For thousands of years, dogs have served humans as protectors, hunting aids, and, of course, faithful companions. And throughout that time, they have been celebrated in virtually every kind of art imaginable, from drawings and paintings to bronze sculptures and rare collectibles.

At the Doyle New York gallery in New York City, this tradition is celebrated each year at an auction of canine-related works, scheduled to coincide with the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. The artwork -- much of which was created during the 19th century, when dog portraiture was first popularized -- depicts all sorts of breeds.

Most of the pieces fall into one of three genres: pet portraits, reflecting an owner's sentimental view of the animal; purebred portraits, emphasizing the traits and features of a specific breed; or portraits of dogs at work, hunting or playing in the fields. These items have become increasingly coveted over the years, not only among collectors of fine art but also pet lovers.



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