The wide consensus in research with regard to the modernity of keeping companion animals lies behind the prevailing conclusions about attitudes toward the canine species in pre-modern societies. These were reviewed mainly from a utilitarian perspective. Characterized, in part, by the protective shelter of the extended household and, as such, free of the tensions affecting the nuclear family in industrial cities, pre-modern societies supposedly lacked in the emotional stress and indigence that condition or encourage dog keeping. A careful examination of the sources, both narrative and pictorial, however, suggests more ambivalent attitudes thus challenging widespread research premises and justifying further analysis. This study, covering rural and urban societies in the ancient and medieval periods, examines references to dogs as companion animals in traditional societies.