Admit it. Whichever Disney pet you loved most as a kid probably determined (or greatly influenced) what type of pet you grew up with. In the very least (and if your parents were vehemently against adopting a tiger—go figure), you can't help having a soft spot for the classic pet sidekick that inevitably turns up in every Disney movie. And we don't blame you! Even if their appearance is purely for comic relief and they don't do anything for the main character or the story, we're always on the look out for the next standout Disney pet.
In fact, we believe pet sidekicks are crucial additions to any animated feature film. They prove time and time again that they are valuable characters who can help advance plot points, help the main character develop, assist them in a crisis (or perpetuate it, in some cases), provide reassuring distractions in tough situations, and simply look adorable onscreen. There is no denying each pet throughout Disney history has had distinct original characteristics and quirks. Even if they had the smallest of roles or did not speak at all, we've curated a list of some of the most underrated Disney pets of all time who definitely deserve some recognition.
Everyone's favorite raccoon, Meeko, gave the bandit-eyed mammal with a pesky reputation a surprisingly good name. Making his appearance in the Disney animated feature film Pocahontas in 1995, Meeko was a staple sidekick and remains a fan favorite for many. Not to be overshadowed by Pocahontas' other animal friend, Flit the hummingbird, Meeko stands out for his raucous behavior and tendency to poke his nose where it shouldn't be. Truly a food fiend and willing to cause trouble when he's feeling hungry, Meeko is also a loyal companion to Pocahontas and looks out for her whenever she's in an uncomfortable situation (with Kocoum, for example). In the movie, he also finds an unlikely frenemy in Percy, the princely pug who belongs to the English settler, Governor Ratcliffe. There's no denying that even though Meeko is great at making enemies—you can't stay mad at him for long.
It may be debatable whether Pegasus is more of a pet or a best friend to Hercules, but aren't they one in the same? Described by Zeus as a creature with the body of a horse and the brain of a bird, Pegasus was created by the famous Thunder God himself as a gift to baby Hercules. Unfortunately, their bond as young horse and boy are short-lived with Hercules' kidnapping, but eventually they reunite years later and continue their friendship.
Pegasus is the ultimate pet: loyal beyond belief (after all, it's his job to protect Hercules), magical (how else does he escape attacks with such ease?), and maybe a little too overprotective (as with his jealousy of Meg). Overall, even though he can be stubborn, Pegasus is always quick to be by Hercules' side, and is capable of having a change of heart if it's in the best interest of his pal.
Anything but frightening, Zero remains a loyal dog companion - even in the afterlife. Appearing in the 1993 film The Nightmare Before Christmas by Tim Burton, Zero is a supporting character to the role of Jack. Made up mostly of your stereotypical Halloween-ghost sheet costume, Zero has the appearance of a basset hound, though with empty holes for eyes and a glowing lantern for a nose (think Rudolph). Despite his unassuming stature, Zero is actually a pivotal character in the film, and it's greatly due to him that Jack is able to light the way through the fog while delivering presents. He seems to empathize whenever Jack is sad (like a real dog!), and even celebrates Jack and Sally's romance at the end of the movie by turning into a star during their kiss. To us, Zero is the real hero of the story.
Okay, so Rajah may be well known in the Disney world, but was he ever truly appreciated as he should've been in the actual film? We meet Rajah in the 1992 classic Aladdin, when he's introduced as Princess Jasmine's loyal and majestic pet tiger. Not only is this beautiful feline caring and dedicated to supporting and protecting Jasmine in the movie, but he puts up with a lot of nonsense along the way. Raised as a circus tiger who escaped during a tour in Agrabah, Rajah was found by Jasmine as a cub, and eventually purchased by the Sultan. We see time and time again how fiercely loyal Rajah is to the princess, and how he wouldn't accept any undesirable suitors who came for her. Briefly, we see Rajah turned into a cub by Jafar (too cute), but thankfully he is restored by the end of the movie and returns to Jasmine's side.
