Animal’s heads are an ancient heraldic motif, dating from at least 1255: the boars’ heads in the canting arms of Swinburne [Asp2 220]. Almost any beast found in heraldry may have its head used as a separate charge; indeed, in several cases (e.g., the boar), the use of the head predates the use of the whole animal.
Most animal’s heads face dexter by default; the exception is the owl’s head, which is guardant by default. The line of division is specified, i.e., whether the head be couped or erased; the head is usually severed where the neck meets the shoulders. A head “couped close” is severed just behind the ears, with no neck included; the illustration compares a boar’s head couped with a boar’s head couped close. The exact manner of severance is worth no heraldic difference.
A head “cabossed” or “caboshed” is guardant, with no neck showing. Some animals have special terminology for this posture: Fox’s heads cabossed are called “fox’s masks”, cat’s heads cabossed are “cat’s faces” (ditto leopards).
A pelican’s head includes its neck and part of its breast, distilling blood. A lion’s head “jessant-de-lys” is a lion’s head cabossed, with a fleur-de-lys issuant from the mouth and back of the head; this is an ancient usage, found in the arms of Cantelupe c.1298 [ANA2 473]. Other beasts’ heads jessant-de-lys are found in Society armory, but such usage is considered a step from period practice.
In other respects, the characteristics of any animal’s head are those of the animal, and may be found under the entry for that animal.
The Baron of Coeur d’Ennui bears: Argent, a laurel wreath vert within eight boar’s heads couped in annulo gules.
The Order of the Lions of Atenveldt bears: Per pale azure and argent, a lion’s head cabossed and a bordure Or.
Sabina de Lyons bears: Gules, three lion’s heads cabossed argent.
Adelaide Walcheman bears: Azure, a peacock’s head couped Or.
Malak Boga bears: Quarterly Or and ermine, four bull’s heads cabossed sable.
Aénor d’Anjou bears: Purpure, a lion’s head jessant-de-lys Or.
Hanor Blackwolf bears: Or, three wolf’s heads couped contourny sable.
Ursula Messerschmitt bears: Vert, a bear’s head cabossed argent.
Fandral Silverfox bears: Sable, a fox’s mask argent.
Lianor de Matos bears: Or, three stag’s heads erased gules.