What Kind Of Dogs Were In Ancient Rome

During the Roman Republic, many dogs were kept as pets or used for practical purposes such as herding, hunting, or guarding. In Ancient Rome, though, some dogs were bred specifically for show or to perform specific tasks. In fact, some of the first known breeds of dogs were bred in Ancient Rome. These breeds included the white and brown Italian-type herding dogs, and the Roman Molosser dogs, from which many of today’s breeds, such as the Boxer, descend.

The types of dogs that were available in Ancient Rome ranged from various hunting dogs to guard dogs and companion dogs. Some of the most popular dog breeds during that time period were gundogs, such as the large, muscular Molossus, and smaller hounds, such as the Dokken Fucile. Some of these breeds are still in use today and can be found in different countries around the world.

Hunting dogs were usually large, strong, and aggressive to be able to perform their job properly. The most popular hunting dogs used by the Romans were the Mastiff, a large guard dog; the Molossus, a powerful hunter; and the Pyrenees, a small but ferocious guard dog. The Mastiff was the most popular guard dog in Ancient Rome, and it was said that these dogs could even outshine some of the Roman legions.

Guard dogs were used to protect the city and its people from enemies. The most popular guard dog during the Roman Empire was the Canis Lapis, a breed that is now extinct. This breed was used to guard the gates and walls of the city, as well as guard the homes and streets of the citizens. The Canis Lapis was a large and powerful dog with a short but thick coat.

Companion dogs were mostly of the smaller variety and were kept for comfort and companionship. They were also used for luxury purposes, like to carry messages or small items for the owners. These dogs were not specifically bred for performance, but rather for their lovely general appearance. Some of the more popular companion dogs were the very small Chihuahua, the Pekingnese, the Maltese, and the Italian Greyhound.

In Summary, the Ancient Romans kept a variety of different dog breeds, which are still in existence today. These dogs served many different purposes and provided the Romans with protection, companionship, and luxury. Roman dogs had a major influence on the development of many of the dogs that we know and love today.

Care of Ancient Roman Dogs

In Ancient Rome, dogs were cared for in a variety of ways. Roman households often kept a number of dogs, which were well cared for and generally loved by the family. Dogs were given access to the home and were allowed to roam freely within the house and gardens. The dogs were bathed regularly and given regular exercise.

The types of food that were available for the dogs varied depending on the family’s wealth. Rich households were able to afford more luxurious foods, such as meats and fish, while poorer households usually fed their dogs vegetables and grains. Some owners also gave their dogs homemade treats, such as cakes and biscuits.

In general, Roman dogs were very well cared for and were even given specialised medical treatments by physicians. Dogs were also treated using herbal remedies, such as herbs and oils. The Ancient Romans also used canine baths to relieve aching muscles or to treat skin conditions.

Despite the good level of care they received, dogs still experienced health problems due to their environment. Ancient Rome lacked sanitation, so many dogs suffered from parasites, fleas, and ticks. Roman veterinarians were available to treat common canine ailments, and some dogs were even taken to the vets for preventive examinations.

Dog Breeding in Ancient Rome

The Ancient Romans were devoted to the breeding of dogs and developed some of the world’s earliest known breeds. During this time, canine breeding was mainly done to produce particular traits such as size, strength, or temperament. It was believed that breeding led to better health and longevity in dogs, so breeding was done according to certain standards.

The Romans also kept records of the dogs they bred, which enabled them to pass down desirable traits and characteristics to successive generations. The Romans also imported dogs from abroad to improve their local breeds. For example, the Saluki was a breed that was brought to Rome from Asia and is still popular today.

The Romans also experimented with different types of dog sports. One popular event was the dog/gladiator fight, in which large mastiff type dogs were used to fight gladiators. This was an event that was not just for entertainment, but also for testing the strength and skill of the dogs. Another popular game was the rat-baiting, in which small dogs were pitted against rats, which were released from a bag into a pit.

In addition to breeding dogs for show or sport, the Romans, in their devotion to this beloved animal, held festivals in honor of them. Canicula, the Roman Dog Day, was a day of celebration when pet owners would offer sacrifices to their dogs and provide them with special treats. It was also a day to recognize and honor the faithful service of dogs, who had been loyal companions to their humans.

Uses of Ancient Roman Dogs

In Ancient Rome, dogs had an array of uses. They were used for hunting, herding, guarding, and entertaining the people. Hunting dogs were used to bring down game and birds, and guard dogs were used to protect and ward off intruders.

Herding dogs were used to guide and protect animals, such as cattle and sheep. Dog sleds were often used to deliver goods and were a common form of transportation in Ancient Rome. Hunting and herding dogs also had another use—they would typically be brought to large gatherings to perform tricks for the audience.

Roman dogs were also used for entertainment, as some of them were trained to participate in special events. Some of these events included rat-baiting, dog/gladiator fights, and various other sporting events. Dog racing was also popular, with large dogs such as the Molossus being raced against each other. In addition, Roman dogs were often competing in obedience trials, agility courses, and conformation shows.

Dogs were also used for medical purposes. The Romans used dogs to assist with the healing process. Dogs were used to help treat infected wounds and even to remove dead tissue. They were also believed to scare away evil spirits, especially when placed at the head of the bed or outside of the house.

Dog Religion and Ceremony in Ancient Rome

The Ancient Romans believed dogs were infinite sources of wisdom and were revered for their loyalty, bravery, and companionship. The Romans had an array of dog-related mystery religions and ceremonies, such as the Molossian cult of Dionysos, which consisted of a group of female worshippers, who revered the Molossian dogs. Other religious ceremonies and myths associated with dogs were believed to bring good fortune and guard against evil spirits.

Romans also believed dogs had strong ties to the afterlife. It was believed that dogs could bring back messages from the dead, protect from demons and bad luck, and even act as guides to the underworld, leading humans to the afterlife. Some of these beliefs continue to be practiced today in Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Jewish ceremonies.

The Roman Empire valued and respected the role dogs played in their society. Dogs were seen as protectors, guardians, and even gods. They were much beloved by the Romans, who showered them with attention, affection, and sometimes even immortality through religious ceremonies and mystery cults.

Legacy of Dogs in Ancient Rome

The Ancient Romans had a huge influence on the development of modern dog breeds and pet keeping practices. In fact, many of the dog breeds we know today were bred from dogs that were popular in Ancient Rome, such as the Mastiff, the Dokken Fucile, and the Italian Greyhound. The Ancient Romans also developed the practice of spaying and neutering dogs to control pet population and diseases, a practice that is still used today.

In addition, the Ancient Romans left a legacy of reverence and devotion to dogs. Dogs have been a part of human culture since ancient times, and their relationship with humans is seen to be a special bond that transcends time and culture. The Ancient Romans demonstrated the true value of that bond, and today we continue to recognize and appreciate the many ways in which dogs bring us joy, comfort, and companionship.

Moshe Rideout is a professional writer and historian whose work focuses on the history of Ancient Rome. Moshe is passionate about understanding the complexity of the Roman Empire, from its architecture to its literature, political systems to social structures. He has a Bachelor's degree in classic studies from Rutgers University and is currently pursuing a PhD in classical archaeology at UMass Amherst. When he isn't researching or writing, he enjoys exploring ruins around Europe, drawing inspiration from his travels.

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