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Dogs

The most widespread form of interspecies bonding occurs between humans and dogs. These intelligent, social, emotional and playful creatures have learned to communicate and interact with humans in a way no other species can.

The genius of dogs is that they use humans to get what they want. At one point in wolf evolution, a group of wolves decided to take advantage of humans. Dogs domesticated themselves through a natural process and have become a part of the human family.

No other species can read our gestures as well as dogs can. It allows them to be incredible social partners with humans. Their ability to interpret our gestures also helps them complete tasks they can’t complete on their own.

Fascinating Dog Facts

  • The largest breed of dog is the Irish Wolfhound. The St. Bernard is the heaviest.
  • The world’s smallest dog breed is the Chihuahua.
  • Dogs experience all the same emotions humans do, especially love.
  • While dogs are better at living in the moment than humans, it's a myth that dogs have no sense of time.
  • Dogs have their own complex language that includes vocal sounds, body postures, facial expressions and scent.
  • Feral dogs have figured out how to use subways to travel to the best food sources.
  • Dogs chase their tails for a variety of reasons: curiosity, exercise, play, anxiety, predatory instinct or fleas.
  • Different smells in a dog’s urine tells other canines whether the dog is female or male, old or young, sick or healthy, happy or angry.
  • Male dogs raise their legs while urinating to aim higher to leave a message that they are tall and intimidating.
  • Puppies have 28 teeth, while adult dogs have 42.
  • Dogs and humans have the same type of slow wave sleep (SWS) and rapid eye movement (REM) when sleeping. Twitching and paw movements are signs that a dog is dreaming.
  • Dogs can be trained to detect epileptic seizures and diseases.
  • Dogs’ eyes contain a special membrane that allows them to see in the dark.
  • Dogs can detect when storms are coming.
  • A dog’s normal temperature is between 101 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Dogs only sweat through the pads of their feet.
  • Dog nose prints are as unique as human finger prints and can accurately identify them.
  • Dogs have three eyelids: an upper lid, a lower lid and a third lid which keeps the eyes moist and protected.
  • A dogs entire body, including the paws, is covered with touch-sensitive nerve endings.
  • Dog noses secrete a thin layer of mucous that helps them absorb scent. They lick their noses to sample the scent through their mouth.
  • Petting dogs is proven to lower human blood pressure.
  • A dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 – 100,000 times more acute than humans.
  • When dogs kick after defecating, they are using scent glands on their paws to further mark their territory.
  • Dogs can detect cancer too small to be detected by a doctor, and can detect lung cancer by sniffing a human's breath.

A Long History Of Companionship

The keeping of dogs as companions has a long history. Dogs began from a single domestication thousands of years ago. They are not a descendant of the Gray wolf as previously believed. They were originally domesticated from a now extinct wolf.

Dogs were the first domesticated animals and have been widely kept as working, hunting and companion animals. Domestic dogs have been selectively bred for millennia for various behaviors, capabilities and attributes. There are currently up to one billion dogs around the world.

Domestic dogs inherited complex behaviors from their wolf ancestors which were pack hunters with complex body language. These sophisticated forms of social cognition and communication may account for their trainability, playfulness and ability to fit into human households and social situations.

Dogs still share some behaviors with their wild relatives. They defend their territories and mark them by urinating, serving notice to other animals that it is their territory. Many dogs also bury bones or toys for future use, just as wolves bury a kill to secure the meat for later.

Modern dog breeds show more variation in size, appearance and behavior than any other domestic animal. They are highly variable in height and weight. The smallest known adult dog was a Yorkshire Terrier that weighed only 4 oz. The largest known dog was an English Mastiff which weighed 343 lb. The tallest dog was a Great Dane that stood 42 inches at the shoulder.

Amazing Abilities

Most dog breeds have good vision. Dogs do see in color, but not the same way that humans do. A dog's vision is similar to people with red/green color blindness, meaning they can see bluish and greenish shades but not reddish ones.

Dogs can detect sounds far better than humans, hearing sounds at four times the distance. They have ear mobility, allowing them to rapidly pinpoint the exact location of a sound. Eighteen or more muscles can tilt, rotate, raise or lower a dog's ear.

While the human brain is dominated by a large visual cortex, the dog brain is dominated by an olfactory cortex. The olfactory bulb in dogs is about forty times bigger than in humans, with 125 to 300 million smell-sensitive receptors. Their sense of smell is one hundred thousand to one million times more sensitive than a human's. Their wet nose is essential for determining the direction of the air current containing the smell. Cold receptors in the skin are sensitive to the cooling of the skin by evaporation of the moisture by air currents.

The average lifespan of dogs is 10 to 13 years, however, many live much longer. The world's oldest living dog lived 26 years, 9 months.

