Posted on November 12 2018 by Rod Lloyd
The world of The Legend of Zelda is obviously very different from our own. The denizens of our humble realm don’t have ready access to magical instruments, we may never experience the inebriating effects of Chateau Romani, and we’ll — hopefully — never have to sprint for our lives from a vengeful Peahat. But for all the disparities between our world and Zelda‘s, one universal constant still exists: dog is still man’s best friend.
Much like our world, the Zelda series is chock full of canine companions. These lovable doggos come in all shapes and sizes, all quirks and personalities; and in so many games, each solitary good-boy brings something special to Link’s adventure. Whether they bring a friendly feeling to a town or village, offer a helping paw in a challenging moment, or they just remind the player of their own pooch at home, the dogs of Zelda can be as important as any Heart Container.
So let’s sniff out the best, most noteworthy, and most adorable pooches in the Zelda series.
Richard (Ocarina of Time)
“You say you’ve never heard of my little Richard? He was such a famous puppy! You seriously haven’t heard of him?”
We begin our cross-country dog show in the streets of Hyrule Castle Town. Among the hustle and bustle of the town market, Link can cross paths with a little Scottish terrier named Richard. At first glance, Richard is as spry and energetic as any other pup, carelessly hopping across the market’s cobblestone streets, chasing any little thing that catches his attention. But as his owner is quick to point out, Richard is quite an exceptional canine.
Besides sharing a name with a certain real-world rock and roll legend, little Richard boasts plenty of admirable qualities. Richard’s rather opinionated master tells our hero that the “precious little puppy’s fur coat is very special compared to the other mutts around here” and he “can run faster than any of the other mutts around here!”
Aside from the woman’s thinly veiled discrimination, I can’t say I disagree with her evaluation of Richard’s physical advantages. His fur does appear quite cuddly, and his speed is undeniable when you see him zip across Castle Town. There’s certainly much to admire about this tuttin’, fruttin’ pupper.
But good golly, Miss Molly! All that praise can’t come at the expense of all the other dogs in Hyrule. In fact, Richard knows that despite how highly he’s thought of by his human, love’s got to be shared with every puppy around Castle Town. That’s why our terrier pal likes to slip out of his home at night and frolic around the empty streets with all the other four-legged free spirits. All Link has to do is step out into the market after the sun goes down and listen to the symphony of padded paws tapping across the town square.
Richard’s late-night escapades do of course worry his close-minded human from time to time. When Link enters her home after hours, presumably to give Richard a well-deserved belly rub, she frantically exclaims, “I can’t find my puppy anywhere! I need you to look for it! Please!”
Link’s happy to oblige — Richard needs his belly rubbed, after all — but the owner offers a quick piece of advice on his way out. “At night it’s dangerous to go out with all the wild dogs around… No, I wasn’t warning you! I’m worried about my puppy,” she shouts. But Richard knows that there’s no real danger out there, just an opportunity to play and howl at the moon.
Even with all the compliments and luxuries he enjoys at home, Richard never thinks of himself as more than any other canine. He enjoys the simple parts of life, even if he’s told that such things are meant for so-called “mutts” and “wild” animals.
Mutt (Link’s Awakening)
Speaking of mutts, that’s the name one rather robust doggo in Link’s Awakening. Usually found roaming the streets of Mabe Village and looking adorable, Mutt (or Mutts, if you believe the conspiracy theories) is a mild-mannered scruffer that brings a positive atmosphere to every screen Link visits. That’s about all there would be to say in most circumstances, if not for some unthinkable things that Mutt has to be prepared for.
The Great Hyrule Encyclopedia states that “though mostly friendly, [Mutt] would attack if provoked,” and the Nintendo Player’s Guide says that “this little dog found in Mabe Village will chomp your ankle if you hit him. The lesson here is not to hit him. Be nice to domestic animals.”
You can’t be more straightforward than that.
Yes, due to the heinous acts of some monstrous individuals, poor, little Mutt has to show his teeth now and then. And god forbid Link take a swing at this doggo, lest our hero wants a forceful chomp right in the butt. Mutt can be as fearsome as any Cuccoo, Link!
Mutt deserves a quiet, lazy life in the sea breeze of Mabe Village. He doesn’t deserve to be bothered by a foolish hero in a green cap.
