Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Top ten dogs in SFF

Okay, in answer to the list of cats, here goes with a list of dogs! This is not so much a top-ten list as just a list because I had trouble thinking of more than ten dogs. I’m sure I’m missing some. (A lot, probably.) I wanted to stick to dogs, no wolves, because personally I hate it when someone throws a wolf into a story and it is plainly a DOG and NOT A WOLF. (Jean Auel, I’m looking at you.) (But Auel is hardly the only who’s done this.)

Anyway, dogs only in my list!

But having said that, I’m willing to stretch a point for stars that get incarnated as dogs because my favorite dog of all time is:

1. Sirius in DWJ’s DOGSBODY.

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Really, you cannot beat Sirius. Such a wonderful story. I look back at it in awe because who but DWJ could possibly have thrown stars as characters, dogs, the Wild Hunt, and a serious story about Kathleen and the prejudice against the Irish all into one story and made it work?

2. Robin McKinley, for the saluki-like dogs in DEERSKIN and all the many dogs in SHADOWS. The dogs get to be real characters in the former, but I enjoyed the dogs in the latter as well.

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3. Barbara Hambly’s wonderful THE BRIDE OF THE RAT GOD actually made me fall a little bit in love with Pekingese, not ordinarily my favorite breed (sorry, Pekingese lovers; just a personal preference). Do NOT be misled by the title, which is deliberately B-movie campy. The story is delightful and the three Pekingese are real characters, real dogs, and also btw capable of hunting demons if any should turn up.

4. Doranna Durgin has written some great dogs, especially the corgi — Cardigan rather than Pembroke, don’t see that very often — in A FERAL DARKNESS and all the hounds in SEER’S BLOOD. Dog lovers should definitely find copies of both books.

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5. Ilona Andrews wrote a great standard poodle into her (their) Kate Daniels series. Sure, he turns into a giant hellhound kind of creatures sometimes, but most of the time he’s a Real Dog. Also, I’m a great fan of standard poodles, so that choice of breed delights me.

6. Patricia Briggs throws some dogs into FIRE TOUCHED, one of the more recent Mercy Thompson stories. Hellhounds and stuff but also real dogs.

7. The Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz features Boo, a ghost dog, as a fairly important continuing character.

8. Tamora Pierce’s BEKA COOPER series features not only the cat that is really a god, but also a dog that is really a dog. A scent dog, very appealing; not to mention useful for a young cop.

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9. On a somewhat darker note, there’s Blood in “A Boy and His Dog” by Harlan Ellison. Not exactly my favorite story ever, but memorable.

10. And . . . I’ll just mention THE WHITE ROAD OF THE MOON. I happen to like the dog in that one, too.

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9 Comments Top ten dogs in SFF

  1. Elaine T

    Michelle Sagara West’s dogs in the Hunt duology, especially Ashfell.

    Cavall in Fionavar. Yes, I know he’s from legend. GGK made him also read like a real living dog who loved his master.

  2. Mike S.

    If superheroes qualify as SFF, I’ll add Krypto the Superdog (the Laika of Krypton, but with a much happier ending), his pastiche by Alan Moore Radar the Dog Supreme (whose behavior is a bit more doglike), Rex the Wonder Dog (what if they’d done a little animal testing on the super-soldier serum before creating Captain America?), and Lockjaw of the Inhumans (giant teleporting bulldog, what’s not to like?).

  3. Bret

    I can think of a few, Slasher appears in the Conan story Beyond The Black River.
    In Earthblood by Keith Laumer and Rosel George Brown (one of my all time favorite books), Sostelle is one of the talking dogs on a far future Earth. One of the few honorable earthlings.
    A large mutant dog is featured in A. Bertram Chandler’s short story Fall Of Night. Part of the set up for one of Chandler’s very bad puns, but I like it.

  4. Rachel

    Cavall appears in Cooper’s Dark Is Rising series too. I liked him there also — I always like him, of course.

    I’ve never encountered most of those superhero dogs, but in fact I do remember Lockjaw. I loved him.

    And good for Laumer, making a dog stand out for honor. Very suitable.

  5. Kristina

    Ooh – I read and enjoyed A FERAL DARKNESS but somehow missed SEER’S BLOOD. I’ll have to look for that one.

    I’d include Juliet Marillier’s dogs, who have their own secrets in Flame of Sevenwaters and Dreamer’s Pool.

  6. Kootch

    The hounds of the House of Blood in Helen Lowe’s “Daughter of Night”. Also the various dogs in Robin Hobb’s “Assassin’s Apprentice”.

  7. SarahZ

    I like Mouse in the Dresden Files, although he’s like Grendel in Kate Daniels – a normal dog until he isn’t.

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