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I am writing a book about a humanoid wolf (named Wolf. See what I did there?). Wolf lost most of his tail in an accident when he was younger. He hides the stump under his jacket to avoid being embarrassed by having a short tail.

Humans can walk without a tail. But my canine/human hybrid walks on regular canine paws, which are much smaller than human feet. Does Wolf need a tail to balance?

I'm sure in nature the tail has another purpose, but when the creature stands on two legs, the tail is good for balance. Either way, I'm not sure whether to say that Wolf has balance problems at some point during the book, or to say that he can manage because he's lived with it for years.

Here's the character design rough draft:

Wolf Forrest Hansen

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    $\begingroup$ humans have no tail and manage just fine, this all comes down to the anatomy of your creature, which is up to you. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Feb 3, 2023 at 22:07
  • $\begingroup$ Can you balance and walk on the balls of your feet without a tail? That's really the difference between dogs and humans in terms of the anatomical portion of the foot that is in contact with the ground. $\endgroup$ Feb 3, 2023 at 22:44
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, so your canid stands upright. Does he have fingers? If not, what is the point of him standing upright? If so, then why didn't you alter his feet, too? I feel like you didn't think this through, and you want us to do it for you. If this is just a toon, then you're going way overboard on the physics. $\endgroup$ Feb 3, 2023 at 23:08
  • $\begingroup$ Ballerinas can dance on pointed toes, why not your creature on the balls of its feet? How do they do up their shoe-laces without fingers. $\endgroup$ Feb 4, 2023 at 1:52
  • $\begingroup$ Those human shoes will not fit his dog feet. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Feb 4, 2023 at 10:18

4 Answers 4

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It would depend more on the configuration of your character's spine and hips than the size of his feet/paws.

Although the configuration of a dog's ankle would make walking upright for extended periods a bit painful, so you might want to rethink the paws.

A tail would only be needed for balance if the curve of his spine would naturally cause his upper body to lean foward in which case the tail would help shift his centre of gravity to be more over his feet.

He might need the tail to help with sudden direction changes if he tends to run faster than a normal human though.

In general, if the rest of his body is built more like that of a human rather than a dog, the tail would be more of a genetic throwback and not really needed for balance.

It may be interesting to look at how the lack of tail makes his dating life more complicated or messes with his other relationships because others of his species find it difficult to read his body language though.

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  • $\begingroup$ I imagine chopping off your tail would be a little like a person shaving their eyebrows. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Feb 4, 2023 at 18:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Gwyn my book is indeed a romance. So I think I'll just go and write all this stuff down into my notebook for consideration. $\endgroup$ Feb 6, 2023 at 16:29
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Dogs can walk upright

Dogs can already walk upright. They just choose not to. Check it out:

enter image description here

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enter image description here

Look at them. Standing and walking on their hind legs. Like a couple of Rory Calhouns.

The first dog does not need her tail to balance. She is wagging because she is excited. The second dog has very little tail to begin with.

A tiny tail like that is no use for balance anyway. I am not sure why you thought it was an issue. Perhaps you were thinking of Tyrannosaurus and not dog.

enter image description here

Anyway, dogs can walk upright without a tail. People can walk upright without a tail.

enter image description here

So dog people can certainly walk upright without a tail.

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  • $\begingroup$ Downvoted because the GIF woman's tail is hidden behind her. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Feb 4, 2023 at 10:20
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They can even wear clothes and walk. (as a dog lover I don't approve)

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ You can include GIFs in the answer directly if the file is small enough. Click the picture icon and then click paste and then paste the GIF URL into the box. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Feb 4, 2023 at 15:06
  • $\begingroup$ What do you think the dog keeps in its backpack? $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Feb 4, 2023 at 15:07
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    $\begingroup$ @chasly-supportsMonica I only thought it was an issue because early critics to the book told my there was no way he could balance tail-less. Honestly, I didn't believe it at first either, but I needed a bit of clarification. $\endgroup$ Feb 6, 2023 at 16:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Xenon As a matter of interest, who are these critics? It boggles the mind that someone is happy to suspend their disbelief over a human-dog hybrid can exist and not die, but draw the line at the thing being able to stay upright without the tail. The tail will only unbalance a teensy bit. It's like asking what modifications we must make to humans to allow them to wear a fanny-pack. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Feb 7, 2023 at 16:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Xenon See the discussion on this question also about dogmans. The author has a few other questions about dogmans. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Feb 7, 2023 at 16:29
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Boxers do ok.

boxer

Some people like to cut the tails off of boxer dogs. It does not seem to slow them down much. They bounce around like they have eaten a box of rubber bands, and they very well might have. So probably your wolf boy too.

-- I propose that your wolf boy has a prosthetic tail. He has worn it since the accident because his grandma was worried he would be ostracized at school. This fake tail is the reason he is off balance and also he might be high. The fake tail has been broken a number of times, slammed in doors at least 4 times and caught on fire once (just a little bit; an excess of fur spray was to blame). The tail has become sort of a running gag with him and his friends. His nickname is Bionic because of his bionic tail. That tail still makes his grandma happy (she cannot see it clearly and so does not know the state of it) and now it makes him happy too.

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    $\begingroup$ Downvoted because the dog in the photo is hovering and not walking, upright or otherwise. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Feb 4, 2023 at 10:19

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