“Dogs have friends because they wag their tails, not their tongues.-Ossandrian Proverb
Also Known as: Hounds, Madra (Vic.), Tzakur (Gran.), Opek (Neh.), Kri (Lux.), Canis (Oss.), Hund (Tol.), Gow (Muj.), Skila (Sel.), Sobka (Van.), Kuth (Sub.)
Hazard Level: Moderate
Used for hunting, herding, and protection, the term Dog typically refers to domestic canines found throughout Aeldos, descendants of multiple types of wild canid that were domesticated at different periods of time and using different methods. Dogs are most populous in Ossandria, Lux, Granden, and parts of Mujin and they are seen with particular favour as companions and working animals in these cultures. Dogs have been selectively bred to produce various mental, physical, aesthetic, and perceptual traits and when properly socialized and trained are stalwart and skilled companions in labour, hunting, security and warfare. There is significant variation in the appearance of Dogs and several ‘Breeds’ have been identified, each only believed to descend from different ancestry. Despite the terminology generally referring to domesticated animals, urban wild-dogs do occur as a result of neglect; only a few wild-dogs survive the dangers beyond the human city.
Dogs are quadrupedal mammals with height, weight, appearance, and temperament that differs considerably between breeds. They can range from 15 to 100cm tall at the shoulder and 30 to 300cm in length and weigh from below a kg to 170kg. Eye and fur colouration is highly variable as is coat patterns which range from solid to counter-shaded. Even skull shape differs between various breeds.
Untrained, all dogs represent a moderate danger to unprepared humans, even more so in packs. Those breeds specialized for warfare are even more dangerous.
Dogs have a lifespan of up to 15 years, with larger breeds tending to have shorter spans, as low as 6 years.
Dogs communicate through a complex combination of physical means including posture, tail and ear position, and facial expression, as well as vocalizations, and even non-verbal mechanisms such as pheromones and scents.
Dogs are intelligent animals, able to solve problems, retain a wide array of information and commands, and learn by inference, but do not demonstrate a significant intellectual advantage over other animals. Their greatest advantage is in their social nature and the tight social bonds they tend to develop with both other dogs and humans. This social mindset and the cooperative and affectionate behaviour that is born out of it tends to endear them to humans.
Vargr, wolves, coyote, and hyenas are consistently hostile towards dogs and often go out of their way to hunt them. Conversely, most Jaghund and Faeles tend to ignore dogs unless threatened.
There are several primary breeds of dog, each speculated to descend from a different ancestor, as well as numerous offshoot breeds that are the result of intermixing between them. The known Ancestor Breeds include the Tobruk, Baroo, Grothound, Vanhound, Kustos Shepherd, Otoan and the misclassified Culpi.
A medium sized and increasingly rare fast running breed, found almost exclusively in Nehep, Tobruk are thin, athletic sighthounds that were used to hunt the verdant expanse of Nehep prior to the scouring sands. They are now kept primarily as status symbols by Nehepi nobility, often alongside Faeles ventis. Tobruk are easily trained and obedient and are best known for being the fastest breed.
[Saluki, Afghan Hound]
A smaller, sight-hound, named for its distinctive vocalization, Baroo’s have a tan, black, or brindle coat and white belly and are found primarily in Lux. Known for being quiet, usually only barking once if disturbed then remaining silent, and aloof the Baroo is difficult to train and sometimes characterized as dumb. They are in fact quite clever but very independent minded, rarely acting without some indication of benefit to themselves.
The bug-eyed grothound is a little appreciated but skilled vermin hunting dog most commonly found in southern Lux and Ossandria. Though quite diminutive the breed is incredibly hardy and resilient to the many diseases carried by vermin such as rats and Grots. They tend to have black or brown coats and narrow builds and are extremely agile and energetic. They are difficult to train due to an apparently short attention span and their sharp bark is excellent at disorienting Grots in tight spaces. Grothounds hunt in groups of 2-5 and use pack tactics. They are one of the few species that can tolerate the taste of Grot meat. Despite their beneficial role as vermin hunters they are not well appreciated and are mostly considered working animals and not pets.
A medium sized and stocky breed known for being smart, courageous and friendly, the Vanhound is found primarily in northern Lux, Granden and parts of Vandar. Vanhounds have coats of grey, black, or a mixture of the two, with black fur on the face and a curled tail. They have a distinctive and piercing bark that they use to drive prey when hunting.
The dominant working breed in Ossandria is the enormous Kustos, a loyal and powerful dog known for its size, even demeanour, and deadly bite. Growing up to a meter tall and 70kg, the Kusto Shepherd is used for herding and protecting livestock and guarding homes. They have a deep bark, brindle, black, or tan coats, and tend to bond intensely with their families. It is common in Ossandria to both crop the tail and dock the ears of these animals.
An increasingly common sight alongside Ossandrian legions, the Imperial Warhound or Otoan is the largest breed of dog on the continent, standing up to 1.25 meters tall and weighing as much as 100kg. Otoans are heavily muscled with coats that come in a variety of colours, but tend towards darker tones. They have massive, powerful jaws and keen senses and are highly aggressive and intelligent, requiring careful training from birth. As their name suggests, these Warhounds are used in battle and in tracking routed enemies. They are frequently used in packs of 4-5 and equipped with bladed armour. The breed is only handled by special groups within the Legions and it is illegal in Ossandria to own one as a private citizen.
[Mastiff, Corso, Molossus]
A large breed of hunting dog found in eastern Victra, the Wulfhund is known to be a mild, peaceful, and incredibly dangerous; fast, powerful and intelligent enough to be the equal of warhound and wolf alike. They have keen senses and though tall are generally light, able to move with ample speed. due to their long limbs. They have a wide array of colouration from brindle, red, black, white, and grey, typically uniform but sometimes counter-shaded. This breed is particularly well known for its strong bond with its masters and other dogs and ability to operate independently to the benefit of itself and its pack.
The Culpi is often mistaken for a dog but is in fact a form of domesticated vulpine or fox. Culpi are primarily found in Vandar and are identifiable primarily by their larger ears, bushier tail, and a coat coloration that tends towards reds, blacks, and tawny with counter-shading. Culpi are skilled vermin hunters and trackers but avoid confrontation and are of limited use as guard animals. They are notably affectionate and energetic and are well known for producing considerable warmth. Their most endearing habit is forming groups with human children in cold weather, sharing body heat to each others benefit.
Rumour and Lore
- Some believe the Otoan breed is the result of experimentation with Urul or Shifter biotechnology and that the species is even more dangerous than they seem, possessing special abilities and even human levels of intelligence.
- There are rumours of Ossandrian efforts to breed a dog imbued with the intelligence and longevity of the Faeles.
- Ossandrians love of fighting is not restricted to humans, and pitting Otoans against slaves, captured soldiers, creatures, and particularly Faeles is not uncommon.
- Tobruk are said to be able to understand Faeles language and there are some accounts of pairs of Faeles and Tobruk working together to hunt in the wild.
- There are several references to Vargr in Aeldan mythology, not all of which are positive and many of which have somewhat diminished the common view of dogs due to association. Stories that suggest the Vargr were used by the One to torment humanity and guard his sacred sites and the association of the Jackal with the triparte death gods known as the Tenebrae are both commonly shared. These negative connotations have resulted in a variety of negative beliefs regarding dogs and are theorized as reasons for the limited adoption of dogs as companions by many early humans. Conversely, some stories recount Aythrin heroes of the later Imperium and second age who had dogs as stalwart companions, somewhat rehabilitating their image and leading some to associate them with heroic legends and Aythrin glory.