How to Draw a Semi-Realistic Dog

Updated on August 7, 2016

Remember the cartoon dog you drew in the first drawing guide? You know, that cute little guy with the droopy ears and the goofy smile? That simple sketch made up of circles and a few other shapes? Well, lose that image for the time being. You won't be drawing anything like that in this hub. Oh sure, it'll still be a dog from the cartoon realm. Only, this time, it won't be as cute and cuddly. Nope. This time around, you'll be drawing a cartoon dog that's a bit closer to the real thing: a semi-realistic dog.

Pencil sketch.

So what exactly do I mean by the term, "semi-realistic?" Just take a look at the finished sketch above. That's semi-realistic: a mixture of the cartoony and the real. That said, this drawing is going to be a lot more difficult than the first dog drawing. You may not get the result you were hoping for the first time through. Don't worry about that. Even those with several years of drawing experience under their belt still encounter tough-to-draw subjects every now and then. The key is to never give up! With plenty of time and practice, you'll get your skill level where you want it to be.

Sounds good? Then let's begin!

Note: Before you start drawing the shape in a particular step, read that step in its entirety. Doing so will save you a lot of trouble.

Step 1

As with most drawings, begin by sketching a simple circle for the head. Why do I always begin my drawings with the head? Because starting out with the head helps put the rest of the body into perspective.

Step 2

On top of the circle, draw two triangles for the dog's ears. The ear in front should overlap the head some. Also be sure to round them out a bit. Dog ears that stand straight up on the head aren't perfectly pointed. Anyway, roundness adds character to the ears and the drawing as a whole.

Round out the ears.

Step 3

Complete the head, at least for now, by drawing the dog's muzzle and jaw. On the left side of the circle close to the center point of this shape, draw a rectangle for the muzzle. Less than an inch from this rectangle, draw another thinner, shorter rectangle for the dog's jaw. The jaw should be at a slight angle from the muzzle. See the example.

Step 4

Moving onto the body! This portion of your canine will be made up of three circles: one large circle for the chest area, a smaller circle for the waist, and another circle the same size of the waist for the rear end. Begin by drawing the largest circle about half an inch (maybe a little less) from the head. Draw the smaller circles next. Allow all shapes to overlap.

Step 5

Connect the head to the front of the chest (you'll tackle the waist and rear in the next step), by drawing the lines of the neck. Both lines should extend close to the midpoints on the top and bottom of the largest circle.

Step 6

This step can be a little tricky because it's here where you really began to get into the dog's anatomy. I'l start by first describing how the back should be drawn; then, I'll briefly discuss the stomach/underside.

Okay, real dog's backs are never completely level. In other words, they do not run on a straight line from shoulder to rear (or tail). In actuality, the back dips at a slight, almost unnoticeable angle. So, beginning at the base of the neck (middle of the chest where the shoulder lies), draw a gently sloping line that extends just about midway into the dog's rear.

For the dog's stomach, do the same thing you did for the back, but, this time, have the line gently curve upward towards the middle circle to indicate the waistline.

Slope of the back and upward curve of the waist. Note the directions of the guidelines.

Step 7

You can add the legs now that the body is in place. Draw two long rectangles for the front legs, keeping in mind that one of the legs is partially hidden from view. Also, I chose to give the leg some shape before cleaning up the sketch, but it is entirely up to you whether or not you wish to do the same at this point.

Now draw two triangles for the thighs on the dog's rear. Leave the bottoms of the triangles flat. This is where you'll attach the heels.

Step 8

On the bottoms of the thighs (flat areas), draw two small rectangles at a slight angle opposite of the thighs'. These are the dog's heels.

Step 9

Draw the feet using either small squares, circles or ovals. As with the front legs, I decided to give the feet some form early on. Just do whatever you think will be easiest for you.

Step 10

The final major detail you'll be drawing is the dog's tail. Draw a long pointed oval on the rear (last circle) of the dog. The tail should begin no more than a few centimeters from the back and should end no more than a few centimeters after the heels.

What your sketch should look like.

Step 11

Clean up all of your sketch lines and guide shapes. Draw in details such as the eye, nose, tongue, toes, etc. If you are unsure of what exactly the dog should look like, reference the pencil sketch found in the introduction of this hub. You can also take a look at the completed guide sketch below.

Use lines to indicate the tail fluff.
Use lines to indicate the tail fluff.

I thought I should make special mention of the tail. You can indicate its fluffiness by drawing a few simple lines inside of it. See the example on the right.

Your sketch is now complete! Congratulations on drawing a semi-realistic dog! As I mentioned before, don't fret if your drawing doesn't come out right the first time. Drawing closer to real life can be a great challenge; however, once you start to get it down, the results are hugely rewarding!

If you're still having trouble or are unclear on any of the steps in this guide, feel free to ask me a question. Suggestions and tips are also welcome.

What do you enjoy drawing the most?

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    • Kristina Pitts profile image

      Kristina Pitts 

      5 years ago from Greenville, SC, USA

    • bydojo profile image

      Ramona Jar 

      7 years ago from New York

      Really nice tutorial. It would surely help using these circles and lines, otherwise I'm sure I couldn't ever draw like this :)

    • To Start Again profile image

      Selina Kyle 

      7 years ago

      nice! I like the step by step format. You made it look easy and I think even I can draw a dog now! haha voted up :)

    • KrysDwrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Krystal Dallis 

      7 years ago

      Thank you for your feedback. I'm glad you liked it!

    • Vacation Trip profile image


      7 years ago from India

      Excellent hub. My nephew will definitely love this. Very creative. Thanks for sharing. Vote up and interesting.

    • Ceres Schwarz profile image

      Ceres Schwarz 

      7 years ago

      Great and useful hub especially for those who like to draw. It's really helpful that you have all the images to go with the instructions so readers can see what you're talking about. Your drawing of the dog was really nice too.


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