Last updated on June 21, 2022
Spirited Companion | Illustration by Ilse Gort
All we need is yellow added to to get all the colors at the dog party on the top of the tree in the P. D. Eastman (Dr. Seuss) early reader classic, Go, Dog, Go! All hounds became dogs for Core Set 2021, setting the stage for our own dog party here on Draftsim.
Honestly, dogs aren’t the most powerful tribe in Magic, and a lot of these cards are kind of stinkers. But there are some hidden gems here. I also try to include a dog and a cat in every EDH deck if I can, just as a thing. I can’t be the only one with that kind of brewer’s foible. So if that’s you, too, this guide will help you sort out which dog can find its forever home in your deck.
Ready? Let’s jump right into it!
What are Dogs in MTG?
Selfless Savior | Illustration by Ralph Horsely
Dogs are a creature type, simple as that. They can be found in all five colors of the color pie, but there are only a handful of these adorable puppies in blue. Some dog tribal synergies exist, but for the most part the best dogs out there function best as standalone cards.
As for which ones those are, let’s take a look!
Bestest Bois: Top Dogs in White
#27. Thraben Purebloods
I just don’t feel like greyhounds should have higher toughness than power. Plus, Thraben Purebloods are pure vanilla.
#26. Gate Hound
I know it’s probably fur, like a mullet hawk on the backside of Gate Hound, but I want to believe that’s a dimetrodon buzzsaw kind of thing on its back. All that said, this can’t be worth it.
#25. Guard Dogs
So… seven mana over two turns to save a white creature from combat damage? Hard pass on Guard Dogs.
#24. Snow Hound
#23. Akroan Mastiff
This is probably required if you’re serious about your pooch tribal since Akroan Mastiff is one of the few cards with an actual, real life dog breed in its name, but this is too much mana for a tapper.
#22. Warclamp Mastiff
#21. Encampment Keeper
#20. Affa Guard Hound
I like the quick protector thematic vibe, but Affa Guard Hound only seems useful in Isamaru dog tribal.
#19. Champion of Arashin
There aren’t that many lifelinkers in dog tribal but four mana is lot for Champion of Arashin.
#18. Boros Mastiff
#17. Alpine Watchdog
Always nice in M21 Limited with the Alpine Houndmaster that summons Alpine Watchdog. The package with Igneous Cur, Houndmaster, and Watchdog probably goes in dog tribal with Rin and Seri, Inseparable.
#16. Blink Dog
A hard-to-kill double striker is decent in any kind of pants deck, but the mana costs for casting and activating Blink Dog are definitely not bargains.
#15. Gore Vassal
So Gore Vassal rips hearts out of small creatures and uses them to save the dying?
#14. Cathar’s Companion
3/1s like Cathar’s Companion that are hard to destroy are pests across formats. This good buddy is useful because it gains indestructible in response to your casting of, say, Wrath of God, which is awfully convenient if you’re threading the needle between white weenie beatdown and white control decks.
#13. Ainok Bond-Kin
Abzan Falconer seems like the most useful outlast card. Ainok, Bond-Kin is maybe second place? Outlast is slow and sad as mechanics go, but giving everything with a +1/+1 counter first strike is pretty decent for two mana. I’ve got one in my Hamza, Guardian of Arashin deck, and so do a lot of other players.
#12. Isamaru, Hound of Konda
A classic. A great rate for a deck that wants to start voltronning with its commander as soon as possible. The trouble is that the voltron effects in mono white are often equipment or auras, and there are better options for Commanders than Isamaru, Hound of Konda in those builds, the most obvious being Sram, Senior Edificer.
#11. Stonebinder’s Familiar
Surprisingly effective in mono white Standard with all the exile effects from foretell, Portable Hole, etc. Stonebinder’s Familiar probably doesn’t make the cut in Ranar the Ever-Watchful or Brago, King Eternal flicker decks, but it’ll get swole in those.
