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A Look At Dog License Tags



When out metal detecting we seem to find a significant number of old dog license tags. They turn up often enough around homesites, in people's yards, in parks, and along hiking trails. It makes sense that they would too. Dogs love the outdoors! And people love spending time outdoors with their pets. Taking a walk with a four legged friend is one of the greatest joys in life. A dog license tag is designed to be worn around a dog's neck on their collar and is usually secured by a single link of a simple chain. The likelihood of a dog losing their tags is quite probable. Also, dog license tags are considered disposal. They have been basically since they were first established due to the fact that they are renewed annually. Once the year is up and the tags have expired many of them probably wind up being discarded as trash. Whether it's as a result of them being lost or discarded or a combination of both, a lot of dog license tags seem to turn up every year. The dog license tags pictured above in the cover photo were all found by James Bertolasio.


It seems as though dog license tags are one of those underappreciated items that tend to get glossed over by most people who metal detect. I don't know too many people who get excited when they dig up one of Fido's old tags. And rightfully so I suppose. There's really not anything all that exciting about a thin metal tag that an old dog use to wear. They are a part of history though and worth discussing for a few brief minutes in time at the very least.

The earliest known dog license is from the year 1446. The fee for license was paid in salt. Hundreds of years ago, pets were a luxury reserved basically just for the wealthiest of people. As time went on this changed of course. Dogs are currently the most popular domestic animal on the planet. In America, during the 1800's dog ownership increased at all levels of society. Dogs could essentially be divided into two basic categories: lap dogs and sporting dogs. Hunting and sporting interest was at large and people wanted loyal dogs as their hunting companions. By the end of the 19th century, a considerable industry had grown to cater to the needs of dog owners.

With dog ownership on the rise, county and cities began requiring owners to purchase an annual license for their dogs. If it moves the government will tax it and so they did. The revenue collected from dog licenses has traditionally been earmarked to go towards various good causes, such orphanages or animal protection. The oldest known American metal dog license tag is dated 1853. It was issued by the Corporation of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Dog license tags were issued by many different municipalities so the shapes and characteristics of tags vary. Most metal dog license tags have the issuing cities name, the year of issue, and an identifying number that was issued to the dog owner. The shapes of the tags vary greatly and range from round or oval disks to dog figures and everything in between. Some tags are shaped like butterflies, doghouses, crosses, state shaped planchets, acorns, bells, hearts, shields, stars, bee hives, locks, or octagonal and scalloped bordered medallions.

At the moment there is a small collectors market for old dog license tags. The older the tags the more desirable they are to collectors. Pre -1900 dog tax tags are rare to find. Interesting shapes or rare specimens are also highly desirable. I hope you enjoyed reading this short article on dog license tags and viewing the photos. Have a great week! Woof, Woof!

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