Updated August 16, 2020 by Jeff Newburgh

The 10 Best Robot Dogs

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This wiki has been updated 27 times since it was first published in August of 2015. If you're looking for a toy to spark a child's imagination or something to comfort an elderly family member in their golden years, one of these interactive robot dogs can provide the companionship and entertainment associated with owning a real puppy, but without predawn walks or potty training accidents. Always keep a close eye on little ones to ensure a safe playtime. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best robot dog on Amazon.

10. Sharper Image Duke

9. Liberty Imports Bump & Go

8. FurReal Get Up And GoGo

7. Your Pet Harry

6. Top Race Smart Dog

5. Perfect Petzzz Golden Retriever

4. Dimple Interactive

3. FurReal Ricky

2. Robotis Play 600

1. Joy For All Golden Pup

Special Honors

Sony Aibo ERS-1000 If you want an experience reminiscent of interacting with (and raising) a live puppy, the Sony Aibo ERS-1000 is about as close as you can get. This robot dog features a rounded form, expressive eyes that mimic those of a real dog, and various movements and gestures in hundreds of patterns and combinations to keep things interesting. Different from ordinary remote control robots, Aibo bonds with you and shapes its own individual personality, behavior, and knowledge according to how he is nurtured over time. He gradually develops an awareness of his own surroundings and recognizes faces he encounters often. You can even hold Aibo's paws to teach him new tricks. Aibo constantly updates his data in the cloud. aibo.com

Boston Dynamics Spot Extremely expensive and likely not something you'd choose to give to a young child as a companion, the Boston Dynamics Spot is designed to access areas that ordinary wheeled robots cannot. This dynamic dog is equipped with a 360-degree range of vision and he can be controlled remotely or taught specific routes and actions to perform autonomous missions. Spot is equipped with mounting rails, payload ports, and a software development kit that gives developers the tools they need to customize him for their own applications, which could be industrial or business oriented. Spot is available at a discounted rate for educational purposes as well, making him a great tool for science students with a flare for robotic engineering. bostondynamics.com

Editor's Notes

August 14, 2020:

We removed the WowWee Chippo, Contixo Smart Puppy, and Peppy Pets Mutt due to availability issues. We also made the decision to nix the VTech Pull and Sing, as its small components pose a choking hazard to children under eight years of age. With that in mind, a couple of our recent additions also have these warnings, but the recommended manufacturer age is at least three years. Please always supervise your little ones when they play with any of the items on our list.

Designed as more than just toys, the beauty of these robot dogs is that they serve many benefits for both the young and elderly. When it comes to taking care of a pet, for example, these robot dogs can prepare a child for the joys of owning a real dog in the future. I, myself, could have benefited from one before my family got our first dog. While Fido isn't about to break into song, the important value here is teaching a child about empathy, responsibility, understanding, and bonding with something that evokes an emotion. For adults, these dogs can provide therapeutic benefits too.

Newly added this year is the FurReal Ricky. This one offers more than 100 sound-and-motion combinations and he can also flip his bone right into his mouth. I also think it's really clever and authentic to be able to feed Ricky and have him poop out the treats he's been given. While I'll admit the idea is a little gross, a child should realize that a real pet has these biological functions. Seeing it from a toy can help to make the connection more understandable when a kid experiences a live puppy having an accident in the house. However, you might want to tell Junior that cleaning up real pee and poop might take a bit longer than cleaning up after a robot dog. Fortunately for your child, these pups don't require any training pads.

We've also included the USB-rechargeable Dimple Interactive, which can be remotely controlled from a distance of over six feet.

While the Perfect Petzzz Golden Retriever isn't as "animated" as some of our other options, there's something endearing and very calming about watching a pup breathe and sleep soundly. For example, one my dogs loves to nest, roll herself up into a little ball, and sleep just like this toy. Additional nice touches that accompany this one include an adoption certificate and plush bed.

Finally, we've added the Top Race Smart Dog for its ability to imitate ten different animals.

June 23, 2019:

One of the major values this category has going for it is the eclectic nature of the available products. Anything from programmable robots to soft, cuddly pups designed to comfort an aging loved one is fair game. While I'd say a majority of the items are generally marketed for use by children, I also come to think of this as a topic from which anyone who's a dog lover can benefit. Additionally, while many of our picks can be used as standalone substitutes for a real puppy, I also think they can offer a "preparatory" solution for families who are considering getting a live puppy someday, too. The genius behind many of these toys is that they can teach both young and old about responsibility, while the learning aspect of the toys will serve to develop a growing child's motor skills and ability to communicate.

I added the Joy For All Golden Pup as a high-ranking option due to its lifelike appearance, soft coat, and addition of a gentle heartbeat. The WowWee Chippo comes in a striking black and yellow color combination with an adaptive personality complete with barks, sniffs, and sneezes. I also like the fact that it can be programmed to explore and guard a child's bedroom. I thought the Contixo Smart Puppy was a great addition to the list, thanks to a built-in Bluetooth speaker as well as its ability to sing and dance in rhythm. It also has an infrared motion sensor and voice recognition software. Maintained the FurReal Get Up And GoGo for its ability to walk and follow on leash. For those kids who are fans of the Paw Patrol, the Zoomer Marshall has plenty of exciting activities to keep little ones busy for hours. The spring-loaded water cannon is a nice addition to the toy as well. I also maintained the Robotis Play 600, as it caters to children who are a bit older and able to comprehend STEM learning concepts. I added the Sharper Image Duke, as I thought this was a pretty cool high-tech option, as its LED eyes change color according to its mood, while the smart bone can be used to reveal a child's secrets. Although the VTech Pull and Sing is simplistic in its design, it's available at a very affordable price and can easily teach young children how to recognize colors and numbers. Finally, maintained the Liberty Imports Bump & Go for its ability to change directions upon colliding with an object and its design for withstanding rough play.