Dogs are omnivores and can adapt to a wide-ranging diet. They are not dependent on meat nor a very high level of protein as was once thought. Dogs will healthily digest a variety of foods, including vegetables and grains. Unlike wolves, dogs have adaptations in genes involved in starch digestion that contribute to an increased ability to thrive on a starch-rich diet.

Part Of The Family

Companion dog populations grew significantly after World War II as suburbanization increased. In the 1950s and 1960s, dogs were kept outside more often than they are today. From the 1980s, there have been changes in the role of the companion dog, such as the increased role of dogs in the emotional support of their human guardians. The broadening of the concept of the family, and a better understanding of dog intelligence and emotions, have led to dogs actively shaping the way a family and home are experienced.

Studies show dogs help to mediate family member interactions. Most dogs also have set tasks or routines undertaken as family members. Increasingly, humans are engaging in activities centered on the needs and interests of their dogs. An estimated 1 million dogs in the United States have been named the primary beneficiary in their guardian's will.

Dogs have the same response to voices and use the same parts of the brain as humans to do so. This gives dogs the ability to recognize emotional human sounds. They have over 100 known facial expressions, many of them made with their ears. They also communicate with a variety of vocal sounds. One of the primary functions of a dog's tail is to communicate their emotional state.

It is estimated there are 77.5 million people with dogs in the United States. Nearly 40% of American households have at least one dog. 67% have just one dog, 25% two dogs and nearly 9% more than two dogs.

Shelter Dogs

Every year, between 6 and 8 million dogs and cats enter US animal shelters. Approximately 3 to 4 million of those dogs and cats are euthanized yearly in the United States. However, the percentage of dogs in animal shelters that are adopted has increased since the mid-1990s, from around 25% to 40% or more.

Chained Dogs

Imagine sitting in a yard, tethered in place, with nothing to do and no chance to go anywhere. Day after day. Alone. That's what chaining is like. Chaining means confining a dog with a tether attached to a dog house or a stake in the ground. It is one of the common forms of animal cruelty. Chaining is a widespread practice and - as with many historical injustices - this may cause people to assume it is acceptable. In fact, it is an improper way to confine a dog, with negative effects on the dog's health, temperament and training. A chained dog's life is a lonely, frustrating, miserable existence.


Chained Dogs

Dogs In Hot Cars

Some people enjoy taking their dogs along on errands, but leave them in the car. This can be deadly. A little heat outside the car can quickly make it very hot inside. On a summer's day of only 85 degrees, for example, even keeping the windows slightly open won't stop the inside temperature from climbing to 102 degrees in 10 minutes, to 120 degrees in 20 minutes. A dog whose body temperature rises to 107-108 degrees will, within a very short time, suffer irreparable brain damage - or even death. Never leave your dog alone in a car, even for a few minutes, in the summer months.


Dogs In Hot Cars

Dog Fighting

The majority of US states have banned dog fighting. This ban carries a felony punishment for violation in all but seven states. Illegal dog fighting, however, remains a pervasive if hidden practice in many cities. Trainers prepare a dog to fight by imposing a cruel regimen on the dog from the beginning of its life. Trainers starve dogs to make them mean, hit dogs to make them tough, and force dogs to run on treadmills.


Dog Fighting

Puppy Mills

Few people can resist looking in the pet shop window to see what cute puppies and kittens might be inside. But a closer look into how pet shops obtain animals reveals a system in which the high price paid for "that doggie in the window" pales in comparison to the cost paid by the animals themselves. The vast majority of dogs sold in pet shops, up to half a million a year, are raised in "puppy mills".


Puppy Mills

Breed Specific Legislation

Targeting dogs by breed is ineffective in preventing tragic incidents. Laws and policies restricting certain breeds may break up families, but they won't make a community safer. Tragic deaths caused by dog attacks often prompts much discussion about how municipalities can most effectively manage dogs to ensure community safety. But animal advocate organizations urge communities to reject ineffective, breed based measures.


Breed Specific Legislation

Dog Labs

The majority of medical schools in the United States have abolished dog labs from their curricula. Columbia, Harvard, Stanford and Yale all introduce physiology to their students with other, more applicable methods. A significant number of medical schools, however, continue using dog labs. Some students and professors argue that dog labs provide first-year medical students with valuable hands-on surgical experience.


Dog Labs

Overpopulation Crisis

Each year, in the United States, 27 million cats and dogs are born. Around 4 million of these animals are euthanized because homes are unable to be found for them. It is a tragic end to these healthy young lives. Overpopulation is a problem that results in thousands of animals being killed each month. There are many reasons for this; all are preventable. The answer to this huge problem is simple: reduce the number of animals coming into this world.


