UBBFriend: Email This Page to Someone!
  Castle Quest
  Sieges, Arms & Armour
  Dogs of war

Post New Topic  Post A Reply
profile | register | preferences | faq | search

next newest topic | next oldest topic
Author Topic:   Dogs of war
Senior Member
posted 01-06-2006 03:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steve-O-Gerst   Click Here to Email Steve-O-Gerst     Edit/Delete Message
So when I was in LA, I saw an exhibit with dog armor.

They had these pieces of plate mail that were shaped sort of like a doberman...

I wonder how that worked out?

posted 01-06-2006 02:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ipflo   Click Here to Email ipflo     Edit/Delete Message
I do not know, but I can imagine that such was only for the show


Senior Member
posted 01-07-2006 07:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Merlin   Click Here to Email Merlin     Edit/Delete Message
Are you sure this thing was from medieval times? I never heard some something like it and it doesn't make any sense from my point of view.

posted 01-07-2006 10:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Maria   Click Here to Email Maria     Edit/Delete Message
"During the Middle Ages, war dogs were outfited with armor and frequently were used to defend caravans. "
This is the only mention I was able to find. It was here community.webtv.net/Hahn-50thAP-K9/K9History - 26k. But I don't think it's documented information. Seems absurd from the practical point of view. Other sites mention dogs used only for hunting, or small dogs that the lady would keep as pets.

posted 01-07-2006 11:45 AM           Edit/Delete Message
Seems a little too "Hollywood" to me.
The only reference that I could find was the same that Maria has.
Although it does conjure up the disturbing image of a mounted, sword swirling monkey!


Senior Member
posted 01-07-2006 04:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steve-O-Gerst   Click Here to Email Steve-O-Gerst     Edit/Delete Message
From what I remember (And this WAS over a decade ago...) the dog's armor was from around the 1500's, and the Conquistadors apparently used them against indians.

Just as a guess, I'm inagining that sending out the dogs against archers might have been one possible use. Good armor would be needed to get them there safely, and the nobles might have found it a sort of poetic justice to use dogs against peasants. Since the only other option was using your own archers, or doing a doomed calvary charge, there may have been some sense in it... But I wouldn't expect many dogs to come back, or try to fight again.

Mind you, it wasn't a full suit of plate mail, sort of a helmet, and back piece, like horse's barding.

Speaking of a monkey, there was the "Ape on Horseback" spectacle, but perhaps blood sports would be better to discuss separately.

posted 01-07-2006 09:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glaive     Edit/Delete Message
war dogs were alaunts/massifs in the middle ages and they were armored;but usually in a type of scale armor;but also mounted with a firepot on their backs and a lance like spike and they were used against mounted men at arms(the firepot was for their horses.

posted 01-08-2006 06:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Maria   Click Here to Email Maria     Edit/Delete Message
I was under the impression that armours were very heavy. And expensive. It seems quite a waste, of dogs and armours and money...

Senior Member
posted 01-09-2006 11:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steve-O-Gerst   Click Here to Email Steve-O-Gerst     Edit/Delete Message
Glaive, by "Firepot," do you mean an early sort of gun?

Maria, while armor is made of metal, and could be quite expensive, the entire process of war is always wasteful. Seing that most dogs are slightly smaller than a human, I would imagine the dog would need less armor, made from less raw materials.

Also, since dogs can't complain, and have fur, the dense layers of padding needed for a human soldier could probably be reduced, or removed altogether. Likewise, since dogs can't complain, their armor might have been built less carefully, and therefore would be easier to produce cheaply in large quantities.

There is also the question of the value of life. Today, the army claims to value the life of a human over that of expensive equippment. Efforts in the US are aimed at designing robots to disarm bombs, and transport supplies overland, and of course, there are tomahawks, with their computer guidance systems, which perform a task similar to that of a crude suicide bomber.

I would imagine (Without trying to be offensive, or politically biased) that the military of the day also placed a high value on human life.

With the religiously founded high value of human life, I would suspect that a soldier of the middle ages would consider the life of his fellow armored soldier to be worth more than the life of an armored dog.

While dog armor might be heavy to a dog, it would me no more so than human armor to a human, and in the past, dogs were used for real work. In the modern day, they pull only leashes and sleds, but as recently as the 1900s, wagons that could be pulled by dogs were available for use. I've been told that a dog-cart, as it was called, could be pulled faster than a horse cart.

posted 01-11-2006 01:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Maria   Click Here to Email Maria     Edit/Delete Message
Ok, I realise we are talking hypothesis here. So, how efficient would a dog be? Because if I don't go through all the trouble of geting him a good armour, and I'm pretty sure it'll get killed, is it worth the trouble of getting him an armour at all? Or of sending him?

posted 01-11-2006 08:02 PM           Edit/Delete Message
Nope I'm sticking with Maria on this one.
I don't think it ever happened.
I can find no evidence whatsoever.

bent one
Senior Member
posted 01-11-2006 10:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bent one     Edit/Delete Message
well Maria, My dad loves mastiffs and he's taken me to see some. I'm 5' 10" and that animal's shoulders were a little above my waist and the head was near my shoulder. If the dog could support my weight for extended periods I could've ridden like a horse. If that dog put his paws on my shoulders it would be over my head. If such a beast were trained to kill men, which it was originally bred to do, and was further augmented by armor I would be very afraid to face that animal in combat.

posted 01-12-2006 12:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Maria   Click Here to Email Maria     Edit/Delete Message
Yes, yes, I mean, dogs were trained to fight bears and bulls in a pit, but how afraid would you be of the dog if you were in a line of long-bow-men, or dressed in full armour, or wearing wet cotton under your coats?