How Robots Work

Just like a real dog, most robotic dogs use their eyes and body language to communicate their mood.

Despite the obvious differences, robots and humans actually have similar components. In the most basic sense, humans have five major elements: a body, a muscle system to move the body, a sensory system for receiving information, a power source that activates the systems, and a brain to process information and send commands to the body parts.

Looking at how robots are built, we can see a similar system in action. Every kind of smart robot needs a minimum of five of these basic components to function. Whatever the shape may be, robots have some form of a body or structure. They also have motors to power the body's movement, which can be equated to the muscles of a human.

Smart robots feature some kind of sensory system responsible for gathering data, which typically consists of a combination of sensors and cameras. There needs to be a power source of some kind as well. In robots, a power source is often a battery, whereas in humans it can be considered the heart. And finally, there is a brain, or in the case of robots, a microchip processor to control all of the components.

When all of these components are incorporated into a robotic dog, we wind up with a futuristic four-legged companion that can learn from us, react to its surroundings, and even develop some form of personality. Most robotic dogs have sensors that allow them to react to a person's hand gestures and voice commands. Depending on the model, you may be able to tell the robotic dog to sit and it will perform the command just like a real dog. Others may perform tricks like back flips and rolling over at the wave of its owner's hand. Some of the models designed for children are a little more playful and will dance if their human counterpart starts dancing or start barking if the child begins to sing.

Many robotic dogs also have sensors that allow them to respond to touch. Their tail may start wagging or their eyes may open up wider when being pet. Just like a real dog, most robotic dogs use their eyes and body language to communicate their mood. If sad, they may move a little slower and slump down. When tired, their eyes will often be half closed. The models with integrated microphones respond to being called and will come running or rolling up when their name is called or their owner walks into the home.

Robotic Pets And The Elderly

A number of universities have been conducting studies into how humans and robots interact with each other. There is a growing base of evidence that supports robotic pets being better companions for the elderly than live pets. Caring for a live pet can be extremely difficult for an elderly person, yet many still need the companionship a pet can offer. It has been known for decades that elderly people with pets live longer, and it seems robotic pets may offer many of these benefits.

PARO is now being used in many old folks homes around the world, as it is considered a medical care device.

An example can be seen from a recent experiment at an elderly care home in Brisbane, Australia. Thomas, an 82 year old man who suffered from dementia, made notable improvements after interacting with a robotic seal named PARO. He spent time holding and cuddling with the robotic canine as it nuzzled his chin. When his session was over, Thomas spoke for the first time in years, saying "Goodbye, PARO."

He is not the only elderly person to respond well to a robotic pet. PARO is now being used in many old folks homes around the world, as it is considered a medical care device. It has been observed that many elderly people are more engaged with PARO than dogs and other animals brought into the care facilities.

Another study by Saint Louis University found that there was almost no difference in how elderly people responded to a robotic dog named AIBO as they did to a live dog. After two months comparing people who spent time playing with AIBO and those who played with a live dog, the study concluded that the attachments formed with AIBO were just as strong as those formed with the live dog.

Will Robotic Pets Replace Real Pets?

As the world becomes more overpopulated, and space in cities around the world becomes an issue, some scientists believe that owning a real pet may become a luxury that few can afford. Increasing urbanization is causing many people to live in small homes and apartments that would be unsuitable for a four-legged family member.

We have already seen how attached people can become to robotic pets.

Examples of this can be seen in cities like Tokyo, where the average apartment is about 600 square feet or Hong Kong, where they are now selling apartments between 150 and 250 square feet.

We have already seen how attached people can become to robotic pets. In the mid-1990s, there was the Tamagotchi craze in Japan. The Tamagotchi was a small egg-shaped, handheld digital pet. Caring for the pet consisted of feeding it, cleaning up after digital poops, turning off the light when it slept, and more. If they weren't cared for properly, they would die. They would also eventually die of old age. When much-loved Tamagotchis died, some people went as far as to hold actual funerals for them.

Looking at this, robotic pets as the norm of the future doesn't seem so far fetched and could be a real possibility as caring for a live pet becomes too difficult because of space and social responsibilities.

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Jeff Newburgh
Last updated on August 16, 2020 by Jeff Newburgh

Jeff is a dedicated writer and communications professional from San Francisco with a bachelor of arts in anthropology from UC Berkeley. He began his career in computer consulting and later branched out into customer service. Jeff focuses on making complex topics easy to understand. With over 10 years' experience in research, his relentless curiosity fuels a love of writing and learning how things work, and has helped to build expertise in categories such as heavy-duty power tools and computer equipment. Jeff's passion for animals affords him a strong understanding of pet products, including dog houses, beds, and grain-free foods. When he's not writing, he prefers spending time with his family and three dogs, while kicking back and relaxing with a nice glass of red wine.

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