Canines of the Art World: Pompeii’s “Beware of the Dog” Mosaic

You may have already noticed by now that HiRO has done quite a bit of work featuring dogs.

While personally, I prefer goats, I do admit I have a soft spot for our canine friends as well, and was originally going to turn this post into kind of a rant on “Why didn’t our artists of old ever paint dogs instead of people?”

But then I realized, they DID!

So over my next posts, I’m going to be sharing some stories on my favorite pieces from the art history world.

Today, I’m starting with this one…

Pompeii’s Beware of the Dog Mosaic ~200 BC

Ok, I know that this one was not exactly a painting, but it was too cool to leave out. This mosaic was found in 1824, when they were uncovering an old house in Pompeii. For all of the children, it’s the city where Loki set those goats free (from Disney + Drama, LOKI S1).


The words CAVE CANEM are Latin for “beware of dog”, so specialists say that it was a kind of warning sign used to protect the belongings or private areas of the house. To me though, it just looks like a cute puppy wanting some playtime, but to each their own I suppose…

This particular one was inside of a house that for reasons I have not quite figured out yet, is now referred to as the “House of the Tragic Poet” (Tragic because he died in a volcano eruption?). This was probably the home of the coolest (or maybe just the richest) dude in Pompeii, as it had more art pieces, mosaics, and other decorations than any of the other houses in the city.

For those who like anime, this house and even the dog mosaic were also featured in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind!


Anyways, I hope you got some fun information about one of our oldest records of art featuring dogs!

Next time, I’ll tell you about a painting that’s a bit more recent.

Till then, have a fantastic time!

Anna Ito

2 thoughts on “Canines of the Art World: Pompeii’s “Beware of the Dog” Mosaic

  1. Normally, I don’t hate when I don’t know stuff, because it happens so often, but I do sometimes resent when I feel compelled to google something, because it is so intriguing. So, compelled, I googled, Cave Canem. How great is this!! My husband, the biostatistician, knows all things Latin, Italian, but he is a cat person, and German. We scoured Pompeii, Herculaneum, and more. He doesn’t know anything about the Italian Dogs Beware. I will joyfully send him your post.

    1. Wow, that’s awesome! What does your husband do as a biostatistician? I personally am very lacking in my Latin knowledge, but love learning new things! I’m afraid have to google things all the time but at least I suppose that means I’m still learning 🙂 . What is your favorite aspect of Pompeii or Herculaneum (I had to google Herculaneum because I actually was not very familiar with that city)? From what I understand, Herculaneum was affected by the same eruption as Pompeii?

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