Red Dog

Movie review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Red Dog Movie Poster Image
Emotional dog tale features drinking, violence, and loss.
  • PG
  • 2012
  • 92 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 9 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie espouses positive messages about loyalty, love, friendship, and courage.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters are odd, eccentric, cantankerous, kind -- while not always drawn deeply, they are memorable.


There are scenes of fist-fights, threats of physical violence, an attempted suicide, and a few instances of death or injury referenced, but not shown. In one scene, a dog is shot, but survives. In another, a man dies in a motorcycle accident.  


A couple kisses sensually in two scenes. In another, a couple is shown waking up in bed together in the morning and kissing. A man imagines a woman giving birth, her legs extended in the air, but nothing graphic is revealed.


The dog is called "cheeky bastard" and "dirty filthy whoring ham." There are numerous visual gags/references to farts.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

In nearly every scene involving humans, there is alcohol involved. Most of the film is set in a bar, but several settings involve get-togethers where beer flows freely. Drunkenness is not depicted per se, nor is the booze shown as the cause of the violence or general roughhousing, but it's always present.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Red Dog is the story about the loss of a pet. The setting is the hardscrabble Australian Outback, and there's a great deal of drinking, scrappiness, some violence, a scene of attempted suicide, and a few deaths. The dog is called "cheeky bastard" and "dirty filthy whoring ham." There are also numerous visual gags/references to farts. The film is most appropriate for older kids, but it does have positive messages about pet loyalty and friendship that families will appreciate.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 8 and 8-year-old Written byChula B. July 25, 2018

Definitely emotional

This movie taught us the true value of Common Sense Media! We didn't check here before we watched this wonderful movie, and the grief and loss was definite... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old September 5, 2014

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Emotional, but also not too slow. - Epicboy21

Given the PG certificate in all Australia (where I saw this when it was first released), America and the United Kingdom, it deserves one in all countries: howev... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byanismary90 November 9, 2020


i think its a grate movie

What's the story?

RED DOG is based on true events, but it's the stuff of legend: an extremely intelligent, exceptionally loyal dog who changes the lives of everyone he meets along the way, and who will go to the ends of the earth for his master -- as soon as he chooses him.

Is it any good?

As dog movies go, Red Dog offers some unique framing: It's set in the starkly beautiful Australian Outback; it's told against the tale of the rough-hewn miners he finds a home among. It's a beautifully shot movie in an inherently interesting setting. It doesn't take every opportunity for tear-jerking sentiment, but it is an emotional tale of how this special dog impacted the people he interacted with. 

There's a lot here for families to mull over about the nature of dog ownership, particularly in the message that we don't really own our pets, we merely get to live with them. Kids who love dogs will likely be fascinated by the legendary tale of this dog's loyalty. Like all movies celebrating pets, this one deals with loss directly. Parents who've reconciled the setting and excessive, ever-present drinking, and scrappiness may enjoy this family foray into the joys and sorrows of pet ownership.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about pet loss and the influence pets have on our lives. Have you ever had a pet that died? How did it make you feel? How did you cope with your sadness? How have your pets changed your lives?

  • Go online to learn more about the vast geography of Australia.

  • Red Dog is a stray who is taken in by a community. Go online to learn more about animals who've been abandoned and what communities can do to help reduce the number of stray pets.

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animals

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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