Dog playing football

Adobe Firefly

Google’s new AI search tool keeps claiming dogs play professional sports 

The AirBud jokes write themselves.


Marlon Ettinger


Screenshots of wonky search results from Google’s new AI Overview search feature are going viral, including claims that dogs have played in the NHL, NBA, and NFL.

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“Yes, a dog has played in the NBA,” the AI Overview responded to one search asking “has a dog ever played in the nba?”

In response to another search by New York Times reporter Aric Toler asking if a dog has played in the NHL, the AI Overview answer was yes, pointing to Martin Pospisil, a center for the Calgary Flames.

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Another search by @Dazzleox showed that apparently, according to AI, a dog has played NCAA basketball, but hasn’t played in the EuroBasket League

“Referees generally have leeway to keep games fair, and dogs are ineligible by default,” the AI answer claims, pointing to rules that players have to be human.

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In a statement to the Daily Dot, Google said that the searches conducted were extremely rare and not indicative of the overall experience of using its new AI tool.

“These examples are extremely rare queries, and aren’t representative of most people’s experiences,” Google told the Daily Dot. “The vast majority of AI Overviews provide high-quality information, with links to dig deeper on the web. We conducted extensive testing before launching this new experience, and will use these isolated examples as we continue to refine our systems overall.”

The Daily Dot was able to replicate the searches and learned that dogs have played in the NFL (the answer given referenced the Cleveland Browns bull mastiff mascot Swagger Jr.), that a viral dog named Drake the Pupstar played in the NHL, and that a dog called Brodie the Goldendoodle has played for the Miami Heat, thrown out the first pitch at a Florida Marlins game, and attended a Lakers game.

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Some of the answers are sort of based in fact—Brodie once fetched a pitch at a Marlins game, and the Browns do have a dog mascot—but they’re clearly not answers to the questions being asked.
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Google’s Gemini chatbot, which also uses generative AI to provide its answers, fares a little better than the AI overview answers, flatly stating that neither cats nor dogs can play in the NBA or the NHL.

But doesn’t always get it right either.

For instance, Gemini claims that “only humans can be drafted and play,” in the NBA, based on regulations. But the NBA rulebook doesn’t actually explicitly require players to be human.

Which led to a number of users highlighting an infamous quote from AirBud.

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“Ain’t no rule that says the dog can’t play,” posted more than a few people, riffing on Google’s latest disastrous AI rollout.

This post has been updated with comment from Google.

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