Dogs these days wear a wide range of stylish dog collars, including elegant, bejeweled versions, rugged, waterproof collars, and even handmade versions. But how long have dogs been wearing collars? The history of dog collars goes back much farther than you probably think. Even the ancient Egyptians put fancy collars on their pets!
Ancient Civilizations and Dog Collars
Archeologists have found traces of dog collars and leashes across Mesopotamia in what’s now the Middle East. Various Mesopotamian civilizations, including Sumerian and Assyria, go back thousands of years BCE. Some of these nation-states have left beautiful carvings on the walls of ancient buildings depicting dogs wearing collars and sometimes leashes. One of the most famous is a series of rock panels over 8,000 years old showing a man hunting with dogs on leashes. Early on, these leashes were simple ropes or cords but evolved into leather or woven bands. Collars were designed with spikes to cover the dog’s throat to protect herding dogs from wolves.
Persians valued their dogs so highly that their destination in the afterlife was closely linked to how well they treated their dogs. Canines were companions, protectors, hunters, and herders. They were highly esteemed and, members of the upper classes had gold and silver dog collars crafted for their pets.
Egypt, Greece, and Rome
In both ancient Egypt and Greece, dogs were cherished by their owners. Spoiling dogs isn’t just a modern trend. Egyptians used elaborately decorated collars with intricate artwork. One nobleman’s tomb contained dog collars with pictures of lotus flowers, hunting dogs, and decorative brass studs. Another collar features the dog’s name: Tantanuit. We can imagine Tantanuit strutting the neighborhood proudly sporting his hunter dog collar!
Roman Dog Collars
The Romans loved bright colors. You can find numerous depictions of blue dog collars and red dog collars on various breeds depicted in mosaics and wall paintings. Sculptures of dogs also featured luxe collars with amazing details.
(Fun fact: If you visit the Vatican, you’ll discover a section of the museum with dozens of ancient sculptures of dogs, especially sighthounds, which are incredibly realistic and beautiful!)
Dog Collars in the Middle Ages
During the Middle Ages in Europe, dogs were generally utilitarian, working as herding animals, pulling carts, guarding homes, and keeping rodent populations under control. During the age of discovery, explorers often used dog collars and leashes to control dogs used for protection and aggression. Dogfighting was also a popular activity. For these unfortunate dogs, thick leather collars with spikes were the norm. Upper-class and noble families also kept dogs as companions or accessories for women. These favored canines wore collars made with precious metals and jewels.
During the Renaissance, dog collars became more elaborate and could prove ownership of a dog. Hinged, metal collars were put on prized pets, fastened with a lock to which only the owner had the key. In this way, you could prove you were the owner of the dog by successfully unlocking the collar.
As society progressed, the design of dog collars changed as well. They might be made from leather, silver, gold, or brass. Many were engraved with witticisms or clever phrases; others featured decorative elements such as flowers. People began combining fashion with practicality for dog leashes and accessories from this point on.
Today’s Dog Collars
The range of designs and materials for today’s dog collars and leashes is staggering. From chain collars for training to elaborate, hand-crafted luxury collars, you can find just about any kind of collar imaginable. Because modern pet owners treat their dogs like family, taking with them on adventures, they prefer collar and leash sets for dogs that will stand up to the rigors of outdoor activities and be easy to keep clean and fresh. Of course, they don’t want something practical but ugly – they also gravitate toward cool dog collars with bold graphics and lots of colors, like the complete line of waterproof designer dog collars at Pupups!