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Furry Fandom -- The Ultimate Guide

Updated on October 16, 2012

urry means plenty of different things -- but above all else, it indicates an affinity for cartoon creatures and other anthropomorphic animals. That includes lots of things, from being a fan of specific shows like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic" to drawing your own characters in a webcomic. For someone just starting out in the fandom, though, all of the possible permutations, insinuations, and other various components of the fandom can be exhausting, overwhelming -- and in some cases, a little scary.

But that's okay! This page is here to help you understand what you want you know about the furry fandom. It's by no means EVERYTHING the furry fandom has to offer, but it's all the pages I've written about furries on Squidoo!

(and hey, if you join Squidoo and write a few furry lenses of your own... maybe I'll include them here too!)

How New are You to Furry?

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Common Furry Slang - A Glossary full of Definitions about the Fandom!

  • Badge

    A small (roughly index-card-sized or so) piece of artwork that doubles as a furry nametag. The majority of furry commissions is in making these badges, as they're quite lucrative for artists starting out, to the point that a typical furry con feels like a 24-hour badge-making factory. Also called a Conbadge. You can order them online, and at conventions!

  • Brony

    A fan of the cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Despite the name, 'brony' is a term used by fans of both genders, though the name refers specifically to the show's periphery demographic of 18-34 year old males who still know a good cartoon when they see it. Not all bronies consider themselves furries (but many still do)!

  • Furry / Furries

    A word with entirely too many meanings (not including the ones that certain people get all bent out of shape over). You're either talking about furry fans (folks who like anthropomorphic critters), the anthropomorphic critters themselves, or artwork containing anthropomorphic critters. Everything else is splitting hairs.

  • Furry Con / Furry Convention

    A gathering of furries, often at a hotel, to showcase, produce, and sell furry artwork. Anthrocon (in Pittsburgh, PA) is the largest furry convention... at just over 4,000 attendees, which is fairly small compared to the average anime convention.

  • Fursona

    A slang word for "Furry Persona", "Furry Personality", "Original Character", etc. Most people only have one Fursona at a time.

  • Fursuit

    Furry cosplay full-body costume (including masks, tails, and paws), typically of a person's fursona. High-quality suits can be as expensive as a nice computer. Often get very warm in there under all that fur, so finding a way to stay cool is paramount.

  • Fursuiter

    Someone who wears a fursuit for public performance. Often the default furry to the uneducated eye, even though fursuiters only make up about 10-20% of the furry fandom... that bothers showing up to conventions, anyway.

  • Fursuiting

    Furry cosplay performance, involving a full-body costume known as a fursuit. Often includes pantomimes, exaggerated gestures, parading around, and great big hugs. Furries love to ham it up while fursuiting, especially if there's cameras involved.

  • Kemonomimi

    A Japanese word for human characters with certain animal parts like ears and tails. Catgirls are a very common type of kemonomimi. Unfortunately, most people who like Kemonomimi are exclusively anime fans, and aren't necessarily willing to be any more of a "furry" than that.

  • Otherkin

    A very small percentage of Furries who've forgotten they're just pretending to be their fursona, and start thinking they somehow really ARE their chosen animal. It gets worse when they start insisting they're from entirely fictional species; the film Avatar spawned a whole slew of Na'vi-kin, somehow...

  • Scaly / Scalies

    Lizard / Reptile-based furries. Typically get bent out of shape to the implication that they are somehow also "Furry", despite the fact that the word is a catch-all for anthropomorphic characters in general.

  • Yiff

    Sexually Explicit Furry Artwork (Furry Porn), comparable to "Hentai" in Anime Circles, and a relatively small subset of furry artwork in the fandom. Unfortunately, entirely too many people's knowledge of furry fandom (including certain furries) begins and ends here.

Q: Why can't you just TELL me What the Fandom Is?! - A: Because even WE can't agree upon what it is!

Sorry, this one's going to be a cop-out answer.

t's not that it's a "You know it when you see it" sort of thing or that you even have to be a furry to get it, but the Furry Fandom doesn't have a solid canonical foundation for it the same way that, say, Harry Potter fans can all agree on using J.K. Rowling's books. In other words, we're all really just fans of other furries and the cool stuff they make, as opposed to something a little more solid.

It means that furries are about as well-organized and representative of each other as a renfaire full of geeks-- Sure, they may all be fans of the Medieval Times and such, but some'll be in full corset and bustle, some'll be half-dressed, some'll only play D&D or some kind of LARP and be looking for props, and some just want some nifty dragon art. And almost no given one of 'em is "truly" representative of the rest, really, nor would we want 'em to be.

