Jock the Hero Dog Movie Poster Image

Jock the Hero Dog



Uplifting dog tale features more menace than you'd expect.
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 80 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Strong messages of friendship, bravery, and perseverance in facing fears, with an emphasis on believing in yourself, not judging a book by its cover, and that what's in your heart matters most.

Positive role models

Jock is the epitome of courage and loyalty. Animals routinely stand up for and protect each other from harm. Animals and humans mentor and guide a dog through the dangerous outback. 


Film includes pervasive menace and peril for the characters, who frequently speak aggressively and act callously and maliciously. In one drawn-out scene a boy dog watched his mother die and mourns her. Animals are frequently mishandled or abused. Shots are often heard in the distance. Dogs fight; scenes include an eagle flying off with a dog and an attempt to eat him and a man drowning a dog (but the dog is saved). A dead deer is shown with flies swarming on the carcass, but no blood. A man attempts to stab another man with a spear; a shot is fired to distract him. A lion chases a dog and is threatened with a spear. An alligator is stabbed with a spear, then shot. A man is hit over the head with a pan. A wagon is set fire and a dog caged and forced to fight a baboon. A leopard viciously attacks two dogs and is pushed off a cliff.



Non-sexual nudity involves male characters without shirts on. Two dogs flirt with each other. A baboon blows a dog a kiss.


A dog is called "lazy," a "dirty scavenger" and "worthless."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A man drinks from a flask. Men are shown visibly drunk at a saloon.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Jock the Hero Dog may look like a family friendly comedy for all ages, but its use of rough-edged characters with harsh dispositions and an affection for casual violence are too mature for a very young audience. The movie includes a sad, drawn-out scene where a young dog's mother is killed and mourned, plus several scenes where the main characters are in serious danger. Themes such as perseverance and doing the right thing will ring true for kids mature enough for the rougher stuff.

Kids say

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What's the story?

A small dog named Jock (voiced by pop star Bryan Adams) with outsize determination embarks on an animated adventure across the South African bush while his owner Fitz (Theo Landey) searches for gold. Along the way, Jock befriends native animals, dodges death, learns about friendship and loss, and discovers the importance of perseverance and facing life with courage. While doing so, he must navigate the complexities of the human characters' greed and ambition as they search for fortunes. The movie is narrated by Donald Sutherland and features an all-star cast that includes Helen Hunt (as mom Jess) and Ted Danson (Pezulu).

Is it any good?


Jock the Hero Dog is an entertaining, competently animated CGI tale about a runty dog's triumph over adversity. However, its dark themes, ruffian characters, and gritty plot points make for an unexpectedly heavy viewing experience given that the film is clearly marketed as family entertainment. Concepts such as death, aggression, and senseless brutality, set against a bleak landscape, are more mature than expected, and make for an overall uneven tone. 

The film is based on the true South African story of Jock of the Bushveld, a book originally released in 1907, twice made into movies that also struggled to find an audience due to its mournful overtones. In spite of these tonal missteps, there's plenty to enjoy for kids in this high-stakes, engaging adventure about a curious, fun-seeking dog on his own out in the world. Parents will appreciate the all-star cast, but may find the oft-repeated cliches about following your heart and doing the right thing a tad heavy-handed.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the harshness of the South African landscape the film depicts. What is it about the film's setting and the way of life it depicts that might explain why these characters are so desperate for money or so quick to hurt each other? Does their behavior make sense given the harsh conditions in which they live?



  • What lessons does Jock the dog learn about survival, friendship, and family over the course of his adventure?

  • How does Jock cope with the loss of his mother, and his guilt over his role in her death? What would you tell Jock about his feeling that his mother's death was his fault?

  • How is this movie different than other animated animal movies that you've seen?

Movie details

DVD/Streaming release date:September 25, 2012
Cast:Donald Sutherland, Helen Hunt
Director:Duncan MacNeillie
Studio:Arc Entertainment
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Adventures, Book characters, Cats, dogs, and mice, Friendship, Wild animals
Run time:80 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:some menace and peril

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Parent Written byglide February 15, 2015

This was the only movie we ever stopped watching

Really don't bother - I wouldn't waste my time at any age - aside from horrible production value, very boring and complicated narrative, and not figuring out what the fascination was with the dog - we watched for about 40 minutes and turned it off - no wonder we never heard of it before - lots of violence and very horrible people and animals depicted - it was a very 'mean' movie - at least what we saw - we couldn't get through enough of it to see the 'meaningful' part of the movie. (which I doubt outweighed the horrible stuff) The nice main character human was quite unsympathetic and bit of a dolt, his guide was a better role model. It was more like a violent PG-13 movie but was animated - so you think it is friendlier - - it also stole little items from Ice Age, and Lion King - so they thought they had a formula... As an adult I wouldn't waste my time - as for the kids - age 8, 9, 10 - it was horrible - killing animals, torturing animals, drowning animals, bullying people, fighting with people, animal on animal violence, people on animal violence, people on people violence, etc. You get the picture.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking