In popular culture (and sometimes in the furry community itself), furries are often reduced to “fursuiting,” with furries being defined as people who wear these anthropomorphic animal suits. It should be noted that fursuits are, for many furries, prohibitively expensive and require intensive time and skill to create and, as such, there are many furries who, despite wishing to own a fursuit, are unable to. Moreover, there are many furries whose interest in furry content simply does not manifest itself as a desire to dress up in a fursuit. Despite this, furries are routinely conflated with fursuiters, a misconception we aimed to test empirically.
In one study,1 participants were asked whether they owned a full fursuit (defined as including a head, paws, torso and tail, where applicable), a partial fursuit (defined as owning at least two or three of the above items), or owned furry paraphernalia (ears, tail, paws, clothes, buttons, etc.). Specifically, they were asked, for each item, whether they owned it, did not yet own it (but intended to), did not own it, did not own it and probably would never own it, or whether they did not own it and did not want to own it. The results are displayed in the figures below.
The results indicate that only about 10-15% of furries actually owns a fursuit (though the results also indicate that far more—nearly 50%—are interested in acquiring one). Additionally, only about 25% of furries owns a partial fursuit (with many more interested in owning a partial fursuit in the future). The data therefore dispel the common misconception that furries are all fursuiters.
The figure above also reveals that while most furries do not own a fursuit, most furries do, however, own wearable indicators of their furry identity.2 In a subsequent study, we assessed the popularity of specific pieces of furry paraphernalia.3 The most popular (and among most frequently worn) accoutrements were tails, though it’s worth noting that, even then, fewer than half of furries owned one. Those who owned fursuits wore them regularly (e.g., at conventions/events), which is consistent with the cost and resources required to acquire or create a fursuit.
Ownership of Different Furry-Themed Accouterments
|Item||% of furries who own||
% of owners who regularly wear
- Fursuiters do not identify any more strongly as a furry, with the furry community, or with their fursonas than non-fursuiter furries do
- Only 61% of fursuiters are men, despite the fact that men comprise more than 75% of the furry fandom. Put another way: furry women are more likely to fursuit than furry men.
- Fursuiters are no more likely to be therian than non-fursuiters; they are also no more likely to feel non-human or to want to be completely non-human if they could
- Fursuiters have been in the fandom for longer, on average, than non-fursuiters; they also have more expendable income
- Fursuiters report better psychological well-being and a better-identified sense of self than non-fursuiters; they were no more likely to experience anxiety issues or to consider themselves to be immature, though they do report experiencing more discrimination for being a furry than non-suiters
- Fursuiters like hugs just as much as non-fursuiters do. Moreover, they are less likely than non-suiters to say that they don’t get as many hugs as they’d like in their day-to-day life.