Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dogs in the Dungeon

No, this isn’t about using Dogs in the Vineyard to play Dungeons and Dragons, but rather about the roles of dogs in D&D. 

Various editions of our favorite game list dogs and other animals in the equipment lists.  A few of them include things like war dogs and riding dogs, but not really giving much info on them or their uses.  Obviously dogs can be used for defending their owners, or as attackers, but a canine has many uses, and you want to pick the right breed for the job you want it to do.  You probably won’t pick a Boston terrier or a greyhound as your attack dog, nor would you pick a mastiff to run a race. 

I’m going to look at a variety of breeds, and show how they might be useful to a dungeoneer. 

Let’s start with big dogs that are generally classified as Working Dogs – Mastiffs, Rottweilers, Dobermans, German Shepherds, etc.  These dogs are your typical wardog or riding dog.    In addition to their size they are also strong, and relatively intelligent.  If you don’t have stats for a dog, these guys will be easily represented by the standard wolf stats.

 Herding Dogs tend to be smaller, faster, and a little smarter than the Working Dogs.  In this group you have collies, shepherds, and even corgis.  They are better able to work alone, and can make good sentries.  They are very alert and protective of those they consider part of their pack.  Herding dogs will have fewer hit points than workers, but they’ll be faster.

Sporting Dogs, such as setters, pointers, and retrievers are the dogs of the nobility who used them for hunting birds and small game.  They are loyal, energetic, and excellent retrievers. 

Hounds are dogs that are used for hunting and tracking, excellent for flushing out bigger game for their owners to shoot.  Due to their highly developed sense of smell they can follow any scent given to them, and they’re likely to find hidden doors.

Terrier Dogs were generally used to hunt vermin, and they are exceptionally stubborn.  Generally small but resilient they have fewer hit points, but a better armor class, and have bonuses for fighting vermin.

Nonsporting Dogs are a mixed collection that are hard to generalize, and includes Poodles (full sized), Dalmatians, and Bulldogs.  Depending on the specific breed, they may use the rules of any other breed, as appropriate.

Toy Dogs, such as the Chinese Crested, Toy Poodle, and the Shih Tzu do not belong in the dungeon.

Working Dog
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 2+2
Move: 180’ (60’)
Attacks: 1 bite
Damage: 1d6
No. Appearing: 2d6 (3d6)
Save As: F1
Morale: 9 or 7
Treasure Type: Nil
Intelligence: 2
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value: 25

Herding Dogs: HD: 2, +2 to initiative, able to reroll initiative every round, intelligence 3

Sporting Dogs: AC: 6, HD: 1+2

Hound Dogs: HD: 2, Detect Secret Doors as an Elf  
            Greyhounds/Whippets: AC: 6, HD: 1+1, Move 210’ (70’)

Terrier Dogs: HD: 1+2, if successful in an attack, they may latch on and cause an automatic 1d4 points of damage per round. 

Nonsporting Dogs: may use the rules of any other breed, as appropriate.

Toy Dogs: use stats for a Rat, Normal

Trained dogs have a higher morale as long as their master is still alive. 


  1. I dunno, couldn't drop small dogs to stop unintelligent pursuit?

  2. I love having dogs tag along for adventures. My players always bring a war dog [HD 2, AC7 Atk 1(1d6)] and have found that their keen senses, bravery and loyalty make them far more preferable than most hirelings. They don't last long of course, but they're always well fed and treated, and they're all called the same name, Maximus.

  3. Toy Dogs: use stats for a Rat, Normal

    Couldn't have said it better myself. ;)

  4. Just an FYI, The standard poodle is a water retriever. Also it's not French it's German.

    From the AKC breed definition:

    The breed originated in Germany as a water retriever. The stylish "Poodle clip" was designed by hunters to help the dogs move through the water more efficiently. The patches of hair left on the body are meant to protect vital organs and joints which are susceptible to cold. The Standard variety is the oldest of the three varieties.

  5. And don't forget, there are rules for corgi's as a PC race in 4e. It's the only thing I like about the game! ;p

  6. @Kiltedyaksman~ I suppose so, but then you'd still have to deal with it. A fresh steak doesn't bark, growl or poop.

    @Icarus~ I know I've found dogs more reliable than people!

    @Higgipedia~ :-)I can see we're on the same wavelength!

    @Houndin~ You're a poodle person, aren't you? :-)

  7. Oh god. That Corgi is awesome. I would bring a small dog into a dungeon. They could be used to set off traps. Rats are usually too smart and get away.

  8. @trollsmyth~ those are great aren't they?

    @Shinobicow~ That's my corgi Lucymonster the Terrible! She's a great agility dog. The problem with using small dogs is that they tend not to set off traps because they're so small.

  9. @David - Actually I have two Irish Wolfhounds and a Blue Tick Coonhound. But I am a dog rescue volunteer and our biggest problems are misconceptions and myth about the different breeds. So when I can, I try to correct them. :)


Comment Moderation is in place. Email notifications are spotty... might be a bit before this gets published. Sorry.