In another breach of that ancient contract between humans and dogs, sometimes the faithful dog has been reduced to a human level of barbaric conduct; fighting dogs. Dogs were trained as the dogs of war. This was not one of the terms and conditions of the original dog domestication contract. The phrase “dogs of war” has an interesting history.
Nowadays it refers to human mercenaries, men who like to be involved in fighting and killing others. Originally these were real dogs trained to attack the front lines of the enemy. The ancient Gauls sent in armoured dogs equipped with heavy collars bristling with razor sharp knives. They rushed at the Roman cavalry, leaping and jumping, tearing the legs of their horses to shreds. Fighting dogs are still with us today.
Dogs in warfare have a very long history starting as mentioned in ancient times. They are trained in combat, to be used as scouts, sentries and trackers. Their uses are very varied and still continue today. In addition there are fighting dogs although pit fights between specially trained animals remains an excuse for gambling and for a form of savage entertainment by bloodthirsty people.
Dog fighting is unlawful. As an aside, I suggested some time ago that the obnoxious practice of declawing cats started in dog fighting. The people who arrange these fights placed cats with fighting dogs to get them warmed up for the next fight. To protect the dogs they declawed the cats. It is a terrifyingly cruel act of brutality against both against cats and dogs.
Dogfighting went underground many years ago. The phrase “Cry havoc! And let slip the dogs of war” comes from William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar. It refers to Mark Anthony imagining the crowd at Caesar’s funeral rising up against the assassins who killed him.
Note on the picture above from Wikipedia: Punch cartoon from 17 June 1876. Russia preparing to let slip the “Dogs of War” and its imminent engagement in the growing Balkan conflict between Slavic states and the Ottoman Empire, while policeman John Bull (Britain) warns Russia to take care. The Slavic states of Serbia and Montenegro would declare war on the Ottoman Empire two weeks later.