Realistic wolfdogs
#1
Found a really interesting post today about what real wolfdogs look like and how wolf phenotypes basically dominate and demolish all dog phenotypes. This is basically the opposite of how we tend to design characters at 'Souls, where even the smallest dog/non-wolf percentage can result in very non-wolf appearances, haha. I have no idea about the genetics of it, but since dogs are a subspecies of wolf, it might make sense that the overarching species phenotype is more dominant? I wonder how it changes with true hybridization outside of the species, with coywolves or coydogs?

What do you guys think about it? I imagine most people enjoy the freedom to design characters rather liberally regardless of percentage heritage (and for the record, I doubt this will change/the SA will want to police this any time ever), but do you think it'd be cool to have more realistic-looking wolfdogs around the board and to be more realistic in general on that front? :O

kiri is a butthead; avatar by dwudles
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#2
I've always tried to give a lot of thought in my designs to ensure that they're realistic, or at least plausible. With Tayui and Anu's 25% dog kids, I realize now that we sort of did the inverse: we gave them hints of dog marking with dominantly wolf builds and traits. All of the kids look more like wolves with a bit of doggish colouring. As the post indicates, the opposite would happen; they'd look wolfish with a hint of dog colouration. :O

I like the idea of doing a bit of research to ensure that your character is realistic! I don't think there's any way to police it, since 'Souls has never been a strictly realistic RPG (whereas other sites are, and therefore, can police it and enforce realism in that regard). I guess the easiest way to figure out if your purebred wolf, coyote, or dog is realistic is to find photos. If you have a 100% wolf character that is [colour], but you can't find any markings that look like that, chances are it's not realistic. :O Some markings are possible and just harder to find though! For that reason, I think referring to the Species section of the RP Guide is super important and helpful, since you can see at a glance what genetics (i.e., subspecies) you need to get the colours you want.

When I was designing the characters Dusk Rephaim and Scion Addiction, I researched different coyote subspecies. Since I wanted them to be darker and a bit larger than the average Plains Coyote, so I made them part Northeastern Coyote.

There's definitely the temptation to make your character look cool and unique, but if you work really hard on making them interesting and fun to roleplay, then they are cool and unique. c: And I guess we see depictions in the media (especially anime and manga), where the "cool" characters have something that really distinguishes them and sets them apart, so it's only natural to want for other people to think your character is neat or like them. I can definitely understand the inclination to make them look as cool as they are on the inside (aww c: ).

That's just my spiel~
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#3
Ohhh I love wolfdogs in real life, so I already have links and things bookmarked on this topic. <333! Here is my favorite collection of content examples: http://texx-wolf-tails.webs.com/wolfdogscomparison.htm There are already a few obvious artistic liberties we take here on 'Souls, like pure wolves with non-black noses or puppies born with their adult markings (wolves are always born solid grey/brown with no white and the markings come in later, even arctic wolves).

One of the biggest markers of having wolf genetics is the reproductive cycle: "High-Contents also are only fertile during the late winter & early spring months as puppies are generally born between March and May. The females only have one heat cycle during these times and males are only fertile when females come into heat." Dogs usually cycle every six months, so twice as often as wolves and high-content hybrids. Reproduction is already a little different for Luperci, though, since we disregard species for the sake of unity. :)

Two of my active characters are 50:50 wolfdogs. Colibri's litter are half wolf, half German Shepherd dog: I designed them to have mostly shepherd markings, black and tan (though Florina is diluted/leucistic so she appears cream-white despite the underlying genetics), but with a dominant wolf build and coat. They wouldn't realistically have specialized traits such as a sloping back, although I left some of that stuff up to their adopters for creative license. ;)

Hati Catori is my other current wolfdog, and while I did not design his markings so I can't take credit there, I write him as having the lean athletic look of a Saarloos wolfdog. His tail is the biggest indicator of dog heritage, since it is very fluid and he will curl it on his back. Otherwise he is fairly wolfy in size and shape.

I've always been a fan of letting people design whatever makes them happy, so I'm not bothered by wolves with spots or stripes or bright saturated colors. I started RPing on Neopets, so it's little wonder I'm not fazed by that. 8) But I have a deep interest in canine genetics and research all sorts of stuff on my own, so realistic wolfdogs are all kinds of awesome!

...It would probably be hypocritical to police realism in designs here on 'Souls, since we have the Luperci virus and shifting. ;)
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#4
I don't think coyotes are born with white triangles on their chests and all-black fur... I think most people on here, like me, just stick with keeping our characters semi-realistic; but this was really interesting though! I had no idea that all wolf hybrids pretty much look like wolves.

