General Question

gorillapaws's avatar

If dogs could fly, how big and what kind of wings would they have?

Asked by gorillapaws (26360points) November 30th, 2010

So if a large breed dog could fly (German Shepard, Golden Retriever, Labrador, etc.), how big would the wingspan need to be to keep them in the air for sustained periods of time?

Would their wings likely be bat-like, feathered, or even crazy-fast and nimble like a humming-bird or insect? Is there a formula that biologists use to figure out wingspans to bodyweight? Would the flying dog be able to hover, or just glide? What would you name your flying dog?

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10 Answers

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Zyx's avatar

Mammal, so batlike wings, though they might still have fur which should start to resemble feathers. Evolution and stuff. The wingspan is a matter of aspect ratio and the weight of the dog in question. How fast would they need to fly? How high? All these questions need to be answered BEFORE you can calculate the actual wingspan.

And just IMO, dogs and bats already resemble eachother like crazy.

wundayatta's avatar

Bats have hollow bones and are generally as light as they can be and still be able to hold out their wings. Dogs generally have pretty dense bodies, so I think their wings would have to be very large, and the larger they got, the heavier the body would be and the larger the wings would have to be, at least at current body density. Dogs would have to either lighten up considerably, or develop some kind of very, very strong muscles and connective tissue to support wings that would carry them.

If they could manage to solve these problems, I don’t know what prey they would go after, and I don’t know if they would remain pack animals. Perhaps they would become predators like eagles. The shape of their bodies would have to change to streamline them so they could fly at high speeds in order to attack large animals. They would probably need to have six appendages—four legs and two wings, so they could defend themselves while on the ground. Perhaps they would use their wings for defense, sweeping them around to knock other creatures away.

I think that if dogs could fly, they would have wings most like birds of prey. They would be able to glide for long distances and get very streamlines to attack their prey. I think it would be funny to see packs of flying mammals, but not so funny because if you were out in the open, you could be at risk.

If we could domesticate flying dogs… imagine the hunting! And kids trying to get the dogs to fly them. Rescue dogs would take on a whole different meaning, although they would probably have to have very different lungs to fly high.

If I had a flying dog, I might name him Red Rover.

crazyivan's avatar

The trick wouldn’t be in the size of the wings as much as the size of the breast bone they would need to flap them. Unless we do something to radically decrease the dogs weight I would think the breast bone would have to jut several feet out of their chest (assuming we’re talking about a large dog).

Can you imagine how hard it would be to try to get them to stop jumping up on people if they could fly?

GladysMensch's avatar

Since this is purely hypothetical… I’m gonna say that their wings would be made of bejeweled aluminum, each roughly the length of a 2005 Ford F-350 Super Duty Crew Cab. Unless the dog is a terrier, in which case it would be the 2004 model.

gorillapaws's avatar

Thanks for sharing your insights. I was thinking more along the lines of if someone were going to genetically engineer a flying dog (obviously we’re still many years away from this), so it wouldn’t necessarily have to fit into a natural selection paradigm (although @wundayatta‘s analysis was very interesting). Also I was kind of picturing the wings coming off of the back of the dog (kind of like a griffin or a dragon), but there were some interesting points made about the strength of such a joint to support so much weight.

crazyivan's avatar

If you just wanted a flying chihuahua it would probably be a lot easier to work out the aerodynamics, but if anyone ever engineers a flying chihuahua I’ll personally punch them in the nose. Chihuahuas are annoying enough as it is…

gorillapaws's avatar

@crazyivan I couldn’t agree more.

gondwanalon's avatar

Flying Foxes (Pteropus giganteus) of Australia weigh 3.3 pounds and need a 5 foot wingspan. So a 33 pound dog wound need a wingspan of 50 feet. Also the dog’s physiology and structural anatomy would need to also be changed to make flight possible. Bigger lungs and upper body muscles and light weight bones with front legs modified into out-stretch wings. Feathers would be necessary mostly to protect the delicate wing skin membrane against the harmful rays of the sun. That’s why bats fly at night.

Blueroses's avatar

I like the idea of fur covered wings carrying Retrievers and St Bernards but I do not want the job cleaning statues!
I picture each wing at least as long as the dog’s body which would expand like those bat wings Wile E Coyote used to get from Acme.
My flying Golden would be named Skywalker.

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