It's not too far fetched to suggest that Merlin wouldn't be the wizard he is without the guidance (and constant reminders) of his pet owl, Archimedes. Maybe overlooked by the younger Disney generation, this sarcastic and hilariously grumpy owl is definitely not to be missed as one of the first supporting pet characters in the Disney vault. Laughing and revelling at the expense of Merlin's shortcomings, Merlin is a very intellectual talking owl who says what's on his mind without second thought. In fact, he makes it clear he has no liking of Wart from the beginning. But, of course, eventually warms up to him (and saves him, no less). Known for attracting squirrels and ruffling his feathers, Archimedes is one tough bird that we can't help but love.
Like with all the characters in the Toy Story trilogy, Buster the dachshund is a staple character (though minor) in Andy's life. Making an appearance at the end of the first movie, Buster is given to Andy as a present, and in turn, all the toys react with worried expressions. Possibly one of the best—and unlikely—friendships in Toy Story 2 occurs between Buster (who is now a grown dog) and Woody. We get to see how their relationship developed into a hide-and-seek playing, joking friendship (he understands the toys!), where both of them end up helping the other out. The real test of friendship unfolds in Toy Story 3 when Buster responds to Woody (albeit slowly) and appears as a greying, but always lovable senior dog. Though he's not too much help for the toys, he clearly has remained a friend throughout, and we're unsure whether Buster was truly Andy's pet, or Woody's.
If only we had more interaction with the puppy-like porker, Pua, in the 2016 Disney film Moana! As much as we loved Hei Hei and how he somehow was able to survive Maui, the effects of storms, and lava battles, we can't help wishing it was Pua by Moana's side. Shown to be a loyal and tolerant pet to Moana while she was on land, sadly the piglet didn't make it into a large chunk of the movie. Pua was initially written in to the movie with a bigger part, but eventually omitted in order to allow Moana to truly struggle to come into her own. Pua was still there from the beginning, though, championing for her and her sailing ambitions—and even throwing himself into a scary and dangerous scene in the sea! Although Moana fans everywhere made it clear they were disappointed in the lack of Pua, the pig clearly made a great impression on everyone and deserves some credit for being Moana's biggest fan.
In the 2010 Disney Rapunzel adaptation, Tangled, we were treated to one of the few reptile characters in the Disneyverse. Pascal (who unfortunately could not talk) is Rapunzel's best friend and loyal pet. Considering he's also Rapunzel's only friend and living creature with whom she interacts with (aside from Gothel), he plays a huge supporting role and advances the plot by encouraging Rapunzel to leave her tower. He also helps her do her chores, accompanies her while she paints, and provides support however he can. Although he is very protective of Rapunzel when Flynn Rider arrives, in the end he goes as far to support their relationship as well. Now that is what we call a loving companion. Whoever said 'dogs are a man's best friend' clearly never had a Pascal before...
The most vocal, romantic, and spicy dog in Fagan's dog gang, Tito (full name: Ignacio Alonzo Julio Frederico de Tito) is one of the many lovable characters in the 1988 film Oliver and Company. But Tito definitely stands alone. Voiced by none other than Cheech Marin (who is probably the main source of the chihuahua's spunky personality), Tito is the tiny ticking time-bomb that accompanies Dodger and the gang to their rescue effort of Jenny; who was being held captive by Sykes.
Known for quickly falling head over heels for the narcissistic poodle, Georgette, during the "kidnapping" of Oliver at Jenny's mansion, Tito proves by the end of the film that he is worthy of her affection. Even though he's often used as a scapegoat (and is particularly averse to all the times he is electrocuted on the job), Tito remains a fierce friend and loyal pet to Fagan and the rest of his animal pals. Without him, many tricky escapes would never have succeeded (he saved everyone in the end by driving them across the cables on the bridge), and he was always the first to fearlessly jump into action.
