Review: Do you look like your dog?
Publisher: Briarpatch
Year: 2007
Tagline: Are you a Shih Tzu or a Shepherd? Play the game and find out!

Do you look like your dog cover

how we met

I found Do you look like your dog? at a thrift shop sitting on a shelf near a Ouija game. I bought both. The woman at checkout had a lot of questions for me, but none were regarding the Do you look like your dog? purchase. That was interesting only because I was certainly questioning myself more regarding the Do you look like your dog? purchase than about the Ouija purchase.

how it plays

Do you look like your dog? is a roll and move game with a familiar party game voting mechanic.

Woman and dog that look similar making a pawn

And it is gorgeous

Each player starts the game with 8 dog bones and 3 of each DOGS and OWNERS cards. As you move your pawn around the board, you will most often encounter one of two different spaces, detailed below.

Multiple bones with different color edges

The bones, used for voting

If you land on a DOG SQUARE you will see a picture of a dog, and the goal is to match that dog with an owner. Once any player lands on one of these squares then all players will draw an OWNERS card. They may then choose from amongst any OWNERS cards in their hand and place it on their dog bowl to represent it as their bid. Each player gets a brief moment to explain why they think their card is the best choice. Then all players use their bones to vote by placing their bone in the dog bowl of the player that they felt has the best OWNERS card to match the dog. You can’t vote for yourself.

OWNERS cards showing the close-up faces of various owners

Our heroes, the OWNERS

The other very similar space on the board is the OWNER SQUARE, and play is the same except you are drawing from the DOGS deck and voting on which DOGS card best matches that particular owner.

Sample four DOGS cards showing dog faces

Our heroes, the DOGS cards

In either case, once voting is complete the cards are returned to the bottom of their decks and the dog bones remain where they are.

There are occasions where you will get sent to the doghouse. The card sending you there will indicate which specific color doghouse you go to. Then each player chooses a DOGS card in their hand that most closely resembles the player that owns that doghouse (maybe you, maybe the lead player, maybe neither). Voting happens with the bones, as usual. This is the moment when, presumably, it gets personal.

Do you look like your dog game board

Doghouses at the corners, and a mess in between

The goal of Do you look like your dog? is to collect 7 bones at your doghouse and then return to your doghouse. Then you win!

how it went

Oh how this game is broken, let me count the ways.

Overhead shot of play

Our gameplay

Each player has 8 dog bones in their color to begin the game and vote throughout play. This is not nearly enough, and the game encourages you to steal bones (by landing on another player’s doghouse in their absence) in order to keep play going. This is insufferable.

The game can be played with two to four players. With two or four players, ties happen. The game does not address ties, but I suppose they don’t matter much since you are just out to collect dog bones. But this means you are robbed of even a micro-win at times.

The DOGS cards and OWNERS cards are not so blatantly paired as the box cover or components would have you believe. But I think the game maybe went too vanilla with these cards. No one really fits together, no one lends themselves to much of a back story, no one sticks out or plays the part of the ridiculous card that always wins. This forces creativity in what story you come up with, which is nice, but the game also has few enough cards that we had several repeats in our hands during play, and the magic was lost.

Woman in white sweater card and dog with long white hair card

Sample storytelling opportunity: that sweater is obviously made from the hair of that dog

Perhaps most importantly, the game in no way ever once addresses the question “Do you look like your dog?” I am on my third basset hound and really wanted to get to the heart of this question. Occasionally it will broach the subject of “Which random dog do you most look like?” but that’s it. And your friends can only respond with what’s in their hands, so it doesn’t really count. (Also there’s no basset hounds in the deck)

Woman winking with tongue sticking out holding pug with one bad eye and tongue sticking out

The amazing picture I got back when proposing the question to my sister: Do you look like your dog?

Not everything about this game is terrible. Do you look like your dog? is extremely photogenic and I enjoyed snapping photos of it. The pawns are straight out of a Christopher Guest movie. We told some sordid tales during play. We secretly designed matching human / dog outfits in our minds. Then we rejected those early designs and envisioned more.

play or pass?

Pass. We really did try. We made up crazy backstories. We invented relationships out of thin air. We made it personal. We made it fantastical. We created heroes and villains. But this game is terrible.

FUN FACT: for those of you that are unfamiliar with the podcast Flip the Table, you should definitely check it out. But also the podcast is a big fan of the wonderful game Heartthrob. This led a friend of the podcast to create a version of Heartthrob dedicated to dogs called Barkthrob, where you determine which of three dogs your friends will prefer as you slowly learn more and more (good and bad) about the dogs. If you find Do you look like your dog? at thrift and it is not a good fit for your group, it is a good option to create Barkthrob – a better game – using the DOGS cards.