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So, considering the structure of the head and ears for creatures like cats, dogs, and bears, if one were to make a race with those types of ears (The stereotype cat person, essentially) I am curious how headgear might function.

I know glasses might be a problem, and a full helm might cause issues too. I figure perhaps they could fold their ears back if they wanted to put an actual helmet on...

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    $\begingroup$ Could you give more details? For example, a motorcycle helmet needs minimal padding and a snug fit (too much padding compresses under the stress of a crash) and unprotected ears would be shredded. A football helmet could have more padding and little to no ear protection. Combat helmets could vary. $\endgroup$ – Cyn says make Monica whole Apr 28 at 2:19
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    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of Modern warfare helmets for cat eared humans $\endgroup$ – JBH Apr 28 at 5:44
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    $\begingroup$ note many roman full helmets actually left the ears exposed, the Imperial Gallic helmet in particular. such a design could easily be adjusted for different ear shapes/locations. $\endgroup$ – John Apr 29 at 13:40
  • $\begingroup$ I’ve added more tags to your answer to try and make it a bit more specific and to help future users find your question. I have also added the medieval tag as you referenced the full helm, a type of helmet worn in the Medieval period. If this is not what you were going for, please feel free to remove it. $\endgroup$ – Liam Morris Apr 29 at 21:12
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If the creature needs its ears to function well in battle, or for ritual or cosmetic show offs, you need holes. Helmets for military dogs have them:

Helmet with ear holes

Otherwise, do fold their ears:

Folded ears in helmet

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    $\begingroup$ lol +1 for the amazing photos $\endgroup$ – Reinstate Monica NOW Apr 28 at 2:23
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    $\begingroup$ A similar example would be how girls wear baseball caps when they have a ponytail, where the opening at the back allows the hair to pass through. $\endgroup$ – user64555 Apr 28 at 10:25
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    $\begingroup$ @user10915156 nod, because ponytails are needed to function well in battle. $\endgroup$ – Yakk Apr 29 at 17:09
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    $\begingroup$ @Yakk If you have long hair in the first place, it's a significant improvement over leaving your hair free. $\endgroup$ – AmiralPatate Apr 30 at 9:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Yakk sigh – I did not mean that girls wearing ponytails under baseball caps have anything to do with battle, but that from that common everyday example we can derive a solution to the present problem even if we are not familiar with the animal headwear presented in this answer. Because we are already familiar with a similar solution to a similar problem. $\endgroup$ – user64555 Apr 30 at 11:04
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I endorse the answer given by @Renan but would like to add that if you need to actually cover the ears, that is possible, too, and without folding:

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ As long as you aren't interested in having good sound localization, this is a decent solution. If situational awareness is important, this won't allow for sound to enter the ears from most positions except forward without some muting, which will hurt localization. However, this would probably be a lot more comfortable than folding (although the pictured ear covers actually break off on crashes because the alternative would be more dangerous for humans). It isn't unfeasible to think up a hybrid approach with a mesh wrapped around the ear position, and some reinforcement in the center, I think. $\endgroup$ – Poik Apr 28 at 22:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Poik: good idea, stiff mesh could give some protection against shredding / road-rash for the ears, without trying to protect them much from crushing in the rare case of landing with full force straight on an ear. $\endgroup$ – Peter Cordes Apr 29 at 18:42
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Not explicitly headware, but the attack dogs of the spanish conquistadores had full-on armor, with some pictures even showing headwear:

No idea how true to source that pic is though

Apart from that it's just getting used to it. Human ears get irritaded by a ill-fitted helmet pretty quickly as well, we're just used to it / have designed pretty comfy helmets

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    $\begingroup$ You've just made me really want to have a dog of about that size just so that I can make it wear an armor and be called war-doggo. $\endgroup$ – Renan Apr 29 at 15:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Renan - as depicted, I worry that the spikes would make it harder for you to let them slip after you cry "Havoc!" $\endgroup$ – Willk Apr 30 at 14:51
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All kinds of hoods would continue to work, I think. If the necessity of headwear is much bigger then felt discomfort (for example, cold weather clothing), heavy warm hats would be worn, even if they create some discomfort to the ears.

As for the helmets, there are three separate solutions I can see.