Overpopulation Crisis

Dog & Cat Fur

It is estimated that two million dogs and cats are killed each year in the fur trade. Dog and cat breeders operate primarily in China and elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Breeders sell cat and dog furs to companies in Europe, who incorporate the fur and skin of the animals into clothing and products such as cat toys or stuffed animals. Products consisting partially or wholly of cat and dog fur are then sold to buyers in Europe, America and elsewhere in the world.


Dog & Cat Fur

Pet Theft

Some 5 million family companion animals are reported missing annually. Based on "pet theft" reports, it is conservatively estimated that approximately 1.5 to 2 million of these missing companion animals are taken forcibly, or by deception, through so-called "Free to Good Home" ads. Dogs and cats are sold to many different clients for many uses, including dog-fighting rings as fighters or as bait, to puppy mills for breeding, as meat for human consumption, as prey for exotic animals, as fur for clothing or accessories, as protective guard dogs, or for cult rituals.


Pet Theft

Animals & Fireworks

Fireworks are meant to represent “bombs bursting in air”—and to dogs and cats, that’s exactly what they sound like. When animals hear the cracks and booms in the sky, many of them panic and jump over fences, break chains, or even break through glass windows in an effort to escape the terrifying sounds. Many animals who run in fear are never found. After fireworks displays, animal shelters nationwide report an increase in the number of lost animals, some of whom have bloody paws from running, torn skin from breaking through wooden fences, or other serious injuries. Some animals are hit by cars or killed in other ways as they attempt to escape.


Animals & Fireworks

Spay & Neuter

About 4 million "excess" dogs and cats will be killed in shelters this year, while millions of homeless animals live short, hard, hungry lives on the streets, only to die miserably from disease, injury, or predation. About 1/3 of animals in shelters are purebreds, either intentionally or accidentally bred. By being a responsible caregiver and sterilizing your companion animals, you avoid contributing to this terrible problem of pet overpopulation.


Spay & Neuter

Cosmetic Surgery

Tails are usually docked on 2-10 day old puppies, without either general or local anesthesia. If the procedure is done by a veterinarian, the tail is clamped a short distance from the body, and the portion of the tail outside the clamp is cut or torn away. Many breeders dock their pups themselves using a method that has been proven to be far more painful - "banding," or tying off the tail.


Cosmetic Surgery For Dogs & Cats

Fight Animal Cruelty

You've seen an animal being abused and want to do something to stop it, but you don't know what to do. Here are a few steps to help you with a cruelty investigation. First, find out who in your town, county, or state investigates and enforces the anti-cruelty codes. Often, these people work for local humane societies, societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals (SPCAs), or taxpayer-funded animal shelters.


Fight Animal Cruelty

Legal Protections

Domestic animals suffer cruelty and abuse all too frequently. Often unreported, animal cruelty has many causes, ranging from ignorance to outright viciousness. Public education is the primary means of preventing animal abuse. But when education fails, the legal process can be an effective tool. Many times the act of prosecuting an abusive individual will motivate them to adhere to humane principles.


Legal Protections For Animals

Animal Shelters

Animal shelters, like the animals they house, vary greatly by size, purpose, capacity, and humaneness. They may be run by the government, by a local humane society, by private individuals, or by a combination of these. Some are funded by donations alone, while others receive tax money. Sometimes tax money comes with a stipulation that some animals must be turned over to experimenters. Every effort should be made to reverse such a policy, which is known as "pound seizure."


Animal Shelters

Pet Shops

"Pet shops" use the natural appeal of puppies, kittens and other animals to sell them at an inflated price, often several hundred dollars for "purebred" animals. The vast majority of dogs sold in pet shops, between 350,000 and 500,000 a year, are raised in "puppy mills," breeding kennels located mostly in the Midwest that are notorious for their cramped, crude and filthy conditions and their continuous breeding of unhealthy and hard-to-socialize animals.


Pet Shops

Independence Day & Animals

Many companion animal guardians will celebrate July 4th with barbeques, pool parties and fireworks, but they may not realize these seemingly harmless traditions can have catastrophic consequences for their four-legged family members. Nearly one-in-five lost companion animals first go missing after being scared by the sound of fireworks, thunderstorms or other loud noises.


Independence Day & Animals

Do The Right Thing: Spay & Neuter

For every puppy or kitten born, a puppy or kitten in a shelter or in the care of a rescue group will not find a forever home. There might have been time to prevent those unwanted births, if communities and individuals had acted responsibly. Each year, in the United States alone, 27 million cats and dogs are born. Because homes cannot be found for all of them, between 10 and 12 million of these animals will be euthanized.


Do The Right Thing

Companion Animals Facts

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