bent one
Senior Member
posted 01-12-2006 01:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bent one     Edit/Delete Message
that depends on how many people were dressed in full armor and had a trained line of bowmen. If you couldn't afford those things or if you lost a lot of your archers. quilting won't stop a dog from breaking bones with it's bite. If I were in armor I would feel a lot more secure but still I don't expect to face dogs alone I would expect that the enemy would also have armored and un armored personnel and his own archers. I think that war dogs were used but that they didn't go into the fight without support.

posted 01-13-2006 10:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Maria   Click Here to Email Maria     Edit/Delete Message
There is also the question of breeds. We should do some research on this. Because I know greyhounds for example had a great value, and I don't imagine anyone would waste them in battle.

bent one
Senior Member
posted 01-13-2006 01:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bent one     Edit/Delete Message
I googled "dogs bred for war" and found an interesting article on the irish wolfhound.
Supposed to be the tallest dog in the world it says that the celts bred them as war animals before the first century B.C. Something really cool is that it is actually recorded that the Romans feared them and would only transport them in cages.

I thought that was pretty awesome. no mention of armor thoough. what was neat was that several mentions of war dogs trained in WW1 they were doberman pincers. wasn't that the dog that the original topic said the armor at the show looked like it would fit. Maybe this armor was much more recent.

Senior Member
posted 01-13-2006 03:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for deborahknowles   Click Here to Email deborahknowles     Edit/Delete Message
Dobermans are a relatively new breed too. Certainly not around in Middle Ages. I'll look it up and if I can find it, I'll get back to you.


Senior Member
posted 01-17-2006 04:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steve-O-Gerst   Click Here to Email Steve-O-Gerst     Edit/Delete Message
I had indeed said that the armor looked like it was for a doberman... Of course, I've never had a single pet dog in my life, and it's more likely that this resemblance is caused by a flashback to a bad experience I had when I was six, and not because of any real knowledge as far as dog breeds go.

I believe the display claimed that the armor was used on the dogs of spanish conquistatdors around 1500. It was certainly vey much like steel plate armor for horses and men of about that time, and nothing at all like armor made for functionality any time after 1914.

Glaive... About that fire pot you mention the dogs having on their back... WAS that an early type of gun, or something else?

posted 01-20-2006 01:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Maria   Click Here to Email Maria     Edit/Delete Message
In Roman times and the Middle Ages, mastiffs wearing light armour, carrying spikes and pots of flaming sulphur and resin ran into battle against mounted knights.
I found this here http://www.ccc.govt.nz/animals/DogFacts.asp.
Don't know how accurate it is, as it says "that dingo is not native to Australia but was introduced thousands of years ago by the first immigrants." Thousands of years??

posted 01-20-2006 01:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Maria   Click Here to Email Maria     Edit/Delete Message
Also, look at this "Henry VIII succeeded in conquering the armies of Charles V of France thanks to troops of Mastiffs armed with spiked iron collars and covered in armour.". This is from http://www.dogshome.org/rehome/choosing_a_pet/which_breed/boxer.html
How about doing some research?

Senior Member
posted 01-22-2006 02:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steve-O-Gerst   Click Here to Email Steve-O-Gerst     Edit/Delete Message
Well, sounds like war dogs were a reality... to some degree, and probably more formidable than the average joe would credit them for.

I'm not exactly a pro a research, but it does sound interesting, and I'll probably give it a little more looking into. Don't hold your breath though. I've got a long list of things to do, and it's not near the top.

Pots of smoking material sounds rather unusual. I'd like to see that documented more thoroughly.

posted 01-22-2006 02:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Maria   Click Here to Email Maria     Edit/Delete Message
Think how good that would look in a movie... Anyway, keep in touch if you have new information.

Senior Member
posted 01-25-2006 09:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steve-O-Gerst   Click Here to Email Steve-O-Gerst     Edit/Delete Message
A large number of dogs in shining armor is probably reason enough to film a movie.

"Plot? what do we need one of those for, we've got 100 mastiffs in full body armor!"

Maybe that's what happened to Timeline when they got the Trebutchets... Well, I don't blame them. Discovery just did a documentary on the things, and WOW!

All times are PT (US)

next newest topic | next oldest topic

Administrative Options: Close Topic | Archive/Move | Delete Topic
Post New Topic  Post A Reply
Hop to:

Contact Us | Castles on the Web

Powered by: Ultimate Bulletin Board, Version 5.40
© Infopop Corporation (formerly Madrona Park, Inc.), 1998 - 1999.

Castles on the WebHome
Castles on the WebIntroduction
Castles on the WebCastle Quest
Castles on the WebSite of the Day
Castles on the WebCastle Tours
Castles on the WebCastle Collections
Castles on the WebNew Sites
Castles on the WebPopular Sites
Castles on the WebPhoto Archive
Castles on the WebMiscellaneous
Castles on the WebCastles for Kids
Castles on the WebCastle Glossary
Castles on the WebPalaces & Homes
Castles on the WebMedieval Studies
Castles on the WebAccommodations
Castles on the WebTop Rated
Castles on the WebCastle Postcards
Castles on the WebHeraldry Links
Castles on the WebMyths & Legends
Castles on the WebOrganizations
Castles on the WebCastle Books
Castles on the WebAbbeys & Churches
Castles on the WebWeapons/Supplies
Castles on the WebRandom Site
Castles on the WebAdd A Castle Site
Castles on the WebAcknowledgements
Castles on the WebSearch Options
Castles on the WebPlease Help Us!
Castles on the WebPlease Link To Us
Castles on the WebContact Us

Castles on the Web Copyright 1995- | Privacy Policy