someone To Look Up To||Jean Gill||Buy it here|
|74||NR||Maverick (Tin Star K9 Series Book 2)||Jodi Burnett||Fiction||Buy it here|
|75||NR||Storm Rising (An F.B.I. K-9 Novel Book 3)||Sara Driscoll||Fiction||Buy it here|
|76||31||Unspoken Bond||Blake O'Connor||Fiction||Buy it here|
|77||41||The Dog Master||W. Bruce Cameron||Fiction||Buy it here|
|78||43||The Genius of Dogs||Brian Hare||Non-fiction||Buy it here|
|79||NR||Lone Wolf (An F.B.I. K-9 Novel Book 1)||Sara Driscoll||Fiction||Buy it here|
|80||NR||Gabby||Barby Keel||True Story||Buy it here|
|81||26||Rescue Me, Maybe||Jackie Bouchard||Fiction||Buy it here|
|82||53||Lost and Found||Jacqueline Sheehan||Fiction||Buy it here|
|83||NR||Follow My Leader||James Garfield||Fiction||Buy it here|
|84||NR||Black Velvet||Steven Henry||Fiction||Buy it here|
|85||NR||Renegade (Tin Star K9 Series Book 1)||Jodi Burnett||Fiction||Buy it here|
|86||NR||Avenging Adam (FBI-K9 Series Book 1)||Jodi Burnett||Buy it here|
|87||34||The Stolen Dog||Tricia O'Malley||True Story||Buy it here|
|88||56||Free Days with George||Colin Campbell||True Story||Buy it here|
|89||NR||Hero||Jennifer Li Shotz||Buy it here|
|90||NR||Wallace||Jim Gorant||True Story||Buy it here|
|91||NR||Be Right Back!||Julie Naismith||Non-fiction||Buy it here|
|92||39||An Unexpected Grace||Kristin von Kreisler||Fiction||Buy it here|
|93||51||The Dog Who Danced||Susan Wilson||Fiction||Buy it here|
|94||57||The Sight||David Clement-Davies||Fiction||Buy it here|
|95||68||Through a Dog's Eyes||Jennifer Arnold||Memoir||Buy it here|
|96||70||Outfoxed||David Rosenfelt||Fiction||Buy it here|
|97||83||Lad||Albert Terhune||Fiction||Buy it here|
|98||89||Lassie Come Home||Eric Knight||Fiction||Buy it here|
|99||NR||Dogsong||Gary Paulsen||Fiction||Buy it here|
|100||NR||Rose In A Storm||Jon Katz||Fiction||Buy it here|
|NR||38||From Baghdad, With Love||Jay Kopelman||True Story||Buy it here|
|NR||54||Smoky Mountain Tracks||Donna Ball||Fiction||Buy it here|
|NR||58||The Second Chance Dog||Jon Katz||Fiction||Buy it here|
|NR||59||You Had Me at Woof||Julie Klam||Memoir||Buy it here|
|NR||63||All Dogs Go to Kevin||Jessica Vogelsang||Memoir||Buy it here|
|NR||65||Connected Souls: A Dog Story||Dana Landers||Short Story||Buy it here|
|NR||66||The Luckiest Dog in the World||Susan Palmer||Fiction||Buy it here|
|NR||69||Hope In Every Raindrop||Wesley Banks||Fiction||Buy it here|
|NR||71||A Dog Named Christmas||Greg Kincaid||Fiction||Buy it here|
|NR||72||A Man of His Own||Susan Wilson||Fiction||Buy it here|
|NR||73||Irish Red||Jim Kjelgaard||Fiction||Buy it here|
|NR||75||What the Dog Knows||Cat Warren||Non-fiction||Buy it here|
|NR||76||Must Love Dogs||Clair Cook||Fiction||Buy it here|
|NR||77||Miracle on Wolf Hollow Lane||Blake O'Connor||Fiction||Buy it here|
|NR||78||Kavik The Wolf Dog||Walt Morey||Fiction||Buy it here|
|NR||79||Dog Crazy||Meg Donahue||Fiction||Buy it here|
|NR||80||Lessons from Tara||David Rosenfelt||Memoir||Buy it here|
|NR||84||House Broken||Sonja Yoerg||Fiction||Buy it here|
|NR||86||Promise of the Wolves: A Novel||Dorothy Hearst||Fiction||Buy it here|
|NR||87||Pukka||Ted Kerasote||Fiction||Buy it here|
|NR||88||Stay||Allie Larkin||Fiction||Buy it here|
|NR||90||101 Dalmations||Dodie Smith||Fiction||Buy it here|
|NR||91||Stay||Dave Burchett||True Story||Buy it here|
