With the amount of genetic engineering thrown around in Duumvirate, it was inevitable that someone made a dragon with it. Fire breath, six legs (two of which end in hands), and they have wings in childhood but lose them as they grow up.
Tortall Universe: Tamora Pierce's dragons live in their own realm (Dragonland), are essentially immortal, can fly, and are both magical and intelligent. Interestingly, they don't have a huge antipathy towards humans unless provoked - they more or less consider the puny humans to be below their notice. In one book elders dragons are explicitly stated as being significantly stronger than most gods.
Janet and Isaac Asimov's Norby Chronicles have Jamyn dragons, intelligent beings bioengineered on another planet by the Precursors known as The Others; they fly using anti-grav collars.
In the Dragonlord series by Joanne Bertin, wild magic long ago split all the dragon's souls in twain. They are now born within human bodies, and at some point in the human's life they discover that they are an immortal were-dragon (called a Dragonlord), and are compelled to seek out their "soultwin," the person who has the other half of their dragon soul. When they grow tired of life, the human soul seeks oblivion, and the dragon soul, long dormant, comes to the fore. They lose their ability to shapeshift and become "truedragons." Dragons in her world are nearly point-for-point classical Western dragons, except for the ability to breathe "Healing Fire," which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Eastern dragons that live in the water and can turn to mist are also present in her world, but they are hatched instead of cursed this way. Real dragons (who have never been Dragonlords) do exist; they can also mate and produce truedragon offspring - but these are vanishingly rare and the death of one of these young dragons is treated as a massive catastrophe for the race.
In the Second Apocalypse books, dragons are among the "weapon races" of the Inchoroi. These dragons are not creations of bio-technology like the other "weapon races", but rather an alien species from another planet who came with the Inchoroi.
The Ajakara of King of the Water Roads are long, serpentine creatures that are basically grounded, stone dragons, although they are never directly referred to as such. They are very long lived and can grow absolutely massive, stalking their (sometimes human) prey through Markasia's deserts. They have animal-level intelligence and human-level malevolence.
The dragons raised by the ogre Mulgarath in The Spiderwick Chronicles generally follow the Asian serpentine design, though with several sets of legs and a venomous bite. Despite their lack of wings, they can fly by catching the air currents and "swimming" through them like a sea snake.
In Patricia Briggs' Dragon Bones and Dragon Blood, the dragons look like Western dragons. They're actually intelligent, magic-using shapeshifters and on at least one occasion have intermarried with humans. This ended badly.
Strabo from Terry Brooks' Magic Kingdom for Sale/Sold! appears at first to be a typical Western dragon, but turns out to be quite intelligent (almost Genre Savvy at times) and sensitive, having a self-admitted soft spot for pretty girls. It appears that he's decided that since everyone assumes he's evil, he may as well make the most of it.
Chris Bunch's Dragonmaster trilogy has dragons very much in the western style, although without the ability to breathe fire. They get used by both sides of a war as aerial scouts and couriers, initially, before the protagonist had the bright idea of taking up crossbowmen and bombs (ranging from incendiaries through to enchanted rocks and ballista bolts), and his nemesis had the smart idea of using them as airlift. It is perhaps worth noting that while the dragons are treated as non-sentient flying cavalry mounts in the first two books, there are hints that they are reasonably intelligent and possibly telepathic. Worth mentioning that that's pretty much exactly how the use of planes evolved over the course of World War I.
There was also another dragon involved in the background relating to how Michael Carpenter met his wife Charity. It actually involved the leader of a cult of magic-users trying to sacrifice Charity to the dragon to gain more power. Michael, being Michael, kicked said dragon's ass.
Word of God also says that Dragons (or at least Ferrovax) are incredibly powerful, Ferrovax being one of the few things he claimed could kill Mab (who is arguably a Physical God herself)
The RPG books say, basically, "don't think giant flying fire-breathing lizard. Think force of nature". That pretty much covers just how badass these creatures are and how much more badass Michael is, although he is only capable of such displays of unparalleled badassery when "on the clock," that is to say, when he's being directly led by God to do so. Otherwise, he's just as vulnerable as any human capable fighter.
There are actually two types of dragons. Ferrovax (and the Dragon slayed by Michael) are capital-D, force of nature/Physical God beings that have more in common with the Asian dragons. The more western dragons are their servants and emissaries and, while powerful, not even close to the likes of Ferrovax.
The idea that every fantasy world has to have its own unique variant of dragons is both subverted and Lampshaded in Glen Cook's Garrett, P.I. novels: dragons are evidently the only fantasy-staple creatures which are genuinely mythical in that world. Amusingly, dinosaurs (called 'thunder lizards') are commonplace in some regions of this world, and statues or paintings of 'dragon-slayers' often depict pterosaurs or dinosaurs in the 'dragon' role (because their artists don't know better). A later novel reveals that a type of sentient, psychically-active fungus may have inadvertently inspired legends of treasure-hoarding, fire-breathing dragons, if only because it grows near veins of precious metal and blows up if disturbed.
In Cressida Cowell's How to Train Your Dragon, dragons are usually small and trainable (if frequently disobedient). There are also some that look like sharks, that have no eyes, or are teeny-weeny and spark electricity.
In the Dreamworks film adaptation, the dragons are rather larger, but similarly diverse. The Green Death is absolutely gigantic.
The Flight Of Dragons by Peter Dickinson is a "speculative natural history" book, explaining how dragons might have evolved, how everything about them from hoards of gold to breathing fire was based on their flight mechanism (they were essentially living dirigibles), and why there aren't any fossils (once they died, the complicated chemical processes they used to produce hydrogen dissolved their bones). This vaguely inspired elements of the cartoon film of the same name (including the main character being named Peter Dickinson), although the plot drew some elements from The Dragon and the George by Gordon R. Dickson.
The Fire Within, the first book of Chris D'Lacey's Fire Star chronicles, indicates that real dragons disappeared from earth long ago. However, their fire is kept alive in clay models of dragons who serve as helpers to the person they were made for.
