COPTIC DOG: A FOLK ART FIGURE FROM EARLY CHRISTIAN ERA IN EGYPT
Coptic Dog, folk art from the 1st/2nd century AD, Egypt.
I thought I would share this little beauty with you – Coptic dog. It is a late Roman Coptic terra cotta figure of a dog from the c. 1st – 2nd century AD. The dog is standing at attention with perked up ears and tightly curled tail. It has a collar with pendant at front. It is 3.5 x 5 x 2 inches wide, and is one of a pair.
It has been put on sale at $850 by Edgar L. Owen Ltd., which is a premier gallery of antiquities, ancient coins and world art.
Unlike in Arab culture, the dog was never regarded as defiled or defiling by Ancient Egyptians or Copts, but was loved and adored. There is no evidence in Coptic culture that the word “dog” has ever been used as an insult, as is common in Islamic societies.
Update (5 August 2012):
A friend has asked me if I could identify the breed of the above dog. I am not an expert in this field, but I have tried to find about dog breeds in Ancient Egypt. I cam across this passage in Egyptian Household Animals by Rosalind and Jack Janssen (1989); p. 9:
During Egyptian history several breeds developed although the diversity was not nearly so great as in modern times. Some forms were clearly products of selective breeding, especially the greyhound type of the Old Kingdom, which is similar to the modern basenji from Central Africa, with its erect pointed ears and curly tail. This is the ideal specimen which occurs frequently in representations, though it may be doubted whether dogs of this breed were very common. The skeletal evidence mainly points to a smaller type, more like a whippet. A second breed, portrayed in Middle and New Kingdom tomb scenes, displays a shorter muzzle, drooping ears and a long, hanging, or sometimes cocked, tail. It is usually termed a ‘slughi’ and resembles the modern saluki from Somalia. However, apart from these two, many indistinct types appear, resembling, for example, mastiffs or dachshunds.
Our Coptic Dog does not seem to be similar to any of the breeds mentioned by Janssen. And I cannot understand why they have not mentioned the Sothic dog of Isis which was connected with the dog star Sirius. Readers knowledgeable of the Egyptian and Coptic calendar will know that the heliacal rising of Sirius marks the beginning of inundation and the year. The Sothic dog is short, long-haired and prickly-eared.
I think our Coptic Dog is a Sothic dog. One finds figures of this breed common in the first two centuries of our Christian era in the Roman world, particularly Egypt.
 The figure is given the number 7377 by the gallery.