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Dogs of Roman Britain: Wikis


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The Roman Province of Britannia was known for exporting dogs. The references by Roman writers to the these dogs suggest that British dogs were both fast and strong, useful in hunting and even in war. Some modern dog book authors are of the opinion that these dogs were a distinct breed of dog, and that this breed was the progenitor to the English Mastiff[1] and possibly the Bulldog.[2]


Historical references

The ancient Roman poet Grattius (or Grattius Faliscus) wrote of British dogs, describing them as superior to the ancient Greek Molossus, saying:

"What if you choose to penetrate even among the Britons? How great your reward, how great your gain beyond any outlays! If you are not bent on looks and deceptive graces (this is the one defect of the British whelps), at any rate when serious work has come, when bravery must be shown, and the impetuous War-god calls in the utmost hazard, then you could not admire the renowned Molossians so much."[3]

The ancient Greek historian Strabo reported that dogs were exported from Britain for the purpose of game hunting, and that these dogs were also used by the Celts as war dogs.[4]

The Roman writer Tacitus in the first century AD mentions in his accounts of Britain that its principal exports were grain, hides, cattle, iron, silver, slaves, and clever hunting-dogs.

The late Roman poet Nemesianus referred to British dogs, describing them as swift and suited to hunting.[5] The even later Roman poet Claudian describes British dogs "that can break the backs of mighty bulls".[6]


See also


  • Fleig, D. (1996). Fighting Dog Breeds. (Pg. 26 - 27). Neptune, NJ: TFH Publications. ISBN 0-7938-0499-X
  • Homan, M. (1999). A Complete History of Fighting Dogs. (Pg. 9). Howell Book House. ISBN 1-58245-128-1

External links



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