The dragons in Diane Duane's Middle Kingdoms setting are essentially highly intelligent immigrants from outer space, having left their dying homeworld for greener pastures long ago (and apparently under their own power rather than via ships). They also practice a form of racial immortality by letting the spirits of their departed coinhabit the bodies of the living — which is a major plot point in The Door into Shadow when a dying dragon and all his ancestors end up in the body of the main human protagonist.
There's only one dragon in David Eddings' Belgariad, a female, who's all that's left after the two males killed each other during their first mating season. The dragon in that series is stupid, animalistic and has burning blood, but besides the blood is more of a shot at the Smaug-dragons of the twentieth century (see below).
In Dragon Charm by Graham Edwards, only dragons make up the character cast. Specifically, the large flying lizards which are your "Natural" dragons with no special traits and the "Charmed" dragons which can use magic as they see fit and tend to modify their appearance to suit their needs.
Falkor the Luck Dragon, an Eastern dragon in an otherwise Western story. Luck dragons are described as creatures of air, warmth, and pure joy, with the most beautiful singing voices. Falkor has pearly pink and white scales, fringes of fur on his tail and limbs, the head of a lion with a white mane, and ruby red eyes. In The Film of the Book, he looks quite a bit like a flying dog.
The book describes regular dragons as snake-like, with noisy bat-like wings. They are said to be wicked or ill-tempered, putrescent creatures which breathe fire or smoke. Smerg, who is one of these, has the body of a mangy rat, slimy wings that spread 100 feet, the tail of a scorpion, the hind legs of a grasshopper, small, shriveled forelegs resembling the hands of a child, a long neck, and a crocodile-like head. His eyes are the heads of an old couple.
The Riftwar Cycle: Raymond E. Feist's Riftwar books have dragons which are unintelligent beasts for most of their lives, only becoming sentient in their final (gold) stage of life. Most dragons never make it that far, as they tend to get killed by humans long before then because they're giant flying fire-breathing pests. No one has seen a gold dragon for years, but this isn't because of the hunting: they gain Shapeshifting at the same time as intelligence, so they've all simply started living disguised as humans.
Lynn Flewelling's Nightrunner series includes dragons who become more sentient as they age. Their bites are also poisonous. The most commonly seen are small finger-sized baby dragons, which are largely harmless. Dog-sized dragons are considered extremely dangerous because they aren't old enough to be able to communicate, but are big enough to kill you with a bite. The first and only fully sentient dragon seen thus far (sixth book) is very ancient, quite intelligent, capable of speech, enormous and cannibalistic.
The dragons of Barbara Hambly's Winterlands series are telepathic, magically endowed, and fairly intelligent, if a little isolated and alien in mindset. They have an honest-to-goodness addiction to gold, which is why they tend to hoard it.
The Farseer trilogy features human-built dragons made out of stone, imbued with human memories, that are used as allies in a war.
The Liveship Traders trilogy has a backstory of near-extinct serpentine dragons and sees the return of real dragons.
The climax of the Tawny Man trilogy has a battle between two real dragons and an animated stone one. All the books essentially make up one big Myth Arc that illustrates the gradual return of dragons to the world, made possible by our heroes. Whether that return is really a good thing or bad is a matter of contention.
Nothing But Blue Skies by Tom Holt is an Affectionate Parody of Eastern dragons and the associated mythology, with an emphasis on a) their powers of weather control and b) their ability to take human (and other) forms. They are frequently stated to have Western dragon style wings and are heavily implied to have also been the inspiration for European as well as Chinese myths. The reason the British summer is usually canceled due to rain is that the main character is a dragon in human form, and doesn't have full control in that form. So it rains whenever she's annoyed. Which happens a lot. The plot concerns another dragon trapped in the form of a goldfish; the cover, naturally, shows a Western-style dragon crammed into a fishbowl. The cover dragon is a deliberate and rather clever blend of Western and Eastern with both wings and catfish whiskers.
Havemercy by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett features dragons that are in fact machines. A look at the cover provides but a taste of the awesome.
No actual dragons have yet appeared in Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time — "the Dragon (Reborn)" is a title used by The Chosen Ones. However, a dragon appears on his primary banner, and the name must have come from somewhere. (At one point Rand's previous incarnation/the insane voice in his head snarls that his enemies will learn what it means to "rouse the Dragon", which of course is an old proverb almost everywhere.) Given the cyclical nature of his world, the whole concept of "dragons" might even be a Stable Time Loop situation in which mythological dragons derive from the Dragon's behavior and his banner.
Dragons are also a tattoo-like marking that Aiel chieftains have on one arm, and Rand (the Dragon Reborn) has one on each. They appear to be based on Eastern style dragons, being described as a "four-legged serpent."
There are also the raken and to'raken. Native to the continent of Seanchan, raken and to'raken are flying lizards. Raken are ridden by one or two people, generally of small stature, while to'raken are large enough to carry at least half a dozen people and probably more. However, there are no signs of intelligence greater than a horse or any kind of breath weapon. To the main characters the raken and to'raken are generally very bizarre, alien monsters, so the readers never get details on appearance and they are never associated with The Dragon.
There is a huge Western-style dragon with a vast, disorganized library, a love of Japanese, and the ability to shapeshift into a human. He wears Armani suits and loves popping popcorn. He also has a half-brother who is half human. His human apprentice and adopted son (even though he has a perfectly normal relationship with his parents proper) Tannim (meaning "son of Dragons") is the main protagonist of the book in which he first appears.
There's also another very antagonistic dragon who has a half kitsune daughter who becomes Tannim's SO.
Another Mercedes Lackey example is the Dragon Jousters quartet, which is set in something like Ancient Egypt. These dragons come in two Western-style types. One is the crocodilian "swamp dragon" which likes water, the other is the more brightly colored, larger "desert dragon". They're established to be as smart as a bright dog (and able to sense evil), can't breathe fire, and they imprint. Dragons taken from the wild as fledglings are forcibly trained to accept riders who treat them like flying chariots and have to be drugged; dragons raised from the egg are tame and fussed over by the ones who raise them. Riders mostly use them for patrols in which they make the enemy cautious and "joust" against enemy riders, knocking them out of the saddle to fall to their deaths. It's a major plot point that tame dragons can be trained to catch a falling man, and that another use is to pick out a human, snatch him up into the sky, and drop him.
Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea Trilogy has an interesting take on dragons. In the earliest books they resemble Smaug (intelligent, capricious Western Dragons), but gradually become more varied. They are highly magical, and indeed seem to be affected by the geographical limits to magic — magic in the West Reach, where dragons are huge, cunning, and rich, and rule both the skies and islands, is different from magic in the East Reach, where dragons are very small, unintelligent, and often domesticated as housepets. Although they're highly intelligent, often wise creatures, they're inclined to simply kill most people who get near them. A rare, powerful mage may become a Dragonlord, which Ged (who is one himself), describes as simply someone with whom a dragon will reliably speak rather than eat. Dragons and humans are strongly implied to be descended from the same original species. Also, dragons naturally speak the world's original language, the True Speech, which is significant because in Earthsea, magic is in wordsand names. Humans have to learn it, and cannot lie in it, while dragons can. There's also the existence of dragon-people such as Tehanu and Irian, though how exactly that whole thing works is never fully explained.
Eustace sees a dragon die of age in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. He then discovers the dragon's treasure hoard, and falls asleep on it, thinking "greedy, dragonish thoughts". The next morning, he finds himself transformed into a dragon.
In The Silver Chair, Eustace and Jill see dragons among the many creatures sleeping under the earth, waiting for the end of the world.
When the world ends in The Last Battle, these dragons and other creatures awake, eat all Narnia's trees, scorch the earth, then die.
Notably, there's a dragon-turned-to-stone in the Witch's house in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. When he's restored, he fights on Aslan's side against the Witch. So not all Narnian dragons are evil.
Elizabeth A. Lynn's Dragon's Winter and Dragon's Treasure features were-dragons who are born human (mostly) and ascend into their powers as adults with the aid of a personal talisman. They can't transform without the talisman, but can summon fire. They're rare nowadays, and considered lords over the other shapeshifters. They also tend towards violent, short lives with a hint of madness in their veins.
Dragons in A Song of Ice and Fire are mostly stereotypical Western dragons, although it is specified that they are a One-Gender Race that reproduce by parthenogenesis and strengthen magic just by existing (or at least, Fire and Blood Magic; the magic of the Others and the Old Gods were shown to be operating fine before the dragons' rebirth). It remains to be seen just how intelligent they become. When wounded, several crossbow bolts that hit one of them burn, implying that their blood is very hot and can kill. Their size can also vary- the largest recorded in history, Balerion, grew with a wingspan that shadowed entire towns, whereas the last ones in history (before Daenerys revived three) were stunted and weak. In addition, George R. R. Martin, has specified that they have only four limbs; that is, the forelegs are part of the wings. Old Nan also tells stories of ice dragons.
G. R. R. Martin's short story "The Ice Dragon" contains a very early depiction of an ice dragon that breathes frost, possibly the first to appear outside ofDungeons & Dragons.
James Maxley's "Bitterwood" represents an combination of traditional and quite different draconic designs. While the books have traditional western-style dragons as the ruling sun dragons, there is also the agile, wyvern-like sky dragons, and the anthropomorphic turtle-like earth dragons. These are implied to be an set of geneticly engineered game-races, which eventually out-hunted humanity over most the world, driving humans into a slave-caste
Anne McCaffrey is very firm in stating that her dragons are different. Anyone reading the Dragonriders of Pern series will be constantly reminded that the empathic, symbiotic dragons are genetically engineered creatures, despite being "classic" Western dragons physically. Even the fire-breathing and telepathy have a scientific basis rather than a magical one. This attribute keeps the series firmly in the "Science Fiction" section of book shops, rather than the "fantasy" shelves.
Her dragons do have at least one characteristic that quite unique—the ability to teleport (called "going between ") not just through space, but through time as well. Going between is dangerous enough, if the rider doesn't have their destination firmly fixed in their mind dragon and rider may end up entombed in a mountain or even disappear forever. Timing has the added bonus of causing massive amounts of mental stress if there is more than one of you at that time. Additionally going between has other effects, such as inducing miscarriages and occasionally kidney damage. So why use it? It kills any Thread that might have landed on you, plus it's a fast way to travel in an otherwise Medieval society.
There are two other closely related species:
Firelizards, the species from which dragon were genetically engineered. They are much smaller, able to sit on your shoulder, and appear to be about as smart as a really smart dog. Due to their weak, constant telepathy with other Firelizards, they also have something of a Hive Mind when it comes to memories, being able to remember the landing of the original colonists on Pern. Considering the time between the Thread attacks, the Hive Mind is a powerful survival tool.
Watch-whers were the result of a mistake during the development of the dragon species. They are about the size of a very large dog or small pony. They are flightless and photophobic, and while they may develop a liking to certain individuals they do not Impress. They are often chained to a wall and used as guard dogs. Several books do say that they weren't mistakes, but rather they were meant to fly (yes, in the air) and fight Thread at night, when the Weyrs are asleep, and consequently weren't supposed to be chained at all. The Retconned versions do Impress, but the bond is weaker than with dragons, so a watch-wher sometimes survives the death of its human partner or chooses to switch partners. Other books, usually the older ones, share the conventional opinion.
Juliet E. McKenna's The Aldabreshin Compass novels feature western style dragons that are a Godzilla level threat. Even one can devastate a small nation. They are tied to one of the four classic elements (Earth, Wind, Water or Fire) and while they do hoard the gem associated with that element, it is only so they can meld enough gems into a magic egg. True dragons have such a gem for their heart; illusory dragons, summoned by only the most powerful wizards (or at least only by those who get page time), can become real and self aware if they rip out a true dragon's heart and eat it. Does this remind you of anything?. An easy way to tell if there is a true dragon around is to look at the nearest wizard; if they exploded due to their powers going haywire, it's a real dragon.
Dennis L. McKiernan's Mithgar series has two types of dragons: the bad kind that breathe gas and burn up in sunlight, and the not-so-bad kind that's still unpleasant but not downright evil. They sleep for half-millennia and make a big mess whenever they wake up. And they breed with krakens.
