From the Super Mario Wiki
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Gnips (Howls in the PAL version) are dog-like creatures in Super Paper Mario. They are bouncing creatures that appear in Merlee's Mansion that carries Mario or Princess Peach out of the mansion if they get caught in their grasp (similar to the Sentinels in Tubba Blubba's Castle from Paper Mario). However, the difference is that Gnips are actually trying to help the heroes by getting them away from the mansion because there is danger there. There is also a larger version of the species titled Gnaw that does essentially the same thing as the Gnips. Due to their guard dog nature and their immense mouths, Gnips may be related to Chain Chomps.
A single Gnip appears in the Super Mario-Kun as Merlee's pet. While Mimi is disguised as a fake Merlee, the Gnip becomes aggressive towards her. The fake Merlee then kicks away the Gnip as an annoyance, which angers Tippi. After Mimi reveals herself and transforms into her spider form, the Gnip helps Mario by giving him a ? Block that contains mini 8 bit Marios that help him defeat Mimi.
"This is one of Merlee's pets, a Gnip... They're just getting you out of harm's way when they kick you out of the mansion... They look scary, but they're actually quite nice..."
"This is one of Merlee's pets, a Howl... They're just getting you out of harm's way when they kick you out of the mansion... They look scary, but they're actually quite nice..."
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