39 Absolutely WOW Historical Dog Facts

I was actually reading an article that mentioned that four million cats get eaten in China each year, and that cat dishes are seen as a comfort dish (like mac-n-cheese) in winter… when I thought I should do a post on historical dog “tails”/facts.  Quite a jump from felines to canines, right? Too much thinking…

Anyway, I realised that we pet owners can be in such a love bubble with our – Ruffs, Bellas, Jakes, Benjis, Cocos and Tinas; but seldom question the legacy, history or unusual pasts and facts of our Ruffs’, Bellas’, Jakes’, Benjis’, Cocos’ and Tinas’ ancestors. And so, the 39 Absolutely WOW Historical Dog Facts/“Tails” post was born.


Don’t worry this post is not filled to the brim of depressing stories and facts. There are some feel-good stories too. 😊


But enjoy the WOW, JAW DROPPING and INTERESTING “Tails” by yourself!




 #1 Dogs can be traced back to a weasel-like animal called Miacis. Miacis dwelled in trees and dens and were the predecessors of wolves, jackals and dogs. Petfinder.com


 #2 In Ancient Greece, the common belief was that the gates to the underworld were protected by a three-headed dog – Cerberus. Cerberus had to protect souls from escaping from the underworld. Harry Potter fans will know that this myth influenced the character of Fluffy. Thoughtco.com



 #3 Absolutely disgustingly in ancient Greece dogs were frequently sacrificed because they were plentiful, relatively cheap to maintain and easy to control. During “Kunophontis” or the “massacre of the dogs”, dogs were sacrificed to placate the ancestors of Apollo’s son (Linos) who was killed and eaten by dogs. Factretriever.com



 #4 Like cats, ancient Egyptians mourned greatly when their dogs died. The family shaved their eyebrows, covered themselves with mud and mourned loudly for days. Factretriever.com




 #5 Just shy of 80, ancient Egyptian dogs’ names have been recorded in history. The names, very much like today, were given due to the pups’ characters and colour. Rough translations include: Blackie, Ebony, Good Herdsman, Reliable, and Brave One. Factretriever.com


 #6 Sticking with the Egyptians… the common belief was that if a person was bitten by a rabid dog, they had to eat the liver of a rabid dog, to ensure they didn’t contract rabies. The tooth of a rabid dog would also be wrapped in a bandage against the skin of the bitten victim. Factretriever.com


 #7 In the Middle Ages, Great Danes and Mastiffs were often fitted with spiked-armour to enter battle or to defend caravans. Factretriever.com



 #8 Depressingly, the expression “raining cats and dogs” has a grim origin. In the 17th Century England during heavy rainstorms many homeless animals – especially cats and dogs would drown and float down the street; appearing as though it literally rained cats and dogs. Factretriever.com


 #9 Once Rome fell from its former glory, mere existence became more important than breeding and training dogs for pleasure and leisure. These abandoned dogs formed packs to survive and turned wild – terrorising villages. It was at this time that the legends of werewolves emerged. Factretriever.com


 #10 The Aztecs and Mayans marked every tenth day with a dog. If a baby was born during the “sign” they would be destined to have excellent leadership skills. Factretriever.com




 #11 In South America, the ancient Mbaya Indians believed that humans lived underground until dogs dug them up. Factretriever.com


 #12 In Ancient China, dog trainers were highly respected and acclaimed. These trainers did a great deal to domesticate many dog breeds and were responsible for many of the miniaturisation and dwarfing of breeds. Factretriever.com




 #13 In the Ancient Far East, Pekingese and Japanese Chins were treated as royalty and even had their own servants. These breeds were often given as gifts to kings and emperors. Factretriever.com




 #14 Harry Potter Fans will also be familiar with the Grim (Sirius Black)– the black dog or the omen of death.  Like black cats, black dogs also signify bad luck and death in many cultures. The legend of the grim is something that occurs all over the world – usually, each culture has their own names and stories about the grim. Some cultures believe that seeing a black dog means part of your soul is being prepped to go to the afterlife; others believe that if a black dog howls as a baby is being born the baby will face all kinds of hardships in life.  But on all accounts – dogs and cats that are black are the awesomest pets ever! Thoughtco.com




 #15 Three dogs survived the sinking of the Titanic – unfortunately, and obviously only from the First-Class Cabins. Two Pomeranians and one Pekingese made it to safety with Rose and a few others. Petfinder.com




 #16 As legend has it at the end of the Beatles song: A Day in the Life, Paul McCartney recorded an ultrasonic whistle only dogs can hear. This was done to please his dog, a Shetland Sheepdog. Well, put it on and see if your dog likes it 😊 Petfinder.com


 #17 The famous philosopher, Plato once said that “a dog has the soul of a philosopher.” Factretriever.com


 #18 The appearance of detailed dog portraits occurred during the Renaissance period. These paintings represented fidelity and loyalty and appeared in mythological, allegorical and religious art throughout Europe. Famous artists like Leonardo da Vinci, Diego Velázquez, Jan van Eyck, and Albrecht Durer hopped onto the doggie bandwagon. Factretriever.com


“The Arnolfini Wedding” Jan van Eyck


 #19 From Renaissance or “high art” to popular culture. The legendary Black Sabbath muso, Ozzy Osborne rescued his wife’s pom from a coyote by wrestling the coyote to the ground. Mr. Osborne clearly understood happy wife = happy life. Factretriever.com


