Where do domestic dogs come from? Well scientists have been doing loads of research into how the domestic dog came to be.
Some studies say that the dogs we call our pets evolved from a group of wolves that came into contact with European hunter-gatherers between 18,800 and 32,100 years ago and may have since died out.
After that, they identified four species of modern dogs, which are all closely related to ancient European mammals of the dog family, rather than wolves from China or the Middle East which shows that they last shared a common ancestor 18,800 years ago.
They last shared a common ancestor with wolves around 32,100 years ago. At some point during this time they must have been domesticated.
They also studied genes of three grey wolves, one each from China, Croatia and Israel and from an African basenji and an Australian dingo, where both breeds have no history of being related to wolves.
This showed that the three wolves were more closely related to each other than to any of the dogs.
These results show differences from previous theories that suggested dogs evolved from grey wolves.
So science now needs to understand how these genetic changes happened for this amazing transformation as to what we know now as our beloved pets.
Where does the word ‘dog’ come from?
The English word dog comes from Middle English dogge, from Old English docga, a “powerful dog breed”.
Dogs are widely used in hunting, herding, pulling loads, protection, tracking, rescue, assisting police, military, companionship, and aiding handicapped individuals.
What’s the most popular dog in the world?
There are hundreds of different breeds of dogs but apparently the most popular breed of dog in the world by registered ownership is the Labrador.
This is because they have a gentle nature, are obedient, intelligent and have heaps of energy.
How do dogs communicate?
Dogs communicate in different ways. Scent is one method, another is physical appearance using body position, movement, and facial expression or baring their teeth. Many of these signals are recognizable to us.
This is seriously interesting! Apparently dogs wag their tails to the right when they’re happy and to the left when they’re frightened.
Wagging low means they’re insecure and rapid tail wagging accompanied by tense muscles or dilated pupils can signal aggression.
So watch those tails. Vocally, dogs communicate with many sounds including barks, growls, and whines.
How long do dogs live for?
The average life span for a dog is around 10 to 14 years. Their hearing is four times the distance of humans. That’s amazing! So don’t say anything bad about your dog, as they’ll hear!
If you think they can hear well, you won’t believe how well they can smell.
Their noses have millions more scent receptors than we do so they can distinguish different smells in concentrations nearly 100 million times lower than humans can.
Wow, no wonder they can smell when dinner is being cooked and come for a look.
Man’s nose has about 5 million receptors while a Dachshund’s has 125 million.
That’s unbelievable. It has been shown that dogs can smell disease like cancer, diabetes and the early signs of an epileptic seizure. A dog’s nose is the equivalent of a human fingerprint, each being completely unique.
Dogs can see colors but just not as clearly as humans. They only have two cones in their eyes to detect colors, whereas humans have three. So dogs see colors on a blue and yellow scale, but can’t tell the difference between red and green.
But if you’re out on a night time adventure, take them with you as they can see better in the dark than we can.
Domestic dogs are omnivores; they eat a variety of foods including grains, vegetables and meats.
Interesting Facts about Dogs
They still share behaviors with their wild relatives. Both defend their territories and mark them by weeing on trees etc, to signal that an animal is invading its territory. A warning to stay away!
Many pet dogs bury bones or favorite toys for future use, just as their wild relatives sometimes bury a kill to secure the meat for later feasts. Bet you didn’t know this! Even though it seems completely gross, it’s apparently perfectly normal for dogs to eat poo, as in the days before they were domesticated. Yuck!
Dogs only have sweat glands in their paws but their main form of cooling down is panting. If a dog’s feet smell like corn chips or popcorn, this is called ‘frito feet‘, and this happens when sweat and bacteria builds up in the paws.
A dog’s unique smell is secreted in its glands which are located in their rear ends (bottoms). You’ve probably noticed but dogs love sniffing one another in the rear to identify other dogs and to mark their territory. Hmmm, glad we aren’t dogs.
Research in 2012, suggested there are 525 million dogs on Earth and the cleverest breed is the Border Collie, then poodles, German shepherds, golden retrievers and Dobermans.
Dogs can count, understand over 200 words, and even trick people or other dogs to get treats. Wow! Did you know that?
A professor at Claremont Graduate University in California found that a dog’s brain releases oxytocin, the love hormone, when they interact with us or other dogs, just the same as a human brain does when we hug or kiss.
No dog has been knighted, but in Australia nine animals (all dogs except for one donkey) were awarded the Purple Cross, established in 1993 to recognize the deeds of animals that have shown outstanding bravery and fortitude in the service of humans. Wow, now that’s super cool!
Explore more Animal facts.