• Festivals

The Palm Dog Award – The Canine Alternative to the Palme d’Or

A play on words for the Cannes Film Festival’s top prize, the Palm Dog Award has been presented for the best canine performance in the films at the festival since 2001.

According to its website palmdog.com, “The Palm Dog is the longest-running and foremost award ceremony, celebrating dog performances on the big screen. Hosted on the Grand Hotel’s beach in Cannes, the event has grown in popularity since its humble beginnings in 2001 and has now become a genuine Cannes institution for film and dog lovers on the last Friday of the annual Riviera film event. The bespoke PALM DOG collar is presented by [founder] Toby Rose alongside a jury of leading international film critics for the best performance by a canine (live or animated) or group of canines who feature in a film screened during the Cannes Film Festival.”

The award is an actual press event with the world’s media covering the winners, stars showing up to accept the awards on behalf of the winning dogs in their films, and speeches made by presenters of the awards and the owners of the dogs or directors of the films in which they appeared.

The prize is a gilded leather dog collar with the words “Palm Dog” that is bestowed on the most deserving pooch.

There are also other categories of winners, including a jury prize and a “Palm DogManitarian” award given to a person or company that best exemplifies the bond between dogs and humans.

Peter Bradshaw, the chief film critic of the Guardian, has served on the jury for almost 20 years and considers the Palm Dog “[T]he most coveted award each year, Palme d’Or aside, is the Palm Dog, presented to the year’s best pooch performer.”  

Last year’s Palm Dog winner was Britney, a poodle who starred in War Pony, Riley Keough’s directorial debut which was shown in the Un Certain Regard section of the festival. Keough and her co-director Gina Gammell made the acceptance speech via video on behalf of Britney. A Grand Jury Prize was shared between Marcel, the terrier of the French film Marcel! directed by Jasmine Trinca which was shown in the Special Screenings section, and the canine cast of the Danish film Godland, directed by Hlynur Palmason, which also played in Un Certain Regard. Last year’s DogManitarian winner was Patron, a bomb-sniffing Jack Russell terrier in Kyiv who was also given a medal by Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelenskiy.

In 2021, Tilda Swinton’s three dogs, Rose, Dora and Snowbear, who starred with her in Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir II, won the coveted award and Swinton was present in person to pick up their prize. The Grand Jury Prize was again shared by Sophie the pitbull in Sean Baker’s Red Rocket and Panda the sheepdog from Valdimar Johannson’s Lamb. Baker and Johannsson were both present, the former making note that Sophie was a rescue dog who would have probably died of heartworm if she hadn’t been adopted. MasterCard was awarded the DogManitarian award for their ad campaign featuring dogs as ideal companions during the Covid lockdown.


The most famous Palm Dog winner was Uggie, in 2011, the Jack Russell terrier from The Artist, who captured audiences’ hearts in the Golden Globes and Oscar-winning movie. The little dog, who passed away in 2015, was also given a posthumous “Palm Dog of Palm Dogs” award five years later in a virtual ceremony held during the lockdown which was accepted by his trainer Omar von Muller. The special collar now graces the neck of Dash, the Jack Russell who was his stand-in. “Uggie would be very proud of that, and we will keep this forever,” said von Muller to The Hollywood Reporter. “Dash will be honored to wear it for Uggie. Palm Dog will always have a special place in our hearts because this award was where it all began for Uggie and The Artist.


Other notable winners include the very first one in 2001, Otis from The Anniversary Party, whose award was accepted by director Jennifer Jason Leigh. In 2019, Brandy the pitbull belonging to Brad Pitt’s character from One Upon a Time…in Hollywood, won the award. Director of the film Quentin Tarantino came in person to pick up the award. And an interesting choice of winner was the animated Dug from the Pixar film Up, which was voiced by Doug Peterson in the 2009 movie.

Moses in Lars von Trier’s Dogville (2003), Mops in Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette (2006), Marvin in Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson (2016), and Einstein in Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories (2017), were also distinguished winners.

The awards were established in 2001 by British journalist Toby Rose who explained the genesis of the awards to THR, “Palm Dog was inspired by my fox terrier, born in the Champagne region of France, who went by the name of Mutt. He has since gone to kennel heaven but lives on through the world’s foremost and paw-most awards for dogs on the big screen.”

This year’s winners will be announced at the ceremony on May 26.