Another often forgotten supporting pal, Djali from The Hunchback of the Notre Dame deserves some love. The loyal (though unsurprisingly strange) goat companion to Esmerelda, Djali sports a gold hoop in his ear and acts just as feisty and sassy as you could hope for. He's pretty much a goat who thinks he's a human, and that's what we love most about the little guy. Djali, much like Esmerelda, has a heart of gold (and a stomach of steel), and helps her on her journey to justice. He helps her save Quasimodo and may be shy in some circumstances, but is definitely not shy in the face of Esmerelda's enemies. He is one badass goat! Another goat named Hugo, eventually takes a romantic interest in him, but this isn't fully explored until the sequel.
A classic pet helper in the Disney classic Peter Pan, Nana, the Saint Bernard, doubles as a fluffy companion character, motherly guardian, and nurse to the Darling children. She cleans the bedroom, puts away toys, and administers medicine to all the children before bed. In the scene where the father, George Darling, trips over Nana in the hallway, the children rush to her aid instead of to his (I mean, wouldn't we all?) Sadly, this is the time when he announces Wendy is now grown up and Nana should no longer be a nurse, and remain a dog who sleeps outside in the doghouse (no!!). We're not the only ones who thought this was cruel—the children were beside themselves. Regardless, Nana is one of the most helpful dog helpers in Disney as a whole, and to this day remains everyone's favorite nurse.
A heart-wrenching and bittersweet movie at any age in any year, The Fox and the Hound is a timeless classic with an unusual animal protagonist. Tod, the adopted fox pup orphaned at birth, eventually comes into the life of Widow Tweed, who raises him. Obviously mischievous and unruly (as any fox or dog pup is), Tod finds himself getting into trouble more often than not. Thankfully, he finds a friend to have adventures with! Copper, a hound puppy belonging to Amos Slade, who lives next door. Copper lives in a doghouse beside the menacing Chief, and for reasons you can all guess, eventually learns to become a hunting dog like him; one who hunts animals like Tod. The story itself is incredibly sad, and although Tod is released by Tweed into the forest where he belongs, their time together was sweetly indicative of a rare friendship.
You most definitely forgot about Sultan—and no, not the bumbling father of Princess Jasmine in Aladdin. Sultan the dog appears in two forms in the Disney film Beauty and the Beast. In full dog form (revealed at the end of the movie after Belle breaks the spell), he appears as a chubby shaggy brown dog loyal to the Beast. When we first meet him, however, he has been transformed into a red and gold footstool covered in tassels. Nevertheless, he offers his assistance to Maurice when he seeks shelter in the castle, and provides Belle with companionship during her stay. Like your everyday pup sidekick, Sultan is the ultimate stereotypical dog, and brings a level of humanity and friendship into a situation which was greatly lacking in exactly those things.
Sergeant Tibbs is certainly no regular cat. Many cats in the Disneyverse have taken on the character of deceiving, a contrary rival to other animal characters, and even direct enemies to some human ones (aside from The Aristocats, of course). Sergeant Tibbs, on an entirely different spectrum, is one of the most helpful and lovable characters in a movie dedicated entirely to animals. In 101 Dalmatians, we meet Tibbs in a barn outside London after Captain (the horse) gets wind of missing puppies from the city. Along with Colonel the sheepdog (who honestly wouldn't get anything done without Tibbs), the intellectual cat sets off to investigate. We love him primarily because he is a fantastic sergeant, respects all the other animals, and is genuinely concerned for the safety of a whole lotta puppies he's never met before.
There have been many Disney horses that deserve recognition, or at least should be applauded for their assistance across movies. There's one horse, however, who is not only the helpful and hardworking animal of a soldier, but also the expressive and amusing companion. Khan from Disney's Mulan embodies all of these qualities and more. A handsome black horse who often acts holier-than-thou (and for good reason), Khan accompanies, aids, and saves Mulan as she disguises herself in the army as Ping. Khan has an ongoing rivalry with Mushu (who calls him a sheep and other insults), but in the end is always there to protect his human. We have to hand it to this horse, there's never quite been any pet quite as sassy or charismatic as Khan.