The best middle grade books about dogs and their owners often warm readers hearts, whether or not they’re dog lovers. Although I already have a list of middle grade books about animals, it was only right to make one just about dogs! This list includes books written from the dogs’ perspective and those about the bond shared by a tween and their dog.
Best Middle Grade Books About Dogs
Here are 31 of the best middle grade books about dogs:
Luna has always wanted to be a therapy dog at Therapy Dogs Worldwide. Now she’s a whisker away from reaching her fifty-visit pin that will make it official. But when her “clients”—the children who visit her—are put into a therapy group, Luna’s routine is upended.
Like the moon, Luna shows different faces at different times. And her clients each have different needs—Beatrice is tangled in knots of anger, Caleb rushes like a waterfall, Amelia carries fear heavy like a shadow, and Hector is quiet as a rock. To comfort the kids, Luna can be what they need her to be, but can she be everything to them all at once?
When Hector doesn’t show up to a session one day, the kids set off on an unexpected quest to find him. Luna joins to keep them safe, and they must work together to almost learn the truth.
Ever since she was a puppy, Stella was trained to use her powerful beagle nose to sniff out dangerous chemicals and help her handler keep people safe. But during a routine security inspection, Stella misses the scent of an explosive. The sound of the blast is loud and scary. Unable to go back to work because of her anxiety, Stella is retired as a working dog.
When a young girl name Cloe wants to adopt Stella, the beagle knows this is her last chance to prove her worth. But how? When Stella smells a strange chemical inside Cloe’s body, a scent that surges just before the girl has a seizure, Stella’s nose makes the connection. But how can Stella warn her new family without them thinking she’s having an anxiety attack? How can she convince others that she can be a new kind of service dog and hopefully save Cloe’s life?
Told from Stella’s perspective, this story is about a special dog who must find the courage to overcome her fears in order to help save a young girl with epilepsy.
Ever since Cosmo became a big brother to Max ten years ago, he’s known what his job was: to protect his boy and make him happy. Through many good years marked by tennis balls and pilfered turkey, torn-up toilet paper and fragrant goose poop, Cosmo has doggedly kept his vow. Until recently, his biggest problems were the evil tutu-wearing sheepdog he met on Halloween and the arthritis in his own joints. But now, with Dad-scented blankets appearing on the couch and arguing voices getting louder, Cosmo senses a tougher challenge ahead. When Max gets a crazy idea to teach them both a dance routine for a contest, how can Cosmo refuse, stiff hips or no? Max wants to remind his folks of all the great times they’ve had together dancing — and make them forget about the “d” word that’s making them all cry. Told in the open, optimistic, unintentionally humorous voice of a golden retriever, I, Cosmo will grab readers from the first page — and remind them that love and loyalty transcend whatever life throws your way.
Newbery Honoree Marion Dane Bauer evokes the “summer that changed everything” in the life of a boy growing up without a mother. Since as far back as Ben can remember, it’s been him, his devoted dad, and Sunshine–Ben’s little dog, who rarely leaves Ben’s side. It was Mom who did the leaving, and Ben’s about to spend a whole week with his suddenly present mother in the wilds of northern Minnesota. On the remote island she calls home, Ben will learn to camp, canoe, weather the elements, and weigh a burning question: when will she come back to where she belongs? A must-read for dog lovers, children of divorce, and the imaginative and outdoorsy, Sunshine is a poignant, ultimately hopeful story about self-discovery, facing big realities, and finally, forgiving the things–and people–you can’t forget.
Miss Lottie’s home was for second chances.
When she adopted Gus, Roo, Tank, and Moon Pie, Miss Lottie rescued each member of the pack—including herself, her helper, Quinn, and her reclusive cat, Ghost—and turned them into a family. But when a new dog, Decker, arrives and tries to hoard Miss Lottie’s heart and home for himself, the pack’s future is threatened.
At first, Gus, the insecure pack leader, only notices little things, like tiny Moon Pie being kicked out of the bed and Ghost acting spooked (then again…Ghost is a cat). But things soon go from bad to worse as Decker’s presence causes disharmony in the group.
When Decker convinces Moon Pie to embark on an impossible journey, it’s up to Gus to gather his courage, rally his splintered pack, and bring the little dog home. And with coyotes and cars on the loose, the pack must push through obstacles and dangers to reunite with Moon Pie before he can get hurt—or, nearly as bad, get his heart broken.
