Romans were known to have many kinds of pets varying from cats to apes. Clearly, the dog was an important part of Roman society and culture. The Latin phase [Cave Canem
(Beware of Dog)] shows how much dogs were appreciated in Rome as guardians of the home just as they had been in earlier cultures and still to this day. Dogs are also mentioned in Roman law as
guardians of the home and flock.
In one court case which was recorded, a farmer brings a suit against his neighbor because the neighbor's dogs rescued the farmer's hogs from wolves and the neighbor then claimed ownership of the hogs. The complaint, which was settled in favor of the farmer, reads:
Wolves carried away some hogs from my shepherds; the tenant of an adjoining farm, having pursued the wolves with strong and powerful dogs, which he kept for the protection of his flocks, took the hogs away from the wolves, or the dogs compelled them to abandon them. When my shepherd claimed the hogs, the question arose whether they had become the property of him who recovered them or whether they were still mine, for they had been obtained by a certain kind of hunting (Nagle, 246).
Varro claimed that no farm should be without two dogs and they should be kept indoors during the day and let free to roam at night in order to prevent just such a possibility as the one discussed above. He also suggested that a white dog should be chosen over a black one so that one could distinguish between one's dog and a wolf in the darkness or the twilight of early morning.
Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war, Julius Caesar
Perhaps it is their pack nature or willingness to please their human counterparts that have made them so essential in battle, but since the dawn of warfare they have plunged headfirst into the fight. The Romans were not the first, but may very well have used war dogs the most effectively. The Roman Army had whole companies composed entirely of dogs. They wore spiked collars around their neck and ankles, made more dangerous by the large curved knives protruding from its ring. Sometimes they were starved before battle, then unleashed on an unsuspecting enemy. Their dog of choice was the great Molossian dogs of Epirus, specifically trained for battle. These dogs, halved starved and ferocious, helped spread the Roman Empire across the ancient world. They dominated battles until they meet their match in the Britain, where powerful Mastiffs called Pugnaces Britanniae had been born and breed.