Canids in GURPS

The canids, or dogs, are coursing predators. They are found on all land areas of earth except Antarctica (and sometimes even there, during dogsled expiditions to the poles), and can be found in every terrestrial habitat. Dogs are quadrupeds, with long slender legs, muscular necks and bodies, long snouts equipped with large teeth, alert eyes, erect swiveling ears, long bushy tails, and typically shaggy coats of fur. They range in size from tiny desert foxes to timber wolves as large as a man.

Dogs are extraordinary runners. They are fast, agile on their feet, and built for great endurance. Their legs are almost entirely specialized for a coursing role, leaving them with little capability to climb or strike with their limbs. They are fair swimmers, but by no means well adapted for a watery lifestyle. They can scratch and dig with their paws, and often construct dens and burrows for shelter.

The primary sense of the dog family is scent. They use this to identify objects, to locate and track prey, to determine the pertinent details of others of their species, and for much of their social communication. The dog's hearing is likewise well developed. Large upright ears can swivel to pinpoint the slightest sound, giving not only superior detection abilities but also the ability to target anything they can hear by sound alone. Their sense of touch is equivalent to that of a human, but centered on the face rather than the hands with the most sensitivity conveyed by their long, stiff whiskers. Becuase both their touch and smell is primarily centered on tehir face, dogs tend to stick their nose into anthing they want to investigate. Finally, the sense of vision of dogs is acute, but better suited to detection and noticing motion than to picking out non-moving objects or colors. Their vision is, however, well adapted for seeing at night, and is capable of picking up dim light than would leave a human nearly blind.

The primary weapon of the dog family is the mouth. They have strong jaws and sharp conical fangs. Like all mammals, their different teeth are specialized for different uses: their fangs for snagging and ripping flesh, while their back teeth (called carnassals) slice flesh and crush bone. In game terms, the main fighting and prey grabbing weapon of the dog are its Sharp Teeth. Their carnassals are treated as crushing Strikers with a significant penalty to hit as an alternate attack to the Sharp Teeth - they are difficult to employ and ineffective in combat in something that is not already restrained or incapacitated (or, perhaps, just rolled up in its armor, such as a tortoise or armadillo). Some extinct dogs were specialized bone crushers - these have an armor divisor on their carnassal attack. A dog's main tactic will be to bite to grapple, typically targeting either a limb of large prey or the body of small prey, then hang on and worry its victim (pg. MA115). Pack mates may then rip at the flanks, haunches, or abdomen of large game, eating it while it is still alive. Against dangerous prey, they may circle and repeatedly feint, trying to create an opening that they, or a fellow pack member, can exploit.

A threatened dog will try to flee, running fast, long and hard to escape pursuit. If cornered or guarding something (such as pups or territory) it will puff itself up to look larger, lay back its ears, snarl, growl, and bare its teeth. If pressed it will snap and bite.

Canids are hunters and scavengers. They are not at all picky about what they eat, and while fresh meat is preferred, they will eat rotting carcases, fruit, vegetables, insects, eggs, and grains. When hunting, dogs run down their prey. This may be no more than a quick pounce to take a mouse, or a prolonged chase lasing tens of minutes to catch large herbivores. They grab their food by going in headfirst for a bite to grapple. Small animals are simply bolted down whole, large victims are held and ripped to pieces. Many species of dog hunt in packs. These will mob the selected victim, tearing out chunks and eating it while it is still alive. A dog can gulp down huge chunks at a time to quickly devour as much meat as it can get. When the meat is gone, they employ their nutcracker-like carnassal teeth to break up and eat the bones. The dog's system is well adapted to handle food of questionable value, with a remarkable resistance to digestive upsets, diseases, and poisons.

Wild dogs are primarily active around dusk and dawn. They forage widely, actively covering their territory looking for anything edible. When resting, they may retreat to a burrow or just lounge in a sheltered area. Many species of dogs are highly social, living in packs of around ten related individuals that hunt together, help each other to rear the pups, and defend their territory from rival packs. Other species live in smaller family groups, often just a mated pair and their pups. These more solitary dogs often hunt alone, returning to their mates to share their spoils. Dogs are very generous to their pack members, willingly sharing food and ensuring that everyone gets enough to eat.

Game Statistics

choose a species:
Species Male Female (optional)
enter weight (kg)
Tropical Temperate Arctic Captive? T?HR?
Domestic Dog Breeds
Sight Hound

Scent Hound

Guard Dog


Pit Bull
Herding Dog


Feral Dog


Wild Canines
Timber Wolf


Southern Wolf

Dire Wolf (extinct)




Cape Hunting Dog

Bush Dog

Short-eared Dog

Maned Wolf


American Red Fox

Eurasian Red Fox

Vulpes Fox

Gray Fox

Raccoon Dog

Borophagines, or "bone-crushing dogs" (all extinct)

Borophagine "fox"

Borophagine "Jackal"





Epicyon saevus

Epicyon haydeni


Hesperocyonines, proto-dogs (all extinct)



Hesperocyonine bone-crusher

The radio button entries in the table above give typical sizes of the canid species of the selected sex. If you want a larger or smaller specimen, enter the weight in kg manually.

The Tropical checkbox indicates the animal in question is from a tropical climate. Some dogs never live in the tropics, others always do, so this box is not present for those species. Others can live in tropical or temperate climes. Checking this box will change the dog's temperature tolerance advantage. The box is checked by default for dogs wich are normally though of as tropical species but whose range extends into temperate areas.

The Captive checkbox is for animals that have been kept in captivity all their lives, without the ability to hone their reflexes, muscles, and skills like their wild relatives. It would be appropriate for an indoor dog, a fur farm fox, or a zoo wolf. Working domestic dogs and feral dogs are not considered 'captive' for this purpose.

Marking the T? checkbox will give you the stats in template form with all costs listed, otherwise you get a stat sheet as for a character.

Marking the HR? checkbox will print the information using all my house rules. Otherwise, the stats will be as compatable with plain vanilla GURPS as possible (although several custom advantages and disadvantages will be present, see my Traits page).

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