Olive Hudson desperately wants a dog. But that doesn’t seem to be a possibility right now. Newly orphaned, she’s moving in with the half sister she hardly knows and their life is too chaotic to include a dog. But then something wonderful happens: Olive gets a chance to raise Lumie, a guide dog puppy. Discipline. Rules. Lots of hugs. Only the best of the best puppies continue on to become guide dogs, and of course Olive wants Lumie to be chosen. But if she is, that means that Olive will lose her. Once again, the incomparable Joan Bauer tells a touching story that is full of heart and warmth and unabashed idealism.
Talking to Alaska
It only takes one day at their new school for Parker and Sven to become mortal enemies. Parker’s had a terrible summer and just wants to be invisible, while Sven is desperate to make an impression and be known as anything other than “that boy with epilepsy.”
When Parker discovers her beloved dog Alaska – who she had to give away last year – now belongs to Sven, she’s determined to steal Alaska back. Of course, that’s easier said than done…
Brodie was a good dog. And good dogs go to heaven.Except Brodie can’t move on. Not just yet. As wonderful as his glimpse of the afterlife is, he can’t forget the boy he left behind. The boy he loved, and who loved him in return.The boy who’s still in danger.So Brodie breaks the rules of heaven. He returns to Earth as a spirit. With the help of two other lost souls — lovable pitbull Tuck and surly housecat Patsy — he is determined to find his boy and to save him. Even if it costs him paradise. Even if he loses his eternal soul.Because it’s what a good dog would do.
Every Saturday, Pawcasso trots into town with a basket, a shopping list, and cash in paw to buy groceries for his family. One day, he passes eleven-year-old Jo, peering out the window of her house, bored and lonely. Astonished by the sight of an adorable basket-toting dog on his own, Jo follows Pawcasso, and when she’s seen alongside him by a group of kids from her school, they mistake her for Pawcasso’s owner.
Excited to make new friends, Jo reluctantly hides the truth and agrees to let “her” dog model for an art class the kids attend. What could go wrong? But what starts as a Chihuahua-sized lie quickly grows Great Dane-sized when animal control receives complaints about a dog roaming the streets off-leash. With Pawcasso’s freedom at stake, is Jo willing to spill the truth and risk her new friendships?
Brave Like That
This uplifting tale, which award-winning author Leslie Connor dubbed “a perfectly paced journey of the heart” is perfect for fans of Lisa Graff and Lynda Mullaly Hunt.
Cyrus Olson’s dad is a hero—Northfield’s former football star and now one of their finest firefighters. Everyone expects Cyrus to follow in his dad’s record-breaking footsteps, and he wishes they were right—except he’s never been brave like that. But this year, with the help of a stray dog, a few new friends, a little bit of rhythm, and a lot of nerve, he may just discover that actually…he is.
A Home for Goddesses & Dogs
It’s a life-altering New Year for thirteen-year-old Lydia when she uproots to a Connecticut farm to live with her aunt following her mother’s death.
Aunt Brat and her jovial wife, Eileen, and their ancient live-in landlord, Elloroy, are welcoming—and a little quirky. Lydia’s struggle for a sense of belonging in her new family is highlighted when the women adopt a big yellow dog just days after the girl’s arrival.
Wasn’t one rescue enough?
Lydia is not a dog person—and this one is trouble! He is mistrustful and slinky. He pees in the house, escapes into the woods, and barks at things unseen. His new owners begin to guess about his unknown past.
Meanwhile, Lydia doesn’t want to be difficult—and she does not mean to keep secrets—but there are things she’s not telling…
The One & Only Bob
Bob sets out on a dangerous journey in search of his long-lost sister with the help of his two best friends, Ivan and Ruby. As a hurricane approaches and time is running out, Bob finds courage he never knew he had and learns the true meaning of friendship and family.
Bob, Ivan, and Ruby have touched the hearts of millions of readers, and their story isn’t over yet. Catch up with these beloved friends before the star-studded film adaptation of The One and Only Ivan hits theaters in August 2020!
A Dog-Friendly Town
Twelve-year-old Epic McDade isn’t ready for middle school. He’d rather help out at his family’s dog-friendly bed n’ breakfast all summer, or return to his alternative elementary school in the fall, where learning feels safe. But change comes in all shapes and fur colors. When Carmelito, California is named America’s #1 Dog-Friendly Town, all the top dogs and their owners pour into Epic’s sleepy seaside neighborhood for a week of celebration.
The McDades are in dog heaven with all the new business until a famous dog’s jewel-encrusted collar goes missing. Every guest is a suspect, and Epic will have to embrace new friends and new ideas to sniff out the culprit before the week is through.
