The Vikings were seafaring people who lived in Scandinavia in the 8th-11th centuries. The Vikings were known for their prowess in battle and exploration, but did they keep pets? The answer is yes, they did. In fact, the Vikings were known to have a variety of pets, from cats to dogs to even bears. In this article, we will explore the different types of pets the Vikings had, how they acquired them, and what they did with them.
Did Vikings Keep Pets?
While the Vikings were often associated with raiding and conquest, they were also farmers and fishermen. As such, they would have had a variety of animals around their homes, some of which they may have kept as pets. The Vikings were also known to be animal lovers, and they had a deep respect for the natural world.
What Pets Did Vikings Have?
So, what animals did the Vikings keep as pets? The Norsemen had a variety of pets, including cats, dogs, birds, horses, and even bears. They kept cats primarily for their ability to catch mice and rats, which were a common problem in Viking households. Dogs were kept as both hunting companions and guards. They were also used for herding livestock. Birds were kept for their beauty and for their ability to sing. Horses were essential for transportation, but they were also kept as pets. Finally, bears were sometimes kept as pets, although this was rare.
As you can see, the Vikings kept a wide variety of animals as pets, but the most common were cats and dogs. Cats were prevalent because of their ability to catch rodents. Vikings believed cats were good luck and could protect their homes from evil spirits. Dogs were also popular because of their loyalty and usefulness as hunting companions and guards.
Did Vikings Have Dogs?
Yes, the Vikings had various dogs, including hunting and guard dogs. They were highly valued for their loyalty and usefulness in hunting and protecting their owners. Vikings would often have multiple dogs, each with a specific job. For example, one dog might be trained to hunt game, while another might be trained to guard the home.
One of the most common breeds of dogs kept by Vikings was the spitz-type dog, similar to modern-day huskies and malamutes. These dogs were well-suited to the cold climate of Scandinavia and were used for hunting and sled-pulling. The Vikings also had hunting dogs, such as greyhounds and hounds, used to track and catch a game.
Vikings were skilled at training their dogs and would work with them from a young age, teaching them to follow commands and be obedient. Dogs were often given as gifts and were considered to be valuable possessions. In Viking society, it was not uncommon for a person to be judged by the quality of their dogs.
In addition to their practical uses, dogs played a significant role in Viking mythology. For example, the god Odin was often depicted with two wolves by his side, while the goddess Freya was said to travel in a chariot pulled by two cats. Dogs were also believed to be home protectors and were often buried with their owners.
What Breed of Dogs Did Vikings Have?
Dogs played a vital role in Viking society, and the Vikings had a variety of breeds of dogs, each with specific purposes. One of the most common breeds of dogs kept by the Vikings was the spitz-type dog, which was similar to modern-day huskies and malamutes. These dogs were well-suited to the cold climate of Scandinavia and were used for hunting and sled-pulling. They were an essential mode of transportation during the winter months when the land was covered in snow.
In addition to sled-pulling, the Vikings had hunting dogs, such as hounds. These dogs were trained to track and grab game, making them a valuable asset for hunting. The Vikings would work with these dogs from a young age, training them to hunt and obey commands. Dogs were often given as gifts and were considered to be valuable possessions.
Did Vikings Keep Bears as Pets?
Yes, there is evidence that Vikings occasionally kept bears as pets. Still, it was a rare practice and not commonly done. Bears were considered powerful and dangerous animals and were not easy to control. As such, keeping them as pets required significant skill and knowledge.
In some cases, Vikings would capture bear cubs and raise them as pets. These bears were often trained to perform tricks and were sometimes used for entertainment at gatherings or during battles. However, bears were also dangerous animals, and they could be unpredictable. As such, keeping them as pets was not a common practice.
In Viking mythology, bears played a significant role. The god Thor was associated with bears, and it was believed that he could transform into a bear. Bears were seen as symbols of strength and courage in some Viking legends. Yet, these mythological associations do not necessarily reflect the reality of the Vikings’ relationship with bears.
Did Vikings Have Pet Wolves?
There is no concrete evidence that the Norsemen had pet wolves. While the Vikings deeply respected the natural world and were skilled at taming animals, wolves were not commonly kept as pets. Wolves were highly valued for their hunting abilities and role in Viking mythology, but they were also seen as dangerous animals that were difficult to control.
It is possible that the Vikings may have raised wolf cubs and trained them for hunting or as guards, but there is no clear evidence to prove this. The Vikings were known to keep a variety of pets, including cats, dogs, birds, and even bears, but wolves were not commonly mentioned in historical accounts.
In Viking mythology, wolves played a significant role. Odin, the chief god of the Vikings, had two wolves named Geri and Freki, who accompanied him in battle. The god Tyr was also associated with wolves, and it was believed that warriors who died in battle would be carried to Valhalla by wolves. But these associations do not always reflect the reality of the Vikings’ relationship with wolves.
What Names Did Vikings Give Their Pets?
Vikings gave their pets various names, many of which were based on the animal’s behavior or appearance. For example, a particularly agile cat might be named “Swift,” while a particularly loyal dog might be called “Faithful.” Vikings also gave their pets human names, such as Erik or Olaf.
