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Canine Characters Every Otaku Will Love

Written by aslmad.yaz

Much like the top dogs in other mainstream media, anime’s beloved pooches have burrowed their own way into people’s hearts. Ranging from cuddly companions to fierce warriors, these dogs have adopted a variety of roles on screen. Sometimes, they are the stars of their own show. In other instances, they act as comic relief or loyal companions.

However, anime dogs have one thing in common: despite their often very limited screen time, they have left an indelible mark with their tail-wagging charm. All of these precious pooches have established their place in the hearts of otakus — or the hardcore fans of Japanese culture and anime — worldwide. To know more about these 10 epic canine characters that wowed audiences with their charisma and courage, check out our list below of anime’s top dogs.

Akamaru from ‘Naruto’

Akamaru's loyalty to Kiba has enabled him to become one of anime's top dogs
Photo Credit: The Amagi via YouTube

Akamaru’s breed was never officially specified by Masashi Kishimoto, the creator of “Naruto.” However, his shaggy fur and robust size have caused many people to liken him to a Great Pyrenees. With an adorable design that complements a loyal personality, Akamaru sprinted his way to popularity from the moment of his arrival on screen.

If that wasn’t enough, Akamaru is a ninja dog. Additionally, Akamaru can change his size at will, making him one of anime’s top dogs in battle. No wonder Kiba Inuzaka always enters the ninja battlefield with his charming canine companion in battle. This tremendous bond of trust between Akamaru and his dog dad Kiba is one that pet owners can universally relate to.

Pakkun from ‘Naruto’

Pakkun is the one of the top dogs in the anime Naruto
Photo Credit: stepan vasin via YouTube

Akamaru is hardly the only fur-midable dog from “Naruto.” Woofing his way into second place is the ninja hound, Pakkun. Pakkun the Pug is one of Master Hatake Kakashi’s magical ninja dogs who can be summoned for assistance during battle. Pakkun has enhanced senses, top-speaking skills, and even the ability to transform.

However, this “howl-arious” pooch is best known for his quippy one-liners. His ability to be a source of comic relief in the darkest of times has enabled Pakkun to become one of the top dogs in anime, as well as one of the most memorable characters in the “Naruto” universe.

Terriermon from ‘Digimon Tamers’ 

Terriermon is undoubtedly one of anime's top dogs in the Digimon franchise
Photo Credit: Poofbiscuit via YouTube

What helps a canine become a top dog? Terriermon from “Digimon Tamers” might have the answer. While based on a Terrier’s generic design, this adorable fuzzball is actually a digital life form from another world. However, let’s not dwell on semantics, as Terriermon’s abilities truly make him the top dog of the “Digimon Tamers” anime.

With the help of his Digimon Tamer, Terriermon can transform into an anthropomorphic dog-like being, who helps the protagonists save the world from other extra-dimensional threats.

Arcanine from ‘Pokemon Adventures’ 

As one of the Pokemon anime's top dogs, Arcanine is a fan-favorite ever since the introduction.
Photo Credit: BoosterLane via YouTube

Keeping up with the trend of characters who are based on dogs, but are not quite like any pooch in our real world, we have Arcanine from “Pokemon Adventures.” Hailing from the Kanto region of Pokemon, Arcanine is based on the Shisa, who are protective lion-dog spirits in Japanese folklore. Additionally, they bear a passing resemblance to the Shiba Inu.

Arcanine is often considered “Pokémon” anime’s top dog due to their majestic design and impressive speed. People in their universe describe them as a legendary creature that can wield flames. There have been many dog-like Pokemon over the years, but Arcanine remains the OG of them all because of their fur-tastic fan following.

Chouchou from ‘One Piece’

Chou Chou is one of the memorable side characters from early One Piece.
Photo Credit: NicaNicaNi via YouTube

When it comes to loyalty, no one beats Chouchou. This little white dog from Eichiro Oda’s “One Piece” initially appeared as a gag character. However, that was before the following sequence of events reduced all otakus to uncontrollable sobs. Chouchou is an Orange Town dog noted for keeping vigil over his deceased owner’s shop. In refusing to leave his self-appointed location, even after pirates attack, Chouchou cemented his place in the “One Piece” fandom as one of anime’s top dogs. 

