20 Most Interesting Facts About Dogs
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It is estimated that dogs and humans have lived together for around 3,000 years. Despite our long and happy time together, there are still some new discoveries to be made. Every year new studies in canine ethology are produced, enlightening us about a dog's biology and behavior. Some of these revelations are surprising, some help us to make sense of the curious things we have noticed, but have previously been unable to understand.
At AnimalWised we bring you the 20 most interesting facts about dogs, some of which you may not have heard before. By discovering more about our dog, we can understand them better, treat them better and become closer together.
- Top 20 dog facts
- There are more than 340 dog breeds in the world
- Basenji: the oldest and quietest dog in the world
- The origin of the dog is still controversial
- Dogs hate some things about humans
- Relax! Sleeping in the same bed is great
- Your dog's fingerprint is on their nose
- A dog's body temperature is higher than ours
- It is possible to know the age of a puppy by looking at their teeth
- Your dog can easily perceive your mood
- Their vision is more than just black and white
- The Border Collie is the most intelligent dog in the world
- Dogs are able to understand more than 150 words
- Dogs are not dominant with humans
- The German Shepherd was the first guide dog
- Dogs can detect diseases
- Dogs only sweat through their feet and nose
- Puppies are born blind and deaf
- The chihuahua is the longest living dog breed
- They love us, but they can transmit some diseases
- Dogs can make us live longer (and better!)
Top 20 dog facts
Sometimes familiarity can breed contempt. Not with dogs. Dogs are fascinating animals with an equally curious history. Knowing more about their origins, their behavior, the science behind their evolution, the development of breeds and how they interact with us are helpful to know, whether we have a dog in the family or not. Although it wasn't easy, we have selected the 20 most interesting dog facts. They are considered interesting facts either because they reveal something useful about dogs or they have simply caught our attention. Keep reading to know more.
1. There are more than 340 dog breeds in the world
Determining how many dog breeds exist on this planet is more difficult than it may seem. It may even be an impossible task as new crosses are occurring all the time, not to mention nature's own habit of creating new genetic lines. Even officially recognized dogs increase in number every year thanks to international canine societies recognizing new breeds. While there is a lot of consensus, many dogs may be recognized in one region and not in another.
If we use as a reference the FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale), then we can see there are more than 340 standardized breeds. As other animal federations have more to add, the list may end up being practically infinite. This is especially the case with mixed breed domestic dogs.
2. Basenji: the oldest and quietest dog in the world
The Basenji breed is special for many reasons. Not only are they generally considered the oldest dog breed in the world, but they also bark the least. Calling them the quietest, however, might be a little bit of a misnomer. The reason is that Basenji breeds are unable to emit the traditional sound we associate with barking dogs. Instead, the most characteristic vocalization of the Basenji is a mixture of slightly manic laughter and extended yodelling. It is an interesting sound to say the least and quite unique in the canine universe.
3. The origin of the dog is still controversial
While scientific advances allow us to delve deeper into the history and genetic evolution of the dog, we still have much to discover about the origin of the dog. Although the most widespread hypothesis indicates dogs descend from the wolf, there are no completely conclusive studies to confirm or deny this origin.
These leads us to ask, does the dog descend from wolves or not? A recent study indicates that dogs and wolves are likely to descend from a common ancestor. The same study points out that the domestic dog and the wolf share some of the same DNA sequences. This means they are, at the very least, canids which are genetically similar to each other.
4. Dogs hate some things about humans
Even though they are out best friends, the truth is there are things we do which really get on a dog's nerves. A lot of this has to do with the physical and emotional makeup of canines. For example, dogs have much more acute senses of hearing and smell. This means they can become deeply affected by loud cries and strong smells. Our proclivity to play heavy metal loud or where strong fragrances can cause them great agitation.
Additionally, human behavior and canine behavior are not one in the same. Some signs of affection we enjoy such as hugs or kissing can be annoying for dogs. Fortunately, dogs are also especially patient and affectionate with us. We just need to ensure we respect their canine nature, providing a positive environment and meeting their needs.