Dragonhaven by Robin McKinley is set in a world with no overt magic, so the dragons are natural animals. But they don't seem to be related to any other kinds of animals, and are rarely seen. And their remains (except for scales) decay very quickly so they can't be studied. They do breathe fire, but it comes from a fire-organ in their stomachs. Also, they are Australian and have pouches, a fact many people like to ignore so they can keep on thinking of dragons as romantic creatures. And it turns out that they are intelligent, on the same level as humans. They have a language, which is very, very alien and based on what appears to be telepathy. But most people are uncomfortable with that idea, and say, "the T-word."
The dragons in Michael Moorcock's Elric of Melniboné series are fairly standard for the "dumb animal" type Western Dragons... except that they don't actually breathe fire. This is a misinterpretation of their ability to spit a caustic venom that tends to burst into flame at the slightest provocation. They also need a lot of sleep, sleeping months or years after a few weeks of activity. The Dragon Lords of Melnibone use them as mounts, and used to rule the world with their aid.
Garth Nix's The Seventh Tower has just one dragon: the mirror-scaled Sharrakor. He is highly intelligent, and serves as The Dragon (ha!) of sorts to the Chosen Empress, but in reality is the Big Bad. Oddly enough, breathing fire is the one thing he doesn't do, although at one point, in shadow form, he projectile-vomits a piece of himself as an attack, which then recombines with him. He prefers, in battle, to use his tail, claws, and light magic. It's actually revealed in the last book that he isn't actually a dragon- he's an ancient shapeshifter who just likes that form, for fairly obvious reasons. True dragons are said to exist, though.
Dragon Magic has only two actual dragons, featured in different short stories: Fafnir (see Norse Mythology below) and sirrush-lau (a swamp monster captured by the men of Meroe). The latter is nocturnal, has to be kept in water, and eats only plants (although it kills in a scary way when startled or angry).
Quag Keep is a Dungeons & Dragons novel set in the world of Greyhawk; the Golden Dragon Lichis appears briefly, acting as a consultant to the adventurer protagonists.
Naomi Novik's Temeraire series involves an Alternate History version of the Napoleanic Wars in which Western dragons are real and have been domesticated since Roman times. Also contains variations on East and West, in that many Chinese dragons are shown to be markedly more powerful than their Western counterparts — it's hinted that modern dragon breeding techniques originated in China — and are treated as citizens equal to humans. The really valuable dragons, of course, are the rarest; the elite class, the Chinese-bred Celestials which the title dragon is discovered to be, can't even breed true.
These dragons also learn human and other languages while in the egg, and can speak very soon after hatching. In places there are wild dragons living in their own communities with their own languages. The book set in Africa shows us that at least one culture there tends to freshly laid dragon eggs by telling them stories about people who have just died; the belief is that the dragons are reincarnations of their ancestors, and those dragons seem to concur. This lead to a situation where a small, young female dragon is the culture's king.
Dragons in the series seem as intelligent as humans overall. It's hard to say for sure, since most of them in Europe have been treated like animals since Roman times if not earlier. But they learn human languages in the shell, Temeraire picks up new languages quickly enough to translate for his human crew as they travel around Europe, Asia and Africa, and he and at least one other dragon are as good at math as any human of the time period. However, like in most stories, dragons do tend to be greedy, impetuous, and always sporting for a fight.
The dragons have the same powers as your average Western dragon (apart from the ability to perform, at times of emotion, magic capable of turning sandstone to diamond and shattering the Big Bad's magical hold like glass) , and like many modern dragons they're highly intelligent. They can psychically talk to their partners (or in Galbatorix's case, masters) and are quite friendly to humans.
The wild dragons are intelligent, but have no civilization. They had a peace treaty - and strong friendship - with the elves. And then Galbatorixwiped them out. Hardly wild beasts (although the elves mistook them for that at first). However, a magical contract exists between the dragons, the elves and the humans. The fortunes of all three races are tied together. Also, some dragon eggs are enchanted so that they only hatch when they contact the person who they will bond with. A bonded dragon becomes gentler and more civilized, even as the rider becomes more fierce. (Not to mention becoming super-strong, magically powerful and immortal. Woot!) Said dragons also have a type of Soul Jar named Eldunari within their chest
The red dragons of Meredith Ann Pierce's The Firebringer Trilogy are wingless, have jewel-encrusted hides, live deep beneath a volcanic mountain range, and spend most of their (very long) lives asleep and watching the goings-on of the world through their dreams, as the main character discovers to his dismay in the third book. The queen and her mate (the only black dragon) are the only dragons to have wings, and a queen loses hers after her mating flight while her erstwhile consort flies off somewhere unknown, though the queen will continue to produce eggs from that one mating for the rest of her life. A male is only born every thousand years, and it's only a queen and her consort who breed; thus, all dragons are closely related sisters (or aunts and nieces depending on the generation(s) living) and a queen's consort is always her brother.
The far more common swamp dragons, on the other hand, are small, rather friendly Western dragons as they'd have to be without magic: rather than huge, majestic, and cunning monsters, they're small, ugly, and rather dim creatures that can barely fly, and are only dangerous because they tend to explode when ill or overexcited (due to the complicated internal chemistry set that allows them to breathe fire).
When the characters travel to the moon in The Last Hero, they find another kind of dragon, similar to the swamp dragons, but much more graceful in the low gravity, and with the fire coming out the other end as a rocket boost, much like Errol the swamp dragon from Guards! Guards!!
Dragons in Michael Reaves' The Shattered World are of the Western sort, and apparently not sentient. They're also being hunted to extinction for their hides and bones, which are the only known materials from which dragonships, enchanted vessels used to sail between the fragments of the broken planet, can be crafted.
Mike Resnick's Dragon America is an Alternate History in which North America, for some reason, is inhabited by many varieties of dragons, which died out long ago in the rest of the world. Some of them seem to be merely surviving dinosaurs ... but there are firebreathers, too. This comes in handy when George Washington sends Daniel Boone to learn from the Native Americans how to control dragons to help fight the Redcoats.
Dragons in John Ringo's Council Wars series were genetically engineered by, amusingly, Disney Genegeneers in the early 21st Century. They made two different varieties, the large, sentient Greater Dragons and the smaller Wyverns that were roughly equivalent to horses in intelligence. The only reason they're able to fly at all is because of muscles and bones made from incredibly strong and light 'bioextruded carbon-nanotube'. The smaller, nonsentient ones are called wyverns, the larger, intelligent ones are dragons.