That doesn't mean we can't give you a good idea what the fandom's made up of, though:

  • Furry Artists use anthropomorphic characters in their artwork, in several different media (illustrations, flash animations, sculpture, plushies, fursuits, etc.) Some of these arts may be more wholesome and appropriate for public consumption than others, but hey, that's art for you.
  • Furry Fans are mostly bystanders who happen to like Disney films and other animal-heavy stories like Watership Down and The Secret of NIMH more than the rest of us.
  • Fursuiters (Furry Cosplayers) wear elaborate mascot suits designed to resemble their chosen character (usually a fursona) so they can run around conventions and have a good time raising their special brand of hell.
  • And almost everyone dedicated enough to consider themselves a furry has a Fursona, a furry representation of themselves (or at least what they'd like to be), that's an easier shorthand to remember online and elsewhere than a bunch of human faces would be.
The majority of the fandom centers around the creation and maintenance of these Fursonas. Here's how it works:

  • People make their own fursonas.
  • Eventually, people want some amount of artwork to be made so they can put these fursonas on display (which is how most Furry Artists make their money).
  • The people who become Fursuiters usually have to commission someone to design a suit based on the art already made of their Fursona (thus, how the Fursuit Makers make money).
  • Eventually, people get together to show off all their furry art and suits, which leads to Furry Conventions (thus, how hotels make money hosting these conventions), which also allows for further sales of art and suits at the convention, in addition to other furry and geeky merchandise that people like (games, music, etc.)
  • New people find out about the conventions and discover the fandom, which leads to them making their own fursonas, which resets the cycle...
After a while, it all tends to sustain itself, as an odd hybrid of performance art mixed in with one of the most vibrant art scenes known.

So... yeah, that's why it's hard to define the fandom aside from the most vague of terms about cartoon art -- it really depends on the other furries you already happen to know, and what your association with the fandom already is. I can only explain it so far without insisting that you have to do the last leg of the work for yourself.

Q: How Old Do I Have to Be to Attend a Furry Convention?

A: Depends on the con, but there's a way at every age!

Children love furry conventions -- everyone is friendly and having a good time, and they love folks in fursuits! That said, because there are a few vendors at furry conventions who sell mature artwork (and because an unsupervised child can lead to BIG trouble if something goes wrong), some conventions have special restrictions on children attending the conventions.

Check with any conventions you want to attend before you go, to see if they have any special rules!

Most conventions will let minors attend as long as they're with their parents or otherwise have a notarized permission slip filled out, and wear a special badge that lets everyone know you're a fledgling furry!

Q: Why are some Species So Popular?! It's like everyone I know is a Freakin' Wolf! - A: Um... people really like their pets.

(Art by Lapinbeau)

A lot of furries, like most humans, are fond of their pets. Of course, whereas most folks may wonder idly what Fluffy's day is like, they don't go around pretending to be Fluffy. Some furries choose to do just that, whether it's because they just love their pets that much, or maybe the pet's already passed on and this is just a nice way to keep them alive in their hearts. (All together now: Awwww...)

So, that handles dogs, cats, and maybe some farm animals. What about wolves, dragons, lions, tigers, and bears (oh my)?

Well, these sorts of animals have one major thing in common; they're big, they're powerful, and modern media (furry or otherwise) already loves the heck out of them for that. Add your childhood teddy bear to the mix and this category of furries is no surprise, either. Same reason you see plenty of girls as unicorns, pegasi, and other pony/horse critters.

That said, there's still plenty of other animals out there that would make a fine fursona -- dinosaurs, reptiles, birds, fish, snakes, various unpopular mammals (kangaroos? otters? hedgehogs? prairie dogs?), insects... there's no shortage of interesting animals on the planet, and if that STILL bores you, there are plenty of creatures that mix and match among the available creatures and mythical mixes!

The furry fandom is supposed to be a place for creativity.... so get creative!

Q: Where Can I Buy a Fursuit? - A: There's no "one" provider / maker of fursuits. There's several.

lmost everything you see in Furry Fandom is a custom-made piece of artwork and costuming -- and every fursuit artist makes their suits a little differently from everyone else!

Unfortunately, as a result of all this wonderful variation and diversity, we can't just give you a good answer as to which fursuit makers are your best bet. Even quality costumers, like the good folks at Luskwood (who made the husky pictured above), sometimes close up their operations faster than we can recommend them to you.

The easiest way to find a good fursuit maker is to attend a furry convention and ask the person wearing the best-looking suit in the place who made theirs. This way, you can see for yourself what kind of quality suits are available!

Most suits will run anywhere from $300-$1000, depending on the materials, how much the suit covers ("Head + Paws" suits vs. a "Fullsuit"), and the reputation of the artist in question. Costumes don't come cheap, so if you're ready for a suit, make sure you're willing to pay for it, too!

