Descendants of grey wolf, the domestic dog has come a long way to being the second most popular pet in the world; after the cat. It is estimated that there are about 74 million pet dogs in North America alone! Our relationship with canines goes back over 40,000 years! Through selective breeding, we have altered the once feared wolf into breed after breed of domesticated dog. They may not look like it, but the pug was once a wolf. Grrr.
First the Stats…
Scientific name: Canis familiaris
Weight: Up to 340 lbs.
Length: Up to 98 inches
Height: Up to 42 inches (at the shoulder)
Lifespan: Up to 15+ years
Now on to the Facts!
1.) Being pack animals, by nature, dogs have a very high social IQ.
2.) You know how yawning is contagious? It also affects dogs too.
3.) Humans have 5 million scent receptors, where dogs, like the Alsatian, have up to 220 million!
4.) Dog’s have been trained to smell diseases and even cancer. For instance, cancer produces different metabolic waste products than healthy cells. They pick up this scent on our breath. That’s the power of their sense of smell!
5.) After much research, it has been surmised that dogs can actually smell time. As the day progresses, scents change. Temperatures increase or decrease and with these temperatures, the smells of the day also change. This helps them tell time… in a manner of speaking.
But wait, there’s more on the domestic dog!
6.) Scent, body position, facial expressions, physical appearance, movements, and vocalizations; like barks, whines, and growls all make up a dog’s communication repertorium.
7.) The domestic dog has been documented as showing pessimism, optimism, depression, empathy, and jealousy.
Did you know…?
The domestic dog is typically able to understand up to 250 words and gestures.
8.) Your average canine has the intelligence of a 2 year old child.
9.) When a person meets another person, they tend to look to the right side of their encounter’s face to discern their emotional state. Dogs are the only non-primate to follow this habit. But they only do this with humans, not other dogs.
10.) Seeing eye dogs are trained to poop and pee on command. This helps to make it easier for their companion to clean it up, while on a walk.
But wait, there’s still more on the domestic dog!
11.) The oldest known dog breed is the Saluki. This breed dates back to Egypt, circa 2100 B.C.
12.) The very presence of a playful and happy adult dog or puppy is known to have a profoundly therapeutic impact on patients. Lifting spirits is one way dogs can help us heal.
13.) It has been proved that dogs who are spayed or neutered live longer than those who are left intact.
14.) Encountering and petting a dog releases a hormone known as oxytocin. This hormone causes the same feeling as love.
15.) Ever wonder why some dachshunds can have a bit of a mean streak? Well, they were originally bred to combat badgers.
But wait, there’s still even more on the domestic dog!
16.) A dog’s nose is wet as this helps them to pick up smells easier.
Did you know…?
It has been rumored that, at the end of the Beatles song, “A Day in the Life,” Paul McCartney recorded an ultrasonic dog whistle, as a tribute to his Shetland sheepdog. This could be true, after all, we all know Paul loves animals… he was the walrus.
18.) Just like a fox’s ability to sense the earth’s polar magnetic field, so do domestic dogs. When you’re walking your dog and it seems like they are taking forever to find just the right spot to do their business, it’s because they prefer to eliminate their waste in alignment with the earth’s magnetic field.
19.) Canines evolved from an ancient creature known as a Miacis, about 60 million years ago. About 30 – 40 million years ago the Miacis evolved into the Cynodictis; the first true dog. From there Cynodictis branched into 2 versions. One in Africa and one in Eurasia. The Eurasian species evolved into what is known today as Tomarctus; the predecessor of wolves, dogs, and foxes. The African species developed into jackals, wild dogs, and hyenas.
20.) Are you single? Sounds like a dating ad. But if you are single, your chances of getting a date increases up to 33%, just by having a dog. That chance goes up even higher when one yields a puppy. Because who doesn’t love a puppy? In a social study, it was determined that nearly 70% of women will refuse to date a man who doesn’t like animals. Be it said and documented that if you don’t like animals, I wont like you either.
Yep, still even more on the domestic dog!
21.) The Newfoundland has webbed feet and a water resistant coat. This dog was initially bred to help with hauling fishermen nets and rescuing drowning people.
22.) Considering the fact that when we experience fear we typically sweat, dogs are able to pick up on the change in your scent and thus able to smell fear.
23.) Puppies have up to 28 deciduous (baby) teeth and adult dogs have up to 42 permanant teeth.
24.) In the spirit of learned behavior, feral dogs, in Russia, have been seen riding the subway and getting off at certain stops, in search of food.
25.) Dogs and humans both have the same type of slow wave sleep – SWS and rapid eye movement – REM. When entered into this REM stage dogs actually do dream. If you see a sleeping dog twitching they are, in fact, dreaming. They may even talk in their sleep. Mine do.
Just a little more on the domestic dog!
26.) In ancient Egypt, dogs were thought to possess god-like powers. Only royalty was permitted to own purebred dogs. When a member of royalty died, their dog was buried along with them, as it was believed it would protect their master in the afterlife.
27.) Like cats, dogs only sweat on the pads of their feet.
28.) Dog’s eyes have a special membrane, called the tapetum lucidum. This helps them to see in the dark, but not nearly as well as a cat. They also have a nictitating membrane, that is a third eyelid, which they use to moisten their eyeball. Cats also have this membrane.
Did you know…?
Some northern dog breeds, like the Siberian husky, will howl instead of barking. On the other side of the coin, the basenji chooses not to bark but emits a yodeling sound when happy.
29.) Dogs pant to cool themselves down. When running, most of the time, a dog is panting not because it’s tired, but because it’s trying to cool down.
30.) It has been widely misconceived that dogs only see in black, white, and grays. This isn’t true. They see primarily in blues, greenish-yellows, yellows, and various shades of grays.
Finally, the last few facts about the domestic dog!
31.) There are an estimated 900 million domestic dogs in the world today.
32.) Worldwide, the FCI recognizes 360 official dog breeds. These breeds do not include experimental breeds. Official lists also don’t include mixed-breed dogs, or “designer” dogs, like the puggle or chug. A breed is only classified when there is a population of at least 300 – 400 dogs. But then it’s still under scrutiny.
33.) Your dog will sometimes kick after going to the bathroom as they are adding an additional paw scent to their urinary markings.
34.) What did you say? Dogs hear at 8,000 Hz. Humans only hear at around 2,000 Hz.
35.) Food is rarely chewed. Dogs prefer to gulp their food, swallowing it whole. They then rely mostly on their small intestines to digest their food. People often wonder why a dog will go so crazy for that piece of steak, only to just gulp it down. It’s the smell alone that gets them so excited, not the actual taste.