The Bite – by Teresa D’Amario

May 7, 2008 at 8:00 am (General, Teresa D'Amario) (, , )

In most shapeshifter romances, we read about the hero who must mark his mate, how he must bite her, leaving his mark upon her forever more. The drawing of blood is usually symbolic, offering the gift of life to merge the couple together. In most books it’s only the male who marks, while in others it’s both. The bite is sensuous and romantic, the ultimate dominance by the male, the ultimate submission by the female. Yet remarkably she feels no pain, or maybe only a little.

I gotta tell you folks, getting bit is not fun. No seriously! I got bit by a dog last week. It wasn’t the dog’s fault, and it wasn’t mine, yet still I bear the bruise and fang marks to prove it. I’ve worked with dogs one on one for more than 25 years. I’ve trained German Shepherds and Labs, Corgi’s and Collies. I even once came eye to eye with a very angry canary dog. (I still have nightmares over that one) Yet in all that time I’d never been bitten by anything over the size of 5 lbs. This little lady who’s teeth marks I bear is about 45 pounds. The bruise is bigger than the palm of my hand and the four fang marks mostly are different shades of bruise, with one breaking the skin. And it hurt. Ok, I wasn’t screaming in pain, but I’m sure you get the picture. Now when I was bitten, there was no gushing of blood. In fact, the one mark that went deep enough to matter left the oddest mark ever. It didn’t bleed at all, though it was definitely an open cut. (Hmm, maybe she was werewolf after all?) The bite happened in the blink of an eye, and thanks to my own freeze response (not pulling away when it happened) there was no ripping of flesh.

Now I tell you this, not so you’ll feel sorry for me, but so you’ll understand what is being described in a shifter world “bite”. In some books, the saliva from the male is also a pain reliever of sorts, and instead of feeling pain, she feels sheer pleasure. In some, the pain comes first, then the pleasure. In all bites, there is blood drawn.

This leads me to evaluate how the bite is given during the shifter’s mark of their mate. The fangs must be extra sharp, the power tremendous, and the courage of the female, remarkable. The actual feeling of teeth piercing flesh is a sharp stabbing feeling that quickly dulls to a throb.

After having been bitten (Hmm, I don’t think I’ll be changing into a werewolf/dog any time soon though) I have to say that I may be more clear in the future of how bites feel for the mate receiving said wound.

So my question to you is – do you like or dislike the “marking” that occurs so frequently in shifter books? And if you like it, how do you like to see it accomplished? Open pain, where the heroine gives of her heart for the hero? Pain then seduction, where his saliva is like an aphrodisiac, throwing her into massive levels of excitement? Or a mixture of both?

And just how BIG is this mark anyway? For real! If this little dog could bruise me for up to four inches, surely a shifter’s bite is much larger. Or, is it that the shifter is more careful, ensuring the bite does not bruise by placing it at the exact location? Rather than pinch flesh, he pierces. Rather than bite and release, he olds on, extracting the sensuous and delicious blood. The result would be a smaller injury, where there is little free bleeding, and less bruising. His saliva heals the wound quickly, leaving perhaps the scars? A bruise? What?

And for the record, the dear soul who bit me is doing just fine. We are now the best of buds, and thank heaven her rabies shots are up to date.



  1. Rebecca York said,

    Well, I never felt that I had to use all the werewolf conventions. In fact, I’ve never studied what they are SUPPOSED TO BE. The werewolves in my Moon series are what THEY are–not somebody else’s idea of a werewolf. So, my guys don’t have to bite their mate. They feel an overwhelming attraction to the woman who will be their life mate. When they make love, they bond. I understand that biting can be sensual in a werewolf story. But the sensuality of making love has it’s advantages, too. Don’t you think?

    Also, my werewolves didn’t get that way by being bitten. It’s genetic.

    I’ve always had a strong feeling that my werewolf (or vampire) conventions should be my own. Before I wrote KILLING MOON, my first werewolf book, I spent a lot of time thinking about what traits I wanted my guys to have. And I also wanted a good reason why their family had the werewolf trait.

    I was once bitten by a dog. I was coming out of the library and a dog was bouncing around outside, and I thought, “That dog is going to bite me.” And he did. It wasn’t a deep bite, though. His owners were very apologetic. I was glad he’d had his rabies shots.


