Dragon Toes

How Many Toes Does a Dragon Have?

One of the most frequently asked questons about dragons is (for some strange reason): How many toes do dragons have?.

In the case of fantasy dragons, the answer is of course "as many as they want". For Western dragons there seems to be no agreed toe count. However for Oriental dragons the toes are more clear cut.

In general, Chinese dragons have five toes, Korean dragons have four toes and Japanese dragons have three toes.

Why this difference in toe count? It depends on who you ask.

China vs Japan

The Chinese tradition states that dragons originated in China with five toes. As they travelled abroad they lost more toes the further they went from home. This is why Oriental dragons never reached the West - they would have run out of toes.

The Japanese tradition has a similar story that differs in one important respect: dragons originated in Japan. In this version of the legend, dragons grew more toes as they travelled further from home. Onve they reached five toes they found it difficult to walk which is why they never reached the West.

Although this is the generally accepted toe count, some sources claim that in China only the Imperial Dragon actually had the full five toes and other Chinese dragons had just four.