The Differences Between Eastern Dragons
Chinese Lungs have five toes. The Chinese believe that all eastern dragons originated from China. They believed that when the dragons flew away, they began to lose toes. The farther and farther the dragons flew, the more toes they lost. So, Korean dragons have four toes, and Japanese dragons have three.3
Korean Yong have four toes. The Koreans believe that all eastern dragons originated from Korea.
Japanese Ryu have three toes. The Japanese believe that all eastern dragons originated from Japan. They also believed that when the dragons began to leave Japan, they gain toes. The farther the dragons went, the more toes they gained. This is why the other dragons have more toes. The breath of Japanese dragons turned into clouds, which could produce rain or fire. Due to a measure upon their heads, they could ascend to Heaven when they chose.3
When the dragons leave Korea and go toward China, they gain toes. When the dragons leave Korea and go toward Japan, they lose toes.
The Differences from Female to Males
Other interesting things to note is the differences between the dragons in pictures. For instance, males usually have clubs in their tails while females hold fans.4 These dragons can also be depicted as descending from the sky or inside clouds. Sometimes you might even be able to see a pearl, which is considered a "Pearl of Wisdom" that the dragons possess.12
Other things to look for include horns. Male horns were thinner near the base of the head and thicker and stronger outwardly.6
Females have "nicer" manes. Rather, they are rounder, and thus seen as more balanced than the rigid mane of the males. Their noses are usually straighter, their scales thinner, (after all, they are smaller!) and finally, a thicker tail. "Thicker" meaning throughout the body.6 The Life Stages of DragonsChinese believe that the dragons have several different "growth" or "life" stages.
At birth to around five hundred years (or so) of the dragon's life, they are a "water snake". They are not dragons in the sense that we think them to be. From five hundred (or so) to around one thousand (or so) they become Chiao, or scaled creatures.4
Chiao are also referred to as Chiao-Lung or Kiao. They are said to begin as a fish, and, at a considerably old age, turn into a dragon. They are scaled dragons.4
After the Chiao stage, from about one thousand years to one thousand five hundred years old, the dragon grows rapidly. This is when the dragon becomes a Lung dragon. This takes place over the five hundred year period. 4
Lung are also called Li-Lung or Chih-Lung. Unlike some dragons, they are hornless and symbolize the scholar. These dragons can gain horns, but only after about five hundred years.4
When the dragon is between the ages of one thousand five hundred and two thousand, he or she will become a Horned Dragon. They will gain horns and thus look much wiser in the process.4
After the dragon is two thousand years old, they become a Ying-Lung. They are winged dragons that are also scale-less. They gain wings only after they've been around for about one thousand years, and they never have scales.4