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6 Dogs That Shaped History Through Mythology


While dogs are an integral part of our lives today, they’ve also had a big impact on history, which is evident through the mythology of various historical people all around the world. Here are 6 dogs in myths that show the importance of dogs throughout history.

#1 – Argos

Image source: Art Gallery ErgsArt – by ErgSap via flickr

In Homer’s “The Odyssey,” Argos is the dog of Odysseus who never gave up hope that his master would return home. After 20 years away and arriving in a disguise, Odysseus is dismayed to find his beloved Argos lying in a pile of manure outside his home, infested with lice, old, and tired. Even though Odysseus wears a disguise, Argos recognizes him and has just enough strength to drop his ears and wag his tail, then dies with a cry as Odysseus passes him.

#2 – Laelaps

Image source: Peter Trimming via flickr

Laelaps is part of Greek mythology. Zeus tried to seduce the beautiful Europa by giving her 3 gifts, one of which was Laelaps, a dog that always caught its prey. Laelaps was given by Europa to Minos, the King of Crete, who is turn gave the dog to Procris as a thanks for curing him of a terrible disease. Laelaps was then sent to capture the Teumessian fox, a giant fox that couldn’t be caught, causing a paradox. Since the fox could never be caught and the dog always caught its prey, they chased each other until Zeus turned them both into stone, forever frozen in the chase.

#3 – Cerberus

Image source: wikimedia commons public domain

Cerberus was the most fearsome dog in Greek mythology. He was a 3-headed watchdog with a snake for a tail that guarded Hades and prevented people from escaping. A few people did manage to get by Cerberus and escape Hades, with the most famous being Hercules. As penance for an act of violence, Hercules was required to capture Cerberus and bring him to the land of the living. Hercules wrestled Cerberus into submission and dragged him away from Hades. In the process, saliva from Cerberus fell to the ground and produced the first poisonous plants.

#4 – Cavall

Image source: Elroy Serrao via flickr

King Arthur’s dog Cavall was used to hunt the enchanted wild boar, Twrch Tryth. According to legend, Cavall left his footprint in a stone in the course of the hunt. Afterwards, the stone would always return to its original place, even if it was moved.

#5 – Black Shuck

Image source: Phil Dolby via flickr

Black Shuck is a ghostly black dog said to stalk the coastline of eastern England. He’s depicted as a large, creepy beast with flaming eyes. He is said to prefer forests, cemeteries, crossroads, coastlines, and bodies of water. He’s also known as Old Shuck, Old Shock, or Shuck.

#6 – Luison

Image source: Stonnie Dennis Dog Photography via flickr

The Guarani people of south-central South America featured a monstrous creature called Luison in their mythology. Said to inhabit cemeteries and burial grounds, he was noted to feast only on rotten flesh.


(Sources: Sheppard Software and Phactual)

Written by Jennifer Nelson

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