Throughout recorded history, humans have had an amazing association with dogs. Art from early Babylonian era show large mastiff type dogs that were probably valued for guarding capabilities and also as comrades in battles. The Egyptian God Anubis is depicted as having a human body with the head of a hound. So today I have compiled a list of famous dog facts that will serve as great conversation starters.
Dogs – what would we do without them?
Dogs are not just wonderful companions-they also perform many tasks of varied kind. No one can detect drugs and explosives like the canine nose can. Police forces around the world prefer a well trained German Shepherd by their side rather than having any other deterrent when dealing with rowdy villains. Rounding up sheep or cattle would be impossible for humans alone and they depend on intelligent Collies to help them. Many blind people would lead isolated and difficult lives without the assistance of a smart therapy dog like a Labrador or a Golden Retriever to help them. Dogs make wonderful pets for people of all ages. Today, 1 out of every 3 American households are known to keep pet dogs.
So many breeds!
There are an estimated 450 dog breeds in the world including rare, ancient and almost extinct breeds. Dog experts classify dogs on the basis of factors like intelligence, trainability, good with children, amount of grooming required, the functions they perform and so on. All dogs originated from the Grey Wolf. They also have bloodlines of foxes, Ethiopian wolves, Golden Jackals and Coyotes! A long time ago, wolves started coming closer to dogs and humans tamed them. Thus began the association between humans and dogs. For individual dog breed facts, visit our Dog Breed section. Here are some dog breed facts to note:
- Dogs come in many shapes and sizes. They could have long or short haired coats, straight or curly coats. You can get them in single or multi colors. Dog coats can also be brindled, mottled, spotted and with patches or stripes.
- Dogs perform various duties. Their sharp sense of smell and hearing can help them warn us about dangers. Hunting dog breeds used to accompany their humans on their hunting trips. They would help track, point or retrieve the prey. Small breeds like the intelligent Jack Russell terrier can even enter small holes and capture rabbits or squirrels. Gun dogs and retrievers can bring back prey from deep inside the forest or even from the water.
- While small dogs are gaining in popularity, the top dogs are still the big ones. The Labrador Retriever, The Golden Retriever and the German Shepherd are first, second and third on the list of the American Kennel Club’s most popular breeds.
- French Poodles did not come from France-they came from Germany!
- Dalmatians are not born with spots-the spots arise much later-when they are about a week to 10 days old.
- The United States has most number of registered dogs followed by France. Other dog friendly countries in the world are Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Puerto Rico and Morocco.
- Not all dogs bark. The African dog breed Basenji is a barkless dog that is also as fastidious about grooming itself as a cat is.
- The Canary Island is not named after the Canary birds; rather the Romans called the Island as Insule Canariae because of the presence of many canines on it.
Today, dogs perform many complex tasks other than hunting, retrieving or herding. They can assist police and even work for disabled or sick people. Many modern breeds today simply work as loving companions.
- Dogs are not pack animals but they do love to do things in a group. It is no wonder that the house pets today look up to their humans as pack leaders.
- Dogs are intelligent creatures that can observe and take in information from the world around them. Your dog is almost as smart as two year old.
- They can remember things and have a great memory
- Dogs are intelligent enough to modify their behavior based on the circumstances
- Many dog breeds are known to be very jealous and possessive. There are cases where dogs wouldn’t allow their owner to kiss, hug or touch another human (even their child).
- Dogs can communicate with each other and with their humans as well.
- Temperaments of dogs vary based on the breed
- Dogs have emotions.
- These intelligent creatures learn best in their puppyhood; therefore, early training and socialization can go a long way in shaping their behavior as adults.
- Intelligent dogs can learn up to 160 words! (Source Dr. Stanley Coren)
- The wet nose of dogs can absorb hundreds of thousands of smells.
Dog body language – How to behave when you meet a dog for the first time
- When a dog wags its tail, it does not necessarily mean he is friendly.
- A submissive and friendly dog will lie on its back with all legs raised and asking to be patted or petted on the tummy.
