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Behind the Barks: Meet the Dogs in Video Games

From voice acting to mocap, discover the talented dog actors of the videogame world and how they bring our favourite companions to life!

Who provides the audio and mocap for dogs in video games? Dog actors, of course! From recording barks and woofs to performing the motion capture of our favourite video game sidekicks, it turns out dogs can be voice actors, too!

Most of these good boys and girls play canine characters, but some even voice creatures that aren’t dogs – voice acting IS acting, after all. From the heroic Dogmeat in Fallout 4 to the fearless Riley in Call of Duty: Ghosts, these doggos aren’t just man’s best friend; they’re gaming legends in their own right.

So, let’s sniff out the talent behind our favourite dogs in video games.

Diego as Cosmo - Guardians of the Galaxy

Diego as Cosmo - Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Diego
  • Golden Retriever
Diego as Cosmo - Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Cosmo
  • Yes

Someone call the pup-arazzi!

The Guardians of the Galaxy Game takes place shortly after the end of the Galactic War, where Star-Lord, Gamora, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, and Drax fight the Universal Church of Truth after trying to make some easy money.

Cosmo first appeared in Nova #8, a comic book set in the Marvel Universe, before making his video game debut in The Guardians of the Galaxy. Although he was initially a test animal for the Soviet Space Program, Cosmo obtained psionic powers after exposure to cosmic rays and later became the head of a space station called Knowhere – Pretty convenient considering his name was already Cosmo.

Cosmo was brought to life by the very talented dog actor Diego, a golden retriever who knows a thing or two about mocap. Diego did such a great job that his behind-the-scenes video was used in the game’s marketing, and he even received a 14/10 from the beloved Twitter account @WeRateDogs.

River as Dogmeat - Fallout 4

River as Dogmeat - Fallout 4
  • River
  • German Shepherd
River as Dogmeat - Fallout 4
  • Dogmeat
  • No

Paws for applause…

From traversing the nuclear wasteland to fighting off super mutant creatures, Fallout 4 takes place in 2287, 100 years after the bombs fell.

Dogmeat is your trusty companion in the post-apocalyptic world of Fallout 4. Guiding you through thick and thin, he can even attack your enemies and collect items on your behalf – What a good boy.

River provided the voice and motion capture for Dogmeat in Fallout 4 and was awarded the title of ‘Best Video Game Dog’ in 2015. She might even be the most famous video game dog out there. River belonged to Joel and Michelle Burgess, developers of Fallout 3 and Fallout 4 before she passed away in 2021.

Discover the other voice actors of Fallout 4.

Gyoza as The Covenant - Halo Infinite

Gyoza as The Covenant - Halo Infinite
  • Gyoza
  • Pug
Gyoza as The Covenant - Halo Infinite
  • The Covenant
  • No

In space, no one can hear you bark.

Halo Infinite is a first-person shooter developed by 343 Industries. Although Halo Infinite offers a free-to-play multiplayer mode, the campaign follows Master Chief as he faces a mercenary group called The Banished on Zeta Halo.

This one’s a bit different. While most dogs in video games voice canine characters, Gyoza’s talents have more range. The Covenant is a group of eight alien species in the series who are united by the San’Shyuum, also known as the Prophets. The Covenant are one of two main antagonistic factions in the Halo franchise.

The unusual alien sounds of the Covenant are brought to us by an unlikely source… Gyoza the pug. His snorts and grumbles were recorded to create a multitude of alien noises in the game. While some may accuse Gyoza of being a nepo baby as the studio’s technical art director owns him, he was quite clearly hired for his talent – He even has his own IMDB page!

Solo as Cerberus - Hades

Solo as Cerberus - Hades
  • Solo
  • Pit Bull
Solo as Cerberus - Hades
  • Cerberus
  • Yes

Triple the heads, triple the talent!

As Zagreus, the son of Hades, you will traverse the underworld in this dungeon crawler by Supergiant Games. You are tasked with escaping the underworld by any means necessary, but watch out because when you die, you will return to Hades’ Palace only for the day to start all over again.

