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It is often said that a dog is a man's best friend, being amongst the most lovable creatures in existence. Pokemon are loved in a similar fashion, especially here on Smogon, so it is only natural that Pokemon based on or closely resembling dogs will be popular. Here we take a look at some of the best dogs Pokemon has to offer, as well as some of the more controversial candidates for 'dog' status. It should be noted that when talking about dogs, we are not merely referring to an animal's scientific classification as a dog, but also to its behavior. Certain characteristics such as teeth, claws, and fur certainly define dog Pokemon, as well as moves like Growl, Howl, and Roar, but above all a dog Pokemon must be a loyal and lovable companion.
Absol could have been a controversial dog, as many people would say that he is a feline because his face is more cat-like than dog-like. However, he is based off Bai Ze, a legendary Chinese dog-like beast, and Barghest, a legendary English black monstrous dog. Yes, a bit controversial, but still good enough to make this list. He is only ranked so low because of that, though; he is really useful, not only by protecting his owner, but his horns, which allow him to predict when a natural disaster is coming. Too bad the silly humans always blame him for it instead...
Why does Shaymin change its forme? The land Shaymin is the cutest thing you could have in your house, but it is not a dog; it's sadly a hedgehog. A dog with his face would easily make number one... whatever. Skymin happened to be his dog forme. In terms of design, it doesn't work really well; his face looks like a puppy or a red panda trying to be angry, but he just can't because he is too cute. Not really a good guard dog either. He is really small and naive, apart from his mystical powers. Maybe he can flinch the thief to death. To be fair, I was impressed when I found out he's 1'04" tall. How can a little dog with flowers on its head flinch big Pokemon like Dialga and murder a god-like Kyogre? That is really impressive, so I guess he deserves some kudos for that, placing him at number 9 on this list.
There's a huge gap of dog ranking between Riolu and the next Pokemon on this list, Manectric. Riolu is not so much a dog, but several redeeming features mean it can be considered a dog. Its evolution, Lucario, is a jackal, and they both bear similarities to Anubis. Riolu still makes the list in the eighth place. I don't think he would be particularly good as a pet though; he'll punch everything in the house, but still not be strong enough to protect you. I guess he can scare people away though, because he will never stop screaming if he wants to...
Manectric could have been higher on this ranking. He's kinda diverse and probably more dog-like than some dogs higher than him; however, he's just not as cool as the dogs listed above him. He's a blue and yellow wolf that releases electricity and can spit fire—a good attraction for a circus, no doubt. I would definitely pay to see his show. He would probably not fail to protect you either. Diverse and cute enough, Manectric makes the underrated seventh place on the list.
Bulldog. Not just a regular bulldog, it's a bulldog on its hind-legs that really looks badass. Granbull's coolness and strength make him a quality dog, almost worth top five. He is not pretty at all though; he's the kind of dog you would not like to meet in a dark alley. Granbull can easily strike fear into a man's heart and then proceed to have the man as his meal. Snubbull, on the other hand, is really cute and still scary and strong, so he really helps the family's ranking on this. Scary enough that the Team Rocket Grunts should have used him...
Ah, the dog representation of Pablo Picasso makes the fifth place in our list. Smeargle is a beagle Pokemon, a very popular dog breed all around the world. A better painter than everyone you know will ever be, if he existed on this world his owner would easily make a billion. His drawings are so perfect, ium's skills are not even close to his. His name is a reference to everything art related in Pokemon for a reason. Not only that, he is a good-looking dog, with his floppy ears and big eyes. He won't leave you bored, and is a well deserved top five beagle.
Poochyena, as the name says itself, is a pooch, so he is a dog. He has very strong similarities to a hyena, but he's really more of a dog than a hyena; I mean, just look at him. That's clearly a dog. While his evolution, Mightyena, is obviously a hyena and not a dog, Poochyena alone makes the fourth place as a dog just for the coolness on his face. Stop using those lame Brazilian emoticons on the forums and use this guy's face instead; it will make every post better. He isn't really adorable or beautiful, he's just that cool. He's a pooch and a hyena. It can't be cooler than that.
Being similar to a Doberman and Rottweiler, the Houndour family gets the bronze medal over the Pooch. Cyrus got it right when he started using a Houndoom in Platinum; it took his achievements from an useless leader of a shitty organization to creating another world. Look at how evil he is. If Team Rocket wasn't full of Rattata and Zubat, I'm sure Red would have shat his pants when faced with such evil creatures. Maybe Giovanni would've taken over the Silph Co. if he had it, or maybe the Kanto police would have dealt with them if they had one. You really don't wanna mess with this dog.
