Dragons features in a range of cultures and appears in heraldry from the 16th Century. There are three main forms described below.
The Western Dragon
This is the type of Dragon that appears in Western Heraldry and has the head of a Serpent, the body legs and tail of a reptile, bat like wings and often a forked tongue. Some forms such as the one here have a curved spike on their snout. The word dragon comes from the Greek 'Drakon' meaning a serpent and the western form depicts a hideous supernatural monster. It is often seen as something which symbolizes all the evil things in nature and to be most dreaded by man. In early Christian art the dragon serpent is depicted with Satan and in Medieval legend the dragon is seen as a destroyer. The western dragon has also been extensively used in standard banners and is thought to be used as a way of intimidating the enemy.
The word Wyvern comes from the Saxon form of Viper and usually has two legs and although in reality is the same as a Western Dragon in Heraldry are clearly two distinct types. It is arguably an early form than the Western Dragon and sometimes in more recent heraldry the feet have been bird like. In Heraldry the Wyvern is associated with pestilence, viciousness and envy.
The Far East Dragon
The Chinese Dragon is similar to the Western form but has no wings. It has connections with ancient fable but it's use was at times minimal because it was a feared form to use. It was seen as a personification of the forces that are at war with nature and a terrible symbol of sovereign power. It's meaning is often complex and elaborate like it's form suggesting its user is the same.