Dog deities have been around since ancient times, yet a lot of people didn’t know that.  If you’re a history or mythology nerd that loves dogs, this one’s for you!

During ancient times, several canines were more than just the man’s best friend. They were often the most-worshipped deities. It was a time when people actively believed many creatures were sacred. They thought animals were the embodiment of particular gods. Isn’t it fascinating that the word dog spelled backward is god?

Now that times have changed, dogs aren’t necessarily viewed the same way anymore, but it’s still nice to know about these interesting dogs in mythology. So, we’ve listed some of the famous dogs in ancient times:

Fenrir, the monstrous wolf

celebrity dog mythology fenrir
Photo from: bavipower.com

Fenrir of the Norse mythology was the son of Loki (a demon god) and Angerboda (a giantess). When he was born, along with two other siblings, the wise men of Asgard had a prophecy that the three of them would be responsible for the destruction of the Norse cosmos in the future. Afraid of Fenrir’s strength, the gods bound him with a magical chain made of the sound of a cat’s footsteps, the breath of fish, the beard of a woman, and other mystical elements.

If we will classify Fenrir based on the list of dog personality types first compiled by the American Kennel Club Gazette (AKCB) in March of 1979, he will fall under the aggressive group. Dogs that belong to this category are aggressive, extremely dominant, and can easily be provoked.

Anubis, the god of lost souls

celebrity dog mythology anubis

Regarded as one of the oldest deities of ancient Egypt, Anubis is the god of mummification and the afterlife. He is depicted as a black dog with pointed ears or as a jackal. His color was associated with the decay of the dead body and the fertile soil of the Nile River Valley, which represented life and regeneration.

Anubis’ job was to ensure the proper burial of the dead. He also stood by them in the afterlife to assist their resurrection. A familiar image of this Egyptian god is the kneeling or standing man with the jackal’s head, holding the golden scales on which the heart of the departed was weighed against the white feather of truth.

Anubis could be classified as an adaptable dog based on AKCB’s list. Adaptable canine’s demeanor is gentle and affectionate.

Kerberos, the fearsome watchdog

celebrity dog mythology kerberos

One of the most popular dog deities in Greek mythology is Kerberos (or Cerberus). It is the three-headed hound whose job is to guard the entrance to the underworld. In most literary pieces, this mighty watchdog is often illustrated moving along the riverbanks of Styx, which was the established boundary between the living and the dead. Kerberos prevented those who were dead from escaping and kept the living from crossing the river.

Kerberos’ father was Typhon, a large fire-breathing dragon who had big glowing red eyes, a hundred wings, and a hundred heads. Being a dominant and self-assured watchdog, its personality type according to AKCB is confident.

Xolotl of the Aztecs

aztec xolotl - celebrity dogs

Xolotl was considered to be the twin of Quetzalcoatl, one of the most significant divinities in the Aztec pantheon. Depicted as a man with the head of a raggedy-eared hound, he was worshipped as the god of fire and lightning and was often linked to illness, deformities, and misfortune.

According to a different myth, Xolotl also had the important task of guiding the sun on its precarious night journey through the realm of the dead. He can be considered as an outgoing canine based on ACKB’s classification. Dogs under this personality type possess a flexible temperament that adapts well to different types of environments.

Bau/Gula of Babylon

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She was a daughter of An, king of the gods, and the wife of Pabilsag, a rain god who was also called Ninurta or Ningirsu. Originally known to have been the goddess of the dog. While not necessarily a dog deity, she was long represented with a dog’s head and the dog was her emblem.

Eventually, she became the goddess of healing. Possibly because, at that time, the licking of sores by dogs was supposed to have curative value.

Dogs were allowed to roam her temples freely, and many worshipers created dog statues to dedicate to her. Gula’s sacred animal was the dog, so it makes sense that art created for her or featuring her also included dogs.

Kimat of the Philippines

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Photo from phspirits.com

 

A faithful dog to the god of thunder, Kadaklan. Kimat (translating to Lighting) can bite a house, a tree, or a field whenever the divine master desires that a special ceremony be performed. Kimat would appear when storms were at their height and stood at five feet tall with a crackling aura, protruding fangs, and red eyes. He had a sacred duty to fulfill the wishes of his master and whatever Kadaklan desired.

The people who worshipped them are of the Tinguian, people living in the mountainous interior of Luzon, the northernmost island of the Philippines. They considered Kadaklan and his dog, their greatest deity.

 

Coyote, the Native American Deity

 

Usually viewed as an anthropomorphic trickster god who has traits similar to the animal. Legends vary widely between cultures and tribes, but he’s almost always mischievous, drawing comparisons to the Norse god Loki. Perhaps this is because coyotes sometimes make noises similar to shrieking laughter.

They say that there are many stories about this dog deity, specifically in Navajo. One of which is the one about the Spying Moon. They say that it seems that someone had pinched the moon, and Coyote offered to stand in as a replacement. Everyone agreed that he made a fine moon, but from his elevated position, Coyote could see everything that was going on. This is just one of the many stories about the Coyote and the sky.

Who knew that dogs were such a huge hit with humans even back then? These are just a few of the dogs in ancient times, we’re sure there are more out there.

Even if your dogs may not be guardians of souls or lighting-bearers, you still see them as something that’s pretty special. Over the years, they have been there as guardians and companions. Honestly, that’s even better than a dog deity.