Zeus, a Labrador Retriever and a former police dog, has lost his bark after his barking ended up blowing off a five-year investigation and his partner can't shoot straight again and ends up at the pound. He is adopted by George Bannister as both an early Christmas present and as a good guard dog for the house, but the mom is hesitant and didn't want a dog. The dog is left home alone on Christmas Eve when the family head off to visit Grandma's house. A pair of burglars, Ted Stein and Stewey McMann break into the family home, and it is up to Zeus to save Christmas for his new family by setting up booby traps to stop them. Zeus soon gets caught by the burglars and they muzzle him and continue to rob the house. Zeus escapes while Ted and Stewey continue to rob the house. Zeus gets chased through the house by Ted and Stewey until Stewey accidentally pepper sprayed himself. Ted then takes out a tranquilizer gun and tries to shoot Zeus but gets Stewey instead knocking him out. Ted tries to escape the house (with Stewey who's still knocked out) but Zeus finishes them off for good by dropping a chandelier on them, knocking the two robbers out. The police come and arrest Ted and Stewey and Zeus finally barks. The family come back and see Ted and Stewey getting arrested and spend a Merry Christmas together.Mario López as Zeus (voice)
Dean Cain as Ted Stein
Elisa Donovan as Belinda Bannister
Sierra McCormick as Kara Bannister
Adrienne Barbeau as Cressida
Gary Valentine as George Bannister
Mindy Sterling as Grandma Bannister
Joey Diaz as Stewey McMann
It also features members of the production team in various supporting roles. Writers Richard Gnolfo and Michael Ciminera are credited as Policeman 1 & 2, while the director/producer Michael Feifer is credited as Police Officer 2.
The Dog Who Saved Christmas was broadcast on Sunday, November 29, 2009 and was cable's number one program during its time period of 8:00pm–10:00pm with 4.0 million viewers. It was also ranked number one in scripted telecasts on cable during that Sunday, and became the season's number one cable film of the season. Overall, it was a 14% increase in viewers from the same timeslot in the previous year.
Critics compared it to another Christmas dog themed TV movie of 2009, A Dog Named Christmas and cited influences from Home Alone and Look Who's Talking. A Dog Named Christmas was broadcast on the same night as The Dog Who Saved Christmas with the original timings overlapping by an hour. Overall, critics rated A Dog Named Christmas as the superior film over The Dog Who Saved Christmas, but praised the performances Adrienne Barbeau and Mindy Sterling.
The Dog Who Saved Christmas won several "Yulies" from the Popwatch column on Entertainment Weekly's website. The categories it won included "MVP: Most Valuable Pooch" and "Best Use of Dean Cain".
It was given the "Family Approved" seal by The Dove Foundation. Commonsense Media graded it as appropriate for ages 6 and up.
A sequel, The Dog Who Saved Christmas Vacation, aired on ABC Family in 2010.
A second sequel, The Dog Who Saved Halloween, was released directly to DVD in September 2011.
A third sequel, The Dog Who Saved the Holidays, was released directly to DVD on December 4, 2012.
A fourth sequel, The Dog Who Saved Easter, was released directly to DVD on April 8, 2014. It stars Dean Cain, Elisa Donovan, Beverley Mitchell, Mario Lopez, Patrick Muldoon, Matthew Lawrence and Catherine Hicks.
A fifth sequel, The Dog Who Saved Summer, was released directly to DVD on June 2, 2015. It stars Dean Cain, Gary Valentine, Elisa Donovan, Patrick Muldoon, Mario Lopez, Martin Kove, James Hong and William Zabka.A dark grey cell indicates the character was not in the film.