Christopher Rowley's Bazil Broketail series contains flightless, wingless dragons with aquatic ancestry. They are integrated into human society and fight with swords and use tools. There are also wild winged dragons, but neither type breathes fire.
Properly only the winged dragons are called dragons in the series. The non-flying ones are referred to as Wyverns.
Another note is that 'The Wild Purple-Green', during one particularly strenuous battle after he joins up with Basil's unit wishes he had the fiery breath of his ancestors. Whether that is fact or just a dragon legend is never elaborated on.
On the other hand, J. K. Rowling is supposedly a fan of Graeco-Roman mythology, and basilisks as described by Pliny are so poisonous that when a man on horseback once killed one with a spear, the poison traveled up the spear, killing the rider and the horse as well.
Smaug from The Hobbit broke from the Western tradition by being intelligent and capable of speech. This was so successful a trendsetter that the older mindless, animalistic Western dragon is now a decided minority (at least in fantasyliterature). Tolkien, who was a fan of Norse mythology, drew his inspiration for Smaug from two famous dragons: Fafnir, of the Poetic Edda and Völsunga saga, and the unnamed dragon who fought Beowulf. Like Fafnir, Smaug is intelligent and can talk, and has a softer underbelly. Like Beowulf's bane, Smaug is winged and breathed fire, and is enraged by the theft of a cup from his hoard and emerges to lay waste to the countryside. (Smaug also shows some original characteristics, like a fondness for riddles and Hypnotic Eyes.)
There are three kinds of dragons in Middle Earth, actually - winged dragons, like Smaug; fire drakes, which can breathe fire but can't fly, and cold drakes, which can do neither. All are descended from the ancient fire drake Glaurung, whose origin was never totally revealed, save that it was connected to Morgoth. All the dragons seen on page were evil and also highly intelligent and magically powerful, to the extent that they might be said to have Magnificent Bastard as their hat.
In the various background writings, dragons, like the Balrogs, are described as lesser Maiar corrupted by Morgoth, warped by him into reptilian form. Nearly all the evil races and beings were similarly created by Morgoth, out of corrupted Maiar or Elves.
Though unlike the Balrogs, the Dragons appear to be a self-perpetuating race (Glaurung was "the Father of Dragons", and The Hobbit makes reference to Dragons "breeding"), so while the original Dragons may have been Maiar, Smaug (as their descendant) most likely was not.
It is worth noting that Dragons also varied in size rather significantly. The largest Dragon was called Ancalagon the Black, and he was so massive that when he died and fell out of the sky, he BROKE three mountains, each the size of Mount Everest!
Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey teamed up to write The Halfblood Chronicles, in which a half-elven girl is raised by a foster family made up of dragons. The dragons are from another world, are evidently mammalian, have electricity-based powers and poisonous talonsnote though apparently only to elves, and are supremely talented Shapeshifters. Dragon 'shaman' are capable of using other abilities as well.
David Weber's Hell's Gate series features dragons used as weapons of war by the Arcanan Union, though these dragons are the result of a long-running magical bioengineering program and come in several different varieties, including transport and attack versions, the latter divided by their type of breath weapon. They are intelligent, at least on level with horses, seem to have some degree of psionic sensitivity, and for all intents and purposes are living, breathing WW 2 combat aircraft-the dragon-riding corps is even named the Arcanan Air Force.
Seeing how "Dragons" are in every book title of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede, she says quite a good deal about her dragons. Her dragons mostly fit the western stereotype as far as physical looks, but otherwise they act about as human as the rest of the characters. They speak, read, collect stuff, and have their own society and government. They fly and breathe fire, and can do magic because they are creatures born with magic inside (as opposed to the wizards, who must draw out magic from other sources). Dragons are generally more clever and wise than any of the other races, but there are several exceptions. They also die, age (albeit much slower than humans), shed their scales, and produce offspring. There are certain rules that require dragons to act in a noble manner. Because if they stop acting like dragons they turn into frogs.
Western type dragons in the myths of the world in The Name of the Wind are based on a creature called a Draccus, which is more like a giant iron-scaled, fire-breathing, herbivorous lizard-cow. The iron comes from the absorption of minerals into the draccus's body from ground up gizzard stones, and the fire is caused by a buildup of methane gas that the draccus ignites as a mating display. They are normally harmless, though the one in the book isn't because it went crazy after swallowing some narcotic trees. (It Makes Sense in Context)
An interesting variation shows up in the novel The Iron Dragon's Daughter. The dragons in this world are completely mechanical, although sentient and sapient (and homicidally angry), and are used as the in-world equivalent of fighter jets.
E. Nesbit's "The Dragon Tamers" includes a Western style dragon covered nose to tail in rusty armor plating; after a set of adventures (including a fight with a giant), he ends up befriending the blacksmith's son and the other children in the village, after which the armor falls off and the dragon turns out to be the world's first cat. Check it out here.
The lloigor of the Cthulhu Mythos fiction are invisible alien horrors, but can create reptilian bodies for themselves which are rumored to have inspired the dragons of myth (notably in Wales, where dragon iconography is 'rampant' in the local heraldry).
Fablehaven's dragons are incredibly powerful beings that can paralyze most humans just by looking at them. They come in many shapes and forms, often have multiple breath weapons, and are regarded as one of the most dangerous of the mythical creatures. They view humans almost as they view mice: They aren't particularly tasty and don't pose much of a threat, but they kill them just for being there. Killing one is an incredibly rare feat. Not all of them are this way, however.
The Chinese classic Journey to the West features the typical Eastern type dragons: they are Physical Gods overseeing the water realm (the most important ones being the kings of the four seas North, East, South, West), they can cause rain (although when and how much are decided by the Heaven Bureaucracy. A minor dragon god was beheaded because he changed the amount of rain in his territory), they can take human form as well as other animals (the steed of Xuanzang is a dragon prince, how he ends up there is a long story), they can be both good and bad guys. But in story, the dragons tend to receive short ends of the stick: the kings are closely monitored by the Heaven Bureaucracy, their territories are wrecked constantly, and even the great sea kings are bossed around by Monkey KingSun Wukong, who calls them "worms with antlers".
