A friend was surprised to see his gnome cavalier couldn't have a dog as a mount until fourth level. After looking at it I have convinced myself someone swapped the wolf and dog from what they intended. Can someone confirm and correct that?
That doesn't make sense. Small humanoids buy Dog, Riding for mounts in the SRD (http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/equipment.html), so it doesn't make sense to say they are too small, and suddenly become big enough at a higher level. And even if that were to buy that reason, why could a Wolf [a wild form of dog] be big enough to carry the same individual at 1st level?
And if you could have a Wolf for a mount, why would you ever replace it with a dog which would be easier to kill and does less damage.
Well, a Wolf (or any animal companion) doesn't have to increase in size.
Instead of taking the listed benefit at 4th or 7th level, you can instead choose to increase the companion's Dexterity and Constitution by 2.
It's on oft missed rule in the Druid entry under the Animal Companions section, sub-section Animal Choices.
I'm pretty sure it doesn't, since the increases listed are from increasing in size (with some exceptions).
The wolf, for example, increases its bite from 1d6 to 1d8, in accordance to moving from medium to large. It also gains +8 Str and +4 Con and takes -2 Dex. Again, consistent with going from medium to large.
If you chose to take the +2 Dex and Con, you would lose any other bonuses gained at level 4 or 7. One of those bonuses is gaining size. So your medium wolf can stay medium at level 7, but you don't get the extra natural armor, extra strength or up-diced bite attack.
Ummm, because most communities won't let you take a wolf into their town, but a big dog isn't going to turn many heads.
Which is exactly why the DOG should be the one available to the small cavalier at 1st level. Because it is a traditional mount for small humanoids, most specifically the equivalent to a small warhorse, as it doesn't have the docile trait. [Again an excellent match for such a starting cavalier] A wolf is technically, game-wise an upgrade in combat and survivability of your mount, not a greater domestication and commonality. Would you argue then that a Wild Boar is also likewise going to be welcomed more since it has been placed in the same tier as the Dog?
Basically the Riding Dog and Pony have a similar nature. Both common riding beasts for the category of Cavalier that would choose them, representing the typical beast to carry such a knight of their kind. The Wild Boar and Wolf represent the wilder more powerful beasts that a strong rider might choose to augment their combat and presence in battle and stories.
Hence, why I think there was a mistake. Otherwise, it just makes no sense.
The Druid animal companion rules determine a mount's size. This is the only reason why certain mounts are prescribed at certain levels.
Name your wolf "Dog", and the problem goes away. Or you could arbitrarily make your 1st level dog medium along with the +2Str, -2Dex, and 1d6 bite that goes with it. The dog would be slightly stronger than a starting wolf, but it'd be slower and lack Trip.