#10. Supply Runners
Venerated Loxodon at home? I just think Supply Runners wants to live in your Ranar deck, especially if you build it to maximize the Azorius () fliers aspects since you keep making and buffing flying spirits. This seems like the hidden gem here.
#9. Resolute Watchdog
#8. Selfless Savior
This plus Lurrus of the Dream-Den is trouble for your enemies as anyone who’s sat across from an Auras deck in Historic will attest. I’d rather have Selfless Savior than old reliable Dauntless Bodyguard if I had to choose since it’s a lot more flexible in its salvation targeting.
#7. Trusty Retriever
#6. Rambunctious Mutt
#5. Patrol Hound
A threshold enabler from Odyssey, Patrol Hound is still one of the more efficient ways to quickly fill your graveyard, especially in white.
#4. Yoshimaru, Ever Faithful
Our newest good buddy. Shut up. Those are not tears in my eyes after reading the flavor text. The type is really small, okay?
Yoshimaru, Ever Faithful seems nice in a legendary creatures deck helmed by any version of Sisay, Kethis, the Hidden Hand, or Niambi, Esteemed Speaker. And since we’ve got partner, what about builds with Reyhan, Last of the Abzan or Alharu, Solemn Ritualist?
#3. Loyal Warhound
The latest in white’s catch up on lands cards. I think you need all these in mono white in EDH, right? I’m not thrilled about a 3/1, but I’ll take Loyal Warhound anyway.
#2. Pack Leader
The goodest of bois, am I right? I get strong Jock from Lady and the Tramp vibes from Pack Leader. The dog lord you wish was legendary so it could actually lead your Commander deck. Also pretty nice in tribal tribal decks.
#1. Spirited Companion
Bestest Bois: Top Dogs in Blue
#4. Phantom Whelp
It always seems like these self-bounce triggers could be abused, but this is tough to make work. I’m not sure if this is even worth it. Phantom Whelp isn’t the worst of the hound cycle from Odyssey, but that doesn’t mean much.
#3. Moon-Eating Dog
#2. Chakram Retriever
When you partner Chakram Retriever with Chakram Slinger, you can take two 5-drops and try out a frisbee-slinging version of Thermo-Alchemist. Hard to imagine that’s even in the top 20 options for Izzet () spellslinger commanders.
Bestest Bois: Top Dogs in Black
#13. Hollow Dogs
#12. Ghost Hounds
This card is only twice as expensive to cast as it should be, which is pretty efficient for a Homelands card! Ghost Hounds join Stonebinder’s Familiar as one of only two Spirit Dogs, so in like fifteen years that’ll be super relevant for some kind of wacky tribal deck that I’ll totally be here for.
#11. Mortis Dogs
#10. Hound of the Farbogs
#9. Filthy Cur
There are no bad dogs, only bad owners. Someone just needs to take this boi home and give him a bath and a jerky treat.
#8. Caustic Hound
These Mirrodin Besieged dogs are totes creepy, but Caustic Hound seems unplayable.
#7. Thraben Foulbloods
Thraben Foulbloods feels like a 23rd playable in Eldritch Moon Draft, but it always seemed to get cut.
#6. Vampire Hounds
This is the grandsire of Wild Mongrel. The limitation of the discard to creature cards just really hamstrings this, but when they opened that up to any card for the Mongrel (and made it cheaper to cast!) it kind of broke a few things. The only other two cards that ask you to “discard a creature card” are Fauna Shaman and Survival of the Fittest, so clearly balancing cards in this space is pretty tough.
I think this could have a place in Vampire madness decks but it’s an old, slightly inefficient card that’ll never just fill your graveyard, so maybe this is for boomers only?
#5. Hell Mongrel
#4. Hollowborn Barghest
A rare?! I can see Hollowborn Barghest serving as a top end in a discard EDH deck which keys off damage effects like Megrim and Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage, but that feels like boomer Magic in a world with Tergrid, God of Fright.
#3. Plague Dogs
First up, these are errata’d to be “Phyrexian Zombie Dogs,” which sounds like a lost Lucio Fulci movie. That’s kind a cool. Even if Plague Dogs did its tiny wrath effect if it was also milled and if the sac trigger was free, it still might not be good enough in most cases.