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#5
General reaction: lol. I am about to start working at a dog place tomorrow, and my sister is all, "zomg we have wolf hybrids" and I am all "... >_>" and wanting to tell her, "no, you probably don't" but that might make me look like a jerk. :C

@Nora: I actually used to have a picture of a black and white coyote. I don't know if it's edited or not and I can't remember the source. D8 I lost it, too, when I cleared out my computer of lots of stock images, since I didn't have sources attached etc. Melanism, though, is something that's thought to exist in coyotes, IIRC. Searching "melanistic coyotes" dredges up tons of results, anyway!

@Miyu/@Tammi: The bit we police is that species markings need to be realistic for the character's species. For example, can't have a naturally brindled coyote without having dog influence; can't have a white jackal without albinism or dog influence. I think that keeps it realistic enough, while also allowing freedom of design.
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#6
Ahaha, that is pretty much the opposite of what we do -- put more doggish influence into wolfdogs. And it does make sense that the dominant part of the "species" would come through. In this case, it'd be faarrrr more realistic if all our wolfdogs were just dogs. @__@ Wayne and Skoll are terrible defenders; Wayne looks like a particularly wolfy Lab (so would probably be more realistic as a Lab mixed with huskies, malamutes, and other "wolfy" dogs), and Skoll is supposed to look like a super pale wolf with big size and a dumb curly tail.

I am fine with this though, though I might design characters more carefully in the future. I think players are just eager to have fun-looking characters -- say a merle or patchy pattern on a wolf -- and as long as the markings are realistic for one species in the hybrid (like Sie mentioned about brindled coyotes) I'm fine enough with that weird pseudorealism. <__< This was a very very interesting read though! :O
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#7
@Sie: Oh, yes, that's right! I remember like... six-ish years ago, we legit had a zebra-striped wolf (I think it was Seven). I can see why we wouldn't want something so outlandish since it's basically just not possible. XD
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#8
/looks at maxen slyly and looks away >_>

I think I do an equal balance of this, but I know I've purposefully made my wolfdogs look more like dogs rather than wolves with a small dog percentage in their blood, for this and that reason, but I like to mix it up. Leon's a wolfdog that looks almost completely like a wolf except for his pink nose and curled tail whereas Maxen looks more like a dog than a coyote, but he has more coyote features and mainly dog coloring.

I don't mind seeing characters with somewhat outlandish designs cause it's cool to see what people come up with. Everyone wants their character to look cool and unique, I think, but as Tammi said, their personalities also make them so. But like... even though I do try to make my characters appearances stand out with markings I like and stuff, I always make sure I give them the necessary pieces so they can look the way they do. I wouldn't make a wolf that had no dog in it that had unnatural wolf colors or markings or even improper sizes, I'm used to having to mix to get the character appearance I want to have. xD I guess to me it was always more of a common sense thing-- if the character has more dog percentage then they'd look more dog, more wolf means more wolf?

I personally love that we have SO MUCH freedom to basically play whatever critters we want here. All kinds of canine species from all over can be played and mixed up and I find that super fun, it's part of Souls appeal to me, I think. I don't ever see anyone policing it like most sites tend to do, you guys rock cause of how much freedom you give the members. I wouldn't want to see anything change to where things were more strict. Eevveerr.

But personally I don't really care if this one character is 1% dog but looks mainly dog even though the rest is wolf or something. Idk why, it just doesn't really bother me. I guess cause I've sooorrt of done it myself just because I like to do the "he's a special and unique snowflake" and just because it's rare/uncommon for it to happen but it caaannn, so every once in a while I give myself the freedom to do it. xD
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#9
I think the most difficult thing to grasp about natural pelt coloring is that, especially in wolves, there isn't really a high level of distinctive variations. I mean, yes, there are numerous ways a pelt could be different in hue or slight markings, or perhaps in the variety of different species within the whole that have slightly unique twists and turns. But when you take into consideration the almost 27000 odd members that we have had (stole that number from the bottom of the board, may not be accurate IDK), well... If we were to stick rigidly to realistic coloring, there would have been so many design overlaps that it would set my head to spinning!

It does make a challenge, to have an interesting design that can also be considered realistic, but if that challenge were strictly enforced I think it would really put a dampener on some character-creation muses. I personally don't mind at all having throw-backs to various breeds and ancestral coloring and whatnot, even if the blood percentage within my character for that particular marking or hue is not high. I also have a weak spot for 'unique markings' that can certainly look somewhat unnatural - Lokr's eye markings, for example. HAVING SAID THAT, purple and neon green wolves are a different category entirely - I like the current rules of sticking to natural pigmentation (exempting luperci who have dyed their hair and whatnot). And yes, it does appeal to me when a design can be explained through heritage, like a nifty little easter-egg within the character's appearance.
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#10
641 members. ;D The 27000 number is for the number of posts we've had on the board! 641, even, isn't an entirely accurate number, since there are surely a few spam accounts, dead accounts, and "lemme register right quick and never do anything" accounts, hehe.