- A fearful dog will keep its tail between the legs-never approach a scared dog-it could bite.
- Relaxed and interested dogs will have their head down and come sniffing at your feet and legs.
- Playful and begging-In this case, the dog will have its front legs bent, head lowered at your feet and its hip raised with a wagging tail!
- An aggressive dog will have hair raised growling teeth or snarling mouth. This dog is poised to bite.
- Never look directly into the eyes of a dog you aren’t familiar with-this is an invitation to fight.
- While befriending a dog for the first time, allow it to sniff you. You can offer a closed fist near its nose for it to sniff.
- Never put your hand over a dog’s head to pet it; he could take this as a challenge and even bite you. The head and surrounding few inches of space is very personal to the dog.
- There is a reason why male dogs raise their leg while peeing- they do it to make them look bigger to other male dogs nearby. Some African wild dogs run up tree trunks while peeing!
Scientific facts about dogs anatomy, senses etc
- Puppies have 28 milk teeth which fall off by 4 months of age. Adult dogs have 42 permanent teeth.
- Humans have 5 million scent cells while dogs have 220 million scent cells.
- Dogs have better hearing than ours but their eyesight is less developed as compared to ours. For one; they cannot sense all colors. However, they can see movement over much greater distances.
- They do not have as well developed sense of taste as humans. That is why they sniff at their food.
- Dogs pant to cool down their bodies.
- They have unique nose prints just like we have fingerprints. A dog’s nose print can help in his identification!
- Dog’s shoulder blades are not attached to the rest of the skeleton-this helps them run faster.
- If you see your dog twitching, whimpering, running or barking in his sleep; he is probably dreaming. Researchers believe that dogs dream of their favorite activity.
- Dogs curl up in their sleep not just for warmth but also for protecting vital organs.
- They can see black, white, blue and yellow colors. As they lack the cones to see red and green, dogs cannot decipher these colors.
- The sweat glands in dogs’ paws give them a unique nutty aroma like that of corn chips.
Famous dog facts – Oldest, fastest, smallest
- The oldest dog in the world was an Australian Cattle dog named Bluey. He lived for nearly 30 years from 1910-1939.
- The world’s smallest dog was a Yorkshire terrier weighing only about 4 ounces. He measured only about 3 inches at withers and less than 4 inches from nose to tail.
- World’s most expensive dog was the Tibetan Mastiff named Big Splash sold for nearly $1.5 million!
- Tallest dog was a Great Dane named Shamgret Danzas; he was nearly 42 inches tall and 238 lbs in weight.
- The world’s heaviest dog was an Old English Mastiff named Zorba. He weighed about 343 lbs!
- A greyhound named Bang jumped nearly 30 ft while chasing a hare in Gloucestershire, England. He damaged his pastern bone.
- A Doberman Pinscher named Sauer tracked a stock thief by scent alone nearly 100 miles across the Great Karroo, South Africa.
- Chanda Leah, an intelligent toy poodle, owns the world record of having a repertoire of 469 audience wowing tricks! They include playing the piano, untying the knot in shoelaces and even clearing the toys away after she’s done playing!
- Largest dog litter- three dogs own the record for having a litter of nearly 30 puppies. In June 1987, a Great Dane had a litter of 23 pups. A St. Bernard also had over 20 pups in 1975, of which 14 survived. An American foxhound bore 23 pups in June 1944.
- The Great North Dog Walk had over 4372 dogs-the largest dog walk in the world! It took place on a Saturday in June 2003, in Tyneside England.
Weird dog facts and strange laws
- In Anchorage, Alaska, you are not allowed to tie a dog to the roof of a car.
- Dogs are not allowed to bark after 6 pm in Little Rock, Arkansas.
- You cannot educate your dogs in Hartford, Connecticut.
- In Chicago, Illinois it is illegal to give whiskey to dogs.
- You could be arrested in Oklahoma for making funny faces at a dog.
- No person may keep a smelly dog in Galesburg, Illinois.
- In Ventura County, California, dogs and cats need special permits to mate.