6 of the best video-game dogs, and the one that got away

As any good dog lover knows, when someone says they’re just not a fan of dogs, or that they’re a cat person, it’s clear they’re lying; they just haven’t met the right dog yet.

In games, dogs have had a rather rough ride. Sometimes they’ll be exceptionally one-dimensional, such as the laughing duck-gatherer of Duck Hunt; other times they’re incredibly annoying – I’m looking at you Fable II. However, in playing my way through ReCore – the new futuristic post-apocalyptic adventure game from the mind of Megaman creator Keiji Inafune – I came to realise the robotic companion dog, Mack, exudes far more personality than any other dog in games that comes to mind.

From the wag of his back-mounted expansion pod to the expressive ears and lights on his interchangable, faceless head, you never feel at a loss when exploring with him. As a dog – in the loosest sense – his charging pounce attack is invaluable when Joule, the protagonist you play as, is trying to extract cores from enemies. As a combat dynamic, nothing seems to beat man’s best friend, even if he is robotic.

This dynamic relationship got me thinking; which games do the best job of creating believable dog characters, and why?

1. Amaterasu – Ōkami

Strictly speaking, Amaterasu is not a dog but a god that has returned to Earth in the form of a white wolf. Still, nothing’s better than running around trying to save the world while still being bound by the instincts of your corporeal form. Not only do some people fear you as a wolf, others want to pet and ride on you, and sometimes you just fancy chasing your own tail. It’s a brilliant window into the life of our four-legged friends.


2. Chop – Grand Theft Auto V

GTA V isn’t all about rollin’ deep with your boiz causing bank-heist chaos: sometimes you just want to kick back, throw away the guns and play catch with a Rottweiler named Chop. Trouble is, aside from his nose for finding hidden packages or people, Chop lacks the initial charm a true video-game dog needs – but at least you can kill time with him and customise his collar. 

3. D-Dog – Metal Gear Solid V

Kojima’s doggy creation is the best part of Metal Gear Solid V. Designed to be the perfect companion for Snake, your first emotional connection with D-Dog comes from discovering him in the wild with a missing eye – the same eye that Snake has also lost. From this early bond blossoms a strong relationship, turning your canine chum into the only buddy you’ll want to take out into the field

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4. Mack – ReCore

Despite being a robot compiled of interchangeable parts – including separate heads – Mack is one of the best “dogs” ever in a video game. As a gameplay mechanic, he’s great for helping in combat and sniffing out hidden secrets – but as a character, his presence adds a lot of life to the desolate and empty space found in ReCore.

5. Dogmeat – Fallout 4

As a companion in Fallout 4, Dogmeat is no different to any other character who wants to join you on your journey. Still, there’s a peculiar charm to navigating the wasteland with a pooch instead of a person – and not just because they don’t talk back. What’s more, Dogmeat loves you unconditionally – even if you’re a complete dick to strangers, he’ll stick by your side. Yay, thank you, Dogmeat.

6. Riley – Call of Duty: Ghosts

How could you not love a US Special Ops dog that can take down a helicopter by itself? If you can think of a reason, then please, do tell me. Riley, the military-trained German Shepherd from Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty: Ghosts, deserved to be seen, heard and used more in Activision’s 2013 shooter. In fact, Riley’s badassery, flanking enemies to make them break cover, makes him one of the best video-game dogs around.


7. The dog – Fable II

Designed to be a critically important part of Fable II, Lionhead just missed the mark by creating a canine companion that was more of an annoyance than a joy. Slowly morphing its appearance in conjunction to your own character’s shifting moral compass, not much changed in the dog’s behaviour beyond how townsfolk reacted to it. There was little reason to form an emotional connection with your dog in the same way you do in Metal Gear Solid V and so, in the game’s closing moments, the fate of your pooch is far from many player’s minds.

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