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How to draw a dog step by step

Here’s our easy-to-follow guide to creating a canine entirely from imagination – why not give it a go?

How to draw a dog step by step

They’re our best friends, as the saying goes. But dogs can be incredibly difficult to draw – that is, unless you know a few simple tricks.

Maybe you want to have a go at a portrait of your pooch, or perhaps you’re interested in animal illustration. Either way, the best way to kick off dog drawing is knowing how to draw one from imagination.

In our easy dog drawing tutorial, we’re going to show you how to draw a realistic dog. This might sound intimidating, but it’s a lot easier than you might think. If you break down the process to a series of simple steps, you’ll be surprised how quickly you can create an impressive drawing.

Read on for our step-by-step tutorial to drawing a dog from imagination. IF you’re a dog lover, you might like our free toy dog knitting pattern and free crochet dog coat pattern too.

What materials will I need?

You can bring your cute dog to life with anything from coloured pencils to watercolours. In our dog drawing instructions, we’re keeping things nice and simple. All you’ll need are the following materials:

  • A sheet of plain, unlined A4 paper
  • One or two pencils: 2B, HB or both will be fine.
  • A pencil sharpener: you’ll want a sharp pencil for the details at the end of this drawing.
  • An eraser might be useful, if you want to remove some of the guidelines in this drawing, but it’s not essential.

Check out our guide to the best drawing pencils or stock up using our recommended materials below…

Easy dog drawing tutorial

The trick with dog drawing is to focus on building the general shape of the anatomy. Don’t too bogged down in details like eyes, paws and fur.

There is, of course, no generic kind of dog. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. After all, you’ll never mistake a drawing of a labrador for a drawing of a chihuahua.

But here’s the thing about dogs: for all their differences in breed, they’re all quadruped mammals. Every single dog has the same number of limbs, joints and the same essential musculature. We’re going to keep this in mind in this demonstration.

Don’t worry, we don’t expect you to have a veterinary degree to follow this tutorial. Much like human figure drawing, it’s pretty simple to draw a dog using a series of basic geometric shapes. Once you’ve mastered this basic side profile of a dog, you’ll find it’s easy to apply it to all sorts of other poses and positions.

So, let’s get started. In this easy dog drawing tutorial, we’re not aiming to draw any particular breed of dog – let’s see what emerges! You’ll be able to draw cute dogs by yourself in no time.


You Will Need

  • Paper
  • Pencils (1 or 2), HB and 2B
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Eraser or putty rubber

Step 1

Let’s start with two circles, the left-hand one a little larger than the right-hand one, with a small gap in-between. They needn’t be perfect circles, so don’t slow yourself down at this stage by being a perfectionist. These will form the main body of the dog.

Start by drawing two circles

Step 2

Now, above them, let’s draw a smaller circle overlapping with an even smaller circle. These will form the basis of the dog’s skull and muzzle. Don’t worry, your dog won’t have a cartoon snout like Goofy: this is simple a rough guide.

Draw overlapping circles to form the dog's nose and muzzle

Step 3

Connect the three biggest circles with a series of lines. Try to make them taper instead of being perfectly straight: you’re not drawing a robot dog. See how in just three steps you can already see the dog start to appear?

Join up the circles to connect the dog's head to its body

Step 4

Here’s where it starts to get a bit more difficult. Measure roughly a third up either circle of the body and draw a straight line. This is where the dog’s legs connect with its body.

A canine leg has exactly the same number of joints as a human leg, but with different ratios. A dog, by comparison to a human, has enormous feet and walks on its tip-toes.

An easy way to draw a dog’s leg in shorthand is by drawing a kind of flattened crescent shape. Next, add in four points along the way.

Draw a line a third of the way up from the two larger circle. Begin to add the leg joints

Step 5

Now our dog is really starting to take shape. Add in sweeping lines, almost like breeches, for the upper part of the dog’s legs. The lower legs are spindly. Draw little boxes for the paws.

Add in a tail, and don’t worry if it looks a bit wormy at this point. What’s really fun about drawing a dog is how much character you can show by the way you sketch the tail. If the tail is pointing upwards, your dog is excited and happy. If the dog’s tail is pointing down, your dog is nervous or unsure.

Sketch the shape of the dog's legs and add the paws

Step 6

The head is where dogs really start to differ. Think about how the muzzle of a dachshund compares to the muzzle of a pug, for example. In this demonstration, we’ll keep detail light. Let’s add a basic triangle for an eye, and a box for the dog nose.

Begin to draw the dog's facial features

Step 7

Now, with a darker pencil, let’s turn these geometric shapes into an actual creature. The key is to use wispy lines around the outlines of the dog to suggest its fur. Change the length of the lines depending on the length of the fur.

Add the ears (droopy here) at the very back of the dog’s skull. For the outline of the muzzle, where there’s little flesh, you can use straighter lines.

Use a darker pencil to add details to your dog drawing

Step 8

Since we’ve got this far, let’s bring a bit more life to our canine creation. A spot of shading makes this dog stand out on the paper. We’ve also added the other two legs, which we’ve made darker to suggest some depth.

A basic horizontal line is an easy way to give your dog a bit of context. Why not finish your drawing with a few extra details – a dinner bowl or a dog toy perhaps?

Add shading and more detail using a dark pencil

You’ve finished our how to draw a dog step by step guide. We hope you found it useful! If you want to develop your drawing skills, take a look at our pencil drawings for beginners, step by step flower drawing and how to draw a cat easy guides.

What next?

This how to draw step by step guide shows you how to draw a dog in a basic position. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll be able to take all these basic shapes and lines and translate them into different postures. Using the steps above, draw a dog jumping for a ball or rolling around with its paws in the air. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results.

The best way to learn how to draw animals is to work from life – but when it comes to dogs, this comes with challenges. Dogs never stay still for long periods, but if you sketch them rapidly you can capture the essence of their movements. You can add details to your dog drawing using the methods in our step-by-step instructions.

One great way to learn to draw the specifics of a dog, such as its snout, paws or fur, is to wait for it to fall asleep. Then finally you’ll have a model that keeps still!

Feeling inspired to get into art? Check out our guides to the best watercolor paints, best acrylic paints and the best drawing tablet for beginners.

Looking for more how to draw tutorials? Learn how to draw a cat, how to draw a tiger, how to draw a bird, or how to draw a tree.