this guide is based off of the techniques i personally have used over the past nine years to make living dexes. i make my dexes trying to keep the original trainer (OT) number my own as much as possible, thus i avoid trading unless necessary. i also play hard copy games, and so i do not know how using an emulator will effect living dex progress. in addition, i will not be referring to spin-off games here, though it is possible to make living dex's in some of these games (for example, i have one in pokemon legends). i also do not use cheats.

why complete a national dex?

ive always found catching 'em all to be very fun and rewarding. completing a national dex gives you the opportunity to learn about and probably use at least once every single pokemon in the game, and will take you out of your comfort zone as youll need to deeply explore the region, its pokemon, and its items. it has helped me to get so much more out of these games, and i just genuinely find it fun.

choosing a dex

there are numerous living dexes that you can make. the most obvious choice is the current national dex, which requires pokemon sword/shield and pokemon home and stands at 898 pokemon - and is due to be expanded yet again at the end of 2022. this can be very overwhelming and so i would recommend working on smaller national dexes first, as it can be broken down into eight 'generations'. you also do not need to be completing the most recent national dex - for example, if you have pokemon black, you could complete the national dex available in that game.

you could also choose to create a regional dex. this is a good idea if you are just starting a new save file, or have not unlocked the national dex yet. these are the kinds of dexes i am working on, as i already have a mostly complete national dex and it gives me a chance to replay my games.

national dex
list of regional pokedexes

like the national dex, choosing to also collect all various formes and gender differences in an individual pokemon and mythical pokemon is optional. i personally do not collect formes and gender differences, but i do collect mythical pokemon. some people even work on having a living dex completely made up of shiny versions of pokemon.


the beginning stages will look different depending on what kind of save file you are starting with. however, i would recommend as soon as possible reorganising your PC boxes.

i keep the first few boxes empty for pokemon to be sent to as i aquire them. the boxes following will be named according to dex number - for example, 001 - 030, 031 - 060, and so on. i also keep a box for pokemon i want to trade, one for storing eggs, and one for duplicates or uncategorised pokemon. i then gather all the pokemon i currently have and place them according to their dex number, using the in-game dex or a guide. please check out this page to see how the boxes will look. doing this in your game will help you visualise what you already have.

if you are starting from a new save file, be sure to catch one or two of every new pokemon you come across. this way, you can make progress in the game while also developing your dex. it may be useful to use guides to make sure you catch duplicates of pokemon for version exclusive trades, in game trades, or for future evolutions that cannot be found elsewhere. id also make sure to scour every area and battle every trainer, so even if you dont catch everything, youll have the 'seen' portion of the dex filled out to help for referencing what you do or dont have down the line.

in terms of organisation outside of the game, i tend to rely on serebii for any information i need about where to find pokemon or how they evolve. for dppt/bdsp, i used a physical guide i had as a child. ive known people to use spreadsheets to track their living dex, but i personally use the in-game dex and will sometimes make lists on paper when i am reaching the final stages of the pokemon i need and how to get them.

youre almost ready to focus on the living dex. now, reach the post-game, try to get a ditto as soon as you can for breeding, and stock up on pokeballs!

filling in the gaps

there is no linear way to approach this. you could go number by number, box by box, or area by area, or focus on breeding pokemon first, or focus on evolving. i usually go box by box as it will encompass many different methods of obtaining pokemon and so will keep the process interesting and diverse, which is important for motivation as this is very time consuming.

ive listed here some of the common methods youll encounter, and some tips to make them easier.

EXP harvesting for evolutions

★ to quickly level up weaker and newly hatched pokemon with low evolution levels, have them in your party/holding an EXP share and battle strong trainers or pokemon.

★ for pokemon that have higher evolution levels, keep them in the first slot of your party and switch them out if they are too low level to handle the battle. this counts as battle participation, and any participation in a battle will gather more EXP.

★ have the pokemon hold a lucky egg if they are participating in battle for more EXP.

★ to harvest as much EXP as possible rematch strong trainers. this method varies by game. please reference this link to see where you can find rematches in the relevant game. this includes making use of vs seeker, pokegear, or pokenav, and also rematching your rival. if you feel, you could rematch the league.

breeding and hatching eggs

★ the easiest way to breed pokemon is with a ditto.

★ as this is my least favourite stage, i try to batch all the breeding and egg hatching i need to do together, so that while i wait for an egg to appear at the day care, i can run around and get steps on any eggs in my party.

★ have a pokemon with the ability flame body in your party to speed up hatching.


★ be sure to check what trades you can make in-game with NPCs.

★ check what pokemon are version exclusive to your game, and ensure you have numerous of each. for example, in pokemon diamond, i will catch three murkrow - one for my dex, one to evolve, and one to trade in for a misdreavus which i can breed and evolve later on for mismagius.

★ i also do this with the starter pokemon. for example, in the same game, if my starter was turtwig, i will breed two more to trade for a chimchar and a piplup.

★ try to catch extra of difficult pokemon that you might be able to use for other difficult to obtain pokemon later on. for example, while playing pokemon moon, i was able to obtain a second type:null by breeding many mareanies and evolving them into toxapex. this is a more time sensitive tip.

★ when making my living dex, i relied soley on people i knew or the GTS to help - but im sure there are lots of online communities that are willing to help. im usuallt very solo - but to complete my national living dex, id like to use one - so if you know any, please let me know!

transferring from previous games

in late march 2023, the 3ds store will be shut. this will shut off pokemon transfer and pokemon bank from being downloaded, though if you already have it, the use of it is now free. if you did not have it already downloaded, you will not be able to bring pokemon from usum and before over to the nintendo switch. in addition, if you did not have it downloaded at all, it will not be possible to move pokemon from bw2 and before over to the 3ds. please ensure you download it as soon as possible!

★ depending on what games you already own, you may be able to make significantly more progress by transferring pokemon from other games over. this is how i was able to complete the national dex in pokemon y. i went back game by game, gathering pokemon i couldnt obtain in pokemon y/oras, and moved them over. warning: please be careful with what pokemon you decide to move out of the game, as they cannot return. i made the mistake of taking all my beloved pokemon teams, favourites, and legendaries through to the 3DS - which while its wonderful that i still have them, it means my save files are very empty and i feel less of an incentive to play them.

overall, making a living dex is a long process but a lot of fun. if you are making one, i would love to see or hear about it! feel free to contact me.