About half of the nightmare creatures in Magic have extra eyes. Banehound is one of them. It was a problem seeing your opponent drop this on turn 1 in War of the Spark Limited. This card continues to find work in Rayami, First of the Fallen decks with two important keywords, but I can’t imagine playing that commander.
Dreadhound was a wincon in Midnight Hunt Draft, especially if you were stacking up decayed zombies. As an addition to decks that want to run Blood Artist effects, this is a pricey but decent option. This goodest of girls can potentially hit for six if the mill roulette wheel hits with a Syr Konrad, the Grim on the battlefield.
Bestest Bois: Top Dogs in Red
#24. Pack Mastiff
Pack Mastiff is unplayable in EDH. But I did win a few games of M20 Limited with five of these in my deck.
#23. Mad Dog
#22. Ainok Tracker
#21. Two-Headed Cerberus | Scrapyard Mongrel
#20. Ashmouth Hound
The right cost for this effect is like on Goblin Javelineer, which was trying to find a solid space in Goblins decks in Standard before the Innistrad sets put mono white aggro over the top. For Ashmouth Hound at two and you’ve got sweet art with nowhere to go.
#19. Zodiac Dog
Zodiac Dog is the only dog with landwalk. That doesn’t make it playable.
#18. Lightning Hounds
Weirdest art on all the dogs. What’s happening with the lead dog’s front left leg? Otherwise Lightning Hounds is an overcosted first striker with two red pips.
#17. Monstrous Hound
This is from Exodus, kids. This was the first set where they colored the expansion symbols in gold for rares. So when you saw one, you wanted to make it work.
I opened one of these, yikes, 24 years ago in a pack. Never could find a place for Monstrous Hound. Every time I see it in my red box I look at it like it’s a stray in the pound that just needs the right deck to love it. Hasn’t happened yet, but now I can feel like I need to slot it into my Radha, Heart of Keld deck. Radha looks like she could use a good doggo.
#16. Wildfire Cerberus
A card name created by Mad Libs during a WotC lunch break? An expensive Pyroclasm that spares your creatures, Wildfire Cerberus isn’t the worst thing you can be doing for, um, twelve mana, but, wait, maybe it is? You can almost hard cast Blasphemous Act by then.
#15. Mogis’s Warhound
A “fixed” Mad Dog? It doesn’t quite get there, although there are some wild brewers out there playing this in Kaima, the Fractured Calm decks, which is wild but makes some sense. Never change, wild brewers.
#14. Hellfire Mongrel
To your Megrim and friends, add Hellfire Mongrel, Burning Inquiry, maybe get wild with Magus of the Wheel, Sire on Insanity, toss in that Underworld Breach and a Rakdos Arcanist and a few madness cards to tie the room together? I see no Tergrid, God of Fright tables out there, so this kind of build, as a harder option, might get enough respect to allow you past that table’s rule 0 conversation.
#13. Pyre Hound
You’ve probably met Pyroceratops. Twinsies with Pyre Hound. If you’re building a bad version of Feather, the Redeemed, I guess this is a wincon? This kind of thing usually works better than you think it will in Limited. But it’s always much worse than you think in Commander.
#12. Akoum Hellhound
A decent option for mono red aggro in Standard after Throne of Eldraine rotated, you can still find Akoum Hellhound in red landfall and red aggro EDH decks, but both of those feel like decks you give a younger sibling to play to teach them Commander, not serious decks.
#11. Fiery Hellhound
The two red pips on Fiery Hellhound make this ruff. Firebreathing isn’t the worst thing and it always works in Limited, but I think maybe this boi needs to sit and stay.
#10. Karplusan Hound
Okay, so Chandra really likes her dogs. Sure, this has to go in your Chandra tribal deck on principle, but it’s kind of meh. (Don’t tell Chandra I said that!)