  2. Darla said,

    Sorry to hear about your bite…most people would have jerked in reaction, your lucky you didn’t.

    Now as for me and biting…a tiny bit of pain I think would be okay, but I’m a wimp at heart so no more then that! LOL

  3. Michele Hauf said,

    Teresa, hope you heal swiftly! I was bitten by a chihuahua when I was a kid. I’m still scared of dogs to this day.
    My werewolves don’t bite either, it’s more of a mating thing that bonds them for life. Of course vampires do the bite, and authors mix up the reasons and whys and what-fors on that.
    I haven’t read alot of werewolf fiction, so I haven’t run into the ‘biting’ yet either. But it would make some sense if the bite were to leave a permanent scar, a means for others to see that one has been claimed. All very interesting. I think I’ll try to avoid being bitten for vampire research. 🙂

  4. Michele Hauf said,

    Hey, what’s up with our little pics by the posts today?

  5. Rebecca York said,

    Michele, I’d love somebody (hint, hint) to tell me how to put MY picture in that little box. I think there’s a way to do it. But I don’t know how.

  6. shreela said,

    I’ve seen male cats bite the backs of females when they’re about to mate, but I don’t recall seeing dogs bite. I guess if the shifter mating bit was necessary in some way, I’d prefer a numbing saliva thing, because I know bites hurt after a chow bit me — it was almost a nip, except it broke the skin, but it still smarted pretty good.

    I uploaded my pic/icon to my wordpress account, and wordpress automatically put it in whenever I comment. But I’ve never seen those ‘quilt’ things before, so maybe they changed something. If my pic loads on this comment, then I guess the quilt icons are for people that don’t have a wordpress account, or haven’t uploaded their icons to it yet.

  7. teresadamario said,

    Jerking in reaction – bad move for a dog bite. I know a guy got his face ripped off by a dog less than 20 lbs, because he held the dog to his face, he dog bit, and he tossed the dog over onto the furniture. Of course, his face was attached to 4 fangs when he did it. MOST breeds bite/release, so it’s best to learn to stay still. 😀

    And don’t worry Rebecca, Mine are hereditary too. But I did keep the one thing I have read alot, and that’s the bite, mostly for “mating” purposes. It takes an interesting turn in Tigress, too, just for some extra fun.

    Little pics by the posts – not fair, I don’t see them! Waahhh! LOL.

    As for if dogs bite during mating, it’s rare. It happens if they loose “Grip”, until they catch on again, but it’s extremely rare. Not an instinct like it is with the cats.

    Sorry bout the chow bites. Nips are sometimes worse than the real thing. Mostly because you yank your hand because you “See it coming”. That means it scrapes the teeth along the flesh and more damage is done. Holding still is probably the hardest thing to do and not everyone ca do it. Someone told me she was born with the ability – I don’t know if I was or not. Once as a kid a dog grabbed me and I held still – I was 6. SO maybe I was. LOL.

    Those dang images. So not fair that I can’t see them! Maybe when I get off work I’ll see them on the other pc.

  8. Kate Willoughby said,

    I guess I don’t read that much shapeshifter romance, because I don’t recall reading about too many mating bites. My werewolves don’t bite to mark. (Of course, I’ve only written the one novella.) I think it makes sense for cat shifters because male cats do do that. Werewolves… not so much.

  9. Andrea Cummings said,

    Being a vampire lover, I’m all for the bite. But the mating bite is done in a none agressive way. I also think any marking would be minimal for shifters not like your huge mark Teresa.

  10. teresadamario said,

    Andrea, what’s the matter? DOn’t think a big 6 inch bruise forever would be attractive? LOL thank heaven I can hide mine. It’s on my leg.

    But yes, I’m thinking the key is the sharpness of the fangs. If in human form, they are sharp, and narrow, the bite is not only less painful, but also more clean – less injury to the tissue.

    Yes, that combined with that pain relieving saliva (can I have some of that?) that’s what makes it sexy and hot. 😀

  11. Rebecca York said,

    With real cats, the male doesn’t bite the female hard. He doesn’t break the skin, but he bites her neck to get her to crouch into mating position. You can pinch the back of the neck of a female cat with your thumb and finger and get her to do it.

