A variety of different types of weres and shapeshifters exist in "The Southern Vampire Mysteries", including werewolves, werepanthers, weretigers, werefoxes, etc. Weres, with a capital W, most commonly refer to the werewolves. In the hierarchy within the shapeshifter community, werewolves consider themselves the toughest and the best. Other shapeshifters that change into different animals such as foxes and dogs are called were-foxes, and were-dogs etc.
Every member of the shape-shifting community must change into their other form at the full moon. Under special circumstances, this can be avoided, but it is extremely tough on the individual. To change shape when it is not the full moon is a source of pride among shifters, as it takes much strength and power to do so.
Weres are slightly more organized than the rest of the shifting community. They belong to packs, lead by a packmaster. To become packmaster there are a series of tests the nominee must complete, and each is more grueling than the next. Because of the nature of the tests, the packmaster is typically male.
There are two types of Weres, born Weres and bitten weres. To become a born Were, both of your parents must be Weres. However, only the first born pup from any pure blood match will become a Were. This results in extra-marital breeding sometimes when the numbers in the pack are low. There is a low birthrate among all shifters. Bitten Weres are humans who have been bitten by a Were in wolf form. Contrary to popular belief, the chances of the bitten person becoming infected are low. Typically for a change to happen, they must be bitten a few times over a long period of time. The bitten Were may only change at the full moon, and they do not change into a full wolf, but rather a half-man, half-wolf beast. Also, any pregnancies that are conceived while in the changed form are miscarried.
The variety of different types of weres, also known as two-natured, observed the reaction of the humans to the revalation of the vampires before they revealed themselves in the ninth book of the series Dead and Gone.