In fantasy stories, wolves or even large dogs are often depicted as mounts, and in the recent Monster Hunter Rise game, canid-like monsters called Palamutes are used as both companions and mounts. There's just one problem: it does not work.

The muscles and skeleton of a dog, no matter how large, are not built to support a human's weight. They're just not. But no one ever said that someone, through breeding or even genetic engineering, couldn't make it work. And dogs can be strong-they've been used to pull carts and kill bears-and they have very, very variable genes.

However, in the end, I've been told that making a dog that can be used as a mount is making a horse look like a dog. This question has also been called a duplicate of mine; I see why, there is a similarity, but that question concerns the feasibility of normal wolves as mounts while I'm asking how one could make a dog work as a mount for normal people, using breeding and genetic engineering, without making it a horse.

After all, wolves eat carrion, they are (distantly) related to bears and could develop a similarly mesocarnivorous diet, and one could genetically modify the spine and bones and muscles for load-bearing right? They will almost certainly become somewhat like a horse, but I'm specifically looking for a canid that actually works as a mount, not a pony that acts like a dog (though that would be interesting).

TL;DR: I understand wolves are not designed to be rode and that there is a question about riding carnivores. However, I'm asking about a specific type of carnivores (canids) being modified through genetic engineering and breeding to work as mounts, not about modifying a horse to resemble a dog, as interesting as that may be.

Or, in other words, this is like trying to modify horses so they have society, tool use, and speech (a la My Little Pony) rather than turning horses into hominids-in my case, modifying wolves into a species that can work as a mount rather than turning wolves into horses. I may just be crazy, it may be impossible, but I'm investigating the possibility and feel there is a difference between the two examples above.

By Request-Traits of a Rideable Wolf:

  1. Wolves are carnivores. These rideable wolves may be mesocarnivores to lessen competition for food, or else really like carrion, but they must be carnivores.

  2. While these rideable wolves may be larger, with reinforced skeletons and musculature to support human weight, and they'll obviously be altered for weight-bearing and endurance, they must still be-if one looks at them or reviews their physiology-still wolves. They may be somewhat horselike, of course, that's inevitable, but the point is to have a wolf that can be rode, not a wolf that is for all intents and purposes a horse. This means fur, tail, limbs, and so forth should remain relatively unchanged.

Preferably, one would look at horse evolutionary history, how they got here, and how wolves could be similarly adapted, into an efficient carnivorous transport. The hero shrew (which can survive a man standing on it), gives me hope for the spine. Cheetahs have paws, not hooves, and everyone knows how fast they are. And of course rhinos and hippos may seem bulky, but they can peak at 30 mph per hour, so why can't wolves with sturdier legs?


1 Answer 1


Bendy Spine

As discussed at length in this answer the problem is dogs' backbones are designed to bend while running. Some of the running power comes from the spine muscles.

enter image description here

The downside is that if you put weight on the dog's spine it will bend the other way which is (a) bad for the dog and (b) stops it running.

Horses on the other hand have the spine stay straight while running. The power comes from their legs and shoulders.

The solution is to not put weight on the spine at all. Put the weight on the shoulders. If the dog is big enough put all the weight on the front shoulders. This leaves the spine free to flex.

For a smaller dog, the saddle is a platform connected to both pairs of shoulders. Haunches and withers if you want to be fancy. Since the shoulders move relative to each other while running you need movable springs that pivot where they attach to the shoulders.

enter image description here

The fact this is a hyaena is important. I suspect it is better to have the front shoulders higher than the back shoulders, as this will lead to more weight on the front than back.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Isn't that the skeleton of a cat? $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Oct 28, 2022 at 1:20
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    $\begingroup$ @MontyWild I believe it is a cheetah. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Oct 28, 2022 at 11:45
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    $\begingroup$ Cheetahs are cats. Notably, they are not dogs, which have far less bendy spines. Observe the difference between a sitting cat and a sitting dog... $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Oct 29, 2022 at 6:39

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