Domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) have been “man’s best friend” for over 10,000 years. However, due to recent DNA evidence, dogs may have been domesticated as early as 150,000 years ago. Most likely, they were the first tame animals. There are hundreds of different domestic dog breeds, some of which could never survive in the wild. However, they have a lot in common with their wild relatives. Both wild and domestic dogs descended from the South Asian wolf. Domestic dogs also share similar behavioral traits. They defend their territories and mark them with urination, sending off a warning to other dogs. They also bury bones and toys, just like a wild dog would bury a kill for later meals.
Dogs use scent and physical appearance to communicate with one another. Their body position, movement and facial expressions can portray a message that even humans can recognize. Dogs also use barking, growling and whining to communicate vocally. Apart from offering humans companionship, many dogs do a lot of work herding livestock, guarding homes, helping with police or rescue work and guiding the blind.
Fun Dogs Facts
- Dogs have nearly 220 million smell-sensitive cells over an area about the size of a CD case (compared to a human’s 5 million over an area the size of a postage stamp).
- The oldest dog was a Queensland ‘heeler’ called Bluey and lived to be 29 years and 5 months old in Victoria, Australia. The average dog lives to be 15 years old.
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