Increasingly, human family members are engaging in activities centered on the perceived needs and interests of the dog, or in which the dog is an integral partner, such as dog dancing and dog yoga.[133]

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Dogs included in human activities in terms of helping out humans are usually called working dogs.

Dogs have been viewed and represented in different manners by different cultures and religions, over the course of history.

It is estimated that three-quarters of the world's dog population lives in the developing world as feral, village, or community dogs, with pet dogs uncommon.[86]

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There are many household plants that are poisonous to dogs including begonia, Poinsettia and aloe vera.[40]

In China, Korea, and Japan, dogs are viewed as kind protectors.[192]

In conformation shows, also referred to as breed shows, a judge familiar with the specific dog breed evaluates individual purebred dogs for conformity with their established breed type as described in the breed standard. As the breed standard only deals with the externally observable qualities of the dog (such as appearance, movement, and temperament), separately tested qualities (such as ability or health) are not part of the judging in conformation shows.

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The dog is classified as Canis lupus familiaris under the Biological Species Concept and Canis familiaris under the Evolutionary Species Concept.[2]:p1

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Being the most abundant carnivore, feral and free-ranging dogs have the greatest potential to compete with wolves. A review of the studies in the competitive effects of dogs on sympatric carnivores did not mention any research on competition between dogs and wolves.[95][99] Competition would favor the wolf that is known to kill dogs, however wolves tend to live in pairs or in small packs in areas where they are highly persecuted, giving them a disadvantage facing large dog groups.[95][100]

Domestication of the dog began around 15,000 years ago and during this process humans selected desirable traits such as coat colour and leg length.

The role of the dog in Chinese mythology includes a position as one of the twelve animals which cyclically represent years (the zodiacal dog).

It's generally accepted that the common ancestor of the domestic dog (Canis familiaris) is the wolf.

In Greek mythology, Cerberus is a three-headed watchdog who guards the gates of Hades.[192] In Norse mythology, a bloody, four-eyed dog called Garmr guards Helheim.[192] In Persian mythology, two four-eyed dogs guard the Chinvat Bridge.[192] In Philippine mythology, Kimat who is the pet of Tadaklan, god of thunder, is responsible for lightning. In Welsh mythology, Annwn is guarded by Cŵn Annwn.[192]

The typical lifespan of dogs varies widely among breeds, but for most the median longevity, the age at which half the dogs in a population have died and half are still alive, ranges from 10 to 13 years.[48][49][50][51] Individual dogs may live well beyond the median of their breed.

Dogs bear their litters roughly 58 to 68 days after fertilization,[3][57] with an average of 63 days, although the length of gestation can vary. An average litter consists of about six puppies,[58] though this number may vary widely based on the breed of dog. In general, toy dogs produce from one to four puppies in each litter, while much larger breeds may average as many as twelve.

Dogs perform many roles for people, such as hunting, herding, pulling loads, protection, assisting police and military, companionship and, more recently, aiding handicapped individuals. This influence on human society has given them the sobriquet, "man's best friend".

The dog's senses include vision, hearing, sense of smell, sense of taste, touch and sensitivity to the earth's magnetic field. Another study suggested that dogs can see the earth's magnetic field.[34][35]

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According to the Humane Society of the United States, 3–4 million dogs and cats are put down each year in the United States and many more are confined to cages in shelters because there are many more animals than there are homes. Spaying or castrating dogs helps keep overpopulation down.[61] Local humane societies, SPCAs, and other animal protection organizations urge people to neuter their pets and to adopt animals from shelters instead of purchasing them.

Coyotes and big cats have also been known to attack dogs. Leopards in particular are known to have a predilection for dogs, and have been recorded to kill and consume them regardless of the dog's size or ferocity.[104] Tigers in Manchuria, Indochina, Indonesia, and Malaysia are reputed to kill dogs with the same vigor as leopards.[105] Striped hyenas are major predators of village dogs in Turkmenistan, India, and the Caucasus.[106]

This selection process has resulted in over 400 different breeds of dog. Why not view our full Dog Factfile (PDF 48KB).

You can also download our booklet: How to take care of your dog (pdf 2.08MB).

Owning and caring for a dog is great fun and immensely rewarding. But it's also a big responsibility - on average, dogs live for around twelve years, but many live for much longer.

Domestic dogs have been selectively bred for millennia for various behaviors, sensory capabilities, and physical attributes.[3] Modern dog breeds show more variation in size, appearance, and behavior than any other domestic animal.[3] Dogs are predators and scavengers, and like many other predatory mammals, the dog has powerful muscles, fused wrist bones, a cardiovascular system that supports both sprinting and endurance, and teeth for catching and tearing.

Dogs are also vulnerable to some of the same health conditions as humans, including diabetes, dental and heart disease, epilepsy, cancer, hypothyroidism, and arthritis.[46]

Happy, eager, and charming; aloof with strangers, and a little stubborn.

Fun for families as Dogs Trust Manchester gets into the spirit of Halloween

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The Xoloitzcuintli dog breed, sometimes called the Mexican Hairless, may well have descended from the first dogs to set paw on the North American continent. In their native Mexico and Central America, they were popular “doctors,” the heat given off by their body being comforting to people with arthritis and other ailments; people still like to cuddle with them today.

Neutering reduces problems caused by hypersexuality, especially in male dogs.[62] Spayed female dogs are less likely to develop some forms of cancer, affecting mammary glands, ovaries, and other reproductive organs.[63] However, neutering increases the risk of urinary incontinence in female dogs,[64] and prostate cancer in males,[65] as well as osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, cruciate ligament rupture, obesity, and diabetes mellitus in either sex.[66]

Later genetic studies strongly supported dogs and gray wolves forming two sister monophyletic clades within the one species,[29][30] and that the common ancestor of dogs and extant wolves is extinct.[30]

People often enter their dogs in competitions[147] such as breed-conformation shows or sports, including racing, sledding and agility competitions.

We rescue and rehome thousands of dogs each year - each one comes with a unique personality ready made. If you're looking to introduce a dog into your family why not offer a forever home to a dog in our care?

There are approximately eight and a half million dogs kept as pets in the UK*. There are many different breeds and types of dog, all varying in size, body shape and personality. 

In mythology, dogs often serve as pets or as watchdogs.[192]