Ordon Village Dog (Twilight Princess)
From one village to another. Ordon is home to many domestic animals, from Pergie’s cat, to Hanch’s hawk, to Fado’s many, many goats. But one pet in particular always invites a loving smile and a warm embrace when Link comes near. The adorable Nintendog owned by Jaggle and Pergie can be found in the family’s home near the edge of town. I can’t imagine that any Twilight Princess player could enter that house and not pick up this huggable puppy. He’s the truest form of domestic pleasure!
While he can’t play fetch like some of the dogs in Twilight Princess, the Ordon Village pupper has a wealth of knowledge that comes in handy during Link’s adventure. When our hero finds himself locked in wolf form and without his trusty sword and shield, he can find this clever Fido taking a relaxing moonlit stroll. “Nighttime walks are so nice aren’t they?!” he asks excitedly. And like any eager tracking dog, our new friend then says, “I hope I find something good buried today! I love digging holes and looking for treasure!” He even explains to Link how to hone your senses and dig around for buried goodies. Link’s not quite used to having a well-trained sniffer, so he appreciates the advice.
One may not realize it right away, but the Ordon Village dog plays an extremely important role in Link’s quest. Without him, our hero may have never learned to master the ways of the wolf or traverse safely through the Twilight Realm. We owe this pup our gratitude.
Shy Dog (Oracle of Ages)
Link meets a lot of strange people and takes part in a lot of strange things while adventuring through Labrynna. After a set of peculiar circumstances involving a stinky bag and a hangry shop-keep, our hero at one point gets his hands on an adorable Doggie Mask. “You got the Doggie Mask! A dog-lover will love it,” we’re told. Luckily, Link knows just where to look to find such a canine enthusiast.
In Lynna City, Link meets Mamamu Yan, “the top breeder in town.” After introducing herself to our hero, she says, “My dog is much cuter than that dog! Much cuter! But my dog is very shy.” (This dog breeder actually shares a name with Richard’s owner from Ocarina of Time, which would explain her eagerness to disparage other dogs). Who she means when she says “that dog” we may never know, but at least we can all acknowledge that her dog is prone to shyness. This bashful pup spends most of his day hopping around his owner’s home, choosing not to step foot outside.
Maybe he just needs to be more comfortable with the way he looks. Maybe wearing something stylish will give him enough confidence to take the trek outdoors. That’s the idea that Mamamu’s going with. When Link presents her with the Doggie Mask, the breeder will exclaim, “That doggie mask!!! It fits my dog perfectly! Let me have that doggie mask!” Mamamu decides to give Link a little something in exchange for the mask, but the choice of prize isn’t what one would normally expect. “You deserve the toy that my dog played with,” she says, before presenting Link with a Dumbbell.
…A Dumbbell?! What kind of dumb trade is that? And why is a dog playing with a Dumbbell in the first place? That puppy must be pretty swole if that’s his favorite toy. I’m not sure why he’s so shy if he’s got muscles to show off… Oracle of Ages is a really weird game.
Anyway, disregarding how strange it is to place a dog mask on a dog, the Doggie Mask actually does give the pupper the confidence to go outside and play. If Link returns to the breeder’s house late in his journey, he will find that Mamamu has lost track of her pet. “My precious dog has gotten lost. He’s somewhere in town, so I’d like you to get him,” she says. Link heads out to find him, much like he did for Richard in Castle Town, but not before Mamamu adds, “He’s so delicate. You carry him properly.”
Link does eventually find Mamamu’s “precious pup” skipping along on a random screen in Lynna City. The little scamp may be hard to get to a hold of, but our hero eventually scoops him up as delicately as he can. Upon returning the dog to its owner, Link is rewarded with a magic ring and the satisfaction of helping a puppy in need. The Shy Dog and its owner will be forever grateful.
Flash (Oracle of Seasons)
“My dog’s name is Flash! He’s good at fetching!”
In Horon Village, Link can find a dog named Flash. He’s very good at fetching.
Fifi (The Minish Cap)
While Link can befriend plenty of pups in The Minish Cap, the one that needs the most attention is a scruffer by the name of Fifi. The pet of Hyrule merchant Stockwell, Fifi sports a striking hairdo, a pink shirt, and a pretty bow on his head. But, as any dog-lover knows, looking fabulous isn’t the most important thing to our furry friends. Dogs need love above all else. And poor Fifi just doesn’t get enough these days.
