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According to this question, Dragons are vulnerable to different types of damage:

What are Dragons most vulnerable to?

However, the answer only advocates seeing whether they have fire or ice breath to know. Is there a way I can tell before I am fully engaged with them (e.g. by appearance), and are there any types other than the fire or ice breathing kind that I can detect?

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According to the wiki yes, there is a way to tell by their names:

  • Red dragons: These dragons have appeared in Skyrim after the emergence of Alduin. Their bodies have a greyish tone with a light grey underbelly. Yol (fire) is their breath attack.

  • Green dragons: These Dragons have appeared in Skyrim after the emergence of Alduin. They have black skin with a distinct green glow. Commonly found in forested areas, they can use the Raan Shout (animal alligiance) to call nearby animals to their aid.

  • Frost dragons: Frost dragons appear in Skyrim after the emergence of Alduin. Frost dragons are white with massive protruding black spikes coming out of their back. They predominatly use Fo (frost) breath that deals damage, slows the player down, and reduces stamina.

  • Blood dragons: Blood dragons appear in Skyrim after the emergence of Alduin. They are recognized by their green-grey, crowned head, and large fan formation on the end of their tail. They become common at level 15-16, and use Yol (fire) and Fo (frost) breath attacks.

  • Elder dragons: Elder dragons appear in Skyrim after the emergence of Alduin. Orangeish in color can use either Yol (fire) or Fo (frost). These attacks are generally strong and debilitating. Their tails can rend a forcefull hit and have the spade shape at the tip.

  • Ancient dragons: Ancient dragons appear in Skyrim after the emergence of Alduin. These dragons have a tremendous amount of health and can use either Yol (fire) or Fo (frost) as the Elder Dragons do. Just as Elder Dragons they have a spade shaped tail tip.

  • Skeleton dragons: Skeleton dragons appear in Skyrim. They are usually in dungeons, caves, and any underground structure with draconic lore. Although flightless, they are still dangerous. One such dragon appears inside Labyrinthian. These dragons don't have dragon souls.

Dragons that use fire based attacks are 50% more resistant to fire based attacks although 25% weaker when faced with frost based attacks. Vice-versa for frost breathing dragons

Using those clues, you can try to discern what type they are before you are fully engaged but most dragons seem to be of either type, so there's no easy way to tell unless you spot them fighting something else.

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Do black dragons use a fire attack? I fought a very weak ice-breathing dragon last night and I don't think it was grey-white... –  David Fullerton Nov 18 '11 at 20:29
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I have been attacked by fire breathing blood dragons and frost breathing elder dragons. I call bullshit. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Nov 18 '11 at 21:08
    
@LessPop, sorry bout that, I had the wrong section copied –  z ' Nov 18 '11 at 22:29

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