You can't pet the dog in Starfield, and that might be because they've all gone extinct by the time of the game.
Twitter account and acclaimed animal-petting cataloguer Can You Pet the Dog notes that despite a cat appearing in a piece of Starfield concept art and several alien creatures inhabiting the Starfield planets you'll visit, "pets do not appear to be present in the full game."
That doesn't seem to be an oversight from Bethesda, either, as the account notes the flavor text on a piece of Starfield food that might provide a reason as to why there aren't any dogs in space. 'Chocolate Labs' are an in-game treat that restores a handful of health, and are "shaped like an extinct canine called a Labrador Retriever."
Though they are featured in Starfield’s concept art, pets do not appear to be present in the full game. Furthermore, an item description indicates that Labrador Retrievers — and possibly all dogs — have gone extinct. pic.twitter.com/RnYArouoeASeptember 2, 2023
Now, that might mean that Labradors have gone extinct while other dogs survive, but answer me this - if dogs were dying out, would humanity let its favorite breed (I checked) die out while others lived on? I doubt it, personally. The apparent absence of dogs and the disappearance of the Labrador spells doom for man's best friend, as far as I can tell.
As unfortunate as this whole situation is, it does seem to fit with Starfield's timeline and the fact that its version of Earth is a ruined, lifeless husk, covered pole-to-pole by desert. Perhaps as we fled our home planet, there was simply no room for dogs, cats, rabbits, gerbils, parrots, or any other pet. Perhaps humanity was the only thing to survive the desertification of Earth, and there's simply nothing left.
Regardless of the full story, it's a pretty devastating bit of storytelling, and the reaction beneath that tweet is rightfully distraught. "What's even the point?" asks one fan. "I don't want to live in a future without dogs," says another. The popular refrain of "literally unplayable" rings out, as another fan calls on the Starfield mods community to fix this horror. We can only hope.
Our Starfield review does not mention the lack of dogs. We are sorry.