You see, Fifi’s owner Stockwell spends too much time running his shop in Hyrule Town, and “he complains that he’s too busy lately to see his dog Fifi.” So, day after day, poor, sweet Fifi sits around all alone in Stockwell’s home at Lake Hylia. “My master, Stockwell, has been coming home far too late to play with me… I’m so lonely,” Fifi says. No dog deserves a life like this! That’s why our hero Link makes every effort to check up on little Fifi and agrees to help Stockwell with certain pet owner responsibilities.
In one instance, Stockwell asks Link to take a bottle of dog food to Fifi. “That bottle contains food for my dear little dog, Fifi,” he says before offering directions to a doggie dish within his house. I understand that a guy’s got to make a living somehow, but Stockwell really needs to rethink how he cares for his dog. In any case, Fifi shows the sincerest appreciation when Link brings him his lunch, scarfing the food down like any eager scamp would.
In the end, I don’t think Fifi holds anything against Stockwell. Like any good doggo, he appears loyal to his master, simply hoping to see more of him during the day. Fifi’s a fine boy that deserves much more attention than he gets these days. If you’re ever exploring the area around Lake Hylia in The Minish Cap, drop by and say hello.
Racetrack Doggies (Majora’s Mask)
We couldn’t narrow it down to just one doggo for this entry.
During his quest in Majora’s Mask, our hero Link travels to Romani Ranch, a farming community with plenty of peculiar problems. But for every alien invasion and highway robbery to accost this little ranch, one location in particular always brings our hero an opportunity for some relief and carefree fun.
The Doggy Racetrack is an exciting spot at which pups of various colors and dispositions compete against each other in a game of speed. All Link has to do is pay the doggies’ handler and choose the fuzzy athlete he thinks will win the next race. Every dog is different, but every dog has the same drive to be the winner. That’s why it’s so dang fun to choose a determined pup and cheer it on all the way to the finish line.
Now, it may sound cruel to force puppies to compete against each other for our own amusement. But I assure you, these dogs thrive on the spirit of competition and hunger for the taste of victory. In fact, if Link wants to know just how excited and determined these little Turbos are (and if he wants to get an upper-hand on the competition), he can slip on the Mask of Truth and speak to each dog individually. “Ruff! Today I feel like I can win,” says one. “Ruff! Oh, yeah! I feel unstoppable. I don’t think I’ll lose!” shouts another.
See, these doggies love the thrill of the race. Let’s talk to a few more!
“My head! I stayed up too late… I shouldn’t have been barking at the moon all night,” says one of our furry friends.
Um… Okay, maybe not all the pups are ready to race. Let’s check on another one.
“Hoo-wine. I’m tired. I’m gonna take the day off tomorrow. Can dogs do that?” asks another pup.
They can’t all be having off days. Let’s look at one more.
“Hoo-whine. I’m too old for this. My right leg hurts… The hind one,” complains this guy.
That’s… incredibly sad.
Okay, so, the Doggy Racetrack may see its fair share of injury, fatigue, and belly aches. But aside from those momentary signs of athletic mistreatment, there really are some inspiring racers out there!
Allow me to introduce you to the purest of pure hearted, the biggest babyface of the entire league, the most noble and selfless doggy athlete that’s ever stepped foot in the Romani kennel. When our hero picks up this determined pupper, he says, “Ruff! …I’m here for my wife and child. There’s no way I’ll lose!” Now that’s a worthy motivation! Seeing his natural ability as the ultimate family man, I put down 90 Rupees on this little guy. And with the thought of his family cheering him on, this gifted scruffer finished first place!
Any of these fine canines are capable of taking the prize. But as great as winning is, it’s fun enough just to see your favorite competitor make a lap around the track.
All the Dogs (Breath of the Wild)
We just want to pet these dogs, Nintendo. That’s all we want to do. And you won’t let us.
Barkle (Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland)
Any readers that have followed my work over the past few years know that I love to bring up Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland. This quirky Zelda spinoff game houses many magical moments and characters, but one being in particular deserves the brightest spotlight. That being, ladies and gentlemen, is a dog named Barkle.