Ranger in Time
Meet Ranger! He’s a time-traveling golden retriever who has a nose for trouble . . . and always saves the day!Ranger has been trained as a search-and-rescue dog, but can’t officially pass the test because he’s always getting distracted by squirrels during exercises. One day, he finds a mysterious first aid kit in the garden and is transported to the year 1850, where he meets a young boy named Sam Abbott. Sam’s family is migrating west on the Oregon Trail, and soon after Ranger arrives he helps the boy save his little sister. Ranger thinks his job is done, but the Oregon Trail can be dangerous, and the Abbotts need Ranger’s help more than they realize!
A Dog Like Daisy
Daisy has only ten weeks to prove her usefulness or else be sent back to the pound. Yet if she goes back, who will protect Colonel Victor from his PTSD attacks? Or save the littler human, Micah, from those infernal ear muzzles he calls earphones? What if no one ever adopts her again?
Determined to become the elite protector the colonel needs, Daisy vows to ace the service dog test. She’ll accept the ridiculous leash and learn to sit, heel, shake, even do your business, Daisy when told to.
But Daisy must first learn how to face her own fears from the past or risk losing the family she’s so desperate to guard—again.
Zues Dog of Chaos
Zeus comes from a long line of heroic dogs, and he dreams of glory as a K9 commander. But he receives a much more dangerous assignment—middle school! And as all good service dogs know, the only way to get through hostile territory is by being invisible.
Zeus’s new human, Madden, is diabetic, and he wants to be invisible, too. That’s hard to do with a huge German Shepherd at his side to alert him when his blood sugar drops. And it’s even harder because Madden makes this noise called music that draws attention. Zeus’s mission becomes clear: he must destroy music.
While Zeus’s training prepared him for his most important job—keeping Madden safe—he discovers the human world is complicated. As Madden dreams of winning the state band competition and tries to reconnect with his mom, the lieutenant, Zeus must learn that, sometimes, you need to stand out to fulfill your duty.
How to Steal a Dog
Georgina Hayes is desperate. Ever since her father left and they were evicted from their apartment, her family has been living in their car. With her mama juggling two jobs and trying to make enough money to find a place to live, Georgina is stuck looking after her younger brother, Toby. And she has her heart set on improving their situation. When Georgina spots a missing-dog poster with a reward of five hundred dollars, the solution to all her problems suddenly seems within reach. All she has to do is “borrow” the right dog and its owners are sure to offer a reward. What happens next is the last thing she expected.
Mavis Jeeter is fearless and bold, but she has never lived in one place long enough to have a real best friend. Her flighty mother has uprooted them again to another new home and taken a job as a housekeeper for the Tully family. Mavis wants this home to be permanent―which means finding herself a best friend.
Rose Tully is a worrier who feels like she doesn’t quite fit in with the other girls in her neighborhood. Her closest friend is Mr. Duffy, but he hasn’t been himself since his dog died. Rose may have to break a few of her mother’s many rules to help Mr. Duffy―and find someone who really understands her.
Henry has run away from home, but he craves kindness and comfort―and doesn’t know where to look for them.
When Mavis and Rose hatch a scheme to find Mr. Duffy a new dog, their lives and Henry’s intersect―and they all come to find friendship in places they never expected.
Rules of the Ruff
Twelve-year-old Jessie is in for a long summer at her aunt and uncle’s house. Her cousin Ann has a snotty new best friend, which leaves Jessie all alone. But Jessie is industrious, and—not content with being ignored all summer—she convinces Wes, a grouchy neighborhood dog walker, to take her on as his apprentice.
Sure, dog walking turns out to be harder than she expected, but she has Wes’s dog-walking code, the Rules of the Ruff, to guide her, and soon she’s wrangling her very own pack. But when a charismatic rival dog walker moves to town, she quickly snatches up most of Wes’s business—and Jessie decides she isn’t going to take this defeat with her tail between her legs.
One Dog and His Boy
Eva Ibbotson’s final masterpiece, a tale of a boy and dog who were meant to be together.
All Hal had ever wanted was a dog. “Never!” cries his mother. “Think of the mess, the scratch-marks, the puddles on the floor.” But on the morning of Hal’s 10th birthday, the unbelievable happens. He’s allowed to choose a dog at Easy Pets, a rent-a-pet agency (a fact his parents keep from him). The moment he sees the odd-looking terrier, he knows he’s found a friend for life. But no one tells Hal that Fleck must be returned. When Hal wakes up on Monday morning, Fleck is gone. If dog and boy are to stay together they’ll have to run away. . . . From the renowned Eva Ibbotson comes a tale laced with humor and brimming over with heart, stunning in its beauty of the love of all things dog.
