In the Roman Empire, two thousand years ago, there were already “miniature dogs” as pets, whose size was similar to that of some current breeds.
This is the conclusion of a study carried out by archaeologists at the University of Granada, in Spain, published in the scientific journal Archeological and Anthropological Sciences, with the participation of scientists from the Andalusian Institute of Earth Sciences (IACT-CSIC) and the Institute of History of the Superior Council for Scientific Research (IH-CSIC).
According to the Europa Press agency, the research shows the study of isotopes found in dog burial sites in the Roman necropolis of Llanos do Pretoria, in Córdoba, where about 70 human burials were also carried out.
“A small dog, in particular, stands out (with just over 20 centimeters in height), shortened limbs and a flattened snout, which we found in a pit near the burials of human children,” explains Rafael M. Martínez Sánchez, the main author of the study.
Although there is no way for researchers to know what this animal looked like externally just by studying its bones, its skeletal structure is similar to current small breeds, like the Pekingese or some types of Chihuahua.
“The existence of small dogs as pets, objects of affection and special consideration for their owners, has been known since Classical Antiquity, a fact corroborated by texts, epigraphy and iconography,” explains Martínez Sánchez.
This is the case of classic authors such as Pliny the Elder and Claudio Eliano, who mentioned in their works the taste of the urban classes for these animals, for whom there were even funerary epigraphs, similar to those used for beloved servants or slaves.