Q: Why the hell do people think furries are a bunch of sex crazed, fetish loving lunatics?!

A: Because you LET THEM.

The "canonical" answer to this question is that back in the 80's, a couple of furry conventions accidentally-on-purpose advertised in some fetish groups looking to fluff up attendance numbers, and the media lapped it up (because of course the media is going to run with the most shocking angle it can). The truth is, whether or not this was actually the case, the mainstream opinion would still have been the same.

Honestly, people like having a moral panic to rally around.

uch like D&D in the 80's and Anime in the 90's, Furry Fandom has been set aside as a something meant to be feared, fueled by claims of kinky fursuit sex, cartoon illustrations of every known fetish to man, and the odd freak who gets in the news every now and then who just "happens" to be a furry, much in the same way teen troublemakers just "happen" to be playing video games or listening to the wrong kind of music.

It doesn't help that furries are primarily internet-based, which of course means that all of furry fandom --- good and bad -- is only a few clicks away on Google.

Of course, Furries have been trying very hard for the past few years to fix this image, and doing a good job of it -- furry conventions are tame affairs; the biggest event of the weekend is a charity fundraiser auction, any questionable artwork is rated as such and censored for public consumption, the costumes are much more concealing than those you'd find at the average anime convention (they're even full-body costumes!), and very often, the worst you'll find at a furry convention is in an artist's portfolio.

It's still tough going, though, so if you're a furry who's sick of hearing all this other stuff about furries, there's some easy steps to fixing it:

  1. Show folks plenty of clean work that still fits under the banner of furry fandom. I recommend:
  2. Explain that furry artwork is mostly about a style of art and storytelling, similar to what most folks think about anime and manga -- in fact, there are several parallels you can make between the two if you need to hammer in your point. Most folks already like (or at least understand) anime, making it a good analogy for convincing folks furry work is equally safe.
  3. If all else fails, get an account at Deviantart and favorite up a slew of clean furry work that you can show folks as hand-picked examples. Since DeviantArt is mostly clean work to begin with, even if folks wander from your galleries onto the rest of DeviantArt, they shouldn't find much.
Whether they still believe you about furry fandom in general is up for debate -- but at least they'll think you're all right. Keep in mind, the less you treat it like something that needs to be hidden, the better they'll think of it. If you treat it like a dirty porny secret, they'll think that's exactly what it is, and act accordingly.

Watch How a Fursuit Is Made!

Q: How Many Good-Looking Girls are in the Fandom? - A: More than you think, wiseguy!

eople ask some really stupid questions about furries sometimes, not all of which are very fair questions, because they're either irrelevant to convincing people about what furries really are, or they're questions that apply to all sorts of people, and there's no good reason furries shouldn't be just like everyone else.

This is one of those questions.

Seriously, there are some very cute people within the fandom. There are also some very ugly folks. You're probably not a great looker yourself, smart guy, but what does that have to do with anything? Lots of people like the way lots of other people look, and they're not all necessarily the same person that everyone else is after.

I've run across cute girls who like fursuits, cute guys who wear fursuits, not-so-cute guys wearing fursuits that make them look like girls... and likewise, there's cute guy artists, cute girl artists, ugly girl artists, ugly guy artists, fat girl artists, fat guy artists, people who try to use the internet as an excuse to pretend they're hot camwhore girls when they're not nearly so hot in real life...

... you get the idea. We got everybody.

You won't see so many pictures of hot girls who're furries on the internet because, well... most of the pictures you find of furries are either in their fursuits or otherwise using their fursonas. It's not that they're ugly, is that they're more interested in showing off their art and their characters than they are in making kissy faces to the camera.

You're not any more likely to find a hot date among furries than you are anywhere else -- but as more and more folks join the Furry Fandom and the fandom becomes more and more mainstream, the more girls you'll see in the fandoms -- and the odds are good some of them will be hot chicks, too!

How Does This Page Help?

Below we have links to all the special lenses about furries that I've put together for you to read! Some have more to do with furries than others, but they're all great and useful!

As I make more, they'll be added here too!

Other Great Furry Sites!

Well, not everything can be on Squidoo . . . here's a taste of some of the other furry sites I've found that are worth your time!

Tell Us What You Think!

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      FriskyDingoCollie 3 years ago

      Well.... im a bit nervous because im a 10 year old furry....