Robert Asprin created or co-created at least four different types of dragons for his stories:
In Thieves' World, the first dragon depicted was essentially a flying dinosaur with little magic about it (other than being able to fly) and no real intelligence.
In the Myth series, Skeeve accidentally buys a dragon in the first book which initially seems loyal but stupid. As the series continued, Gleep's intelligence is shown to be much higher.
Myth Adventures pokes fun at the wide variety of dragons in literature. The market where Gleep is found is the Bazaar at Deva, where goods from across the dimensions are bought and sold. The dragons are described as being every type imaginable, and some that aren't. The Graphic Novel of the first book takes it Up to Eleven.
In the Duncan and Mallory series, Mallory is a man-sized vegetarian dragon shaped like a weasel. He is highly intelligent, basically good, but greedy and conniving.
In Dragon's Wild, the protagonist discovers that not only is he an excellent poker player but HE is really a dragon.
In Blue Moon Rising, there is a dragon - mostly referred to as just Dragon who is an excellent reconstruction of this trope. He collects butterflies and is rather relieved when a hero shows up to rescue the (rather shrill at the time) Princess.
Full-blooded dragons in Ursula Vernon's Black Dogs are extinct, but an anthropomorphic hybrid/subspecies exists that have a close relationship with the local human population.
Dragons in Maggie Furey's Shadowleague trilogy look like standard Western dragons, but as they get nourishment from photosynthesis and are filled with oodles of interesting psychic powers, the more conventional fire-breathin', meat-eatin' dragon demographic is actually represented by the firedrakes. (Both varieties—like most principals in this series—tend to be telepaths.)
Chrétien de Troyes was a French poet in the 12th century who wrote Arthurian Romances, which were popular at the time. One of his works, Yvain, the Knight of the Lion opens with the eponymous Yvain rescuing a lion from a large, fire-breathing serpent. No wings or legs or intelligence, just good old-fashioned Satanic imagery.
Dragons in The Dragonslayer's Apprentice are actually not featured much at all, since the story is more about the titular dragonslayer's tribulations trying to deal with his no-talker assistant Ron and tomboyish apprentice Jackie, but one chapter does deal with a juvenile dragon. In this story, they're large reptiles that belch a smoke-like vapor, and reports of firebreathing come from the assumption that where there's smoke, there's fire (incidentally, it doesn't get slain either-it gets captured and sold to a circus).
The dragons in the Duel Of Sorcery Trilogy come in a wide variety of sizes, seem to be lighter than air, and communicate by changing the colors of their transparent bodies.
In The Guardians, dragons are unintelligent monsters from the Chaos realm. Only one has been released in recorded history, and it rampaged across half the world before it was finally killed. Their blood taints anything it touches with the aura of Chaos.
In Quantum Gravity, no one knows much about dragons. All the readers know is that they fit the standard head, two wings, four legs style, they are intelligent enough to communicate with humans, they are said to prefer places around innocence or powerful sorcery, and they are supposed to be good luck. Important tip: the good luck is from a distance. Anything else and you'll have anyone who knows the first thing about dragons absolutely terrified. They appear to be more intelligent than one would suspect from the above description, judging off this...or it might be the fact that their eye is the size of a normal human.
In Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver by Michael Ende, dragons are an extremely varied species which can look like pretty much anything — their appearances vary so much, in fact, that the heroes are able to disguise Emma the locomotive as a dragon, and none of the real dragons see through the disguise. They're also implied to be able to mate and breed with any other animal (Nepomuk, one of the major secondary characters, is half dragon and half hippo), though the resulting half-dragons are bullied and discriminated against by the full-blood dragons, who view them as inferior at best and abominations at worst. All dragons are inherently evil, but don't necessarily stay that way; if a hero defeats a dragon but spares its life, the dragon will undergo a transformation in which it turns into a benevolent Golden Dragon of Wisdom. (Since most heroes who defeat dragons also kill them, this isn't exactly a common event.)
Tea With The Black Dragon by R. A. MacAvoy: He's a 2,000 year old Chinese Black Dragon who, after a discussion with a holy man in China, finds himself in the body of an old human. He forms a relationship with a middle-aged woman and becomes involved in her search for her daughter. By the way, don't let the fact that he doesn't have wings or scales fool you. There's no "crouching moron" but there is certainly a "hidden badass!"
In Bored of the Rings, a propane-fueled dragon on roller skates is used to burn down the walls of Minas Troney.
Being an animated dragon statue the Guardian in Laura Ann Gilman's Vineart War series combines this trope with Our Gargoyles Rock
There are dragons in the Xanth series, who come in three kinds: fire, steam, and water. One of them, who guards the Cap Chasm, gets the name Stanley Steamer. He later marries another steamer named Stacey and they have a son named Steven, and after that alternates guarding Gap Chasm and baby-sitting with Stacey.
The dragons in E. E. Knight's Age of Fire are Western type dragons that come in a variety of colors and metals. They have an organ that allows them to breathe fire but they must be well fed (fat provides part of the fuel) to use it. Their life stages are Hatchlings who can neither breathe fire nor fly, Drakes, who can breathe fire but not fly and Dragon who can do both. They collect hordes of metals in order to eat them and strengthen their armor. A variant are greys who have no armor but who can blend in, chameleon-like with their surroundings. The lack of armor, while it makes them more vulnerable, also enables them to swim and to fly better because of the lack of weight.
The dragons of Dragons in Our Midst are Western in looks. They can use human speech, and while they at first appear to be more intelligent then humans, this is revealed to have more to do with their near-immortal life spans than any innate ability. Personality wise, they have about the same range and diversity as humans.
In Sergey Lukyanenko and Nick Perumov's Wrong Time For The Dragons, the actual dragons show up very little, despite the name of the book. They are the masters of the Trueborn world and every so often attempt to conquer the Middle world (where most of the book takes place). There's also the Outworld, a world of humans, where magic doesn't exist (i.e. our Earth), where the protagonist is from. The dragons in the book are shapeshifters, able to assume human form and, as revealed later, capable of interbreeding with other races. Each time the dragons invade the Middle world, a Dragon Slayer is summoned to stop them. The protagonist is believed to be the next Slayer, who must master the four Elemental Powers in order to be strong enough. At the end of the book, it is revealed that he is himself a quarter dragon by way of his maternal grandmother, who was raped by the last Dragon Slayer before being banished to the Outworld; he is then able to turn into a dragon to fight the invaders.