A Dog So Small
In A DOG SO SMALL young Ben Blewitt is desperate for a dog. He’s picked out the biggest and best dogs from the books in the library – and he just knows he’s going to get one for his birthday. Ben is excited when the big day arrives, but he receives a picture of a dog instead of a real one! But the imagination can be a powerful thing, and when Ben puts his to work, his adventures really begin!
Fenway and Hattie
Fenway is an excitable and endlessly energetic Jack Russell terrier. He lives in the city with Food Lady, Fetch Man, and—of course—his beloved short human and best-friend-in-the-world, Hattie.
But when his family moves to the suburbs, Fenway faces a world of changes. He’s pretty pleased with the huge Dog Park behind his new home, but he’s not so happy about the Evil Squirrels that taunt him from the trees, the super-slippery Wicked Floor in the Eating Room, and the changes that have come over Hattie lately. Rather than playing with Fenway, she seems more interested in her new short human friend and learning to play baseball. His friends in the Dog Park next door say Hattie is outgrowing him, but that can’t be right. And he’s going to prove it!
Get a dog’s-eye view of the world in this heartwarming, enthusiastic “tail” about two best friends.
Love That Dog
Jack hates poetry. Only girls write it and every time he tries to, his brain feels empty. But his teacher, Miss Stretchberry, won’t stop giving her class poetry assignments—and Jack can’t avoid them. But then something amazing happens. The more he writes, the more he learns that he does have something to say.
“I guess it does
look like a poem
when you see it
When Tony’s mother is sent to jail, he is sent to stay with a great uncle he has never met in Sierra Nevada. It is a daunting move—Tony’s new world bears no semblance to his previous one. But slowly, against a remote and remarkable backdrop, the scars from Tony’s troubled past begin to heal.
With his Tió and a search-and-rescue dog named Gabe by his side, he learns how to track wild animals, is welcomed to the Cowboy Church, and makes new friends at the Mountain School. Most importantly though, it is through Gabe that Tony discovers unconditional love for the first time, in Mountain Dog by Margarita Engle.
Lila And Hadley
Hadley is angry about a lot of things: Her mom going to jail. Having to move to another state to live with her older sister, Beth, even though they haven’t spoken in five years. Leaving her friends and her school behind. And going blind.
But then Hadley meets Lila.
Lila is an abandoned dog who spends her days just quietly lying around at the local dog rescue where Beth works. She doesn’t listen to directions or play with the other dogs or show any interest in people. So when Lila comes and sits by Hadley (which is hardly anything, but it’s more than she’s done with others), Beth thinks maybe Hadley can help Lila. She tells Hadley they’ll bring Lila home as a foster dog and Hadley can teach her to follow commands, walk on a leash, and be more of a people dog so she’s ready to be adopted.
Only working with Lila is harder than Hadley thought, and so is the mobility training she starts taking to help with her failing vision. It feels like Lila is too stubborn to train and that learning to use a cane is impossible. But unless Hadley can help Lila, she’ll never be adopted into a home. If Hadley could just let go of her anger, she might be able to save Lila … and herself.
A Street Dog Named Pup
Pup and his boy are inseparable. But both their worlds change forever when Pup is cruelly taken away and abandoned in Dead Dog Alley. With nowhere else to turn, Pup joins a pack of misfit street dogs who help him learn to fight for survival on the streets. Pup holds onto the hope of one day being reunited with his boy. But as hope shrinks with every passing day, Pup begins to wonder if their bond is irreversibly broken….
Eleven-year-old Charlie Reese has been making the same secret wish every day since fourth grade. She even has a list of all the ways there are to make the wish, such as cutting off the pointed end of a slice of pie and wishing on it as she takes the last bite. But when she is sent to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to live with family she barely knows, it seems unlikely that her wish will ever come true. That is until she meets
Wishbone, a skinny stray dog who captures her heart, and Howard, a neighbor boy who proves surprising in lots of ways. Suddenly Charlie is in serious danger of discovering that what she thought she wanted may not be what she needs at all.
We Could Be Heroes by Margaret Finnegan
Hank Hudson is in a bit of trouble. After an incident involving the boy’s bathroom and a terribly sad book his teacher is forcing them to read, Hank is left with a week’s suspension and a slightly charred hardcover—and, it turns out, the attention of new girl Maisie Huang.
Maisie has been on the lookout for a kid with the meatballs to help her with a very important mission: Saving her neighbor’s dog, Booler. Booler has seizures, and his owner, Mr. Jorgensen, keeps him tied to a tree all day and night because of them. It’s enough to make Hank even sadder than that book does—he has autism, and he knows what it’s like to be treated poorly because of something that makes you different.
