History Of Spiked Dog Collars
We know according to historical research, humans had dogs as companions before cows and many other livestock. Archaeology have remains dating back at least 13,000 years….. buried with their human masters! When did we start using dog collars? In particular, when did humans begin to use spiked dog collars? We’ll take a look at dog collars from the ancient to the post-modern and see how history and our changing attitude toward animals has influenced the way we collar our pooches.
We often watched cartoons when we were young with that bulldog or larger more intimidating dog who seemed to always have a spiked collar. Many of us as a result relate dog collars to a ruff sort of animal or human for that matter. Humans seemed to have adopted the spiked collar look as a fashion statement.
So did Spiked Dog Collars have a purpose? Or are spiked dog collars just for fashion?
Many historians agree that spiked dog collars have their roots in ancient Rome and have been used as early as the 2nd century. The spiked collars seemed to be first used by European hunters when they used dogs to protect their livestock from boar and wolf attack. These collars would protect the dogs neck from the lurking wolves or boars. The idea behind the spiked dog collar is most wolves and wild boars will attack the dog around the neck area, therefore if the neck area is protected with spikes, this will give the dog a great amount of protection if wearing a strong spiked collar.
The first dog owners enjoyed the assistance of dogs as they evolved to become a great help with daily burdens such as retrieving wild game, carrying messages, pulling sleds, tracking down fugitives and guarding their owners. It is for these uses that domesticated dogs became an interesting commodity for the high borne and more particularly those of royalty.
Its is believed that Kings, Queens and Pharaohs were first to initiate the use of dog collars which became more and more ornate as time passed and the status of dogs and dog ownership grew. The ancient Egyptians adapted special laws to protect their dogs from ill treatment while China gave one particular breed of dogs, the Pekingese, a special status as the official dog of the Imperial Palace.
While dog collars today are typically used for identification and fashion, they have also been used for the purposes of training, restraint and as a status symbol. In Egypt, domesticated dog bones have been found that date back to 5000 B.C. Domesticated dogs were first represented on the Moscow Cup, which dates back to the Badarian Age 4500-4000 B.C. Two palettes in particular date back to the predynastic era of Naqada II approximately 3500-3000 B.C., the Ashmolean Palette and the Hunting Palette, both of which depict dogs wearing collars that were in style with the art of the time. In Ancient Egypt, in addition to being household pets, dogs were known to serve a role in military actions, guarding and police actions.
Even though it is believed that dog collars originated in Ancient Egypt, it was in Ancient Greece that gave dog collars their practical purpose. While the Egyptians used dog collars for decorative and possibly even identification purposes, it was in Ancient Greece that farmers created spiked dog collars as a way of protecting their dogs’ throats from being ripped out by wolves. Small Greek farms were often targeted by wolves that would eat sheep, cattle and livestock, in addition to the dogs that worked on them.
(Above) is a great example of an ancient dog collar. Illustrations found in missals, Books of Hours and bestiaries suggest that dog collars were often made of precious metals and it was probably just as well that in medieval times dogs were a symbol of fidelity
From Ancient Rome to the Middle Ages, the development of dog collars continued to evolve. By the Middle Ages, dog collars had taken on the role of identifying a dog’s position and job. Highborn women kept dogs as ornaments, instead of companions, and they were often decorated with collars made of precious metals and jewels. However, unlike highborn dogs, hunting dogs wore only simple collars made of leather as a means of identification. In the sport of wolf hunting, dogs wore spiked collars that had sharp outward-facing prongs. Wolf hunting required a dog to act as the bait, while these spiked collars were intended to protect the dog’s neck, most dogs were not expected to survive.
It was during the Renaissance that the middle class began to emerge and keep dogs as pets. Among the middle classes, most dog collars were made from affordable leather. However, it was during this time that padlock collars began to emerge as a way of authenticating a dog’s ownership. Hinged metal collars with padlocks were seen as a failsafe way for owners to prove ownership, considering that they were the only ones who had the key. That is, of course, as long as the key was not lost or stolen.
By the 1700s and the start of the Industrial Revolution, dog collars would often have the dog owner’s name in addition to witty sayings. At the time, the most common materials used for making dog collars were leather, silver, brass and gold. However, in today’s society, dog collars are highly dependent on the owner’s viewpoint and attitude. Today’s dog collars can be anything from utilitarian to designer, made from any number of materials and adorned with any type of bauble as seen fit by the owner.
(above) This pug wears a bell collar dating from 1800’s
and reflects the European fashion for bells.