|NR||93||The Plague Dogs||Richard Adams||Fiction||Buy it here|
|NR||94||Dog Sense||John Bradshaw||Non-fiction||Buy it here|
|NR||95||A Forever Home||Kaleigh Mills||Fiction||Buy it here|
|NR||96||Fell||David Clement-Davies||Fiction||Buy it here|
|NR||98||Katie||Glen Plaskin||True Story||Buy it here|
|NR||99||Just Life||Neil Abramson||Fiction||Buy it here|
|NR||100||Little Man in a Dog Suit||B.R. Wilson||True Story||Buy it here|
- The Philosopher and the Wolf. It kind of breaks my heart to not have this book on this, because it’s my absolute favorite. Not enough people have heard of it unfortunately.
- Say Goodbye for Now. As of writing this, Catherine Ryan Hyde’s latest book is not yet out. It looks like it will be phenomenal, but time will tell.
- Red Dog. I haven’t read this book, but I’ve had A LOT of people tell me it should be on the list. It barely missed the cut, but I think I’ll be checking it out soon, especially since there was a major motion picture made after it.
Notes On The 2022 Update
This list has officially been updated for 2022! Woohoo!
Just a few notes and thoughts…
For the 2nd year in a row I have not removed books that fell out of the Top 100. They simply remain on the list with a rank of “NR” below the new Top 100.
This year 30 books fell out of the Top 100, which means we’ve got 30 new books on the list.
We also saw a change at the top of the list for the first time in 3 years. One of my personal favorites, Where The Red Fern Grows, overtook the top spot! Well deserved.
In addition, I’m planning to add a list of the other 100+ books that don’t appear in the above table. Many of you send me fairly passionate emails about books left off the list and I want to make sure to include them somewhere even if they don’t make the Top 100. It’s going to take me a little bit, but this list will be at the very bottom of this post soon.
My Personal Favorite Dog Books
I’ve talked about my favorite books before, but never my favorite dog books. This is going to be tough, but I’ll give it a shot.
- The Philosopher and the Wolf. I know I said this above, but this is my favorite by far. I don’t think this book is for everyone though. It’s laden with philosophy and discusses the life and loss of the wolf owned by Mark Rowlands.
- Where the Red Fern Grows. This is probably the first book that ever made me cry. It’s a quick read, but every dog owner will be able to instantly understand the bond between a boy and his dogs.
- Call of the Wild. Of every single book on this list I think Call of the Wild is the best in terms of literary accomplishment. Reading Jack London is like being transposed into the story itself.
- The Sight. I’m a huge fantasy reader, so finding a book that has a pack of wolves as the main characters, and a story told in their point of view, was just stellar. I think a lot of books on this list are “better” dog books, but this is still one of my favorites in the fantasy genre.
What are Your Favorites?
While I did my best not to miss any, I’m sure I did. It was quite the undertaking to compile such a list, but my plan is to update at least annually if not semi-annually.
With that said, I’ve got two questions for you:
- Which one is your favorite?
- Did I miss any?
Let me know in the comments below!
I promise I read all the comments, but that doesn’t guarantee the book you recommend makes the Top 100.