Beware of the dog

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Mosaic at Pompeii
Cave canem Roman mosaic at the entrance to the House of the Tragic Poet in Pompeii, Italy, 2nd century BC
Notice at the Glasgow Necropolis

Beware of the dog (also rendered as Beware of dog) is a warning sign indicating that a dangerous dog is within. Such signs may be placed to deter burglary even if there is no dog.[1][2]


Warning signs of this sort have been found in ancient Roman buildings such as the House of the Tragic Poet in Pompeii, which contains a mosaic with the caption cave canem (pronounced [ˈkaweː ˈkanẽː]). Some suppose that these warnings may sometimes have been intended to prevent visitors from stepping upon small, delicate dogs of the Italian Greyhound type.[3]


Under English law, placing such a sign does not relieve the owner of responsibility for any harm which may come to people attacked by the dog.[4][5] Where a company employs the services of a guard dog, the Guard Dogs Act 1975 1975 CHAPTER 50 requires "a notice containing a warning that a guard dog is present is clearly exhibited at each entrance to the premises."[6] In many cases security signs integrate both CCTV warnings and Guard Dog warnings in to the same signage[7].


  1. ^ R Wright, RH Logie (1988), "How young house burglars choose targets", The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice
  2. ^ C Wilkinson (1998), "Deconstructing the fort", Journal of Australian Studies
  3. ^ Cheryl S. Smith (2004), The Rosetta bone, pp. 10–11, ISBN 978-0-7645-4421-7
  4. ^ James Paterson (1877), Commentaries on the Liberty of the Subject and the Laws of England, p. 271
  5. ^ Charles G. Addison, Horace Gray Wood (1876), A treatise on the law of torts, p. 285
  6. ^ Participation, Expert. "Guard Dogs Act 1975". Retrieved 2019-08-17.
  7. ^ ""Site Security Sign". Retrieved 2019-08-17.

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