The album debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart and No. 1 on the Rap Charts with 125,000 copies sold. It was DMX's first album to not debut at number one on the Billboard 200.
At Metacritic, the album got a score of 60 out of 100 based on "mixed or average reviews". XXL gave it an "L" score equivalent to three stars out of five and stated, "Clearly, X's poetic touch remains intact. But Year of the Dog relies too heavily on nostalgia, ignoring how hip-hop and DMX himself have changed over the years. Lyrically, the project sounds as if the Dog has been living in isolation for years, rarely shifting from his trademark style. Sadly, if X doesn’t learn a few new tricks, things might never be the same…again." HipHopDX gave it a score of 2.5 out of 5 and said, "The album fairly consistent of what DMX has become - lost. Much like his outlandish antics and brushes with the law, X is all over the place on wax, battling incoherence and sane thinking." AllHipHop gave it a score of three-and-a-half out of five stars and said, "DMX is flawless as DMX. He has carved his own niche, perfecting his brand of unfiltered aggression. Legions of DMX loyalist will not be disappointed." About.com also gave it a score of three-and-a-half out of five stars and said, "Despite all the crises occurring in X’s personal life, he still finds a way to preserve the breadth and depth of his powerful voice; his voice alone is capable of propelling the album. While the canine theme is hard to mistake, forgiveness, redemption and, ultimately, the presence of a supreme being present themselves as a subtext in X’s canine mind. It seems like the dog has found his way home, finally."