An oddity that belongs only to the western continent, wherhounds are the creation of Juanaes Krokortcick, a genetic manipulation experiment which combined the genomes of whers and several canine species, including the german shepherd, the mastiff, and borzoi after the whers had been wiped from their small continent. While the first of these genetic experiments proved fruitless, eventually there were some which did survive, and in fact prospered. Later termed wherhounds, these creatures proved sturdy and powerful, far more intelligent than either canines or whers, they have an incredibly developed sense of empathy. They retain the body shape of a wher (though the canine DNA is apparent, fixing some of the minor problems and smoothing out the overall structure and shape of the wherhounds), but are missing the wings and ridges, and are instead furred in rough collar around their head, down their spine and underside of their belly, along the backside of their legs, in between their dual toed feet, and with a heavily plumed tail, while the rest is regular hide. Unable to Between, they are still able to breathe fire, including Queen's, if given Firestone, but any females are unable to clutch for at least four months afterwards. This fur protects their bodies in the cold western mountains and remains the same color as their hide, shedding in summer and building up heavily during the winter. All but the smallest of wherhounds are able to carry human riders, even though they are smaller than the original whers.
Ranks:Topaz: The archtypal Gold, Topaz's are somewhat darker in their color, their hides smooth and their fur generally somewhat thicker, especially on the 'mane' around their head. They are often the most headstrong and self reliant of all the wherhounds, the ones most often to go wild, in fact, though a keen sense of honor keeps them in close contact with humans. Generally these females are incredibly loyal, and being the most intelligent, are able to deal quite easily with humans. Topaz's are the most intelligent of the species, able to command any other rank, and are clearly the alpha of any pack. Older Topaz's dislike other Queen's in their territory, except for those related to themselves. As any female wherhound, Topaz's are far more dangerous than their male counterparts, and it is unwise to truly anger one. Hematite: A dark, nearly black color is the shade of this wherhound's hide and fur is tinged ever so slightly with bronze, barely enough to indicate the line which these males once came from. Usually the same size, if just a bit smaller than their Queen's, any Hematite would still give way to the females lest they find themselves rolled both mentally and physically. Though broader and more powerful in their body shape, even a Hematite cannot hold their own against a Topaz, though knowing their personality many would suspect they would often try and usurp a Queen's position. Wild Hematite's can often be seen leading small all male packs, their intelligence level and domineering attitudes serving them well, though a Bonded Hematite will do just as well. Capable of handling extremely heavy weights, Hematite's are most often called in when the heavy lifting is needed, or when the focus is more on endurance than speed. Quartz: It is quite easy to tell which rank Quartzes are derived from, considering the light brown color of their fur and hide, sometimes dipping into darker brown, but never too dark. Mid sized, these males are simply invaluable, and often considered the most popular and well thought of of all the ranks, considering their genial, easy going nature combined with their size, just large enough to be really durable and powerful, yet small and lithe enough to get to wherever is needed fast. Quartzes are the perfect blend of size and speed, and as such is probably the second most sought after of the wherhounds, making them, along with the Cuprites, one of the least likely ranks to go wild.Apatite: Possibly the oddest looking of all the wherhounds, considering that normally canines don't come in shades of turquoise and gold, the Apatite's are still considered incredibly beautiful. They always come in these two colors, though the shades vary from true turquoise to deep, nearly black color, and up to white gold, and are the colors banded like a tiger, making their appearance startling. Fragile looking, while Apatites are not the smallest lengthwise, or height wise, they have very little muscularity, and are instead whip thin, like a racehound, and to add to that image, their fur is often long and flowing, sometimes even curly. Not quite as delicate in their personality, though, Apatite's are the mischievous rebels of the wherhounds, always ready for a spot of play or a game, and seem to always want to run. Cuprite: Another male, ranked just below browns, are the Cuprites, marked apart by their deep red hides and chestnut red to red blond fur. Besides color, there is very little to separate them from browns, since they are nearly as large, and have very much the same personality, though they are incredibly pack oriented, one of the ranks least likely to go wild, and in fact they can sometimes choose to bond to two or even more individuals, pulling them into a pack, though this is usually the case with individuals who are already closely tied together, such as lovers or siblings.Lapis: Second smallest, Lapis males are often lumped together with the Jades, their speed making them excellent mail carriers, though they have just a touch more endurance than their smaller sisters. Unlike many ranks of wherhounds, Lapis males stand out with their bright blue hides, completely unnatural in nature, and even their fur appears almost reflective, more like a bluejay's wing than real fur, and it is often patterned with darker or lighter blue, making them one of the most vivid of the ranks, hearkening back closer to their wher ancestors than their canine. Coming in second only to the Quartzes, Lapis are well sought after for their kind natures and their tolerance, as well as their wish to do anything asked of them, though there are a few not so nice Lapis out there, just as with any other rank. Jade: Smallest and fastest of the ranks, Jades can get to places faster than any other wherhound, racing over snow and rock with a speed and agility that simply astounds many people. Former runners and mail carriers adore the Jades, as it makes their own duties so much easier, and while these females do tire easily, they also recover very quickly, and with a few moments downtime, are ready to go again. Many Jade's hides are colored almost exactly like the stone they are named for, a very light green, though the fur usually appears to have a bit more yellow, becoming almost blond in color, instead of the pure green, and these female's fur is often shorter and lighter than others, making them slightly less able to withstand the cold, though generally a Jade wouldn't be out for too long anyway.
