Dog coat of arms

Dog coat of arms

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Dog coat of arms

The coat of arms of the dog is a coat of arms of the type borne by animals of the dog family Canidae. It is the blazon of the coat of arms for the dog in heraldry, as it has the longest history and widest international use of any blazon of arms. It usually takes the form of a dog of any kind with a collar, collars of three types being particularly common.

In some traditions, the shield contns two or more dogs, either set on guard or engaged in combat. This design is found in the arms of several families in Britn, and also in the arms of the United States House of Representatives, but has little international significance.

In modern times the collars are often not displayed, and the shape of the shield is not always shown. In some instances this can result in the appearance of a dog with two heads and a single collar. The three collar types referred to are dog-collar, neckerchief, and neckerchief-and-collar. In many cases they appear as if tied to the collar. In such cases the type of collar is not recorded as part of the blazon, but it is clear that the person who makes such blazoning intended it to be understood that the arms depict a dog with a collar.


The coat of arms of the dog has the longest history of any blazon of arms. This is not because it was invented first, but because it was the first heraldic animal to be depicted by engraver. The earliest representations of an animal by an engraver were of the lion. However, a large, heraldic lion was difficult to produce, and was a popular subject for many years before the first dog was made. It was the subject of a heraldic challenge, in which the arms of a competing family were challenged, and they showed a dog with a collar (described as a "tawse" in Latin) instead of a collar (described as a "circled cravat" in Latin). The dog shown was a Yorkshire Terrier.

The earliest dog that could be described as a "Tawse" was the Bulldog, a large breed. The collar was added much later, by James MacKinnon in 1598. However, it is unclear that this was the first dog shown with a collar, as several engravings of dogs from earlier than the 19th century, particularly from Germany and Flanders, clearly show a collar.

The original blazon of arms was that of the late 16th century. However, it was not the only blazon that was used. Since the early 19th century, several variants have been used.

The original blazon, as depicted on the original shield of arms for the family of John Mackinnon and on the family crest, has a number of differences from the more common version:

Instead of a collar, there is a "tawse" on the dog's neck.

The arms of the "tawse" are blazoned as per the collar.

The arms of the dog are blazoned as Gules, a fess between in chief of a chevron Gules between two barrulets Argent (i.e., all on a red ground). In the original 16th century version of the arms, the dog's collar would have been shown as an independent charge, but in the more common modern version, the collar is shown as part of the dog's coat of arms.

The motto is in Old Scots, as "Fiat voluntas tua" ("Let thy will be done").

Later family crests were similar to the original version, with only minor modifications, in particular in that there was no longer any depiction of the "tawse".


Féile na Gaedheal

Féile an Phobl

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Category:Scottish Gaelic coats of arms


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