Disney Movies with Animals

Written by AZ Animals Staff
Published: December 14, 2021
Image Credit iStock.com/Bigandt_Photography
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Given that its mascot and most famous character is a talking mouse, it isn’t surprising that Disney has a lot of movies with animals, and talking animals most especially. From talking dogs to singing cats to helpful mice, Disney movies have always had a soft spot for animals as characters. Whether they’re there as main characters, side characters, or comic relief, animals play a big role in classic Disney movies. Though there are many, many live-action films about animals by Disney, for brevity, the following is a list of 10 of the most iconic animated Disney movies featuring animals.

#10: The Jungle Book (1967)

From a panther and tiger to an orangutan, The Jungle Book has a variety of jungle animals.

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The Jungle Book is one of the classic Disney movies and it is chock full of talking animals. Though the main protagonist is technically a human boy, he’s surrounded by animals who wish him both well and ill. We have Baloo, the bear who is, along with his friend Bagheera the panther, one of his mentors and father figures. Then we have the villain of the piece in the form of Shere Khan, the man-eating tiger. And last but not least, we have the not quite evil but also not very helpful King Louie the orangutan, who just wanted to be like Mowgli, so he could make fire.

#9: The Aristocats (1970)

The female lead in The Aristocats Is likely a Persian like this beautiful feline.

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What’s not to love about singing cats? In The Aristocats, the lead cat Duchess, who appears to be a Persian, along with her three kittens, gets kidnapped by a greedy butler who thinks they’ll outlive him. They are helped along the way by a couple of dogs and an alley cat, and eventually, make their way home. Like the song suggests, this movie makes everybody want to be a cat.

#8: Bambi (1942)

A Disney classic, Bambi is the sweet story of an orphaned deer who’s learning to survive on his own.

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Bambi is nearly 80 years old, but it remains a classic Disney film. The story follows a young deer named Bambi who is eventually left an orphan after his mother is killed. After her death, he learns to survive in the forest with the help of his best friends, Flower, a lovable skunk, and Thumper the rabbit. Though the death of Bambi’s mother is a heavy moment in the film, many classic Disney movies deal with sad themes like this, and even some of the modern ones do as well. In fact, Bambi isn’t even close to the saddest movie on this list!

#7: The Lion King (1994)

Simba seeks to take his rightful place as King of the Jungle in The Lion King.

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With even darker themes than our previous entry, The Lion King follows a pride of royal lions in Africa. When Simba is born, he is held up as the heir to the throne, but his uncle Scar murders his father Mufasa, sending Simba away from the pride to hide while Scar takes over. With the help of a warthog and a meerkat, however, Simba makes his way home a few years later and takes his rightful place as king of the jungle. The songs alone make this a good watch.

#6: 101 Dalmatians (1961)

101 dalmatians and a slew of their puppy friends try to avoid capture from the evil Cruella DeVille, in 101 Dalmatians.

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Though the 101 Dalmatians are the main characters here, there is also a small handful of supporting players that make 101 Dalmations a fun movie to watch. There are Anita and Roger, of course, who own the original pair of Dalmatians whose puppies start the whole movie. Roger is the one who sings the iconic song about our villain, Cruella DeVille, who along with her henchman Jasper, attempts to steal all the puppies in the area in order to make a coat. Other talking animals help along the way, and eventually, Roger and Anita get their own puppies back, along with many, many others.

#5: Cinderella (1950)

Cinderella finds friendship in the most unlikely of places, thanks to nearby horses and mice.

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They may not be main characters, but the talking mice in Cinderella are the primary reason why she was able to accomplish anything in the house she shared with her stepmother and stepsisters. The Fairy Godmother may have gotten Cinderella to the ball so she could meet the Prince, but the mice were the ones who helped her through her day-to-day life before that. And without them and the other animals around the farm, there’d have been no coachman, footman, or horses for the carriage that took her to the ball. They also helped her escape to try on the glass slipper after she had been locked in the attic so she couldn’t. The mice were, in fact, her only true friends.

#4: The Rescuers

Bernard and Miss Bianca, both mice, are the two leading characters in Disney’s The Rescuers.

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One often overlooked Disney movie with talking animals for main characters is The Rescuers. Besides the young girl Penny and the villain Madame Medusa who kidnapped her in order to try and get a large diamond, there are Bernard and Miss Bianca, the two mice that ultimately save Penny from Medusa’s clutches. In addition to Bernard and Miss Bianca, there are also a seagull, an owl, and a dragonfly named Evinrude, each of whom plays a significant part in helping save the day and rescuing Penny. It may seem a bit dark for a children’s story, but really all of the movies on this list have dark undertones. This one just has a little less of the lightheartedness that most of the others use to balance it, but it is still a classic talking animals animation.

#3: Oliver and Company (1988)

Oliver and Company features several different dog breeds, including Doberman Pinschers.

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With music and voice work by Billy Joel along with a host of other famous voices, Oliver and Company is one of the often-overlooked classic Disney movies with talking animals. The main protagonist is an orange cat of indeterminate origin, but there are several interesting breeds of dogs in the movie as well, including a Saluki, a Chihuahua, and two
Doberman Pinschers. The movie is an animated retelling of the classic Dickens story of Oliver Twist. Just like the original tale, it has a lot of sad times, but it also has a lot of fun and silly moments and some good life lessons.

#2: Dumbo (1941)

One of the most classic Disney movies of all time, Dumbo is the story of a baby circus elephant who can fly.

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This classic Disney movie may be from 1941, but this film about a baby circus elephant who can fly thanks to the help of his giant ears is well-loved to this day. There are elements that are problematic to modern eyes, including a drunk rat, but the themes about love and believing in yourself stand up. The darker parts open the way for difficult conversations with children about things like race and bullying and drinking to excess, in a way that makes it easier for them to understand. And if you can watch the part with “Baby Mine” and not cry, you’re made of stern stuff indeed.

#1: Lady and the Tramp (1955)

Lady and the Tramp includes a number of dog breeds such as the pretty Cocker Spaniel.

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Lady and the Tramp is the classic tale of falling in love with someone from the wrong side of the tracks, both of whom happen to be dogs, in this case. With the help of a Scottie named Jock and his bloodhound pal Trusty, the well-born Lady must navigate a new baby in the house and falling in love below her station. Like Dumbo, there are some problematic elements to Lady and the Tramp, such as the song about the Siamese cats, which many have said play up racist Asian stereotypes. As with Dumbo, however, this opens the door for discussions with children about this topic, in a way they can easily relate to.

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