working from life or a photo? if it is a photo turn it upside down. When i was in life drawing once i had an odd angle (i always picked the hardest foreshortened pose on purpose) and i couldn't get it no matter how hard i tried. My teacher came over with a piece of clear plastic that we held up to the model and outlined with a magic marker so we could look at the outline only..ended up it was just such a weird angle. From life is a lot more tricky, sometimes you got to just keep penciling it in and erasing it out until you get it even by accident..been there, done that! Sometimes a few free quick lines will be IT.
Saje: I had to draw a pic from an upside down photo before. It was an art assignment and the pic turned out better than I thought it would. My teacher said turning a photo upside down to draw makes you look at the lines and angles and not at the picture itself. So you don't try to draw things like you think they should be instead of actually drawing what is in front of you. Its a pretty good method, IMO.
I drew the head from a picture, the body I didn't use a picture. It's just that darn tail....the picture I used for the head is only a headshot of the dog....I'll see if I can find one of a tail though . Thanks for the advice!!
if you think of the tail as an extension to the spine..and let your line follow the back bone (a quick gesture line) it will hopefully fall in the right place..the drapping hair doens't hide it if the bones are not in the correct spot. when i do dog portraits i seldom ever get a pic that has the complete dog..either the feet or the tail cannot be seen..that is when i go on the web and look at similar breeds to see what they look like. Feet are so different eg a sharpeii with i'ts boney toes compared to big ol baby fat footed labs. The golden that i posted was done from more than 5 photos.(3 off the web..i had to find dogs that had similar hair and shading so i could get the tail and backside to look correct) The two i had were so blurry i couldn't make out much but the general sort of grin that the dog had.