Dragons, I think, work best when they're in the far background, as a distant threat. They have a tendency to hog the limelight if allowed on stage. This is okay if your novel is all about dragons. But I want to do something else, so dragons will do better as myths legends and travellers tales.
Dragons, as we all know, live on that bit of the map you've not been to, but your uncle's trading partner did. None of you ever saw a dragon, but that grizzled veteran who spends all day in the alehouse fought one in the war, although as he never tells that story without several drinks, which war and where is unclear. Dragons used to live here - after all Old Loggins dug up some dragon bones when he dug his new root cellar - but not any more. The last was killed by King Eros, or Cham the Mighty, or maybe Fal the Wightslayer.
Also, from fossil evidence dragons -> dinosaurs, which arguably gives us giants -> Gigantopithecus and orcs -> Neanderthals.
 Or promise