Dogs are amazing creatures that have lived alongside humans for thousands of years as companions and helpers. Read on for 20 pawsome facts about our furry friends!
1. Dogs evolved from wolves and were the first animals domesticated by humans
Scientists believe that wolves likely approached early human hunter-gatherer camps to scavenge for food. The friendliest wolves were tolerated and eventually this relationship developed into the first domesticated dogs. Dogs became invaluable companions and helpers to humans, aiding in hunting, providing protection, and herding livestock. This special bond continues today after thousands of years of friendship.
2. There are over 340 breeds of dogs, from tiny chihuahuas to giant great danes
From short-legged corgis to slender greyhounds, dogs come in more sizes and shapes than any other animal. The American Kennel Club recognizes 192 breeds while the Fédération Cynologique Internationale recognizes 360 breeds. New breeds continue to be developed too. The diversity allows people to find their perfect canine match.
3. Dogs have an incredible sense of smell that's up to 100,000 times better than humans
A dog's nose has over 300 million scent receptors compared to only 6 million in humans. Dogs can sniff out drugs, bombs, missing people, and even cancer. Their sense of smell is their strongest sense and allows them to experience the world in amazing ways we can barely imagine.
4. A dog's nose print is as unique as a human fingerprint. No two are alike!
The ridges, valleys, and patterns on a dog's nose are distinctive to each pooch. Dog nose prints have even been used by some veterinarians and shelters to identify lost dogs. So the next time you look at your dog's nose, appreciate that it's one-of-a-kind.
5. Dogs can learn over 100 words and gestures when trained
While the average dog may only know 10-15 words, very intelligent breeds like border collies, poodles, German shepherds, and golden retrievers can learn up to 200 or more! With proper training, dogs can understand verbal cues and hand signals for all kinds of important tasks and tricks.
6. Certain breeds like beagles, labs, and golden retrievers are consistently popular over decades
Friendly, loving family dogs tend to always be in high demand. According to AKC registration statistics, these three breeds have remained in the top 10 most popular breeds since the 1960s. Once people experience how wonderful they are, it's no surprise they remain popular year after year.
7. Puppies can dream when they sleep, just like humans
During REM sleep, puppies and dogs experience dreams just like we do. Their paws and facial muscles may twitch and move during this sleep phase. Experts believe dogs likely dream about common daily activities like eating, playing with toys, and going for walks. Sweet dreams, puppies!
8. Dogs sweat through their paws and nose since they don't have many sweat glands
Panting and sweating through their paw pads and nose helps dogs regulate their body temperature. This is why you'll often see dogs with wet noses and paw prints on the floor. Keeping cool is important since dogs have a higher normal body temperature than humans.
9. Dogs are clever and can be trained to do amazing jobs, like guide dogs and police dogs
Dogs have served humankind for centuries by herding livestock, hunting game, pulling sleds, and guarding property. Today, they also perform incredible services like guiding the blind, detecting cancer, finding missing people, and sniffing out illegal drugs and bombs. Police K9 units are invaluable for law enforcement.
10. Dogs can run up to 45 miles per hour when chasing prey. Greyhounds are the fastest
The fastest breed is the greyhound, able to hit speeds up to 45 mph. Next are vizslas, jackals, and Salukis reaching 40-42 mph. But even short-legged corgis can sprint 25-30 mph! When dogs spot something to chase, their prey drive kicks in and they can turn on the speed.
11. Chocolate can be toxic to dogs, so keep it out of their reach!
Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both stimulants that dogs cannot metabolize well. This makes chocolate, especially dark chocolate, poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Seek vet care if your dog ate chocolate, and keep sweet treats well out of paws' reach!
12. Dogs have been kept as pets for over 12,000 years by humans
Dogs were the first domesticated animals, with ancient evidence of dog burials found dating back 14,000 years ago. Remains of dogs have been found in prehistoric native American Indian sites, ancient Egypt, China, and Roman and Viking camps. Dogs have been loyal companions since before recorded history.
13. A group of dogs is called a "pack" while baby dogs are called a "litter"
Like their wolf ancestors, a group of wild dogs is called a "pack". And a group of newborn puppies is called a "litter" - typically 4-6 puppies but sometimes up to 12! The more you know about dog terminology, the better you can understand their behaviors.
14. Dogs sleep in short bursts totaling about 10-13 hours per day
Dogs tend to sleep more than humans, but in shorter bouts. They usually sleep for about 45 minutes then are active for an hour or two before napping again. Puppies sleep even more, needing about 18-20 hours of sleep per day to recharge while growing. Make sure your dogs have a cozy bed and quiet area for their many power naps!
15. Dogs need lots of exercise, healthy food, and love from their family
While individual needs vary by breed, all dogs require regular exercise and playtime. A daily walk plus active play keeps them fit and happy. Nutritious food suited for their size, age, and activity level keeps their coat shiny and helps them avoid obesity. And of course, dogs thrive when showered with love and attention by their family!
16. Famous TV and movie dogs include Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, Beethoven, and Scooby-Doo
Many of our favorite pop culture canines are actually played by well-trained dogs. Collies have portrayed the classic hero Lassie in films and TV since the 1940s. Big Leonbergers like Beethoven capture our hearts on the big screen. And the goofy Great Dane Scooby-Doo has solved mysteries since 1969!
17. The current most popular breeds are Labs, goldens, German shepherds, and bulldogs
According to AKC registration data, loveable Labrador Retrievers have been the #1 most popular dog breed since 1991! Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds trade off spots for #2 and #3. And the comical, wrinkly Bulldog usually rounds out the top 5. These intelligent, friendly breeds make wonderful family pets.
18. Dogs belong to the Canidae biological family along with wolves, foxes, jackals, and coyotes
There are 37 species in the canine family. Dogs, wolves, and foxes belong to the Canini tribe. Coyotes and jackals are in the two related tribes. Despite their differences, these canidae species share common anatomy and behaviors - keen senses, territoriality, complex social structures, and more.
19. Dogs can be trained to do incredible jobs like guide dogs, hearing dogs, police dogs, and more!
In addition to traditional jobs like herding, sledding, and hunting, today's dogs use their intelligence and loyalty to help people in amazing ways. Guide dogs enable the blind to navigate the world. Hearing dogs alert the deaf to important sounds. Police K9s help law enforcement by detecting drugs, finding bombs, and even catching criminals!
20. Man's best friend has been by our side for millennia and we love our dogs!
The history of dogs and humans together goes back over 14,000 years to ancient times. They help us, work for us, play with us, and give us unconditional love. Our bond with dogs stands the test of time. It's no wonder that dogs remain the most popular pet worldwide!
Dogs really are man's best friend! We've highlighted 20 amazing facts about the abilities, history, and quirks of our canine companions. Dogs play an important role in many people's lives as beloved pets, helpers, workers, and therapy animals. We hope you enjoyed these "pawsome" facts about dogs. Let us know which was your favorite! Woof!