Three specters looking out over the Lands Between in Elden Ring.
Image via Bandai Namco

How the Soulsborne Dogs Became the Worst Enemy in Gaming

The dogs in the Soulsborne games, Elden Ring included, are the worst, and I hate them.

The Soulsborne series — Demon’s and Dark Souls, Bloodborne, plus Elden Ring — isn’t known for kindness or mercy. And as much as I hate it, that philosophy extends to their dog enemies as well. For almost 20 years, the Souls canines have been some of the most annoying and deadly enemies in gaming. Did I mention I hate it?

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No Good Boys Here

Image via Bandai Namco

Soulsborne dog enemies are annoying for a few reasons, but most of all is the combination of their speed, the distance their attacks go, and their tendency to be overly passive in large groups. I remember the first time I encountered dogs in the Lower Undead Burg of Dark Souls 1 back in…2012? I quickly learned to despise them. It was almost impossible to outrun, and every bite traveled what seemed like a country mile. Oh, and their attacks also do a bit more stagger damage than is probably reasonable.

Worse, dogs are usually early-game enemies, as, by the time they’re no longer a real threat, you have much larger challenges to overcome. Their early introduction often means you’re underequipped and ill-prepared for the two or three of them that are bound to swarm you at once. In typical Souls fashion, the dogs won’t be the only enemies you need to contend with. In Lower Undead Burg, there were thieves with shivs ready to stab and slice your throat, given the chance.

There’s also the fact that almost every Soulsborne dog’s attacks apply a status effect of some kind. Usually, Bleed or the equivalent thereof. Coupled with their often early appearance in the story and everything else I’ve listed thus far? Yeah, they kinda suck.

But wait! I have more to complain about. And this particular gripe isn’t with the dogs themselves, but the level design of the locations they frequent. Almost all areas where you find dogs in Soulsborne games are close quarters.

Lower Undead Burg: very small, cramped area. The Capra (Kappa) Demon boss fights with two dogs — a tiny room. Bloodborne dogs? You’ll find them in the clogged streets of Yharnam and a few other locations. Even Elden Ring‘s open-world dogs mainly live in the small, enclosed ruins that litter the Lands Between, forcing you to fight up close even when there’s a damn battlefield you could choose instead. And don’t even get me started on the teleporting dogs in Dark Souls 3.

In short, FromSoftware does everything in its power to make fighting dogs in Soulsborne games absolutely infuriating. There are, however, a few exceptions.

Except When There Are Good Boys

two riders fighting on horseback in elden ring
Image via From Software

There are only two exceptions to Soulsborne dogs being the worst enemies in gaming. And both of them, oddly, are in Elden Ring. The first and most notable is in Lyndell, the Royal Capital. Hidden away on the path out of the city, surrounded by other dogs and a Misbegotten, is the most chill boy in all of Soulsborne. He’s not hostile to the player unless attacked first and is content to sit there and be with you for as long as you like.

Unfortunately, the dog’s “friendly” nature isn’t a conscious choice on the devs’ part. Instead, as Soulsborne hacker and data miner Zullie the Witch discusses in detail, it’s a coding oversight. The dog has the ability to be aggressive when you enter its attack range, but because of some disorganization in its coding, this particular dog is content to do nothing of consequence unless otherwise provoked.

The other best boy in Elden Ring has sadly been patched out, and he’s worthy of talking about because of memes, not because he’s actually friendly. In the weeks and months after launch, you, me, and every other Elden Ring player encountered a dog in the Altus Plateau that dealt entirely too much damage in a single bite. The reason? Another coding oversight that essentially caused the dog to attack infinitely so long as your player model exists within its attack hitbox. A problem made worse by the dog’s bite dealing massive Bleed buildup.

If you want a more thorough explanation, Zullie has a video on the now-fixed dog infinite attack issue. For those who weren’t around when the problem existed, be secure in knowing that random small dogs cannot deal 11,640 damage per attack—and that’s before you feel the effects of the Bleed status.

Now, you might be wondering why the chainsaw dog is a good boy. Because it’s funny the first time, that’s why. Like the Woo Guy in Sekiro, among many other “out of nowhere” attacks in Soulsborne, Chainsaw Dog was a nasty surprise for newcomers to that particular area of Altus. Not only would meeting the dog be great content for creators, but it’s so ridiculous a situation that you can’t help but laugh when it happens the first time. All subsequent instances are annoying, but would likely illicit a chuckle from me all the same.

Maybe there will be an actual chill pooch in whatever game FromSoftware is cooking up for us next. Or maybe we’ll encounter the worst kinds of dogs they’ve ever created, sword-birds notwithstanding.

If you like Soulsborne games, we suggest you check out our piece Every Soulsborne Game, Ranked from Worst to Best.


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Author
John Schutt
John Schutt has been playing games for almost 25 years, starting with Super Mario 64 and progressing to every genre under the sun. He spent almost 4 years writing for strategy and satire site TopTierTactics under the moniker Xiant, and somehow managed to find time to get an MFA in Creative Writing in between all the gaming. His specialty is action games, but his first love will always be the RPG. Oh, and his avatar is, was, and will always be a squirrel, a trend he's carried as long as he's had a Steam account, and for some time before that.