You know who’s been stealing the show in art for centuries? Dogs. Our four-legged buddies have been the muses of painters, sculptors, and artists of all kinds since ancient times. And they’ve rocked every role – from regal companions to humble street mutts.

Let’s take a walk through the doggy art gallery, shall we?

It all started with cave paintings, where our ancestors captured the very first portraits of dogs. These crude but charming renderings show dogs hunting alongside humans and cattle. Talk about a dynamic trio! These early artists knew that dogs were more than just pets – they were partners in survival. This cave painting could be dated as far back as 9000 BC (if true this would be the first image of a dog)

Doggy Art - First image of a dog
Photograph by Maria Guagnin

Fast forward a few thousand years, and you’ll find dogs living the high life in ancient Egyptian and Greek art. Immortalised in hieroglyphics and etched onto vases, dogs represented loyalty, protection, and the thrill of the hunt for these iconic civilisations. They guarded the gates of the underworld and frolicked with gods and goddesses.

Black-Figured Lekythos, c. 500 BC Greece - Doggy Art
Black-Figured Lekythos, c. 500 BC Greece

But it was during the Renaissance that dogs really became art superstars. Artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael captured every lush lock of fur, every soulful eye. These pampered pooches lounged in lavish palaces or accompanied nobles on grand hunting expeditions. They didn’t just steal the scene – they owned it, especially the Regal Maltese (They were originally so tiny)

Leonardo da Vinci - King & Mcgaw
King & Mcgaw – Leonardo da Vinci

As art evolved, so did its doggy depictions. Rebellious pups broke free from the leashes of tradition in avant-garde works by Modernists like Pablo Picasso and David Hockney. These bold artists fractured forms and played with perspective, reimagining dogs as wild, free spirits.

Femme-au-Chien - Pablo Picasso 1962 - Doggy Art
Femme-au-Chien – Pablo Picasso

And let’s not forget sculpture!

From the whimsical fire-dog hydrants by Catalonian artist Batllo to Jeff Koons’ massive, shimmering Balloon Dog, our canine chums have inspired some seriously jaw-dropping 3D masterpieces over the centuries.

Balloon Dog by Jeff Koons (1994 - 2000) - Doggy Art
Balloon Dog by Jeff Koons (1994 – 2000)

Today, dogs continue to inspire cutting-edge artists who are reshaping how we experience and interact with art. For example, remember that incredible dog photobooth at your local gallery last year? Or the hilarious meme-inspired GIFs plastered all over our social feeds?

Kabosu - The Real Dog behind Dogecoin
Kabosu – The Real Dog behind Dogecoin

Dogs have always been more than just pets to humanity. They’re our muses, our comic relief, and our cheerleaders through the ages. And thanks to their scene-stealing performances on canvas, marble, and beyond, they’ve guaranteed themselves a permanent place in the pantheon of art history’s biggest stars.

Korean Maltese Stud
Korean Maltese Super Star
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