He was born in October 21, 1992 and was officially fourteen years old in the episode "Young at Heart". Jake is a Chinese American teen who lives in New York City with his parents (Jonathan and Susan) and his eight-year-old sister, Haley Long. His two best friends are feisty Trixie Carter and dimwitted Arthur "Spud" Spudinski. He is a descendant of a family of dragons. On his thirteenth birthday, his magical abilities emerge fully and he was set to protect an underground magical community existing within his city and throughout the world. The emergence of his dragon powers also made him first official magical guardian of America, dubbed "The American Dragon". Under the training of his grandfather Lao Shi, and his animal guardian, Fu Dog, Jake would be taught in the methods of his dragon abilities, and his duties as a magical guardian. His "territory" would be restricted to the area of New York (though would extend to other places if he happened to be there, such as the forests of New Jersey in "The Long Weekend"), and he is destined to become the representative dragon of the whole country.
Although Jake Long is still in the early training stages to be the American Dragon, it's his destiny to act as guardian, protector and champion to magical creatures secretly living alongside humans in New York City. Among them are the herd of unicorns in Central Park, the leprechauns on Wall Street, the gargoyle nest atop the Empire State Building, the Triborough Troll Bridge, the mystical city between NOHO and SOHO and the underwater Hudson mermaids. Greater New York is the American Dragon's territory and if he can make it here, he can make it anywhere. But that means Jake must figure out how to control his fire breathing, flying and shape-shifting so he can perform his duties and Grandpa must figure out how to decipher his hip-hop grandson's colloquial language style.
When Jake comes home to his Westside brownstone, it's to an extended family. Businessman Dad is as American as apple pie and completely unaware that he has married into a family of dragons. Jake's Mom is a professional caterer who also is a dragon but without transforming capacity (dragon powers skip a generation). Jake tries to ignore his brilliant yet pesky younger sister Haley, a nascent dragon, to no avail. Jake's Dragon Master is his wise Grandpa who, upon arrival to the United States, established an electronics shop on Canal Street and took Jake under his wing. Despite the generation gap, Grandpa is patiently training Jake to master the fundamentals of being a dragon, unlock his potential and to be on time for his lessons. Grandpa's sidekick, the not-so-patient Fu-Dog, acts as Jake's animal guardian.
Jake is generally a laid-back, though usually is naive and stubborn under varying situations. In the presence of others, he generally acts very flashy in an attempt to look cool (resorting to use of "hip-hop slang"), but usually ends up failing or making himself look less cool in the process. This aspect of himself was reduced in Season 2 (possible due to the increasing conflicts in his life, such as dragon work and his relationship with Rose), though he still suffers from moments of rather large embarrassment to foolish acts, such as having a candid picture of himself in boxer shorts printed in a popular magical magazine (see "Family Business").
Jake Long is the cool kid in school -- but not too cool. He has a keen awareness of the newest developments and styles, is self-assured, and likes video games, extreme sports, all sorts of music and the occasional comic book. Jake also has a passion for skateboarding to and from class at Fillmore Middle School and around every obstacle, ramp, bowl and bank the city streets offer him and his skateboarding friends, Trixie and Spud. Although Jake can easily overcome obstacles when he transforms into the American Dragon, as his ordinary self he can't conquer his crush on pretty blonde schoolmate Rose who, unbeknownst to Jake, has an amazing secret of her own... she's a dragon slayer. Born into The Hunstman, a group that leads normal lives by day and hunts magical creatures by night, Rose has the covert dual identity of Huntsgirl.
As a dragon, Jake possesses many different supernatural powers and abilities. Some episodes of the series revolve around Jake gaining new powers or developing current ones. Here is a list of his currently known Dragon Powers:
- Shapeshifting/Transformation: Jake has the ability to transform between his normal human body, and his unique dragon form. The nature of the transformation shifted between Seasons 1 and 2. In Season 1, Jake's transformation was accompanied by flames that quickly ran across parts of his body (this was also usually accompanied by a small "transformation scene"). In Season 2, his dragon transformation is accompanied by an engulfing, thick, blue aura that usually would stem from his hands and cover his body as he transformed. Jake also is able to independently transform an individual part of his body (arms, legs, ears, eyes, etc.) into its dragon counterpart. It's revealed in "Shapeshifter" that he (as well as all dragons) possesses latent "all-purpose" transformation powers, which allows him to transform into any person he chooses. That ability, however, can only be accessed through use of a special potion, which also robs him of the use of his other dragon powers.
- Flight: Jake's possession of wings as a dragon allows him to be able to take flight in an often fast and highly-maneuverable fashion. It's an ability used frequently in combat - for dodging and attacking, alike - and also allows him to travel across the city in a quicker fashion. In "Body Guard Duty", Jake's highest (and only recorded) flight speed is clocked at 179 mph.
- Super-strength/Dragon Claws: As a dragon, Jake possesses superhuman strength (or rather dragon strength). This ability is complemented by his dragon claws, which have been shown to be able to rip through solid concrete and other durable forms of matter. His feats of strength have been exhibited numerous times throughout the series, such as being able to hold or overpower large magical creatures (see "Family Business", "Breakout"), or be able to uphold large inanimate objects (see "The Legend of Dragon Tooth", "Hero of the Hourglass"). His claws can also pick locks, as seen in "Supernatural Tuesday".
- Eye/Ear of the Dragon: As a dragon (and when he individually transforms his eyes or ears when in human form), Jake's vision and hearing are increased exponentially. He's able to utilize a natural form of infrared vision, allowing him to see through the darkness, and see at longer distances than normal. His hearing is able to pick out individual sources of sound, that may be either far away from him, or obscured by noise-blocking obstacles. These powers were used more often in Season 1 than Season 2, but they occasionally made appearences.
- Fire-Breathing: A stable associated with any dragon mythology, Jake possesses the ability to breath fire at will. He's able to either produce a steady stream of flame, or concentrated balls of fire. Relating to this, there's also instances shown where Jake has the ability to somewhat manipulate the fire that he produces (see "Old School Training", "The Hunted", "Nobody's Fu"), where he's able to handle a fireball he produces without any harm to his hand.
- The Doppelgänger Technique: A dragon power revealed and used in "The Doppelganger Gang". This power is revealed as an inherent skill all dragons possess: the ability to project one's personal chi into a temporary copy of one self - a doppelgänger. It's claimed as a helpful defensive technique, used to distract or fool enemies during battles. The ability to create multiple doppelgängers is possible, but at the cost of losing one's own life energy and causing themselves to become weaker overall. The turnout of a created doppelgänger depends on what kind of chi it is formed from; a doppelgänger formed from positive chi will be good and obedient, while one formed from negative chi will be evil and disobedient to its creator (as evidenced by Jake's creation of "Yang Jake", an evil version of himself).
- Dragon Armor: When in dragon form, Jake's skin is extremely tough and highly resistant to damage. Though, according to Rose, dragons have a soft underbelly. It has also been shown they have a weakness with the skin behind the left ear; a lethal strike in that area will result in instant death.
- Dragon Tail: Like many dragons, Jake has a tail. Like his arms, it has impressive strength as well as excellent length and maneuverability. Jake occasionally uses it for a sneak attack upon an enemy (see "A Befuddled Mind") or to access objects out of his normal reach.
- Dragon Feet: Although not much used in the series, it gives Jake a little extra height. He only used it once while trying to kiss Rose in "The Ski Trip" and getting taller on a photo in "Supernatural Tuesday".