Dogs have always been our faithful companions, stalwart protectors, and best friends for as long as we can remember, helping us get through plenty of difficult times in our lives with furry hugs and wet kisses. No matter how dreary things may get, they’ll always be around to play with toys while looking adorable, bark to alert us of incoming house guests, and if you throw something across the yard, they’ll usually bring it right back to you with a smile on their face and tail wagging vehemently.
Naturally, this loving perspective has been carried over into the world of video games, fostering dozens of wonderful companions throughout some of our favorite role-playing games, third-person shooters, and action-adventure titles. So, whether you’re looking for a good name for your newfound companion, or just the definition of a good boy in gaming, here are some of the best digital dogs around:
Arguably one of the most beloved characters in the Dark Souls series, Sif is the loyal companion of Knight Artorias, a legendary figure among Gwyn’s inner circle who was tasked with holding back the dark creatures of the Abyss as his lord tried to save their kingdom. While on his quest with Sif, Artorias was overwhelmed and sacrificed himself to save his friend by using an enchantment on his shield. Sif watched helplessly as Artorias was consumed by the darkness, vowing to protect others who sought to traverse the Abyss from the same terrible fate. When you meet Sif in-game, the great wolf immediately recognizes you and warns you from pressing on with a heart-wrenching howl of sorrow before fighting you to the death to protect the gravestone of Artorias. Never have I felt more broken after completing a boss fight, because Sif was simply trying to save us from sharing the same fate as Knight Artorias.
Aside from being perhaps the cutest dog on this list thanks to looking like a cross between a Shiba Inu and an Alaskan Malamute, Umbra excels by doing nothing but good things for Prince Noctis during his journey to reclaim the throne in Final Fantasy XV. Far from just a regular companion, Umbra and his counterpart Pryna are Messengers of the Astrals for the Oracle — their main duty is to relay messages between Noctis and Lunafreya via a small notebook carried around the neck. Later, he also develops a set of bizarre time-bending powers that allow Noctis to relive his adventures in the past. Umbra proves himself to be a staunch (and adorable) ally worth having at your side.
A name passed down through the Fallout games for generations, Dogmeat is best known from Fallout 4 where he serves as one of the player’s first companions. A German Shepherd with a heart of gold and a coat of steel, Dogmeat can track a scent for miles without pause and defends his master from the numerous dangers present throughout the wasteland. He’s aided some of the most respected characters in Fallout 4 — like Preston Garvey and Nick Valentine — and can join you (if you so desire) on your trip through Boston’s wasteland once you meet him at Red Rocket Truck Stop just outside Sanctuary Hills. With a dangerous bite and quirky bark, it was always hard to resist taking this good boy along as your faithful companion.
The Dog of Fable II
The sequel to the original Fable made an already great franchise even better by introducing a canine companion. After you save this unnamed dog from some terrible bullies, he bonds with you for good and literally saves your life during the early hours of the game. Throughout Fable II, he helps you find buried treasure, leads you to your objectives, and even fights — quite effectively — to take down enemies on your behalf. At the end of the game, he even takes a bullet for you, introducing the ultimate choice of Fable II’s story which pits your dog’s revival against a million gold coins or the lives of thousands of people. Naturally, the choice is an easy one: Save the dog.
Okay, Red XIII isn’t exactly a dog (he has some very feline aspects), but he is a very good boy from a race of creatures on the verge of extinction. In Final Fantasy VII, you encounter him relatively early in the game being experimented on as part of research being done by a sinister corporation. After freeing him from captivity, you learn to appreciate his wisdom and much-needed connections to the more spiritual denizens of Gaia. Curiously enough, he’s only 17 years old in dog years despite having lived for 48 human years, making him relatively young as far as his species is concerned — oh, and did we mention he’s extremely intelligent and can talk?
Easily the best part of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, D-Dog (known as DD for short) is a beautiful pup which players came across while working through the missions about the Afghanistan desert. Abandoned and missing an eye, D-Dog is then taken in by the Diamond Dogs and raised as one of their own, becoming a formidable companion capable of fighting with Snake while out on missions against the various enemies scattered about Metal Gear Solid V. Not only could he sniff out mines laying on the ground and learn a variety of tricks, DD was also capable of dealing with your enemies by knocking them out or eliminating them altogether, proving himself as a hearty boy out on the battlefield.