For the very light helmets, it could be just a comparatively narrow metal plate that goes from forehead to the back of the head, leaving the sides of the head and ears open. Modern military helmets that are adapted to big headphones give a similar profile: https://images.app.goo.gl/ZKBdTbA4mUdsfwKt8

For inspiration, you can also take a look at medieval horse armor. House marks often were formed to protect the ears. https://images.app.goo.gl/dh5bW8Fac1Qgx9t89

Some medieval helmets were quite roomy inside, and heavily padded. So changing the form of the padding, you would be able to fit the ears inside without much discomfort. https://pin.it/t544kh6saed5fq

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There are real human helmets designed to leave the ears exposed. Roman helmets in particular often left the ears completely exposed and were designed with reinforcements to compensate. The Roman imperial gallic helmet offered great coverage while leaving the ears open. Such a design could easily be designed with different ear shapes and locations.

Note the extensions and reinforcements needed to protect the ears. The more your ears stick out the more vulnerable to glancing blows they will be, guards will be added much like nose guards to catch or deflect blades. Just like real helmets you will see an evolution of design and many solutions to the same problem, the smiths imagination is the only limit, there will be no one single design.

enter image description here

This could evolve all the way into something like this Japanese helmet or maybe you will have real horned helmets, really it depends on the size and location of the ears.

enter image description here

It is not as if they couldn't add metal ear flaps to helms. Some dog armor and especially horse armor had ear protectors. Note how they are connected at the front so the ears still have the full range of movement, yet is protected from melee. Horse helms are called Shaffron if you want to look up more examples, horses were expensive enough animals that decent armor was fairly common, so a wide variety of styles exist.

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ Using horse armor as the base is probably the best approach to the whole topic. Simply because we have made a lot of that (compared to other animal armor $\endgroup$ – Hobbamok May 8 at 7:12
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Well, starting with the easy stuff:

  • Avian, reptilian, and amphibian species are essentially trivial. Pretty much all real world reptiles, birds, and amphibians have no external ears, just tympanic membranes or some kind of ear canal, so there's nothing to get in the way. Only hard part here is making sure they can still hear to the degree they need to.
  • Monkeys and apes are also essentially trivial. The same approach used in real life for humans works just fine for them, as their ears are in essentially the same place.
  • Pinnipeds (seals), platypuses, and a handful of other odd mammals are trivial because they have no external ears or their ears are flush with the outside of their head.

That leaves a handful of specific cases to take care of:

  • Animals with ears on the top or side of their head that are long and lie mostly flat. This is mostly just domestic breeds of dog. Unless you need hearing to function, this case is trivial (just alter the padding inside the helmet to accommodate the ears). It gets trickier if you need to actually hear well, as you will need some kind of plating to cover the ear but still let it move freely and not weigh it down enough to occlude the ear canal. It's doable (it's been done historically), but it's not exactly pretty, and I somewhat doubt it would be comfortable for long-term usage.
  • Elephants, with their big floppy ears on the side of their heads. The hard part here isn't so much accommodating the ears (they're positioned pretty close to where a human's would be), it's protecting that almost comically large amount of otherwise exposed flesh, with all it's blood vessels and nerve endings. I honestly can't think of a good way to handle this, chain mail comes to mind as a possible option, but that's likely to be way to heavy to be practical for this, so I'm at a loss here.
  • Animals with ears on top of their heads that stick up. Includes most mammals that haven't yet been mentioned. This is actually pretty easy if you don't care about good hearing, just shape the helmet to accommodate the ears, You're already going to need to do this type of thing anyway for any species that have horns, so it shouldn't be too hard to handle. Just like above for the floppy ears, it gets tricky if you need hearing to work, and it's harder than the above case because many animals in this group move their ears to triangulate the source of a sound, which is going to be tricky to accommodate comfortably. I see the most likely case here being a helmet with cutouts for the ears, possibly over top of a chain mail cowl or coif designed to clip to the top and edges of the ears, which again, is likely to be uncomfortable

There's one other issue here though, standardization. Humans are kind of lucky in this respect, we can just cut the part of the helmet for the ears a bit high and make the helmet a bit on the big side, and it will fit most everyone without any significant issue. That won't realistically be possible if you have a mix of races trying to work together, or one race with a lot of variance (say for example a cat race that includes most of the existing domestic breeds plus most wild cats), because you'll have to leave pretty huge holes in the top of the helmet for the ears so that everyone will fit it properly. Given this, I see some kind of modular approach potentially being popular. Essentially, you have the outer helmet that provides most of the protection shaped to accommodate everyone, and then inserts that can clip into the ear holes to provide appropriate spacing so that none of the scalp is exposed together with appropriate guards to protect against foes attacking the ears.