You're right, though, in that with the large number of characters, timberwolf, timberwolf, timberwolf would get old. <_<
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#11
Hahaha, yeah I don't have a problem with relatively unrealistic phenotypes being displayed given an individual's percentage heritage, though honestly I totally never realized how overpowering the wolf phenotype was in real life, which is why that post really interested me. :O I think the variety of appearances that dogs bring into the mix make them really appealing as a way to make characters look unique while still being grounded in some kind of appearance-realism, even if the genetics of it ends up being not-as-realistic. XD

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#12
Necroposting because I found a cool related link and didn't want to start a new topic for it. ;P

Blue Bay Shepherds - a breed in development, where the founding generation are F-6 wolfdogs (six generations away from a wolf parent, making them legally "dog" and not "wolf hybrid"). They still bear a strong bodily resemblance to wolves, but with a GSD personality, coat length, and color. (Gorgeous dogs!)

(This is more like our 'Souls wolfdogs! Thought it was interesting in real life just how dominant the wolf genes are, after six generations~)
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#13
I have no idea how I missed this thread - wolfdogs are my favorite thing ever and I dream of working with them. <3 I (and Ariel!) worked with them this summer and had a huge discussion about how most people at 'souls, if we went by how they design their characters (obviously not based on their actual knowledge because we didn't know that, haha), would have thought that the animals, mostly low to mid content, were all or mostly wolf. The only ones that really looked dog were really, really low content ones.

Eventually I'll share some pictures. >_>; Eventually.
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#14
I feel all left out because in real life I'm not a fan of wolfdogs, or huskies for that matter XD

But yeah, I tend to disregard this based on the fact that pelt designs at this point need to be more individualistic than what we could all come up with basing our designs super, super realistically. I do try, Attila's son is set to look like more of a wolf than Attila does, even though both of them are 100% wolf.
[Image: Q23X7re.png]
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#15
I tried to keep Vidar's apperance where one could see his wolfy heritage more than his malamute ancestors, but I still wanted some of his wolfdog to be visable, thus his highlighted face markings and blue eyes. The 'v' on his head really is more random that I added to give him something unique without being too unrealistic. Not that I've really seen the mark before but it seems to fit him okay in my mind.

Miyu - Those BBS are beautiful dogs! I'm weary of wolfdogs myself, and wouldn't want one, but I've been looking into breeds that are wolf like (such as tamaskans and saarloos wolfdogs) but I have yet to hear of this kind of dogs. Very neat and thanks for sharing! Perhaps one day I can save up and own one of those dogs, they look so regal, even more so than the other breeds I mentioned.
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#16
Vida - jw, why not a fan?

I suppose I should elaborate - I am 100% against the breeding of wolfdogs, and I believe they are one of the most conflicted creatures, and it's not fair because they can't really live as a dog or a wolf. However, the ones in the world, I love them, and education about them for others is super important to me.
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#17
I literally have no idea, I've never really liked the look of Huskies I guess? And wolfdogs, I think it's kind of the same. Coupled with the fact you pointed out, it's neither wolf nor dog and that people are uneducated about getting them as pets.
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#18
Fair enough. ^^ Loving wolfdogs seems to go along with loving the larger, if not all of, the Spitz breeds too.
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#19
When it comes to Spitz dogs, I don't mind the smaller, "foxy" ones XD
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#20
I have nothing against them really, I just wouldn't want one as a pet. I know it sometimes works well for man and beast but not always and its not very fair to the canine. I'd rather have a 'wolf' without the wolf - a domestic wolf look-a-like.
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#21
I think this is interesting given Søren's heritage (75% dog, 25% wolf approx.) although he is a combination of wolf and wolf-dog, along with more hound-ish dogs. I purposely designed him to be at least as realistic as possible concerning colors and pelt markings, although obviously I'm not sure his floppy ears are entirely realistic (I rather liked them regardless). As far as his pelt color and shape goes, however, I went off of MANY photographs of the different breeds he was intended to have in his heritage. Hence why he has such dark eyes, since many people here like to pick lighter colored eyes, or eyes that at least pop out against the fur color. I also did the same with his cousins, although their dog heritages are a little more obvious than Søren's.
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#22
Hannah, I know what you mean! It takes a special human to raise a wolfdog properly, and I know I'm not cut out for it either. ;) But I adore wolfdogs and the uniqueness of their personality and heritage... I've always thought them something special (and you have no idea how jealous I am of Meghann and Ariel for working with them directly!)

As pets they can do very well with other dogs in a pack hierarchy and a lot of room to run around -- it's just unfortunate that so often the wrong people end up with a wolfdog and think they will adapt in a way they realistically cannot (apartment living, small dogs, fenced backyard, etc). Wolfdog breeds like the BBS, Saarloos, Czechoslovakian, etc - are more doglike in personality since there are no first-generation crosses, but still not for inexperienced owners.

...But I guess this is off-topic since this discussion is about appearance. xD
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