Saturday, June 8, 2013


Depictions of domestic dogs in rock art are found fairly common. Domesticated dogs can often be identified by the patterns of their coats. While the large wild canines of North America, the wolf and the coyote, tend to have a fur coat that is darker above and lighter beneath with a fairly even graduation between them on the sides, domesticated dogs can have broken, blotchy coat coloration.

Horseshoe Canyon, Canyonlands, Wayne County, UT.
Photograph:  Don I. Campbell, 16 May 1984.

Barrier Canyon style dog portrayals often seem to show them accompanying humans. This probable dog photo (above) is from Horseshoe Canyon in Utah.

Temple Mountain Wash, Utah.
Photograph: Peter Faris, 2002.

A Barrier Canyon style pictograph panel at Temple Mountain Wash, Utah (above), shows a group of figures accompanied by one dog (and perhaps a second one behind him).

Bi-colored domestic dogs, Brown's Park, Colorado.
Photograph: Peter Faris, 1987.

One unusual panel is found on a ranch in Brown’s Park Colorado which shows two domestic dogs alone, not as part of a scene of hunting or other activity. They can be recognized as domestic dogs by their coloration patterns.

Spotted dogs in a cavate, Mortandad canyon, NM.
Photograph: Peter Faris, 2003.

Another possible pair of dogs is found incised into the smoke blackened wall of a cavate room at the Mortandad ruin in New Mexico. This pair of quadrupeds has long straight tails but do not have claws on their feet so they were not likely meant to represent mountain lions and without horns, antlers, hoofs, or other identifiable traits from other animals they may well be intended to represent canines. Importantly they are shown covered with spots so if they are canines they must represent domesticated dogs. Their association with horned serpents suggests that they are involved in some myth or story of spiritual significance.

Dog petroglyphs, Nuuanu, Oahu, Hawaii. 
Photograph: Peter Faris, October 23, 2010.

This example of a Hawaiian dog petroglyph is from the Nu’uanu valley, on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.  I presented this in a column on December 29, 2010, entitled The Nu’anu Petroglyphs, Oahu, and discussed some of the myths and legends surrounding this site.  

 Dog petroglyph, the Big Island, Hawaii. 
Photograph: Ellen Belef, September 10, 2012. 

Another dog petroglyph from the Big Island, Hawaii, photographed on 10 Sept. 2012, has been provided by Ellen Belef. Unfortunately this one shows signs of having been touched up by parties unknown with a straight edged metal chisel.

What examples of petroglyphs of dogs do you know of?

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