    I did include “bites” in the vampire stories I wrote, since biting and sucking blood is a basic vampire trait. It just doesn’t appeal that much to me with werewolves. (Sorry.) I think I said that I only read two werewolf books before I wrote mine, DARKER THAN YOU THINK, by Jack Williamson, and THE WOLF’S HOUR, by Robert McCammon. Neither one of their guys bit the heroine.


  12. Michele Hauf said,

    THe quilt patterns are showing up for people who do have accounts and have loaded pics. I had the pic of my cover and it has showed until today. Very strange.

  13. Marcia said,

    Biting does nothing for me. If anything, I find it somewhat of a turn off. Trying to get to the point of love can be painful enough. Why add more on top of that? I even have a problem with it being in a vampire book, though I understand why it would be in there.

    There isn’t any biting or maiming in my book unless it’s happening to someone who deserves it. Since my werewolves or werecheetahs have a human side, and as far as I know, we don’t go around biting each other to claim them as our mates. We have courthships, marriages, mutual feelings, etc. Biting someone in my world to claim them as their mate would result in turning them. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, that’s an instant death sentence. Doing it to answer a mating call isn’t extenuating enough.

  14. Savanna Kougar said,

    Fascinating about all this biting stuff. My wolfie shifter certainly doesn’t bite to claim his mate. Wolf fangs on human flesh. I don’t think so. Now if they were both shifted to wolf form, but then, from what I’ve observed of my own primitive breed of dog, they don’t break the skin. It’s more like a love nip. Yes, bruises, like hickeys, but not a piercing of flesh. I’ve worked with my breed of dog for almost 45 years now. And I have been bitten. Not much, but the breed has those primitive responses when in a state of fear. Once a fang a long, long time ago, a whole fang went through my palm like a dagger. Shock kept it from hurting at first. And I couldn’t have moved my hand if I wanted to. I pried his jaws apart with my other hand. You have to know where to press.
    Unless it’s hicky like marking, or slender fangs like a injection needle. Nope, I don’t think my shifter heroines and heroes will be biting during their love-matings.
    Heal fast! Tei-fu oil from Nature’s Sunshine works great to heal up that kind of wound fast.

  15. Cathy said,

    Getting into an authors view of “biting” “not biting” is great. I do have to tell you though that I have read shifter books for close to 15 years and most wolf books they leave “mating marks”. I have read very few cat shifters who do bite during mating. I usually get into the story as the author writes it and try not to think “I don’t like the fact it bites” or “this is so not real”. So I’m looking forward to reading the books listed on this site. I own many just haven’t had the time to read them all yet.

  16. Terry Spear said,

    Great discussion, Teresa! In my first two books, both the hero and heroine are werewolves by birth so no biting, just a little love nip like any man or woman might give. 🙂 I love your pictures! I would definitely not like to be bitten by either of the animals you showed! My Lab used to bite my hands all the time when I’d come home when she was a puppy. I finally broke her of the habit by sticking a chew toy in her mouth. Then she’d come to greet me, remember she was supposed to have the chew toy in her mouth first, and chased it down, then come back and greeted me. Saved my hands a lot! 🙂
    Terry Spear

  17. Teresadamario said,

    Don’t worry folks. the bite is pretty much healed. 🙂 It’s about 2 weeks old now and you can barely see the outline of the bite now.

    And Terry, aren’t those pics awesome? I especially like the tiger one. So hard to get a good photo of a tiger snarl. LOL.

    As for biting hands as a pup, my male lab was bad about that too. One of the worst I’d seen. For a good 30 day period I hid my hands from him. His was when I’d walk, he’d reach up and take a nip. Puppy teeth really hurt, and true to our description of how teeth would have to be in human form, those tiny narrow baby teeth drew blood alot faster than any other dog bite out ther. It’s cool you managed to redirect her. Blackjack was bad when he had puppy crazies, would nip as he ran by so I taught him to run puppy crazies he had to have a toy in his mouth. LOL.

    In My stories, the bite actually is more than just changing, and only happens when True Mates join. it’s a joining of souls, and you can see that in the way it’s written.

    Funny, today I can see all the profile pics too. Must be the old verson of Internet Explorer that doesn’t let you see it.

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