For too long, the dogs of Magic languished under the banner of the hounds. Sure, hounds are great—Thraben Purebloods get the job done more often than you’d expect. But hounds represent a mere subset of the wide world of dogs. I can’t help but think Magic would have many, many more dogs printed as creatures over the last 27 years if Magic had called them dogs from the start. It’s been long overdue that dogs get their time on stage, and here we are.

Then again, the latest Secret Lair drop “Every Dog Has Its Day” features four non-creature cards. Dig Through Time and Ancient Grudge offer wonderful remixes of the noble animal as known to humans. I don’t know what Lightning Greaves or Rest in Peace are doing there, but at least they are cards people play in lots of decks.

But what about the good dogs we have across the multiverse? Magic has printed 90 creatures with the subtype now defined as dog. Almost all of them are simple, noble beasts. They don’t get much fanfare. It’s time to change that, so I offer up my top eight dogs of Magic. Normally I’d rank them, but they all get 10/10.

Let’s start with a personal favorite. The counters-lords from Khans of Tarkir were a solid addition to a classic Limited format. In a draft metagame defined by Thornwood Falls and other gainlands alongside three-mana 2/2 morphs, you might expect a two-drop 2/1 to underperform. The first strike shenanigans and the outlast mechanic’s scalability at least make it possible to negate either side of Woolly Loxodon, but more than anything else it was nice to have meaningful two drops. I had a couple in the Black-White Warriors deck that sent me to my only Pro Tour, so you could say I’m biased.

I went into this list thinking I had to include Underworld Cerberus among the top eight dogs of Magic, but that card was never as fun to play with in draft as our little escape friend. This good dog keeps coming back and attacks for tons of damage. MagicFest New Jersey back in January was the last time I shuffled up paper Magic cards. I hope we all get the chance to do that again in the next year or two, but at least I got to play with Underworld Rage-Hound at my “final” event.

Infect creatures are some of the scarcest in the game, and Corpse Cur has among the best extra abilities of any of them. For your opponent, every infect creature needs to die, and this old dog brings one back. Infect Gravedigger might seem more narrow, but you shouldn’t have any non-infect creatures in your deck if you’re doing it right. I believe Corpse Cur predates the famed Limited Resources “groan test,” but you never wanted to see one of these hit the other side of the board on turn four—or turn ten. A true doggo, 10/10 poison counters.

What an amazing doggo! War Mammoth ain’t got nothin’ on Mowu! Obviously you want to put some counters on this absolute unit, perhaps alongside top eight companion Ainok Bond-Kin. If you’d asked me ten years ago whether Magic would ever print an uncommon legendary 3/3 dog, I would have laughed. And yet here we are. Mowu is awesome—good alone or with a team, happy to grow twice as fast as usual, but still fine as a 3/3 vigilance trampler.

Here we have the hound of Griselbrand! Double strike and undying are very good mechanics for any creature to have, and they feel perfect for a two-headed demonic hellhound. You can’t pay life to draw cards, but come on, that would be broken. Avacyn Restored gets a lot of guff from the complainers of Magic fandom, but I always loved that set. Red was a fun place to be thanks to explosive humans like Kessig Malcontents and Thatcher Revolt. If you wanted to bring a dog along for all that fun, the only dog in town was Hound of Griselbrand.

I suppose Mongrel Pack would be “too good” if you could sacrifice it outside combat. Instead, let’s imagine this good dog’s “limitation” exists to encourage difficult combat decisions. Can they really take four damage every turn? Who has an 0/5 to block without giving you the tokens? If they have a 1/5, maybe the race could go either way. Or you could give your Nantuko Husk an extra 10/10. Like I said: good dog!

We’ve seen a few variations on this theme over the years, but Mortis Dogs have always been my favorite. They offer seemingly open-ended damage potential. Throw a giant Howl from Beyond on this, or Hatred if you must, and then sacrifice it after damage if they don’t block. Don’t worry, they’ll block. The plane we now know as New Phyrexia offered quite a few good dogs to Magic’s canine horde. Let’s hope we get to check in on the plane formerly known as Mirrodin again real soon. The dogs want to say hello!

You thought I forgot about Isamaru? Never. The original First Dog of Magic looks simple but packs a punch in your favorite Armageddon deck. “Will we ever return to Kamigawa?” feels like a question to which we know the answer is no—but I hold out hope to see a return of one sort or another. When we do, I want to see a new legendary dog, 2/2 for W, a Hound of Someone, and then another and another and another, each in an unbroken line, the heckin’est of all the puppers.

Carrie O’Hara is Editor-in-Chief of Hipsters of the Coast.

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