5. Relax! Sleeping in the same bed is great
Many people wonder whether it is appropriate to have a dog sleep in our bed. As long as we follow their vaccination schedule, deworm them regularly and maintain good overall hygiene, there should be no risk to our health (or the dog's health). In fact, sleeping with a dog by your side can be a very positive experience for both of us. It provides them comfort, it can helps us both to rest better and it strengthens our bond. Just be extra careful of parasites.
6. Your dog's fingerprint is on their nose
One of the most interesting facts about dogs is that each one is unique. While we mean this in terms of their individual personality and characteristics, we also mean biologically. Dog's don't have fingerprints (they don't really have fingers). Instead, each dog has a unique pattern on their nose. Few countries take noseprints of dogs, although the Canadian Kennel Club has been accepting them as forms of identification since 1938.
7. A dog's body temperature is higher than ours
The optimal body temperature of humans is somewhere in the range of 36ºC to 37ºC. For a dog, it is around 38ºC to 39ºC. Like us, dogs can suffer from fever symptoms, mainly characterized by an increase in body temperature. Unlike us, we can't get a reliable temperature reading from their armpits. Placing it in their mouth also runs the risk of the dog breaking the thermometer. The solution? Rectal temperature readings. Not always the most pleasant, but it is effective.
8. It is possible to know the age of a puppy by looking at their teeth
This next interesting fact about dogs is more specifically about puppies. Like human babies, puppies are born without teeth. Their teeth emerge gradually, causing a sometimes frustrating teething process similar to our own. The first teeth which break through the gums are called ‘milk teeth’, eventually giving way to adult teeth.
Curiously, it is possible to know the approximate age of the puppy by looking at their teeth. We can tell this by looking at the size and shape, then comparing them to their developmental stage. To know more specifics, take a look at this article on dogs losing their baby teeth.
9. Your dog can easily perceive your mood
Dogs mainly use body language to communicate with both their peers and their human guardians. When we get sad, nervous, excited, happy or have any particular change in mood, we reflect this state of being in our postures, actions, facial expressions and more. Since your canine friend is so sensitive to body language, they can perceive these mood alterations easily. They may even be able to see your mood change without you realizing yourself. This is one of the reasons it is so important for us to reciprocate by learning a dog's body language and calming signals. It also why service dogs and therapy dogs are so effective. They are able to not only sense our mood, but improve it.
10. Their vision is more than just black and white
One of the most common myths about dogs is that they can only see in black and white. This is false. In reality, a dog's sight is dichromatic, not trichromatic as with human vision. This means that dogs can identify shades of yellow and blue (including shades of gray). They are unable to distinguish red and green. On the other hand, humans have a high sensitivity to the three colors red, green and blue. This is due to the amount and type of photosensitive cells in our eyes compared to those of a dog. So, a dog's vision is more limited in terms of color, but the truth is not black and white.
11. The Border Collie is the most intelligent dog in the world
One of the most interesting dog breeds brings us one of our most interesting facts. The Border Collie is the most intelligent dog in the world. The reason is down to its great capacity for recognizing and assimilating orders during training and education. Also, its versatility when learning these tasks is unparalleled. Due to their high levels of canine intelligence, they need a human guardian who can meet the demands of such an active and clever dog. Surprisingly to some, the Poodle is the second on the list of the world's smartest dogs. Another important reason why it's important not to judge a book by its cover (or a dog by their haircut).
12. Dogs are able to understand more than 150 words
Beyond learning and recognizing their own name with ease, dogs can demonstrate and amazing ability to memorize and distinguish words. According to psychologist and canine research scientist Stanley Coren, dogs can assimilate around 160 words, corresponding to the lexicon of a 2 to 3 year old human. The amount will depend on the individual dog and our training. We need to keep the properly stimulated and use positive reinforcement.
13. Dogs are not dominant with humans
Unfortunately, the Internet often offers up the misconception that dogs exert dominance over humans. Dominance theory takes some aspects of canine behavior and incorrectly applies them tom human/canine relations. This is because dominance in dogs is intraspecies specific, meaning it only occurs between dogs. Likewise, many people tend to confuse canine dominance with aggressiveness, although this is completely incorrect. A dog's aggression comes from other sources. Canine hierarchies are difficult for us to determine, but dominant dogs tend to be balanced and calm natured.