Chouchou’s name shares a phonetic similarity with that of the Chow Chow, though his actions remind us of the legendary story of Hachiko, the loyal Akita Inu. In appearance, however, he resembles a small Terrier.

Jack from ‘Beastars’ 

Despite being anthropomorphic and sapient, Jack retains all the loving qualities of a Golden Retriever.
Photo Credit: Lil Fizzy via YouTube

Jack, the Golden Retriever, upholds the platinum standard of friendship and camaraderie. In the gloomy world of “Beastars,” populated by rivaling factions of anthropomorphic animals, Jack’s bright-eyed inquisitiveness is a welcome ray of hope. When others fight, he studies and tries to find out more about the past and the future. 

However, the best thing about Jack is his friendship with the protagonist, Legoshi, who is a gray wolf. Jack does not play a significant role in the story but supports his lupine friend through and through, even when he does not understand their motivations. We could honestly have put Legoshi on this list as well — considering how wolves are one step removed from dogs, genetically — however, that would be cheating.

The Raccoon Dogs from ‘Heisei Tanuki Gassen Pom Poko’ 

The tanuki from Pom Poko are shapeshifters who espouse an environmental theme.
Photo Credit: Crunchyroll Store Australia via YouTube

Speaking of cheating, the seventh entry on this list consists of the Raccoon Dogs from Hayao Miyazaki’s “Pom Poko.” However, there is a reason for including the dogs as a gang instead of picking one single character. Altogether, the story explores the environmental ramifications of our current day and age through the eyes of a clan of Raccoon Dogs or Tanuki. 

These shapeshifting Tanuki possess a charm that makes them collectively appealing. While not a single character, the tanuki as a group undergoes character development throughout the film. They grapple with questions of identity, loss, and the changing world around them, adding depth to their collective character arc.

Ein from ‘Cowboy Bebop’ 

Ein is the top dog from the Cowboy Bepok anime series
Photo Credit: Phynk via YouTube

Ein, the “data dog” from Shinichiro Watanabe’s “Cowboy Bebop,” undoubtedly belongs on the list of anime’s top dogs. As one of the show’s protagonists, this Pembroke Welsh Corgi isn’t your average pup. Instead, his intelligence was greatly enhanced by a research facility, setting him apart in the futuristic world of the Bebop crew. 

With his “byte”-sized hacking skills, Ein adds a unique layer of charm to the team’s adventures. His ability to “sniff out” trouble has made him a fan favorite, proving this good boy’s ability to thrive even in the scope of a grand space western.

Sadaharu from ‘Gintama’ 

Sadaharu is an inugami who is a Japanese dog spirit in the Gintama parody.
Photo Credit: Tarun Chandrasekaran via YouTube

Sadaharu from Hideaki Sorachi’s “Gintama” is an Inugami, or a canine spirit in Japanese culture. While outwardly resembling a giant white Akita Inu, this adorable fluffball’s “ruff” exterior conceals a heart of gold. Despite his formidable size, he often becomes a source of comic relief, displaying an adorable mix of playful spirit and loyalty that adds a unique dynamic to the story. 

His touching moments of connection with the main characters, particularly Kagura, reinforce the emotional core of the series. In this crazy world filled with eccentric characters, Sadaharu stands out as one of the most memorable dogs in anime.

Makkachin from ‘Yuri!!! on Ice’ 

Makkachin is a great source of support, bringing meaning to the character's life like dogs do for us.
Photo Credit: nightshade fisher via YouTube

Rounding off the list of anime’s top dogs is none other than Makkachin, Victor Nikiforov’s beloved Poodle from “Yuri!!! on Ice.” With her appearance resembling an adorable bear, unwavering loyalty to her master, and her comic penchant for food, this precious pooch has become a fan-favorite pet. 

Eventually, her heartwarming presence is a constant reminder of the importance of companionship and support in life. The connection between Victor and Makkachin was a major emotional point of the story and touched fans deeply, especially when the former chose to spend his precious time with his aging companion.

Anime’s top dogs steal the show

All of these beloved pooches have earned their place in our list of anime’s top dogs. And, each did so for their own unique storylines, as well as the way they have pulled at the heartstrings of otakus throughout the world. Only time will tell if more canine characters will grace our screens, but we’ll be watching and waiting for it to happen.

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