What Pets Did Ancient Greece Have?

Pets have been an integral part of human societies throughout history. Ancient Greece, renowned for its rich culture and philosophy, was no exception.

So, what kind of pets did the ancient Greeks have? Let’s explore!

The Role of Pets in Ancient Greece

In ancient Greece, pets were not only considered as companions but also held symbolic significance in various aspects of society. Dogs were highly valued for their loyalty and hunting abilities, while cats were believed to possess magical powers and were associated with the goddess of love and fertility, Aphrodite.

Dogs in Ancient Greece

Dogs were the most common pets in ancient Greece. They served multiple purposes such as guarding homes and livestock, hunting game animals, and even participating in warfare. The Greeks bred specific breeds like the Laconian Hound for hunting wild boar and greyhounds for racing.

Types of Dogs in Ancient Greece

  • Laconian Hound – Bred specifically for hunting wild boar.
  • Molossus – A large dog breed used by Greeks for guarding livestock.
  • Greyhound – Bred for racing and hunting small game animals.
  • Maltese – Known for their small size and friendly nature.

Cats in Ancient Greece

Cats were also popular pets among ancient Greeks. They were believed to be sacred animals associated with the goddess Aphrodite, who was often depicted accompanied by a cat. Cats were kept as indoor pets and primarily served as mouse catchers.

The Mythology Surrounding Cats in Ancient Greece

The ancient Greeks held cats in high regard because of their association with Aphrodite. According to Greek mythology, the goddess once transformed her lover into a lion but later changed him back to human form with the help of a cat. This incident played a significant role in establishing cats as sacred animals.

Other Pets in Ancient Greece

Apart from dogs and cats, other animals were also kept as pets or for practical purposes. For example, birds like doves and pigeons were kept for their beauty and singing abilities, while horses were used for transportation and sports.

Other Animals Kept as Pets in Ancient Greece

  • Doves – Known for their beauty and singing abilities.
  • Pigeons – Kept for their beauty, singing abilities, and as messenger birds.
  • Horses – Used for transportation and sports like racing and chariot racing.
  • Monkeys – Brought from India by Alexander the Great during his conquest of Persia. They were kept as exotic pets by wealthy Greeks.


In conclusion, ancient Greeks had a fondness for pets that was deeply rooted in their culture and mythology. Dogs were highly valued for their hunting abilities, while cats were considered sacred animals associated with the goddess Aphrodite.

Other animals such as birds and horses also had practical purposes beyond mere companionship. These pets played an integral role in ancient Greek society and continue to do so till this day.