But different is not less. And Hank is willing to get into even more trouble to prove it. Soon he and Maisie are lying, brown-nosing, baking, and cow milking all in the name of saving Booler—but not everything is as it seems. Booler might not be the only one who needs saving. And being a hero can look a lot like being a friend.
Ella Cohen was skeptical when her mom started dating Krishnan just a few months after her parents’ divorce. But two years later, she really likes having her new stepfather around. When she decides to enter a junior dog show, Krishnan even lets her start handling his dog, Elvis. She’s determined to become an expert handler, even after her first show ends in disaster.
Unfortunately, some things are harder to control—like Ella’s dad, who has changed a lot since the divorce. He used to be laid back and fun, but now he hovers over her constantly, terrified she’s going to shatter into a million pieces if she so much as hints that everything in her life isn’t perfect. Ella is particularly upset that his animosity toward Krishnan keeps him from coming to watch her handle Elvis, especially when she wins a lottery spot in the National Dog Show in Philadelphia.
When Ella’s best friends suggest she find her dad a date to the dog show, it seems like the perfect solution. If her dad has a new girlfriend, surely he won’t mind so much that Ella’s mom has a new husband. So Ella decides to play matchmaker, going so far as to create a fake online dating profile in order to find her dad his one true love.
But it turns out people, much like dogs, aren’t always so easy to control, and Ella’s plan backfires at the worst possible moment. Can Ella manage to bring her divided life together in time for her moment in the spotlight?
Twelve-year-old Rebecca dreams of becoming a famous dog-sled racer. She’s an inventive but self-doubting musher who tackles blinding blizzards, wild animal attacks, puppy training, and flying poo missiles. All of her challenges seem easier than living up to the dogs’ trust in her abilities.
Alone by Megan E. Freeman
When twelve-year-old Maddie hatches a scheme for a secret sleepover with her two best friends, she ends up waking up to a nightmare. She’s alone—left behind in a town that has been mysteriously evacuated and abandoned.
With no one to rely on, no power, and no working phone lines or internet access, Maddie slowly learns to survive on her own. Her only companions are a Rottweiler named George and all the books she can read. After a rough start, Maddie learns to trust her own ingenuity and invents clever ways to survive in a place that has been deserted and forgotten.
As months pass, she escapes natural disasters, looters, and wild animals. But Maddie’s most formidable enemy is the crushing loneliness she faces every day. Can Maddie’s stubborn will to survive carry her through the most frightening experience of her life?
Paws – Kate Foster
At home, Alex’s best friend is Kevin the cockapoo, although what he wants most of all is a friend at school. But that is harder than he ever expected. A touching story about learning that friendship isn’t one size fits all and is often found where you least expect it.
Everything is changing for 11-year-old Alex and, as an autistic person, change can be terrifying. With the first day of high school only a couple of months away, Alex is sure that having a friend by his side will help. So, he’s devised a plan – impress the kids at school by winning a trophy at the PAWS Dog Show with his trusty sidekick, Kevin. This should be a walk in the park . . . right?
When Friendship Followed Me Home
Ben Coffin has never felt like he fits in. A former foster kid, he keeps his head down at school to avoid bullies and spends his afternoons reading sci-fi books at the library. But that all changes when he finds a scruffy abandoned dog named Flip and befriends the librarian’s daughter, Halley. For the first time, Ben starts to feel like he belongs in his own life.
Then everything changes, and suddenly Ben is more alone than ever. But with a little help from Halley’s magician father, Ben discovers his place in the world and learns to see his own magic through others’ eyes.
There they are: 31 of the best middle grade books about dogs! SO MANY DOGGOS on the covers. Which of these have you read and loved and which ones are you looking forward to reading?
More Book Lists
- Tween summer books
- Middle grade friendship books
- Middle grade books about large families (and small ones too!)
Many thanks to our sponsor Kelsey Kagan and her new picture book about embracing our differences, OSA: A Curiously Different Dog, also perfect for dog lovers! You can purchase a copy here. Thank you for supporting the authors and brands that keep Reading Middle Grade running.
Alienor @ a fox's wanderings says
I love this so much!!!
Erin M says
I really liked Chester and Gus too! One of the best books I read with my child last year. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30653839-chester-and-gus
Thanks for the list. I’m pretty new here and I’m loving all the good inspiration.
Afoma Umesi says
There are so many great dog books! Thank you for sharing a favorite, Erin! And thanks for reading 🙂 I love having new people visit 🙂
So love your lists! We love dogs and couldn’t imagine our lives without our doggie!
Your lists always hit the spot! Thank you!!
Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction says
My daughter has always absolutely loved dogs, so she read so many books with them. I love this list!
Erica Richardson says
Thank you so much for this great list!