Taking in the summer sun of Sunshine Seashore, Barkle is an immensely adorable puppy that exchanges bones for his fetching services. If Tingle chooses to throw Barkle a bone, the doge will not only offer up three rupees in return, but he’ll excitedly head out into the world to dig up special items. So not only is this boy the cutest, but he’s quite the entrepreneur and a valuable asset to our adventure.
Believe it or not, Barkle even plays a significant role in Freshly-Picked‘s story as well. After exploring more of the seashore, our boy Tingle happens upon a pirate ship full of ornery skeletons. These boney pirates put up a tough-guy facade at first, rejecting Tingle’s requests to join their crew, but they quickly retreat in abject fear when they spot sweet, sweet Barkle approaching the dock. The ship, with our tingly hero stowing away, sets sail for the Pirate Hideaway, leaving the puppy pal looking on from the shore.
But we know that a loyal goodboy and resourceful businessman like Barkle can’t be given the slip so easily.
After exploring the hideaway for a while as a pirate-in-training, Tingle starts to hear stirrings of a problem below deck. A loud voice is heard over the announce system, saying “This is the First Mate speaking! Atten-TION! Red alert! Red alert! This is an emergency! Repeat! An emergency! Details are sketchy but it seems like one of our number is under attack.” What situation could be so bad down there? Well, Tingle makes it a point to find out.
In the bowels of the hideaway, under the blares of an alarm, Tingle finally makes contact with the crew’s cook. “This is terrible! My assistant is in terrible danger!” the matey explains. “Just now, I trapped the invader in the store room… But my idiot assistant didn’t get out in time! Now the invader’s got him! He’s desperate! You’ve got to help him!” That invader sounds like one tough customer. And who better than a chubby fairy man in green tights to show them who’s boss?
“Good luck! Remember, if you die I’ll pick up your bones for you!” shouts the First mate. …Thanks.
Our eccentric hero tiptoes into the store room, dreading a confrontation with the rapscallion that has these pirates so up in arms. After a few steps into the chamber, he hears the shrill screams of the idiot assistant. “No! …Leave me alone! I’m… begging you!! Argh! Arghh… Ahh! Ahhhh!! AAARGHHHHH!!!” With cries of desperation filling the room, Tingle soon sees a disembodied skeleton head roll from one end of the room to another. What’s this?! Who has removed the skull from its frame. “My body! Leave it alone!!! Don’t eat it!!!” screams the assistant, staring squarely at his attacker. And so Tingle, and by proxy the player, sees the intruder in full view. The intruder is… The intruder is…
Yep, it’s just the precious pupper going overboard on his quest for bones. And can you blame him? What would you do if you were a dog surrounded by walking bone piles? So with his identity as the mystery intruder revealed, Barkle gives a lovable look to the player (yes you) and exits the storeroom.
The skeletons sure do appreciate Barkle’s departure, and Tingle is quick to take responsibility for shooing away the fearsome invader. “There’s no-one here who could stand up to a vicious dog like that!” explains the shaken attendant. But we know that Barkle isn’t vicious at all. He’s just an eager pupster looking to bury his collection of bones. I see no problem with that, and neither should you.
Barkle’s journey doesn’t end at the Pirate’s Hideout however. After Tingle’s misadventures with the skeletal marauders, he heads home to rest. But he doesn’t return alone, as Barkle, like an especially friendly stray you’d meet on a walk, followed him all the way to his house. Will Tingle adopt Barkle as his pet?! Well, their names sure are similar enough. And they end up looking a lot alike too, because Barkle, like his new master before him, is transformed into a “Tingle” by the magical Uncle Rupee. So until the end of time, Barkle sports his own pair of green tights and a little hat. And it’s freakin’ adorable!
Barkle is cute, determined, intelligent, and fearless. And he turns out to be extremely devoted as well, choosing to live with Tingle throughout Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland and its sequel. Not many people would choose to live with Tingle under any circumstance. But Barkle’s special, and that’s why we love him.
Like every pooch and puppy that we meet day-to-day, the dogs of The Legend of Zelda are deserving of our affection. They just want to enjoy life, to love, and to be loved. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed our showcase of the series’ best and brightest doggies.
Be sure to share your favorites and point out any pups that we missed in the comments below!