#9. Chandra’s Magmutt
I guess if you’re running some kind of Chandra tribal Commander pile (and we all have one of these, don’t we?), you probably want to give her all her toys and buddies, so Chandra’s Magmutt is a flavor must. Maybe this is cute in a Torbran, Thane of Red Fell deck, but don’t you need to be faster in EDH mono red than this pooch?
#8. Lava Hounds
Mike Flores has a great analysis of why Lava Hounds worked in a classic beatdown deck back in the day, David Price’s Deadguy Red. The tl;dr is that its butt was big enough to dodge popular removal, and when you’re bringing the beatdown, what’s four life between friends?
#7. Underworld Rage-Hound
If your Theros: Beyond Death Draft went on long enough and they didn’t have the right bombs, this often did the lethal to your opponent. This is probably the actual fixed Mad Dog as you can just pull Underworld Rage-Hound out of the graveyard when you need it.
#6. Igneous Cur
Always nice in M21 Limited with the Alpine Houndmaster that summons it. The package with Igneous Cur, Houndmaster, and Alpine Watchdog probably goes in dog tribal with Rin and Seri, Inseparable. The tryhard extra firebreathing is useful in a pinch.
#5. Hound of Griselbrand
#4. Blood Hound
Old-bordered card with a block of text. Okay. Okay.
First paragraph, good start! And we remember this is the 90s and creature cards keep finding ways to self-nerf. Still, in a modular +1/+1 counters EDH deck you can pack a Goblin Engineer or run some blue and then find The Ozolith. There are worse things to durdle with than Blood Hound. But beware, it probably won’t work.
#3. Arcbound Tracker
Some day Boros () affinity will get enough cards to pop, at least in Pauper. It feels almost there. If it ever arrives, Arcbound Tracker will be in the deck. It makes counters and those are modular. If you’re playing the Zabaz, the Glimmerwasp modular tribal deck you have to play this.
#2. Bolt Hound
Bolt Hound is a nice effect if you’re going wide, and it’s on theme for Rin and Seri, Inseparable, a deck that also wants to go wide. Nice flavor text pun, which gets respect. I’d like to see this in Isshin, Two Heavens as One decks.
#1. Komainu Battle Armor
Okay, Komainu Battle Armor is kind of sick. I’m not sure how the dude in the art reconfigures it to wear it, but I’m still here for it. It’s a tutorable equipment and the goad is very nice. Perfect with its precon buddy Chihiro, the Shattered Blade.
This is the only mono-red equipment that grants menace, and it has distinct advantages over its closest colorless alternative, Chitinous Cloak. For one more on the equip cost you get a 2/2 with menace when no one is equipping it, which is very nice.
Bestest Bois: Top Dogs in Green
#19. Elven Warhounds
I can’t even with this card. No way Elves have Dogs. Nope. Plus, Elven Warhounds has the most anti-Dog flavor text on any Magic card, so that’s right out. I get that the flavor text is from a Cat Warrior, so okay, but still. Also, it’s a Bear with a bad ability at twice the cost.
#18. Sandsteppe Scavenger
Not worth it. Sorry, Sandsteppe Scavenger.
#17. Wild Dogs
#16. Ainok Artillerist
You have to do a lot to make Ainok Artillerist do anything, and I don’t think that “anything” is really worth it. It probably fits the flavor of people manning the towers before being picked off by Nazgul, which is good for the dragon-heavy world they live in, but that means it only wins on flavor.
#15. Thrashing Mossdog
Scavenge is tough. The cards tend to be overcosted and the graveyard ability is even more overcosted. All these Mossdogs are plants, so maybe you want Thrashing Mossdog in your Phylath, World Sculptor deck given that recovering from board wipes is key to that deck’s success rate, but still.
#14. Aerie Bowmasters
These plant dog hybrids are trippy. And if there’s a tier list for the distance between the flavor text hype and the weakness of the creature, Mossdog has got to be at least at A level: “The more you look at it, the more dangerous it becomes.”
