Dogs. You love ‘em. I love ‘em. The whole internet loves ‘em! They love you, too. Yes they do. They love tennis balls. They love bacon. And they love loving you.
But, most importantly, some dogs love punchin’ in, punchin’ out, guzzling steaming hot cups o’ joe, and eating the cupcakes that Karen brings in every other Thursday. They work their shaggy little heinies off and they look cute doing it — whether curled up in an office chair (that they definitely shed all over) or gossipping about the deep lore of the Air Buddies saga at the watercooler. These dogs have corporate synergy. They have “Hang In There” posters tacked up by their desks, though if you ask them, they’ll volunteer that they don’t, in fact, hope that the cat in the poster actually hangs in there. Because if kitty’s little paws slip they’ll be able to chase it.
Sometimes, these hard-working poochies make their way into video games — and make our virtual lives just a little more friendly in the process. So I’ve compiled a list of the top six dogs with jobs in video games below. These good boys and girls have been ranked according to three criteria: 1. Are they cute? 2. Do they have a cool job? And 3. Are they good at said job?
While the zombie cop dogs in Resident Evil 2 are good at their jobs, for instance, they got edged out of this list because they’re more terrifying than cute. Here’s a list of games that would be better with doggy cops, though. (This is a joke; don’t @ me).
In short, we all know that dogs are man’s best friends. But the canines on this list prove that they’re also man’s best coworkers.
5. Nomad’s Dog from Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
This will probably be a controversial choice. Many players hate the attack dog that the specialist, Nomad, unlocks as his special ability. As Polygon outlines, this fearsome pooch can one-hit kill any player it attacks, absorb a whole bunch of bullets before dying, and makes a pathetic, sad yip when you take it out.
Valid arguments. But, as someone who is very bad at Black Ops 4, Nomad’s Dog is a godsend — an easy way to get quick kills and close the gap between myself and more skilled competitors. Nomad’s dog isn’t especially cute, but they’re very good at their job. This dog is the bad Black Ops player’s best friend. He’s my best friend.
4. Duck Hunt from Duck Hunt
The grinning dog from Duck Hunt — whom the past two Super Smash Bros. games would have us believe is just named Duck Hunt — is cute, but also an asshole. His Cheshire cat grin is a nice, small reward for dispatching one of the mallards that he scares from the bushes in the classic light gun game.
But he’s a fickle ally. When one of the ducks manages to fly away, this chach stands up out of the bushes and laughs at you. Man’s best friend? Maybe not. The kind of friend a lot of us settle for? Sure!
While Duck Hunt’s charms are debatable, there’s no question that this guy is good at his job. He keeps the fowl flying and catches the ones you manage to shoot down. He does everything that’s asked of him. It’s just not always the way you would want it done.
3. Dogamy and Dogaressa from Undertale
Like Caesar below, Dogamy and Dogaressa are decked out in full suits of armor. Unlike Caesar, they are very much in love and smooch each other over and over during the player’s confrontation with them.
This pair of guard dogs have cartoonishly large eyes. Each gets jealous when the player (in the pacifist version of this encounter) pets the other on their scruffy, pixelated noggins, too. That is to say they are very, very cute. Dogamy and Dogaressa work for the game’s villain Asgore, though, so I’m split on whether that’s cool or not. And the player can easily bypass the pair by petting them. I don’t know if I would say they’re necessarily great at their jobs…
But they certainly have jobs. And they’re undeniably cute.
2. Caesar from Wargroove
Caesar, the armored doggo commander from Chucklefish’s recent Advance Wars-like tactics game, Wargroove, is cute. But he’s so, so much more than that… Caesar is proud. With his furry chest puffed out, and a scarlet plume flaring from the top of his helmet, Caesar is a striking vision on the battlefield — an inspiration for the legion of Battle Pups you command across the Wargroove campaign.
Yes, they’re called Battle Pups. And yes, they got their very own list all to themselves.
Is he good at his job? This yellow lab is such a powerful force among his troops that, at the sight of him, weary soldiers get their second wind, gaining another action. And, what dog has a more badass job? Caesar leads his fellow pups and people into battle. He’s a valorous boy and very, very good.
(Additionally, one of Caesar’s primary enemies in Wargroove’s early game are stick people. They are the perfect enemy for the fetch-minded floofer).
1. K.K. Slider from Animal Crossing
K.K. Slider isn’t quite cute. But he is dignified. The raconteur’s big, black, default Mii eyes and thin lips communicate a seriousness that many of the dogs on this list lack. This is a dog who cares about his job — as his extensive library of genre-hopping tracks attests.
K.K. Slider is the epitome of cool in the Animal Crossing universe; a Renaissance mutt with a back catalogue of tunes of all stripes. With “K.K. Dirge,” he scared us. With “Aloha K.K.,” he transported us to an 8-bit tropical island. And with “Agent K.K.,” he delivered an earworm of a chiptune pop song with more than a hint of intrigue. His airchecks are a must-have item in a series of games that, deep down, is mostly about collecting and arranging must-have items.
The other dogs on this list may be cute. You probably want to pet them. But I want to be K.K. Slider — an enigma who somehow produces electronic music with just an acoustic guitar and his mouth.