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  • Writer's pictureMarina Veronica

Who were the first to domesticate dogs?

In ancient times people had deep ties with their dogs. This occurred in India, Mesopotamia, China, Mesoamerica, Egypt, Greece and Rome. The ancient Greeks thought of dogs as geniuses, as `possessing a certain elevated spirit'. Plato referred to the dog as a 'lover of learning' and a 'beast worthy of wonder.' The philosopher Diogenes of Sinope loved the simplicity of the dog's life and encouraged human beings to emulate it.

This gypsum wall panel relief containing large dogs is from the 7th century BC. The man holding the lead is beardless, but his hair ends in a row of plaits, in a simpler style than that of his companion; men leading mules in this procession have similar plaits, which may have been worn by people of lower status in this culture.

While other animals have undergone significant changes in the way they have been perceived throughout history, the dog has remained a constant companion, friend, and protector. He has been portrayed that way through the art and in the writings of many ancient cultures. The old claim that a dog is one's best friend is substantiated through the historical record but needs no proof for anyone in the modern day who is lucky enough to enjoy the company of a good dog.


Gypsum wall relief: Neo-Assyrian Period, reign of Ashurbanipal II, 645-640 BCE. Excavated from the North Palace at Nineveh (Kouyunjik), Northern Mesopotamia, modern-day Iraq. (The British Museum, London). .

The Assyrians (from Northern Mesopotamia, modern-day Iraq) were the first to domesticate dogs. A dog's purpose was to hunt and protect, herd sheep, and be a companion. During daily meals, to show their gratitude for their dog's company, owners were to always reserve three morsels of food for the dog. So giving your dog table scraps isn't a bad idea after all.*

*Only give dogs food that is safe for them to eat! Check out my blog posts on what dogs can and cannot eat under "Did you know..?"


Gypsum is a soft sulfate mineral composed of calcium sulfate dehydrate, with the chemical formula CaSO 4·2H2O.. .(

ART NAME GAME created by Marina Veronica of

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