#12. Salt Road Ambushers
Salt Road Ambushers is almost an auto-include in Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer decks, of course. I think every morph deck player has a story about how they flipped this and another morpher and blew out an attacker, and those are the things that give morph players life. But who’s really attacking the morph player who’s sitting there with, like, eight mana up?
#11. Ainok Guide
It comes down a bear or a Campus Guide. Ainok Guide isn’t the worst card to blink, and if they ever print a decent scout tribal commander now that Golos, Tireless Pilgrim is banned this will likely go in that deck.
#10. Bayou Groff
Even in Strixhaven Limited Bayou Groff rarely worked the way you’d hope. Still, it could be decent with an Eyetwitch, and this card is reasonable in a Golgari () sac deck like Varolz, the Scar-Striped.
#9. Greater Mossdog
That’s kind of how broken mechanics work. The cards are either bannable or unplayable. I think there’s room for this and other Golgari dredge cards in The Gitrog Monster decks, if you can avoid decking yourself.
#8. Longshot Squad
#7. Abzan Beastmaster
This isn’t the worst in a butts deck like Doran, the Siege Tower or Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper. The trouble is that Abzan Beastmaster triggers on upkeep, so even with a Yeva, Nature’s Herald to flash it in you’ll be lucky to get the card.
#6. Mowu, Loyal Companion
There are definitely players trying to make Mowu, Loyal Companion work as a +1/+1 counters Voltron-y commander.
Slap a hexproof equipment on it, toss in Invigorating Surge and Visions of Dominance as well as new card, Roaring Earth, and you might eliminate a player at your EDH table before the good decks take over the game. It’s probably a great inclusion in your Rin and Seri, Inseparable deck, though.
#5. Ainok Survivalist
The best of Tarkir’s Ainok, Ainok Survivalist is one of a handful of cards that’s in 97% of all Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer morph decks. It just has so much utility for that deck. The low megamorph cost makes this useful in a lot of other creature-heavy decks looking for a blinkable Naturalize.
#4. Mongrel Pack
Anything that makes a lot of Dog tokens is more than welcome in Rin and Seri, Inseparable decks. On rate, Mongrel Pack is better than Release the Dogs, but it’s only played a third as much in Rin and Seri decks. I know it’s a boomer card but this seems like a bit of a missed opportunity.
#3. Tanuki Transplanter
This “lesser”(?) Tanuki feels almost on point for everyone who remembers being taught how to find the tanuki suit in Super Mario Bros. 3. Strap it on and good things happen. I think I speak for all Nintendo fans when I say that we want this suit to enable you to fly. I mean, Tanuki Transplanter is climbing a tree in the art. If updog himself, Bounding Wolf, can have reach because it, you know, jumps, we want the tanuki suit to let us get up over the clouds, please.
#2. Greater Tanuki
When Greater Tanuki was spoiled it seemed like every content creator had a “wait, this is creature type dog!??” moment. If you want to get into the taxonomic weeds on this, be my guest, but it looks like dog is kind of correct.
For a hot minute this seemed like it would be total gas in Neon Dynasty Limited, but it’s only okay. It can serve as a Beanstalk Giant in EDH being less efficient early than a Rampant Growth but not dead late. The Giant is a lot better, but I think this card’s stock in Commander will only go up.
#1. Wild Mongrel
Wild Mongrel was absolute gas in formats like Odyssey block Constructed in 2002. There were Simic () madness builds that used Aquamoeba, Wonder, and Standstill. Fill the graveyard for value. And there were Selesnya () decks that paired this Dog with cards like Tireless Tribe and Anurid Brushhopper and made heavy use of getting Glory into the ‘yard. Both were big fans of Roar of the Wurm at the top end.
It’s still one of the most efficient ways to get cards in the graveyard for value in a color that has a complicated relationship with the graveyard in Commander, given that green’s role in madness, flashback, and disturb effects has shrunk in favor of red and black over the years. In any kind of Sultai () delirium pile, though, you’ve got to include this classic.
