The ku-shi1 (KŪ-SHĒ), or Elven hound, is a species of dog that the Elves have shaped through centuries of breeding and subtle magical manipulation to be their servants, partners and companions.
Ku-shis are tall, about the height of a mastiff, but they are slender and long-legged — not as spindly as a greyhound, but more graceful and elegant-looking than a mastiff by far. They weigh between 100 and 125 pounds when full grown. Their fur is of medium length and somewhat shaggy, like a shepherd dog's or a wolf's. They carry their ears erect, and their long, bushy tails usually have an upward curl at the end.
Ku-shis come in many colors, including some not seen in domestic dogs. Olive green fur with brown spots is one of the more common variants, though black, brown, tan, silver, and white are also seen. Elves living outside the capital city of Taralas usually prefer dogs with mottled or dappled fur and avoid solid-coats, as these have a harder time hiding among foliage and thus are less useful as hunting dogs.
Ku-shis are extremely intelligent — comparable to an average ten-year old human child — and can be readily trained to assist their masters in a wide variety of tasks. Ku-shis have been known to assist in hunting, guard duty, search and rescue, and herding livestock. They have no fear of heights and their sense of balance is eerily good, so they have no difficulty living with their Elven masters in the arboreal cities of Aelfwood.
The average ku-shi lives between 100 and 120 years. They will bond readily with both Elves and half-Elves — though keeping a ku-shi is a much more serious commitment for a half-Elf, given their shorter lifespans. They are generally aloof toward humans, and while they may accept a human bondservant's presence in an Elven household they will not take orders from them.2