Besides naming their pets after their behavior or appearance, the Vikings sometimes gave them names based on their mythology and beliefs. For example, a dog might be called “Fenrir,” after the giant wolf in Norse mythology. Similarly, a cat might be named “Freya,” after the goddess of love and fertility.
Vikings also gave their pets names based on their personal beliefs and experiences. For example, a dog might be named after a loved one who had passed away or after a significant event in the owner’s life. In some cases, the names given to pets were kept secret, as the Vikings believed that knowing the true name of an animal gave power over it.
How Did Vikings Get Cats?
Vikings acquired cats in a variety of ways. Some cats were brought to Scandinavia by traders from other parts of Europe, while others were captured from the wild. Vikings also traded with different cultures, and it is possible that they acquired cats through these trade routes. Once they had a cat, Vikings often kept it in their homes to help control the rodent population.
It is thought that cats were first domesticated in ancient Egypt around 4,000 years ago, and they were highly valued for their ability to catch rodents. Cats spread throughout the Mediterranean region from Egypt, and they were eventually introduced to Europe. The Vikings likely encountered cats while traveling to the Mediterranean or other parts of Europe.
Once the Vikings had acquired cats, they quickly realized their value as rodent catchers. Vikings were skilled farmers and would have stored grains and other foodstuffs, which would have attracted rodents. The cats would have been a natural solution to this problem, as they could keep the rodent population under control and protect the food supply.
Apart from their practical uses, cats were valued for their companionship. Vikings would often keep cats as pets, allowing them to roam freely around their homes. They believed cats were good luck and could protect their homes from evil spirits.
In Viking mythology, cats played a significant role. The goddess Freya was said to travel in a chariot pulled by two cats, and cats were believed to have supernatural abilities. For example, it was noted that if a cat walked over a person’s grave, that person would be guaranteed a place in Valhalla, the Viking afterlife.
Did Vikings Tame Animals?
The Vikings were skilled at taming animals, particularly horses, and dogs. They were known for their ability to train horses to be ridden, which was a valuable skill for travel and battle. Vikings also trained dogs to be hunting companions and guards. They would work with the dogs from a young age, teaching them to follow commands and to be obedient.
How Did Vikings Bury Their Pets?
Vikings had a deep respect for their pets and would often bury them with great ceremony. They would dig a grave and place the pet’s body inside, along with any items important to the animal. Vikings believed their pets would go to Valhalla, the Viking afterlife, and they would be reunited with their owners in the next life.
Did Vikings Have Domesticated Animals?
Yes, the Vikings had a variety of domesticated animals, including cows, pigs, sheep, and goats. These animals were essential to Viking society, providing food and clothing. Vikings would keep these animals in pens near their homes and care for them throughout the year. They would also use these animals for breeding, ensuring they had a steady supply of meat and wool.
Besides these animals, the Vikings also had horses that were domesticated for riding and transportation. Horses were highly valued and were often given as gifts or used as payment for services. The Vikings were skilled at training horses and would often ride them into battle.
Dogs were also considered domesticated animals, as they were kept for hunting and protection. Dogs were highly valued for their loyalty and usefulness in hunting and protecting their owners. Vikings would often have multiple dogs, each with a specific job. For example, one dog might be trained to hunt game, while another might be trained to guard the home.
What Did Vikings Do with Cats?
Vikings primarily kept cats for their ability to catch rodents. They believed cats were good luck and could protect their homes from evil spirits. However, cats were also valued for their companionship, and many Vikings would keep them as pets. Vikings would often allow their cats to roam freely around their homes, giving them a warm place to sleep.
What Was the Vikings Favorite Animal?
It is difficult to say what the Vikings’ favorite animal was, as they deeply respected all animals. Yet, dogs were highly valued for their loyalty and usefulness in hunting and protection. Dogs were often given as gifts and were considered to be valuable possessions. Cats were also highly valued for their ability to catch rodents and for companionship.
What Animals Did Vikings Hunt?
The Vikings were skilled hunters who hunted various animals for food, clothing, and other resources. The specific animals that they hunted would depend on their location and the season, but some of the most common animals hunted by the Vikings included:
- Deer: The Vikings would hunt red deer and roe deer, which were abundant in the forests of Scandinavia. They would use bows, arrows, or spears to take down these animals, and the meat and antlers would be used for food and clothing.
- Boar: Wild boar were also common in Scandinavia and a popular target for Viking hunters. Boar meat was considered a delicacy, and the hides were used for clothing and armor.
- Bear: While the Vikings did not commonly hunt bears, they were occasionally targeted for their meat and fur. Bears were considered powerful and dangerous animals; hunting them required skill and knowledge.
- Wolves: Wolves were not commonly hunted by the Vikings but were occasionally targeted for their hides and teeth. Wolves were also seen as symbols of strength and courage in Viking mythology.
- Birds: The Vikings would hunt a variety of birds, including geese, ducks, and swans. These birds were a source of meat, feathers, and down.
In the end, the Vikings were known to have a variety of pets, including cats, dogs, birds, horses, and even bears. They were skilled at taming animals and had a deep respect for the natural world. Vikings often buried their pets with lavish ceremonies, believing they would be reunited in the afterlife. While the Vikings are often associated with battle and conquest, their love of animals shows they were also deeply caring and compassionate.