14. The German Shepherd was the first guide dog
This interesting dog fact looks back at canine history. While we may associate guide dogs for the blind with certain breeds such as the Labrador Retriever, the first guide dog was actually a German Shepherd. The initial group of German Shepherd seeing eye service dogs in the UK were called Judy, Meta, Folly and Flash. They were initially use to help treat war veterans who had been blinded in action. They also acted as therapy dogs, even if this would be a concept developed later. However, although the German Shepherd responded well to training, they were seen as being a little more difficult to keep in line.
15. Dogs can detect diseases
You may find it interesting to know that there are certain things which dogs can ‘predict’. This is due to their incredibly acute senses, particularly their sense of smell. One of these things dogs can predict (or at least detect) is disease. This is because many pathologies or endocrine problems generate imbalances or alterations in organisms. These changes may include excessive release of some hormone or body fluid. Dogs can sense these alterations and perceive that something is anomalous in their guardian's body. In fact, many countries have begun to train dogs as disease detectors.
16. Dogs only sweat through their feet and nose
Another fun fact about dogs is that they do actually sweat. In fact, they actually have sweat glands all over their body. Strangely, only those on usually hairless parts of their body actually produce sweat. This means their nose and paws. This is why dogs cool themselves down in other ways, mainly panting, to release excess heat from the body.
17. Puppies are born blind and deaf
A ineresting scientific dog fact now. Dogs are altricial animals, meaning that their offspring are born without being fully developed. The newborn puppies are blind and deaf because their eyes and ear canals are not yet opened. It is only in their second week of life that a puppy's eyes will open and their ears are unblocked. The exact stage this occurs may vary depending on the individual.
18. The chihuahua is the longest living dog breed
The Chihuahua dog breed ranks as the longest living dog breed in the world. Although small, the Chihuahua is brave and resilient. They have an average life expectancy of around 15 to 18 years. however, many have been known to live more than 20 years given the appropriate care and preventive medicine.
19. They love us, but they can transmit some diseases
Man's best friend rates loyalty as one of the most admirable characteristics of their personality. Despite (or even because of) their special bond with humans, there are some diseases they can pass on. Although incidents have thankfully reduced in many areas, diseases such as rabies are very troubling. As the rabies virus travels from the wound site to the brain, it needs to be stopped or the results are fatal.
Other less lethal, but still troubling, zoonotic diseases passed from dog to human include intestinal parasites and ectoparasites. To prevent disease transfer, we need to ensure we maintain optimal hygiene in the home. Respecting the vaccination schedule, deworming regularly, offering balanced nutrition and other elements of essential care are imperative for your dog's and your own health.
20. Dogs can make us live longer (and better!)
To conclude our list of the 20 most interesting dog facts, we want to mention one of the many benefits of adopting a dog. When you include a dog in your life and your home, you will gain the most loyal companion who will protect you at all times, good and bad. This can have an extremely positive impact on your own health and well-being. In fact, the simple act of petting a dog has been shown to reduce exam anxiety in college students. This is part of the reason therapy dogs have become more prevalent in recent years.
Additionally, sharing our day to day lives with a dog encourages us to have a healthier lifestyle. By walking, interacting with and playing with our dogs, we can reduce sedentary behavior and help avoid related illnesses, negative moods, loneliness and depression. With their special way of being and loving, dogs help us to live longer and teach us to live better.
If you want to read similar articles to 20 Most Interesting Facts About Dogs, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.
1 FCI breed list
2 Freedman, Adam H. et al, Genome Sequencing Highlights of the Dynamic Early History of Dogs, Plos Genetics, 2014
3 Neitz J., Geist T., Jacobs GH, Color vision in the dog. Visual Neuroscience, 2009
4 Grajfoner, Dasha et al, The Effect of Dog-Assisted Intervention on Student Well-Being, Mood, and Anxiety, 2017