Cynanthropy or Weredogs
The second most common form of shapeshifting known to humans (with werewolves being number 1) is cynanthropy. Cynanthropy is the technical term to describe a weredog – in other words, a human that transforms into a dog. Since there are not many humans that actually are familiar with the term “Cynanthropy”, some weredogs describe themselves as “canine shapeshifters”.
The term “cynanthropy” can be broken down in Greek as:
kun-, kuōn meaning “dog” and anthrōpos, meaning “man”.
While weredogs may seem to be a modern phenomenon, their roots are actually quite old. Perhaps one of the earliest associations with a “shapeshifted” dog can be found in the myths and legends of Hecate – an ancient goddess. Ancient writings depict the goddess as having three heads – one representing a horse, one of a dog, and one of a serpent. Other writings depict the goddess as always accompanied by a dog companion. Some say that the dog companion that is often seen with the goddess is actually the shapeshifted Queen Hekabe (aka Queen Hecuba). Also interestingly, the goddess Hecate herself is often depicted as a dog!!
It is important to understand that weredogs are different from werewolves. When the weredog transforms, it is generally into a larger dog breed type. Weredogs are certainly powerful creatures with enhanced senses, but do not have the sheer power that a werewolf has. In addition, the weredog is not governed by lunar cycles or the moon in the manner that some werewolves are. It is also said that a weredog cannot infect humans with a bite or a scratch, but rather one is born into being a weredog, or develops it latently. In human form, a weredog is virtually indistinguishable from a regular human.