anonymous asked:

how effective is a war hound in combat against, say, an armored knight?

Dogs have a long history of being used in warfare, going back further than the Romans and the Greeks. The vast majority of armies prior to the modern era used dogs to some extent, and they still hold important a positions in our military and police force today. The only reason they no longer have a place on our frontlines is the advent of the gun and a primary focus on ranged warfare, in which the dog like the horse has no place. However, they are still used for guarding and in K-9 units. The German Shepherd has no issue bringing down a full size human.

Historically we have the Molossus and the Alaunt which are both now extinct breeds used by the Romans. However, modern compatriots of these various breeds do exist such as the Mastiff, whose males weigh in between 150 to 250 pounds, and the Irish Wolfhound.

We have records of Irish Wolfhounds being used by the Irish to bring down Norman knights on horseback during their invasion and eventual conquest of Ireland. Their role was to catch the horse and drag the knight from the saddle to be killed.

However, it’s worth noting that dogs don’t go into battle alone. They are pack animals and they travel in teams. An armored knight wouldn’t be fighting a singular dog, he’d be fighting multiple armored dogs and possibly also their handler. These dogs when on their hind legs could almost certainly reach his throat and are more than capable of bowling him over or knocking him to the ground.

He’d be battling in melee, with the fight surging around him. So, there would be other humans whether other knights or various soldiers who could potentially finish whatever the dogs start. Or the dogs finish whatever they start.

While versus ideas are always fun to contemplate, it’s important to remember that warfare from melee to modern is not about dueling. It’s team. Like their dogs, soldiers fight together. It’s not about the individual, but the unit.

Those who fight together, survive together.

Much as we romanticize the lone knight, CIA agent, or soldier who sticks it to the man and makes their own decisions, that’s not how warfare works. Even if you choose to go this route in your storytelling, remember that there are many participating actors taking part.

The danger of the dog is the other dogs and the man or woman standing behind them.

The good news if you want to write about war dogs is that dogs haven’t changed much and their training generally revolves around their natural instincts. So, a better understanding of medieval warfare and studying the historical usage of dogs in combat will give you a good idea of what they were used for and how to write them.


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References and Resources

Dogs in Warfare - Wikipedia is a great place to go for a cursory look, but it is not the only stop you should make. The links at the bottom of the page are particularly helpful when it comes to establishing a wider scholarly base to work from in your research.

Dogs of War - Rome Across Europe’s article does a run down of the historical uses of various war dog types, with a focus on Rome and up to the present. If you want a focus on particular types of war dogs, you’ll need to do a scholarly dig in when it comes to historical periods.

War dogs among the Early Irish

Quartermaster War Dog Program: this page talks about the different types of dogs used in 1942, just a reminder that the usage of dogs in war extends far beyond their use on the battlefield itself. From detecting snipers, to delivering messages, and sniffing out scouts, the war dog has had many important roles throughout history that shouldn’t be overlooked.


Charming English Medieval Bronze Dog, c. 14th Century

Possibly a handle from a medieval vessel, uncovered by a hiker in Wattlington, Oxfordshire in May 2013. The dog was a popular animal across Medieval society and was particularly essential for hunting, one of the favored pastimes of the nobility. The animal depicted may well be an alaunt, a now extinct breed of powerful working dog. The alaunt was the heaviest and most vicious of the medieval breeds and was therefore used against larger game whilst on the hunt such as bears or boars. Despite its uses, the alaunt was also aggressive and reckless, and was known to attack domestic animals, or even its owner. The aristocracy spent a huge amount on hunting dogs in this period. In the 1360’s Edward III spent around £80 a year (equivalent to £35,000 today), on keeping a pack of dogs and maintaining the huntsmen to look after and train them.

anonymous asked:

What breed was Batang?

((idk much about medieval dog breeds but after a little bit of digging I’d say he was the extinct breed: Alaunt Gentil, which was used for hunting and guarding. I can’t get many pictures of one (well, since they’re extinct. they morphed into different breeds over time)))

((he probably looked something like this when alive))

Something just occurred to me. Early in Prince’s Gambit, there’s this quote:

Across the courtyard, a couple of alaunt hounds came bounding down the stone stairs to throw themselves ecstatically at Laurent, who indulged one of them with a rub behind the ears, causing a spasm of jealousy in the other.

Later, when Damen asks the guard if Laurent stayed there often, the guard answered that Laurent used to come to Chastillon with the Regent a lot when he was younger, but less so as he grew older. It gives the implication that most of the Regent’s abuse of Laurent took place at Chastillon.

And from there, it’s easy to imagine those two hounds that are so happy to see him and clearly recognize him were Laurent’s source of happiness and comfort whenever he was at Chastillon. He would have been alone, and when he didn’t spend time with his horse, I’d like to think of Laurent sitting on the floor with two happy but gentle dogs on his lap, nudging his hands with their cold, wet noses and wagging their tails softly when he stroked them. Fetching his boots. Sleeping at the foot of his bed.

And that makes me feel a little bit better.