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Film Review: Pick of the Litter (2019)

Pick of the Litter (2019) is a dog documentary that was picked up by Netflix earlier this year. This documentary is directed by documentary directors Don Hardy and Dana Nachman, with Matt Fowler providing narration throughout. Focusing on the process of guide dog training. this documentary follows five dogs from the same litter who go through the training to see which dog is fit to be a guide dog and which dogs aren’t made for the job.

Pick of the Litter (2019) – source: Netflix

If you are here just to see adorable little dogs, you are going to be very happy with this film. The dogs are incredibly adorable, and this film doesn’t shy away from showing how affectionate every single person is to these puppies. Every few minutes, you will be awwing at the screen wishing you could take and raise these dogs for your own. This also works narratively though, as it makes you want to cheer on these puppies and hope that all of them become guide dogs.

As a documentary, this film gives clear insight into the world of guide dog training and is incredibly informative. As someone that knew little about the process of training a guide dog, this film took you through all the steps, from birth to completing the tests that they have to go through. This information isn’t just told to us, but is also presented to us throughout the film.

There is one fact that is highlighted to the audience at the start of the documentary, and that is the fact that only a certain percentage of dogs make it to actually become guide dogs. This sets up a clear narrative for the documentary and is presented as a narrative in which some dogs will face conflict, some will end up being unsuccessful but some will end up having a happy ending. It makes the audience feel compelled to continue watching to see how the story ends.

Pick of the Litter (2019) – source: Netflix

Most documentaries now seem to focus on dark subjects such as deaths, crime and mysteries. It is nice every while and then to just watch something that is lighter in terms of subject matter. I cannot say that I have seen any other film try to tackle the subject of guide dogs, particularly from such a young age in a dog’s life. It provides a film that is not only easier to watch than most documentaries on Netflix, but also quite unique to the collection.

This documentary is incredibly short, coming in at only 80 minutes long. This film also tries to cover a lot in these 80 minutes, spanning over the space of two years. This would feel packed just with one dog being shown, but it is even more crammed with five dogs to be showcased and to get the journey of all of them together. There is almost no breathing space here and I feel like a lot of information is either skimmed over or not focused on as much as I would have liked. I think adding an extra ten minutes to the film would have helped slow the pace down a little.

There are also stories involving some blind people looking for a guide dog as well as the stories of the trainers themselves that this film tries to showcase, but the documentary just does not have the time to give the audience an emotional connection to them like the dogs. I like the idea of showing the trainers and seeing their perspective of the regime and how they train the dogs, but I wish we just got a bit more of that overall.

Pick of the Litter (2019) – source: Netflix

This documentary is so adorable but it is also quite informative about the guide dog training regime. Once again, Netflix has picked up another solid documentary for their service and reminds me of why it is my top destination for documentary movies anywhere. It may feel slightly off structure-wise and could have done with being a bit longer, but as a dog lover, I was sucked in from the first minute.


Have you seen Pick of the Litter yet? Had you even heard of this documentary before this review? Let me know in the comments section and let’s have a discussion.

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