|Common Nicknames||Neigené, Snow Dog, Taiga-hund|
|Habitat||The North Belt, northern Ithania|
Snowpaws are medium-sized canines native to the colder climates of Aloria well-known for their insulating coat of hair and boundless energy. They are mostly docile, trained for generations to the point of domestication, which means they make terrible hunting dogs. Snowpaws primarily serve as life companions as well as sled dogs in those flat and snowy areas of the northern world. The animal is also well known for the common levels of heterochromia and hypopigmentation in its population, which adds increased variation to the largely snow-toned species.
The Proto-Velheim of Aloria first bred the Snowpaw into existence, but further details of their ancestry are unknown. Some suggest they came from Wolves, others suggest hardier Ceardian-born mutts, but whatever the case, by around 200 BC the animal was spread across the north, kept in what limited urban environments existed in these areas for both companionship and transportation over the terrain. In these early explorations, the animal ultimately found itself being traded to some in northern Ithania. It is even rumored that the Snowpaw was favored among the Cult of Dronnal. Up until the Cataclysm, the animal’s natural reach had expanded beyond The North Belt, but this would contract severely following the world-changing events that came that year. For a decade, the Snowpaw was on the ropes, some losing their owners and going feral in the wastes of northern Ithania and causing locals to turn on the animal, while in other sad cases the animal died at the hands of any number of tragic scenarios sweeping the north. After this time, the Snowpaw was brought under the control of Ailor-kind once again, but its association with the north and the wilderness caused a sharp decline in their interest as pets among the Ithanians. Instead, it was new Ailor groups in the Regalian Archipelago who came to appreciate the animal’s calm demeanor and cute face, that allowed its population to rise once again. Today, the Snowpaw is a lesser-known, and lesser-kept species of pet among the Races of Aloria, but for those that do own one, they are pliant and calm at home as much in snowdrifts as they are in more temperate climates.
Snowpaws are medium-sized dogs, standing between two and two-thirds feet tall with weights between 40 and 70 pounds. Their head is large, with a long muzzle, a smooth nose, a pair of large eyes of varying colors, a medium-sized mouth with canine teeth, and a pair of large, triangular ears which are capable of a great deal of motion and adjustment by the individual. They have an average neck that connects their head to their athletic body which stands on four well-structured legs with paws at the end of each. The animal’s body ends in a long tail with a slight curve to it, but is heavily coated in hair. This same hair is one of the animal’s key traits: a thick double coat superior to that of other dog breeds which insulates them in the winter climate in which many are found, but also allows them to avoid the heat during warmer months or when in warmer weather. Their coat varies in coloration, often appearing pure white, but examples of black patches and accents of pale brown have been known to occur, often in a saddle pattern.
Snowpaws show some diversity in coat coloration, as mentioned previously, but other aspects of their physical appearance are highly variable. Snowpaws are actively known to have their dark-toned noses possess hypopigmentation or “snow nose” while their eyes are also known to possess heterochromia abnormally more than other species. As for gender differences, females are often slightly smaller than males, and the gender ratio between males and females is equal.
Life Span and Development
Snowpaws are born in litters of between two and five puppies, with a coat of pure white hair plastered to their forms when they first emerge. Over the course of several months, the puppies will mature into adolescence and then into adulthood, their adult coating representing whatever colorations the animal’s body will have for the rest of their lives. Snowpaws can live for between fifteen and twenty years, both in the wild or in nature, though those in the wild are exceedingly rare as the feral population has been reduced by a substantial portion each century since the Cataclysm.
Snowpaws are social, energetic, and kind animals with a love of family and activity. They have been trained over generations not to harm the Races of Aloria which has overall dulled their aggression, making them poor hunting dogs as a result, though some in the wild have strayed from this mentality. Instead of barking or growling at those they dislike or foes, overall, Snowpaws will howl, a deviation from normal canine behavior. Snowpaws can be easily incorporated into a family unit, and get along well with children given their aforementioned docile nature, and they will often be playful or relaxed when with those they trust. Proper packs of Snowpaws or canine companions for Snowpaws are the best choice, as they have socialization and physical activity. The last aspect of their nature sees them not just as companions to men and women in urban areas, but also serving in teams of as many as ten pulling sleds through the flatter snow regions of the world.
Territory and Groupings
As mentioned earlier, Snowpaws have a fondness for family and the pack, seeking to make friendships with fellow canines as much as possible when others of their own kind are not around. While many Snowpaws bond firstly with their often Ailor caretakers, they are best in groups of other canines or their own species. The vast majority of Snowpaws live in domesticated spheres, within cities, towns, and settlements dotting Aloria, while those few that remain feral in the wild have been restricted to the northern taiga of Ithania, and some areas of Cain.
- The greatest Snowpaws in history are the trio known as Bal, Art, and Tög, who helped their master Bevervid Vestdal carry two orphaned and sick children to the Cain coastline on a lone sled meant for more dogs. The two children survived and later went on to rule over significant portions of Cain Krismark Kristian.
- Some Velheim art depicts that when the Hounds of War, the Maarda of Basjtur, are calmed by Mærsjel or his trio of Maarda, their wolven heads turn into that of Snowpaws as they doze or blissfully relax.
- Snowpaws have been known to get along very well with Lew Clade Asha.
- Arthur is the best name for a Snowpaw.