What is the History and Culture of Dog Ownership Around the World?

Dogs have been a part of human society for thousands of years, serving as companions, protectors, hunters, and workers. The history and culture of dog ownership around the world is a fascinating topic that sheds light on the diverse ways in which dogs have been valued and integrated into different societies and cultures.

From ancient civilizations to modern times, dogs have played a crucial role in human life, shaping our history and culture in countless ways. In some cultures, dogs are revered as sacred animals, while in others they are seen as pests or even food. The way people interact with dogs and the roles they play in different societies can vary widely, depending on factors such as geography, religion, and social norms.

Exploring the history and culture of dog ownership around the world can provide insights into the complex and often surprising relationships between humans and dogs. By examining the ways in which dogs have been valued, trained, and cared for in different cultures, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the unique bond between humans and their furry companions.

Ancient Origins of Dog Domestication

Dogs have been man’s best friend for thousands of years. The domestication of dogs is believed to have begun as early as 30,000 years ago, when wolves started to come closer to human settlements in search of food. Over time, humans began to tame and breed these wolves, eventually leading to the creation of the domestic dog as we know it today.

One of the earliest known dog breeds is the Saluki, which was bred by the ancient Egyptians around 7000 BCE. The Egyptians believed that these dogs were sacred and often mummified them when they died. Similarly, the ancient Greeks also held dogs in high regard, with the philosopher Aristotle writing about the intelligence and loyalty of dogs in his works.

The domestication of dogs also played an important role in the development of human civilization. Dogs were used for hunting, herding, and even as guard animals. In ancient China, dogs were bred specifically for their meat, while in other cultures, dogs were considered a delicacy and were often served at feasts and banquets.

Overall, the history of dog domestication is a fascinating topic that sheds light on the close relationship between humans and their furry companions. From their early origins as wild wolves to their current status as beloved pets, dogs have played an important role in human culture and society for thousands of years.

Dog ownership in different cultures

Dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years, and they have played an important role in many cultures around the world. Here are some examples of how dogs have been owned and viewed in different cultures:


In Europe, dogs have been kept as pets for centuries. In ancient Greece, dogs were considered loyal companions and were often depicted in art. During the Middle Ages, dogs were used for hunting and as guard dogs. Today, dogs are still popular pets in Europe, and many breeds originated in Europe, such as the German Shepherd and the English Bulldog.


In many parts of Asia, dogs have been used for both practical and symbolic purposes. In China, for example, dogs have been bred for specific traits, such as the Shar Pei’s wrinkles, and have been used for hunting, herding, and protection. In Japan, dogs have been viewed as symbols of loyalty and have been depicted in art and literature. Today, dogs are still popular pets in Asia, and many breeds originated in Asia, such as the Shih Tzu and the Chow Chow.


In many African cultures, dogs have been used for hunting and protection. The Basenji breed, for example, was originally bred in Central Africa for hunting. In some cultures, dogs have also been viewed as sacred. In ancient Egypt, dogs were associated with Anubis, the god of the afterlife, and were often mummified and buried with their owners. Today, dogs are still used for practical purposes in some parts of Africa, but they are also kept as pets.

South America

In South America, dogs have been used for hunting, herding, and protection. The Peruvian Hairless Dog, for example, was bred by the Incas for its hunting abilities and was also believed to have healing powers. In some cultures, dogs have also been viewed as spiritual guides. The Mapuche people of Chile, for example, believe that dogs can communicate with the spirit world and are therefore sacred animals. Today, dogs are still popular pets in South America, and many breeds originated in South America, such as the Argentine Dogo and the Brazilian Terrier.

Dogs in Religion and Mythology

Dogs have played a significant role in the religion, myths, tales, and legends of many cultures around the world. In Hinduism, dogs are believed to be messengers of Yama, the god of death, and are revered as protectors and guardians. Kukur Tihar is a special Nepalese Hindu festival where dogs are worshipped and celebrated for their loyalty and companionship.

In Islam, dogs are considered ritually impure, and their saliva is believed to be unclean. However, they are also considered to be loyal and protective animals, and there are stories of dogs in Islamic mythology who have protected their owners from danger.

In ancient Egyptian culture, dogs were often depicted in art and were believed to be associated with the god Anubis, who was the god of mummification and the afterlife. Dogs were also used as hunting companions and were sometimes buried with their owners to protect them in the afterlife.

The ancient Greeks believed that dogs were closely associated with the god Hermes and were often depicted as loyal companions. In Greek mythology, Cerberus was a three-headed dog who guarded the entrance to the underworld, and the goddess Artemis was often depicted with her hunting dogs.

Similarly, in Norse mythology, dogs were associated with the god Odin and were often used as hunting companions. The legendary dog Garmr was believed to guard the entrance to the underworld, and dogs were also associated with the goddess Hel, who ruled over the dead.

Modern Dog Ownership Trends

Dog ownership is a popular and growing trend worldwide. According to a report by HealthforAnimals, there are likely over a billion pets worldwide, and pet ownership is rising globally. The expanding middle class is driving pet population growth, and pet ownership leads to a healthier and more active lifestyle, which is why dogs are becoming increasingly popular pets.

One of the most significant modern dog ownership trends is the increasing focus on pet health and wellness. Pet owners are more aware of the importance of providing their dogs with high-quality food, regular exercise, and preventative veterinary care. As a result, the pet food market has grown significantly, with a focus on natural and organic products that are free from artificial ingredients.

Another trend in modern dog ownership is the increasing acceptance of dogs as family members. Dogs are no longer just pets but are considered part of the family, and pet owners are willing to spend more money on their dogs to ensure their comfort and happiness. This trend has led to an increase in luxury pet products, such as designer collars, beds, and clothing.

Finally, technology is playing an increasingly important role in modern dog ownership. Pet owners can now monitor their dog’s activity levels, location, and health through wearable technology and smartphone apps. This technology is making it easier for pet owners to provide their dogs with the care they need and is helping to strengthen the bond between pets and their owners.


Throughout history, dogs have been an integral part of human society, serving as companions, protectors, and workers. The relationship between humans and dogs has evolved over time, with dogs becoming more and more integrated into our daily lives.

While the history and culture of dog ownership vary across the world, one thing remains constant: the love and devotion that people have for their furry friends. From ancient civilizations to modern-day societies, dogs have been valued for their loyalty, intelligence, and companionship.

As we continue to learn more about the genetic and evolutionary origins of pet ownership, it is clear that the bond between humans and dogs is a complex and multifaceted one. Whether we are training them to assist us with tasks, or simply snuggling up with them on the couch, dogs bring joy and comfort to our lives in countless ways.

As we look to the future, it is likely that our relationship with dogs will continue to evolve and change. However, one thing is certain: the love and companionship that we share with our four-legged friends will remain a cherished part of human culture for generations to come.

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