There are three version of Nintendogs + Cats on the market: French Bulldog & New Friends, Toy Poodle & New Friends, and Golden Retriever & New Friends. Each version has nine different dog breeds available at the start of the game.
- Nintendogs + Cats: Toy Poodle & New Friends - Toy Poodle, Welsh Corgi, Pomeranian, Bull Terrier, Jack Russel Terrier, Shih Tzu, Labrador Retriever, and Miniature Schnauzer
- Nintendogs + Cats: French Bulldog & New Friends - French Bulldog, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Shetland Sheepdog, Basset Hound, Siberian Husky, German Shepherd, Yorkshire Terrier, Dalmatian, and Chihuahua
- Nintendogs + Cats: Golden Retriever & New Friends - Golden Retriever, Beagle, Shiba Inu, Cocker Spaniel, Pug, Miniature Pinscher, Miniature Dachshund, Great Dane, and Maltese
All three versions also get access to the following cat breeds: Standard, Longhair, and Oriental.
The core gameplay is similar to what can be found in Nintendogs (you, the player, care for, train, and play with a virtual pet using various tools and objects in-game). The game continues to make use of the microphone and touchscreen, while also utilizing the 3DS' camera for facial recognition. The dog or cat in question will react positively or negatively, depending on whether or not it can recognize the current player. Your virtual pets will also occasionally try to lick your face, or mimic your head movements. You can walk your dog while the 3DS is in sleep mode using the 3DS's built-in pedometer. You will find presents on your walk depending on how many steps you walked in sleep mode. The game can also make use of Street Pass. The normal walk mode has changed a bit from the original Nintendogs. In the first, you were able to choose a route for the walk (in a limited amount of distance,) with the player being able to go over to a dog gym or park with the route chosen, and the actual walk was in a sidescrolling view, with a little bit of depth. In Nintendogs+cats, walking a dog is in a perspective behind the dog, much like actually walking a dog. You are unable to choose a route this time, but there are still options to go to a gym or park, which are altered by the time of day the dog is walked, or how often the dog is walked. There are also choices to go downtown, the mountains, or other locations by walking to a sign at the side of the street. Presents are found in the middle of the street, and can either be treats, or pieces of scrap (metal bolts, tire rubber) that can later be traded in at the second hand shop. You can run into other (fake) people while walking your dog, who also have dogs. The two dogs will interact with eachother, and they can either get along, not get along, or be afraid of each other. The gym is used for the dog practicing frisbee tossing (which can also be practiced in the apartment, but the park has more free space.) It is not a rare sight to see another dog in the park.
There are three competitions, all progressing in five cups (Junior, Amateur, Pro, Master, and Nintendogs.) The competitions are as follows:
Throw a frisbee out and make sure your dog catches it. Points are awarded by depth of the throw, if your dog jumps in the air while catching it, or if the frisbee lands in certain marked zones.
A lure is set on a track and you have to lure your dog to the end of the track. The lure is moved by moving a reel clockwise on the touchscreen. If you reel in too fast, the dog will lose track of the lure. If you reel in too slow, the dog will catch the lure, and play with it for a few seconds, giving the other dogs in the race a few seconds advantage.
You can teach your dogs tricks over the course of the game, and this is where you compete with them. Certain tricks need to be learned before each cup, each increasing in complexity. The competition uses AR cards to make the dog seem like it is wherever the AR card is placed. First, you are tested on certain tricks, and the execution and reaction times of the trick factor in to how many points are given. Then, there is a free-for-all round, where any trick the dog knows can be done for points. To train your dog(s) for this you can only learn 3 tricks a day.
As of December 31 2015, Nintendogs + Cats has sold 3.96 million copies worldwide.