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Horses wear a LOT of head gear! They also have firm but mobile ears that they don't like to have constrained. (From experience with our cat, cats really don't like to have their ears held back for long periods, either.)

  1. Halter/bridle: Simple, since it is just straps, the straps go around the ears. (Anatomical bridles where the part on top of the head is further back away from the ears are gaining popularity now.)
  2. Armor (old fashioned): You've got a wide variety of styles to choose from here. Sometimes it is just open at the top, or with individual openings for each ear. Other times there is a protective piece that sticks up in front of each ear (not enclosing the ear, though)--sometimes this is full height, sometimes it is only half height. Since the ear will fold back as a protective measure, the half height ones should do a pretty good job of protecting from the front. (Side note: ear tip injuries are much less common in horses compared to dogs and cats, but I think they do occur in the wild sometimes and should only be a cosmetic injury.)
  3. Armor (modern): Yes, there is modern armor for horses! Horses are sometimes used in riot/crowd control situations and they wear armor. Modern armor seems to leave the ears exposed, but includes a clear eye shield and protection for the front of the face.
  4. Soft headgear: Horses sometimes wear fly masks to protect the face from flies. This is a soft fabric or mesh piece with mesh over the eyes. It might be stretchy and slip on, or it might be non-stretchy and fasten with velcro under the chin. Ears can be open (one big hole or two individual holes) or fully enclosed with soft mesh (still allows the ears to be mobile). Horses also sometimes wear blinkers or blinders designed to get the horse to focus in a certain direction, these fit much like fly masks but usually with ears open. Also, ear bonnets/nets, which just cover the ears with soft cloth and then have a little bit of a fringe around the edges (just covers the top of the head like a human's hat/bonnet)--for keeping flies out of the ears.
  5. Hearing protection: Horses sometimes wear "ear poms" which are kind of pom-pom/soft ear plug. They are usually not very visible. There is some disagreement about how much noise they really stop, but no technical reason why you couldn't make better ones.
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Whilst other answers demonstrate how headwear could be adapted to accommodate the ears of these creatures, i would like to point out that, in our own history, there was headwear that ignored our ears.

Examples of helmets which lack openings for ears https://www.reddit.com/r/forhonor/comments/8bup7r/give_warden_a_bascinet_armet_or_frogmouth_helmet/

You may notice the distinct lack of openings for ears in these helmets, there are not even holes in the sides to allow some small level of hearing. I would argue that accounting for the ears in helmets may be unnecessary, at least in some instances.

I would imagine that a more pressing concern would be the faces of these creatures rather than their ears. You may see helmets with more elongated faces, such as the hounskull or armets which push out further, both helmets are pictured above.

If you wanted the ears to be exposed however, i would have to agree that something based on the shaffron could be a good option.

enter image description here https://collections.royalarmouries.org/object/rac-object-3345.html

I would like to add that, if you were intending this to be a main form of defence, you would want a decent amount of padding to protect the face. You would also want some way of protecting your neck, in which case gambeson, possibly with chainmail as well, could work well enough.

You would may instead want a bevor, this is the lower half of the helmet pictured in the top left corner. The idea of the bevor is to protect the chin and neck whilst the salet, the top half, is the actual helmet and protects the head and face. One thing to note salets were sometimes worn without a bevor so, by that logic, these shaffrons may also sometimes be worn without the bevor.

For softer, non-combat headwear such as hats or hood, you could simply cut out holes or just wear a bigger hat. Also, whilst you may be right that traditional glasses wouldn't work as well, there are many alternatives.

For example, rather than fixed arms, you may opt for a chain attached to both sides of the lenses. The chain would loop over the ears and the lens part would rest on the face. This makes wearing glasses for creatures with non-human ears far easier. You may instead use prescription goggles typically used by sportsmen when traditional glasses may fall off, a similar idea to using the chain but does not require any ears. Another alternative is to use a method similar to that of a monocle where the muscles of the wearer’s eyes press down on a metal piece, keeping them in place.

enter image description here

https://www.college-optometrists.org/the-college/museum/online-exhibitions/virtual-spectacles-gallery/monocles.html

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