The Merlin Conspiracy had an enormous white dragon, symbolizing England.
Dragons are mentioned in Hexwood — apparently they come from another planet.
There was a dragon constellation in The Game that breathed fire at the protagonist in passing. This is probably one of the best examples of the trope and one of the more easily-forgotten ones.
One of her short stories was "Dragon Reserve, Home Eight." Featuring semi-intelligent, metal-hoarding (any kind of metal; they tear apart a car) flying dragons.
Yet another one of her short stories was one for The Dragon Book, an anthology. This is one of the better examples, as according to this story dragons are the spiritual manifestation of certain people, who apparently need energy taken from sheep or moving trains or something to sustain their dragon selves. Hence the reason medieval dragons "ate" sheep; they drained them for energy.
In Taylor Anderson's Destroyermen series dragons, aka dragonbirds, lizardbirds and Grikbirds are a branch of the Grik that evolved for flight rather than intelligence, developing wings rather than arms. As dragons go they're small only being nine or ten feet long including the tail. They are intelligent enough to train however and the Dominion uses them as an airforce and to drop rocks and cannonballs on their enemies.
In Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear's A Companion to Wolves and it's sequel The Tempering of Men wyverns have wings but they're vestigial. They also don't breathe fire and can be trained by trolls.
The dragons in The Society On Da Run are from another planet with their own empire and are called Space Dragons. They arrived on Earth in Pre Cambrian times in their own spaceships and have taken other planets. Interestingly enough, they have bipedal soldiers, human-dragon shifters, their own weapons (like the Big Dragon Rocket Launcher (a playtoy for hatchlings), a cylinder weapon that sprays plasma (for use by Wyverns only because they lack arms like the Six-Limbers (standard western dragon body type), the atom-collapser handgun, Hol and a lot more), they have eight languages, sub-breeds/species, and dragon gods. More interesting is the fact that their "God" lays the eggs without help from a female (and that has a scientific explanation).
Besides the use of technology and a metropolis homeworld, they've learned to build computers and can take human forms (or any form of their birth parent). When in human form, they've built a massive empire in Italy and own major science corporations.
There are wild dragons, most fluent in their own language (Hynnody or Drakener).
The dragons have their own marriage customs and refer to spouses as "Others."
Apparently the Italians and Africans have a strong connection to the Dragons. In one of the romance short stories, Africans are able to train dangerous godlike dragons which has led to the creation of their mini-empire, deemed Skyhouse by the rest of the world. In Italy, the dragons have become an important part of their society, so important to the point Italy lives and breathes dragons. That is mostly due to the fact that the dragon empire is based in Rome and most of the inhabitants are descendants of the Dragons.
Hearth Wyrms are the most powerful biped dragons and are used in the dragon military when extreme resistance is present. The Draconizica military itself is varied and certain dragons are used for certain operations.
Dragons are capable of breeding with any species, be it in dragon form or human form. However, only the dragon goddess Lementia can birth an actual baby dragon. Other dragons born from humans will come out as a human shifter.
America is controlled by a family of dragons whom have set themselves apart from their Italian buddies.
Abuse, torture and sexual slavery is common towards dragons of all kinds (mostly because some people view them as big and powerful creatures).
A person/alien whom "owns" a lot of dragons for sexual and/or drug-related purposes is called a Dragon Keeper.
Because of their presence, a lot of technological advancements happened sooner than they did in the real world.
Many things (living preferences, hunting preferences and sometimes personality tropes) differ per species of dragon.
There are mechanical war dragons called Annundi. They are now slaves.
Some water dragons resemble sea serpents, some do not.
The mortal enemies of dragons are Crotonians. Slowly the two races are learning to get along.
Dragons whom go Ax-Crazy or Psycho are said to have "The Taint," a mental condition that is responsible for many of the bad things they do/say/think. However, The Taint has plenty of other names, like insanity, dementia, personality disorder, depression, etc.
Sometimes Dragon-Human relationships are categorized into four categories:
Dornagi: the dragon has to obey the human. A bond of friendship is formed but ultimately the dragon becomes a form of transportation. Also called Restrictive Dragon Riding. Because the author does not use the Dragon Riding trope (because it was established in 1960 and is popular. And the author strives to set her dragons apart from other dragons), this relationship never appears anywhere in the stories and poems.
Dorifa: both dragon and human care for each other deeply but the dragon (and sometimes the human) is a weapon of war.
Rumeri: a romantic relationship between human and dragons. Rumeri for shifters and Runagi for non-shifters. If relationship becomes more than friendship, it is called Runa.
Keeper: the dragon becomes a slave (of labor or passion or both) to a human master (and said human masters are sometimes Dragon Keepers). It is not like Rumeri.
Cicadas are very sacred to dragons, and very special dragons can see Cicada Gods (shifter and non shifter Cicadas).
Some debate Alma Maters (highly advanced humanoid aliens whom enjoy Science) are precursors of dragons, but this is not true.
Life spans vary per dragon. Some live to be centuries old and some live to eight years (or eight months). Some dragons are cursed/gifted with immortality.
Some Draconizicans change their appearance and SHHHHHH! The other part is a secret!
Really, there is too much about them to explain here.
In Dragonworld by Byron Preiss and Michael Reaves, there are two types of dragons—the larger, four-legs-and-two-wings dragons, extremely long lived, intelligent, magical and firebreathing, and the smaller, less intelligent, two-legged colddrakes. Apparently they can interbreed, though such a thing is Strictly Forbidden.
In the world of The Moomins, dragons are almost extinct. In one short story, Moomintroll finds and captures a tiny dragon. Aside from its size and having six legs, it's pretty standard Western dragon, with animal intelligence. Moomintroll absolutely falls in love with the perfectly beautiful little creature, but it's indifferent and foul-tempered towards him, and anyone else except for the quite uninterested Snufkin, whom it adores.