Yeah, I don't think the best dog could be anyone different. The Growlithe family is just too handsome to not be. Growlithe and Arcanine, introduced in the first generation, are the pure definition of what they can do with a dog-based Pokemon. He is so dog it's not even funny. He isn't only handsome, he is also used as a police dog really often in the anime. Cute, strong, scary, handsome, very dog, what else it could be? He's not even on the bottom of the Pokédex but still a legendary just because of his coolness; yeah, he can do everything you want, even swim, as weird as it sounds. Game Freak based Arcanine off the mythical Ryukyuan Shisa, a cross between a lion and a dog, that just ended up creating such a beautiful and legendary dog breed. I'm sure they would make your winter ten times better. Excellent job, Game Freak.
Whereas the above are undoubtedly dogs of the highest standard, there are certain Pokemon which are more controversial in their status as dogs. While they may possess certain qualities of dogs, they also have clear attributes of other animals such as cats, foxes, or other mammals. Here we will evaluate some of these Pokemon, and try to determine whether or not they are in fact dogs.
While this trio is often referred to as the legendary dogs, this is in fact a mistake and they are really the legendary beasts. The origin of these three could be a number of things, but two of the most striking suggestions are that of Chinese Guardian Lions, and three jungle beasts: a tiger, lion, and a cheetah or leopard. Entei is most likely a lion, possessing a large mane and retractable claws, features reserved for large cats and not dogs. It does have a very canine-like physique, and its noble stature make it easy to mistake as a guard dog or the like. A lion is said to be the king of the jungle, however, so this could explain the stature and physique. Raikou is almost certainly a tiger, the key feature being its large front teeth, which clearly mark it as a saber-tooth tiger. With a long, skinny tail, it is hard to convince anyone that Raikou is a dog. Suicune is the trickiest of the three to classify, as it has features closely related to mammals in general, rather than a dog or a cat specifically. It has a long snout with blunt teeth, which indicates that it may actually be an herbivore, but this is purely speculation. Being extremely elegant and agile seem to point towards a relation to some sort of cat, perhaps a cheetah, and indeed this would make sense with the other two beasts being a lion and a tiger. All three do possess some traits of dogs, as well as clearly being loyal and lovable like good dogs should be, so there may yet be room for them.
You might be surprised to see Terrakion on this list; after all it is one of the legendary musketeers. With a quadruped body, horns, and a clear amount of muscle and bulk, it is also commonly referred to as a bull. However, other features such as its stubby tail, flat face, and stout body structure could perhaps indicate a relation to bulldogs. It also has loyalty, the key trait for being a good dog, as it is a musketeer and has Justified as its ability. It does lack key dog attacks though, apart from Roar, and overall I don't think we can categorically call it a dog; it just shares many dog-like properties.
While it is true that biologically all foxes are a type of dog, this does not mean they meet our requirements. They clearly share similar physical relations, their teeth, claws, and fur all being very dog-like. The key difference, however, is in behavior. Vulpix (and other fox Pokemon) are commonly depicted as being pampered and constantly requiring attention, rather than simply unconditionally loving their trainer as a good dog should. This lack of loyalty means they cannot truly be accepted as a dog. You wouldn't see a Vulpix sitting with a homeless person, would you? Zorua on the other hand has Illusion as its ability, clearly being a deceitful Pokemon. This is not a trait that good dogs possess; good dogs should always be loyal and not attempt to trick their trainers and owners at any point.
Eevee itself is hard to pinpoint as an animal, as it could be a dog, a cat, or a fox. We will focus on its evolutions here however. Some of them are clearly cat or fox Pokemon; Espeon, Glaceon, Leafeon, and Umbreon are not worth considering as dogs. The original three, however, are much more dog-like. Flareon has a lot of warm fur, which is perfect for keeping its trainer warm as a loyal dog. Sadly, large ears and small paws indicate a relation to cats or foxes, just like the other evolutions. Jolteon is a very dog-like Pokemon, perhaps even being based on a herding dog, which makes sense as it is exceptionally fast and agile, and its body structure is the most like a dog out of all the evolutions. Vaporeon also possesses a few dog-like qualities, such as the ruff around its neck, large dark eyes, and its paws. However, it also has fins like a fish, and the tail seems to be that of a mermaid, so in all likelihood it is not a dog. Overall, the evolutions of Eevee are cats and foxes, but Jolteon makes a very good dog.
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