26-20 ft topaz
24-20 ft hematite
22-18 ft quartz
20-16 ft apatite
18-14 ft cuprite
16-12 ft lapis
14-10 ft jade
Intelligence: Highly intelligent, capable of mind-speech and higher reasoning and functioning skills. Smarter than whers but not quite as intelligent as dragon-kind, though they can function quite well without the help of any human. Highly empathetic.
Breeding: Topaz's, Apatite's, and Jade's are capable of making 'runs', with as many males possible Chasing them. Topaz's can birth anywhere between five and fifteen pups, Apatite's three and eight pups, and Jade's can throw no pups at all, or up to four pups. The female will carry pups for three months, and then give birth to live pups that remain at her side for another two months, but are introduced to possible bondmates at birth.
Breeding Ages: Wild wherhounds are capable of breeding up to two months earlier than bonded wherhounds, at around eight months for lower ranked females and ten for Topazes. Bonded wherhounds are able to breed at ten months for lower ranked females and twelve to fifteen for Topazes.
Bonding: Wherhounds are capable of bonding up to a full month after their birth, but no recorded cases have occurred of any bonding after that period of time, and the Wherhounds are allowed to go wild since they show practically no aggressiveness to humans and cut down on the wild felines and other dangerous predators.
Names: Bonded Wherhounds will always take their bondmate's name, with "IX" on the end, with the length of the name indicating bond strength. Thus Jaraix of Jaralynn would not be as strong a bond as Jaralynix. Wild Wherhounds generally refer to themselves with names somewhat indicative of their status, hide color, or distinguishing features.
Wild Wherhounds: Wild wherhounds are ones who, not deeming a candidate suitable, choose instead to go wild. They retain all of their intelligence, and often make pacts with the humans of a weyr or hold to protect them in exchange for other services. They follow the same structure as a normal wherhound society with Topaz's at top and Jade's at bottom, and they run in a strict matriarchal society. Males and females will often band together under a Queen, though all female packs are just as, if not more common, and these packs are often made up of tight family bonds.
Duties: Bonded wherhound's duties include running supplies and people back and forth between wher and hold, especially during the months when the entire area is locked up in snow, sometimes going out on rescue searches, protecting weyr and holds from attacks when they can, and general guard duties. The lower ranks are often used to send messages between the weyr and holds, their speed making them more than useful to the point of being invaluable. Wild wherhounds generally scout the surrounding areas, helping out when they are needed but remaining apart from humans unless necessary.
*Guardhounds: Set at the hold or the weyr, a Guardhound's main duty is to protect the area it lives in. General duties.
*Searchhound/Healerhounds: Wherhounds who's duties are to go and search for stranded Holdsmen or women, weyr dwellers, etc, or accompany Healer's on their tasks, carrying bodies, supplies, etc. Their Bondeds are usually skilled in some form of healing.
*Runnerhounds: Wherhounds who carry information or letters between two points.
*Rangehounds: Wherhounds who, along with their partners, range large stretches of area for signs of rogue activity. Their Bondeds are usually skilled in archery, but are not actual fighers, instead are information gatherers.
*Warhounds: Wherhounds who, along with their partners, help put down unrest or fights, including going and hunting down rogue's, bandits, pirates, and any wanted men. They and their bondeds usually act on the Rangehound's information, and are trained in various fighting skills.
Bondmates, Bondeds: The term used to refer to a wherhound and human pair. The term 'Handler' is considered offensive when used to talk about wherhounds.
Pup: A young wherhound that has not yet bonded and is still with its mother.
Houndling: A young wherhound which has chosen to Bond and is going through Houndling training along with their human partner.
Wherhound: A graduated wherhound which has taken on its duties.
Wildhound: A wherhound which has Chosen to go wild.
Feralhound: A wherhound who's bond has been broker, either by death or an outside source. Can be dangerous to humans.