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

Anthropologists believe the most significant benefit would have been the use of dogs' robust sense of smell to assist with the hunt.[121] The relationship between the presence of a dog and success in the hunt is often mentioned as a primary reason for the domestication of the wolf, and a 2004 study of hunter groups with and without a dog gives quantitative support to the hypothesis that the benefits of cooperative hunting was an important factor in wolf domestication.[122]

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]

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.

The breed with the shortest lifespan (among breeds for which there is a questionnaire survey with a reasonable sample size) is the Dogue de Bordeaux, with a median longevity of about 5.2 years, but several breeds, including Miniature Bull Terriers, Bloodhounds, and Irish Wolfhounds are nearly as short-lived, with median longevities of 6 to 7 years.[51]

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

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

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.

The cohabitation of dogs and humans would have greatly improved the chances of survival for early human groups, and the domestication of dogs may have been one of the key forces that led to human success.[123]

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Dogs have lived and worked with humans in so many roles that they have earned the unique nickname, "man's best friend",[140] a phrase used in other languages as well. They have been bred for herding livestock,[141] hunting (e.g. pointers and hounds),[82] rodent control,[3] guarding, helping fishermen with nets, detection dogs, and pulling loads, in addition to their roles as companions.[3] In 1957, a husky-terrier mix named Laika became the first animal to orbit the Earth.[142][143]

In Homer's epic poem the Odyssey, when the disguised Odysseus returns home after 20 years he is recognized only by his faithful dog, Argos, who has been waiting for his return.

Choosing a purebred is the best way to know what a dog's looks and personality might be like, but it's never a guarantee

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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. 

2–5 days after conception fertilization occurs, 14–16 days later the embryo attaches to the uterus and after 22–23 days the heart beat is detectable.[55][56]

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

A breed of charming contradictions: independent and aloof, but sweet and profoundly loyal.

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.

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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]

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?

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]

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.

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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]

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".

In Hindu mythology, Yama, the god of death owns two watch dogs who have four eyes. They are said to watch over the gates of Naraka.[193] Hunter god Muthappan from North Malabar region of Kerala has a hunting dog as his mount. Dogs are found in and out of the Muthappan Temple and offerings at the shrine take the form of bronze dog figurines.[194]

It's important for people owning or caring for a dog know about dog laws, to find out more please download our Dogs and the law information (169 KB).

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 coats of domestic dogs are of two varieties: "double" being common with dogs (as well as wolves) originating from colder climates, made up of a coarse guard hair and a soft down hair, or "single", with the topcoat only.

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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.

Follow our advice to buy a healthy and happy puppy from a responsible breeder. >>

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.