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      BigBadBear 4 years ago

      Well done. Very informative.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I am what could be described otherkin/therian and I'm not a furry (I feel I'm too old). First off, I am only reading this article because I know of a fellow kin who is a furry and he wants me to show him something to read (I already know plenty enough about furrydom), and I find your implications of forgetting you're not your fursona offensive, otherkin/therian most often than not do not "choose" their kin type(s) and often (if they have one) their fursona is different to (at least one of) their kin type(s) / theriotype(s). I'm not entirely compliant with the idea of those who believe they are/were characters/species (in some respect), but I am positively open-minded because I have no evidence to say their conclusions are false and I respect them. I see hardly any history mentioned in the article, either, from what I've heard from other sites (that seem far more reputable, if I might add) is that furry was a fan group in the late 1970s made within a Unix hackers subnet, the topic was any fictional animal stories/characters that didn't fit under the animal category. Attention grew within this subnet BBS group and later the very same attendants invested some of the first sci-fi and funny animals media such as comics in the early 1980s, which eventually lead to creation of Rowrbrazzle as demand increased. It is also cited on several early sources, for example, google "The New Furry's Dictionary" and see the bottom of the page "*NIX n., ad: 2. The UNIX Hacker subculture from which furry fandom originated." This is no doubt also why main Linux/Unix software solutions have animal mascots, such as the famous Tux. Just thought I'd add that. You mention yiff is a form of porn, also, seems it is not, yiff has two origins that derive from yarf, the first is the same as yarf (the pleased sound of a small animal such as a fox) and erotically appealing (but not explicitly pornographic material), yiff can thus vary in definition, it's also used to refer to sexual (but not necessarily explicit) roleplay (usually as a form of cybering, animal sexual roleplaying (autozoophilia and zoophilic voyeurism) in general predates the fandom). I say this because stereotypes are bad and shouldn't be placed in introductory articles, if you can, please fix these errors. Thanks.

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      pgrytdal 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Clearly you did not read the above article.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Im a scaly and can honestly say im a furry :)

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I've been looking for the best site to get me a custom Fur suit made. But so far all the ones arent taking comissions anymore or on a certain time to do it. Can you tell me what site to visit that does amazing work?

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: you are a moron starve yourself now or the feds will come to your door. i hope the afc shouts some sense into you.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      Subscribe to RSS headline updates from: Powered by FeedBurner

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: you furries are i minority and should be ashamed of yourselfs im a troll im afraid of you furfags i do not understand you

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      this totally helps me better understand what being a furry means. I was kinda confused when my friend told me, but now I wanna join it sounds awesome :)

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: its about time they stopped making them chalk one up for fur haters everywhere. ps if i see a furry im phoning the police. im a fur hater because im deathly afraid of furries! the best solution is a worldwide crackdown on the furryfandom which should include raids mass arrests and destruction of all paraphanilia associated with the fandom by means of public burning. this will be for the publics protection also furry raves are to be illegalized world wide as where there are raves there is sex drugs prostitution soliciting prostittution violence gang related violence risk of severe fires risk of injury or death risk of hospitalisation and lastly risk of anarchy! arrest the furries of the world enmasse!

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: im a fur-hater because furries waste money on fursuits furry raves are bad and need to be outlawed due to sex prostitution drugs alcohol violence antisemitism etc also furries are zoophiles damn them all to hell! long live the anti furry colition! furries belong in prison! you darn morons make me want to puke.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      it's a cute guide for the newbies good work!!!

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I'm not otherkin or therian, but I find your comment about a widely misunderstood subculture to be very unprofessional in an otherwise informative and well-written article. Please, don't spread the bigotry.

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      alex-sher101 5 years ago

      Thanks, this has really helped me, and I've started my own lens and I'm trying to become an active community member!

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      When it comes to giving "fur-haters" something to REALLY think about, I like to give examples that match the absolute most basic definition of an anthro (furry). Basically, name popular animal characters that have human characteristics.

      I'll bet a lot of you can name plenty...

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      For the questions, I thought they were like ask.com where you type a question and someone gives a answere...so I clicked furry and it said I was a furry...I'm totally new to this whole thing so...yeah, overral, it's a good introduction to people who want to be furries so good jobQ

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      Nicole Pellegrini 5 years ago from New Jersey

      Nice introduction to furry fandom. Although it's not my thing, I'm part of other areas of fandom lots of people make fun of and don't understand, so it's good to try to spread understanding and acceptance.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Lol, I'm one of those fat-girl furries. Lmao.

      I have a beagle and a lop-eared rabbit. ^3^

      Love those suits. Looove 'em.

      ~got~to~have~long~ears~

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      I used to think the way others think of furry fandom you gave me a new perspective of it. I've also started on my fursona and its not easy like you said, and thanks for the details.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      Thanks for this detailed guide on the whole story on the furry fandom. I agree that it is sad that it (and still is) being treated and thought of as a fetish of some sort. (Trust me, I've seen them myself. It's just sad.) :(

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      Luckwood don't make fur suits any more *teardrop*