The titular dragons in Jane Yolen's Pit Dragon Chronicles are western four-legs-two-wings type dragons, with burning blood. While elephant-sized, their bones are too light to ride; they're bred for food and fighting. They're telepathic and gradually shown to be intelligent, but humans only receive "sendings" as patterns of color unless they've undergone a certain process.
In Tales of Kolmar, dragons - who call themselves the Kantri or the Kantrishakrim - are the oldest sentient race. They seem Western-ish, but are also elongated creatures with shortish limbs, who absolutely cannot walk on two legs and have trouble even going on three. Each one has a soulgem set into his or her forehead; when they die and are consumed by fire the soulgem is left behind and their spirit can be summoned to possess someone. The Kantri have two thousand years of natural life and grow throughout those, every fifty years or so going into a Deep Sleep and shedding their lobsterlike nigh-impenetrable armor. They have live births, but because of their formidable claws they can't midwife these effectively at all. Kantri are immune to normal fires, even relaxing into woodfires like they would hot baths, and their internal temperatures are beyond scalding. They have psychic powers, too, though these don't work well on humans; mostly they're there so that Kantri can talk to each other while flying. Instead of hoarding, they naturally turn the ground and rock where they sleep into gold, which they see as pretty and useful but not valuable.
Five thousand years before the time the novels are set in, a demon summoner magically removed the soulgems of half the Kantri, reducing those to horse-sized and unintelligent animals. Those soulgems flickered constantly instead of being dark unless summoned, and no one could summon the spirits. By the time of the novels their descendants have doubled their number and half of them "Hollow Ones", still unintelligent and rather savage, half of them are "Heart Speakers" right on the edge of sentience. The Heart Speakers are brought into full sentience and become basically miniature Kantri with the ability to see the future by the end of the trilogy; the Hollow Ones have had their soulgems returned and went back to their original sizes.
The Dragon Gyld in Patricia A. McKillip's The Forgotten Beasts of Eld is a fairly typical western dragon: intelligent, but a rapacious predator, and contemptuous of mankind. But he has not gotten Stronger with Age. Old and wise, but no longer as strong as in his youth, he is mostly content to live, dreaming, with the rest of Sybel's menagerie. Though he does long for his ancient horde, which ends up causing some trouble.
One trilogy of D&D-based novels set in Mystara depicted that world's dragons as unusually civilized, with their own country, settlements, military forces, and even businesses. They also have more manual dexterity than is commonly attributed to dragons, allowing them to use scaled-up versions of books, tools, and crafted weapons without recourse to shapechanging.
The dragons of Wings of Fire by Tui Sutherland all use the basic standard 4 legs, 2 wings model, but that's where the similarities end.
In the Lensman series: Worsel of Velantia, and the Velantians in general. They're a space opera race of intelligent dragons who have multiple eyes on stalks and multiple arms. They love high-g maneuvers, both when flying under their own power and in spaceships. They're also capable of advanced science and engineering: They're among the races contributing to Civilization's side of the original Lensman Arms Race. Oh, and they have telepathic powers, too. Many of them become Lensmen, and Worsel himself becomes one of the five Second Stage Lensmen.
In John Milton's Comus, the younger brother invokes dragons as guards when explaining his fear for his sister.
But Beauty, like the fair Hesperian tree Laden with blooming gold, had need the guard Of dragon-watch with unenchanted eye To save her blossoms, and defend her fruit
In Living Alone by Stella Benson, the dragon is a rather obsequious servant to Richard.
Pelsatian dragons (Avien) in Ssalia and the Dragons of Avienot resemble western ones (minus the fire-breathing and coming in a wide variety of colours, shades of blue being the most common), but are among the more civilised races on their planet, living (usually peacefully) in beautiful houses and often being able to speak the global tongue. They are still big, strong and able to fly, however, as well as having life spans of multiple millennia.
Dragons in Karina L. Fabian's "Dragon Eye, P.I." books (to paraphrase her dragon main character) do look like what what is typically thought of as western dragons, but are androgynous; due to this, there are only a very limited number of them. They cannot die (though they can be torn to pieces but will regrow from whatever the largest piece of themselves is left), are not usually particularly evil (very self-centered with Blue and Orange Morality but not particularly evil), and do not just collect gold and silver and the usual things thought of as treasures (there's one dragon that Vern knew who had a marvelous collection of prehistoric fossils).
Seanan McGuire's InCryptid has pretty standard Western dragons, with the flames and the gold and the gorgeous princesses attending on them. Slightly less standard is that their blood can be used to turn people into reptilian servitors and that the princesses are actually the female of the species.
Dragons in A.L. Phillips's The Quest of the Unaligned are fairly standard Western dragons, though with a few twists. They don't seem to breathe fire, their claws are extremely poisonous, they aren't intelligent, there's no indication that they collect princesses or gold, and they don't seem to have any special resistance to magic. Their primary weak spots are their wings, as the rest of their body is coated in razor-edged scales harder than diamonds (Laeshana's father is mentioned to have a dragon-scale saw, which cuts through metal easily and is used the same way Real Life diamond-bladed saws are used). However, Alaric discovers that if you can get up close to a dragon without getting eaten or clawed, you can sometimes find a loose scale that can be pried off. Alaric uses this weakness to take down a dragon with nothing more than a sword.
In Imagine Someday, "true" dragons died out a long time ago, but wyverns appear in the story. They don't like being mistaken for their four-legged cousins and unlike many of the other examples here have no magic powers to speak of.
In Julie Kagawa's The Iron Fey, there are both the Western frost dragon that helps at the end of the Iron Queen and the Oriental dragon that Puck catches while fishing in the River of Dreams, which lets him know that is unwise.
In Bryan Davis's Dragons in Our Midst, Oracles of Fire, and Children of the Bard fiction world, the dragons breath light.
In Django Wexler's Memories of Empire dragons come in two varieties. The most common kind are relatively small, about 12 feet long, fly but don't breath fire and are domesticated animals used by the Khaev mostly for scouting and messenger duty. The other kind are actually elementals, although they are referred interchangeably as both "demons" and "spirits". The two seen are fire and ice based and breath fire and frost respectively. The ice one seems to be of no more than animal intelligence and has no wings. The fire one is quite intelligent and has wings.