Complex biological processes often require in vivo analysis, and many important research advances have been made using mice as a model for the study of various biological systems. Cutaneous melanomas are tumors originating from skin melanocytes, which are present in hair follicles, and interfollicular epidermal and dermal layers. Until recently, mouse melanoma models were largely based on transplantation models, i.e. transplantation of either syngeneic or xenogeneic melanoma cells into wild type or genetically modified animals. More recently, however, the use of novel technologies specifically modifying the genome allows for the generation of mouse strains, which may develop spontaneous melanoma. Nevertheless, it should be kept in mind that animal models provide only an approximation of reality in humans. In this review, we will discuss a representative selection of currently available transplantation and transgenic melanoma models; despite the fact that this selection will be biased by personal experience, we are confident to demonstrate how the use of mouse melanoma models facilitates translational research in several biomedical disciplines.