Art tips: how to draw your dog

art tips: draw your dog
Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

At present approximately 26 per cent of adults in the UK own a pet, resulting in a pet dog population of nearly 9.9 million, according to a recent PAW Report.

As a proud dog owner, it is only natural that you may want to immortalise your pet in portrait form. While there are undoubtedly many talented artists that will jump at the opportunity to draw or paint your dog, doing it yourself hold an unequivocal appeal. 

Even if you possess very little artistic talent, trying your hand at capturing the very essence of your dog on paper can be extremely fulfilling. Luckily, a few helpful hints will make the task at hand considerably less stressful and more enjoyable.

Study the anatomy of your dog

While you don’t need to be an expert on the anatomy of every possible breed of dog, a fundamental understanding of your own dog’s anatomy will definitely make it easier for you to capture them in a drawing. Pay attention to your dog’s body type, determining things like their size, the length of their legs, and whether it has a broad or narrow chest.

Although you look at your dog every day, you may not have given conscious thought as to whether they a pronounced snout or a flatter face or whether their tail is long and curled or short and stubby. These are all important things to consider when it comes to drawing a beloved pet.

Also take note of how your dog’s body curves when they are walking, sitting, standing, or lying down. This will enable you to draw them in a variety of life-like positions.

Embrace simple shapes

When you draw your dog you will undoubtedly make use of techniques that you are comfortable with. It is, however, always a good idea to embrace the power of basic shapes. Even if you are a skilled artist you will find that it is helpful to start your drawing by making a light sketch that consists of basic shapes.

A large oval will almost always suffice as the basic shape for the ribcage while a slightly-rounded rectangle and kidney-bean shapes can be used for the head and legs respectively. You can also make use of a grid to make sure your basic shapes are in place before starting to fill in the detail. Remember to press lightly when drawing your initial shapes as you might have to erase the lines as you progress with your drawing.

Practice makes perfect

As with most things in life, repetitive drawing is bound to improve your technique.  Not only will it become easier for you to capture your dog’s charming personality in your drawings, but you will also gain the confidence to experiment with different techniques and mediums. If you originally started out making pencil sketches, considering using ink, pastels, or paint to add more depth and variety to your pictures.

Chances are you are not going to be happy with your first couple of attempts and that is perfectly normal. Just keep at it and before long you are bound to create beautiful pieces of art that do justice to your cherished dog.

Making a drawing of your dog is a great way to pay tribute to your best friend. Even if your artistic skills are very basic, you are bound to have a ball creating an art piece depicting your favourite canine companion.

This is a guest essay by Katlyn Oliver. Want to write for us? Visit or email


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