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Little dogs, dogs, and large dogs (all d) are carnivorous domestic animals and can be tamed with tripe, food rations, fortune cookies, or edible corpses if they are fresh. (While in reality dogs are omnivores, in NetHack they are treated as carnivores.)

Eating the corpse of any domestic dog has similar consequences to cannibalism: it will give you the aggravate monster intrinsic, but it will not decrease your luck. Cavemen and orcs are exempt from this penalty. Regardless of your alignment, sacrificing a dog corpse is harmless (though sacrificing a pet corpse is not).

Types of dog

Little dog

The little dog is one of the most famous NetHack monsters—it has served as the starting pet for the player ever since Hack 1.0, although in recent times you also have the option of starting with a kitten for a starting pet (knights will get a pony instead). They are capable of growing up into dogs.

The little dog and its more experienced brethren are sometimes better fighters than newly started characters and can be used to fight for you in the early stages of the game. Nevertheless, they may be more vulnerable than newly started characters against passive attacks, such as acidic monsters or floating eyes. They also are extremely vulnerable to falling rock traps and rolling boulder traps and many be killed by one within the first hundred turns of a game.


The dog is a grown-up little dog and is therefore usually encountered as a player's pet. They are capable of growing up into large dogs.

As with their brethren, they are excellent fighters to have as companions to early game characters, but remain vulnerable to passive attacks. They may have trouble with watch captains in Minetown, although regular watchmen shouldn't pose too much trouble.

Large dog

The large dog is a grown-up dog and is therefore usually encountered as a player's pet (especially with early game characters, as they are easy to obtain by training their little dog).

As with their brethren, they are excellent fighters to have as companions to early-game characters, but remain vulnerable to passive attacks. Eventually, it may be worthwhile to attempt to upgrade your large dog to another monster using a polymorph trap, especially if you have more than one pet.

Pet dogs

Dogs are the iconic NetHack pet. The little dog even made Gamespy's top 10 list of video game sidekicks. Many roles begin the game with one.

Taming wild dogs is usually easy, because all sizes of dog are considered domestic animals. Throwing a meaty treat, a safe fresh meat-based corpse, or processed human food at a hostile or peaceful dog will tame it. Throwing any other comestible at a dog will at least render it peaceful, with the exception of cream pies and eggs (which will break on impact).

As an additional challenge, if it is night and the moon is full, dogs are harder to tame with food; there is only a 1 in 6 chance of success.

All meaty treats can be used to train your dog to fetch.

You can #chat with your dog to get an idea of how it is feeling:

  • at night when the moon is full, it will always howl.
  • it will whine if it is hungry, caught in a trap, confused, fleeing, or tameness is getting low.
  • if the dog is leashed, and there is a trap nearby, it will whine without you #chatting to it. This works even if the trap is undetected.
  • if it will be hungry soon (1000 turns or less), it will bark.
  • the rest of the time it will yip.
Pet type Corpse wt Can carry unassisted in uncursed bag of holding in blessed bag of holding
kitten/little dog 150 51 72 144
housecat/dog 200 / 400 68 / 137 106 / 244 212 / 488
large cat/large dog 250 / 800 1000 1970 3940

Dog names

The classes which always have a dog as a starting pet each have a unique name for their starting little dog. If dogname is not set, the little dog will automatically be given one of these names, according to the player's class.

Class Dog name
Caveman Slasher
Ranger Sirius
Samurai Hachi
Barbarian* Idefix

* Barbarians are not limited to only dogs


In SLASH'EM, dogs and cats frequency is very high instead of rare.

Encyclopedia entry

A domestic animal, the _tame dog_ (_Canis familiaris_), of
which numerous breeds exist. The male is called a dog,
while the female is called a bitch. Because of its known
loyalty to man and gentleness with children, it is the
world's most popular domestic animal. It can easily be
trained to perform various tasks.

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It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.4.3. Information on this page may be out of date.

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