Bestest Bois: Top Dogs in Multicolor
#6. Pako, Arcane Retriever
WotC, stop trying to make fetch happen.
Neither set of cards really works. This might be a fun deck to play if Pako’s trigger wasn’t an attack trigger.
#5. Rakdos Ragemutt
This doesn’t work for the cost, but have you read the flavor text on Rakdos Ragemutt? Custom Magic cards keep being made to fill the void until Wizards makes us an actual The Butcher Clowns card. It’s been 10 years now. It’s time.
#4. Blazing Hellhound
#3. Underworld Cerberus
This is a weird mythic. I don’t know how all the abilities on Underworld Cerberus are supposed to fit together.
I can see this is a crazy wincon with a Syr Konrad, the Grim on the battlefield, which means I would try putting both into a Chainer, Nightmare Adept or Olivia, Crimson Bride deck. Maybe I’d drop an Ebony Owl Netsuke and Iron Maiden in there, too? You know if you were at a table where someone won with this “combo” you couldn’t even be mad.
#2. Kunoros, Hound of Athreos
This doggo runs a mean anti-reanimator control/stax deck in Historic Brawl, but it hasn’t quite found its place as a commander. Kunoros, Hound of Athreos probably wants to tag along in your Athreos, God of Passage and Athreos, Shroud-Veiled decks just for flavor alone.
#1. Rin and Seri, Inseparable
Rin and Seri, Inseparable is the business. It’s the MTG Dog Cat commander! It’s a fun go-wide deck to play and there’s a slight political advantage of players not wanting to kill your creatures at some EDH tables. M21 shipped with some Dog tokens to support this card, and they’re wearing saddlebags filled with arrows so you need that in your life.
This is pretty much what you have to run for Dog tribal, even if you couldn’t care less about cats. Cat tribal can roll with lots of other commanders, especially Arahbo, Roar of the World, but we still await a solo Dog legend that’s more than two colors. Until then, Rin and Seri it is.
Bestest Bois: Top Dogs in Colorless
#5. Cogwork Tracker
#3. Dross Ripper
Dross Ripper feels like expired Draft chaff to me.
#2. Immolating Souleater
#1. Corpse Cur
Best Dog Payoffs
You’ve got to include the cats, but Rin and Seri, Inseparable is a fun tribal deck with a nice go-wide strategy. It’s easy to play and a really fun deck to get a kid involved in Commander.
Isamaru, Hound of Konda, Mowu, Loyal Companion, and Yoshimaru, Ever Faithful can be turned into go-tall Commander damage decks. The white cards can get off to a fast start. The green one is a lot trickier to pull off. None of these decks are going to be Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest, but this is the place if you’re looking for a worthy challenge.
Is a Fox a Dog in MTG?
“Fox” is its own creature type, as is “Dog.” So unless your Fox creature also has Dog as a creature type, it’s not a Dog.
What About a Wolf?
A Wolf is also its own creature type distinct from Dog.
What About a Hound?
Hounds were all errata’d to Dogs with the release of Core Set 2021. So all Hounds are now Dogs but not all Dogs are Hounds in keeping with a longstanding wish from Mark Rosewater. And with Dog reality.
Rin and Seri, Inseparable | Illustration by Leesha Hannigan
Magic still has a long way to go to make Dogs a powerful tribe, but most of the best Dogs in Magic have been made in the last five years. I look forward to more good bois and girls as more sets are released.
There’s a lot of design space in the “cute creatures” category, which it seems Magic has only recently embraced. The positive response to these cards indicates to me that this would be a welcome direction for the future. I mean, the Jumpstart Dog Plains card sells for more than two bucks a pop! And the Every Dog Has Its Day Secret Lair, with cute new dog-themed art and flavor text on Rest in Peace, Dig Through Time, Ancient Grudge, and Lightning Greaves was as popular as it was cute.
What’s your favorite Dog in Magic? And how do you feel about my rankings? Do you think I got the best in show right, or did your best pal get skipped over? Let me know in the comments down below or over on Draftsim’s Twitter.
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