Cerberus is a huge three-headed dog who guards the underworld and ensures that the dead don’t escape. He is described as gentle, helpful and playful, but he has also been known to cause chaos and show his stubborn side. He wrecked the house after he was left alone for the first time and occasionally needs to be bribed with his favourite treat: a satyr sack full of vermin.

While Cerberus has three heads, he also has four voice actors. Solo, Higgins, Regis, and Marzipan all provided Cerberus’s voice for Supergiant Games. You can see a picture of Solo above, but unfortunately, we couldn’t find any pictures of the other three.

Discover more Hades voice actors.

Ollie as the Giraffe - The Last of Us

Ollie as the Giraffe - The Last of Us
  • Ollie
  • Plummer Terrier
Ollie as the Giraffe - The Last of Us
  • Unknown
  • Yes

It turns out that Naughty Dog likes to hire good boys.

The Last of Us, developed by Naughty Dog, was released in 2013 and sold over 20 million units, becoming one of the most popular games of all time. As Joel, a survivor of almost 20 years since the zombie apocalypse, you must escort a teenage girl called Ellie to ‘the Fireflies’ as she may be the answer to a cure.

Near the end of The Last of Us, Joel and Ellie encounter a giraffe, which isn’t exactly what you would expect to see in a post-apocalyptic zombie-ridden Salt Lake City. This scene represents a moment where Ellie gets to feel like the child she is, in awe of a creature so majestic that she was unlikely to ever see in her lifetime.

Interestingly, the noises of the giraffe were not obtained from a zoo or the wild but from a sleeping pup called Ollie. Sound designers Phillip Kovats and Derek Espino recorded Kovats’ dog while he was sleeping on the couch – only a very talented voice actor could land a AAA role in his sleep… literally!

You can watch Ollie’s recoding session here, and discover more Last of Us voice actors here.

Ruger as Riley - Call of Duty: Ghosts

Ruger as Riley - Call of Duty: Ghosts
  • Ruger
  • German Shepherd
Ruger as Riley - Call of Duty: Ghosts
  • Riley
  • Yes

He puts the ‘dog’ in dog tags.

Call of Duty: Ghosts, the tenth instalment in the COD series,  was developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision in 2013. The story revolves around a group of special operatives as they fight for survival against a technologically advanced global power.

Riley, named after Simon “Ghost” Riley in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, assists the player in-game by attacking enemies, and he can even be controlled in some missions, such as ‘No Man’s Land’. Call of Duty fans were so excited to see Riley in the trailer of the game that they even started dressing up their dogs to look like him!

Riley’s mocap was provided by Ruger, the German Shepherd. Ruger worked with dog trainer Chris Connell to achieve the motion capture for Riley, and as you can see in the video below, Ruger can jump impressively high! Ruger’s mocap outfit originally included boots for better movement capture, but he didn’t like them very much – Actors can be so demanding.

Einstein as Cain - Red Dead Redemption 2

Einstein as Cain - Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Einstein
  • German Shepherd
Einstein as Cain - Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Cain
  • Yes

Yee-paw!

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a sequel to the first game and focuses on Arthur Morgan of the van de Linde gang as he travels across America in search of purpose and… well… redemption.

Dutch van der Linde named Cain after the son of Adam and Eve, as he was found wandering the land just like Cain’s punishment for murdering his brother, Abel. Later in the game, Cain goes missing, and while the reasons behind his disappearance are unconfirmed, it’s believed that he was killed by Micah Bell.

Einstein is the German Shepherd who provided the mocap for Cain in Red Dead Redemption 2. He was owned by Jason Barnes, a senior animator at Rockstar, who would often bring him along to the motion capture studio. He even appears in the credits of the game as ‘Einstein Barnes’ alongside his fellow animal actors: Listo, Zaiden, Zanya, Zeal and Zeke.

Discover more talented voice actors of Red Dead Redemption 2.

Dylan de Koning

By Dylan de Koning

Dylan de Koning is a narrative writer, script reader and film buff from Scotland.

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