 #20 Ever wonder where docking of doggy’s tails came from? Well, the origin (like many things) is from Rome. A roman writer Lucius Columella made a statement that amputating the tail prevented rabies. And some breeds suffer at the hands of this statement still today – well not to prevent rabies – but for “aesthetic” reasons. Factretriever.com


 #21 Of course, Shakespeare would feature somewhere… the word “watchdog” was coined by Shakespeare in The Tempest. Factretriever.com



 #22 We are not in Kansas anymore… Toto the beloved companion of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz reportedly earned $125 (about R1500) per week during filming. But each very human munchkin only received $50 (about R600) per filming week. Factretriever.com





 #23 Some dogs like Poodles and Dalmatians are considered lucky dogs in parts of the world – especially if you pat their heads. Thoughtco.com


 #24 Seemingly, the most popular breed of the moment Dachys/Dachshunds, were bred to fight badgers in their dens. Petfinder.com




 #25 During the Middle Ages, the well-to-do people kept dogs as pets, whereas the “plebs” used dogs mainly for protection and herding. The “pleb” or peasant dogs had to wear blocks around their necks to prevent them from breeding with the purebred, expensive dogs of the rich. Fact retriever.com


 #26 Once WWI ended, the German government trained the first guide dogs to assist soldiers that lost their sight during the war. Factretriever.com




 #27 According to recent research, there are over 400 million dogs in the world; with the US then France coming in as the countries with the highest canine populations. Factretriever.com


 #28 Since the Middle Ages, bloodhounds have been used to track criminals. Factretriever.com



 #29 Just one unaltered female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 puppies in only six years. Peta.org



 #30 One of the most ancient dog breeds in the world is a greyhound. The name greyhound is actually an example of a translating error. “Greyhound” comes from the early German term “Greishund”, which means “old or ancient dog”. And not from the colour of the dog, as in “grey”.  Factretriever.com





 #31 Ever watched a male dog lift his leg on a lamppost? Well, they always aim high because the higher the target the more “intimidating” the dog seems. Some of the male wild dogs on our awesome continent even run up trees to urinate to look extra, large and intimidating! Factretriever.com





 #32 Laika, a female terrier-mix, was the first doggie in space, in 1957. Sadly, the Russian specialists decided to send Laika into space with no plans on returning her back to earth. She, unfortunately, crossed the rainbow bridge after four days in the satellite due to overheating. From inspiring awe, to sparking outrage due to animal cruelty – Laika is a doggie that needs to be remembered. mmn.com.


 #33 Nobody likes a depressing ending. So, although Laika died in space her legacy lived on! Her daughter Pushnika had four puppies with President John F. Kennedy’s terrier, Charlie.  Factretriever.com



SGT. Stubby.

 #34 Sergeant Stubby was a Pitbull-mix, who would sneak across battlefields during WWI and became his unit’s mascot. After Stubby and his unit arrived on the battlefield, they suffered a gas attack. That was the last unprepared attack. Stubby would warn his unit of pending attacks after the first one. The amazing Stubby even earned his Sergeant title, when he sniffed out a German spy. mmn.com



 #35 Many dog lovers have heard Hachiko’s story of love and devotion to his owner. But perhaps a few need reminding. Hachiko would meet his owner at a Tokyo Station every day after work.  One day in 1925, his owner passed away at work and never came home. Hachiko kept going back daily, regardless … even escaping from his new owners, in case his deceased human came back. There is now a statue erected at the station in Shibuya and bronze pawprints are set at the exact point Hachiko waited every day. mmn.com




 #36 Mancs (“Paws”) was a famous Hungarian rescue dog that travelled the world to search for earthquake survivors. Mancs with the Spider Special Team of Miskolc, was known for his amazing sense of smell and ability to indicate clearly where survivors were trapped under rubble. Mancs had a statue erected in 2004 (two years before his death). mmn.com




 #37 Smoky, the just shy of two-kilos Yorkshire Terrier was discovered by an American soldier in a jungle of New Guinea. Smoky was trained by her owner and accompanied him during two years in WWII – entertaining the troops and saving lives by warning her owner of incoming fire. When her owner, Wynne went home to Cleveland Ohio, Smoky entertained veterans and the public; and is now commemorated in a statue in Lakewood, Ohio. mmn.com





 #38 Balto – movies have been made, statues have been erected (like the famous one in Central Park). Balto was a sled dog that delivered life-saving medicine in Alaska, in 1925. There was a diphtheria epidemic in the city and nearest supplies were in Anchorage. Due to the extreme weather conditions of the time, the only viable transport was dog-sledding. Balto and his dog team successfully led their humans on a seven-day trip in blizzard conditions. The humans had to fully rely on the dogs because they couldn’t see. Balto and his team saved lives due to their bravery and sense of direction! mmn.com



Jock of the Bushveld.

 #39 And of course, there is Jock of the Bushveld. The South African legend, book and the hero bull-terrier that climbed into all South Africans’ hearts as kids. Sir Percy Fitzpatrick wrote “Jock of the Bushveld” in 1905 to recount the stories and adventures he had with his dog Jock; 20 years before. You can read Jock’s story, context and more here.



Aren’t dogs amazing! There is a popular saying “Everyone believes they have the best dog; not one of them are wrong!” and with that good-bark.

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