1. Dogs have been “Man’s Best Friend” for over 12,000 years
Archaeologists and anthropologists have discovered evidence that we domesticated dogs as far back as 14,000 years ago — the Bon-Oberkassel Dog is the most famous piece of evidence. This young pup was buried alongside two humans and has been genetically classified as Canis lupus familiaris, aka the modern dog.
2. Throughout history, dogs have been seen as sacred – even as gods!
There are countless cultures who revered dogs as gods, or had dog-like deities in their pantheons. Famous examples include Anubis (Egypt), Fenrir (Norse), and Xolotl (Aztec). Canine gods are often associated with the cycles of life and death, guardians of humans and crops, or as trickster deities. Dogs were so revered in ancient Egyptian culture that, upon a dog’s death, the owner would shave their eyebrows, spread mud throughout their hair and on their face, and observe a period of public mourning.
3. While dogs are technically carnivores, they have traits of omnivores too
Dogs aren’t true omnivores like humans (able to eat both plants and animal tissue), but they certainly are able to act as omnivores in their diets as needed. They have flat teeth in the back of their mouth like herbivores for grinding, and are able to digest 100% of the carbohydrates they consume. They are also able to create vitamin A from a chemical called betacarotene in plants — this may be why carrots are such a good treat for your pup!
4. Dogs are one of a few species that are able to “reverse sneeze”
This interesting event has also been observed in cats, but not quite as often. During a reverse sneeze, a dog inhales multiple times rapidly, extends its neck, and makes a loud snorting or grunting sound as the mucus is cleared (often, well-meaning pet owners mistake this for a dog about to vomit). It can result from an allergy, over-excitement or exertion, or be a regular occurrence, and is frequently seen in breeds with brachycepalatic skulls (think pugs!).
5. Our dogs like to “do their business” while aligned with Earth’s magnetic field
Scientists aren’t exactly sure why, but it’s been observed that dogs will urinate and defecate in alignment with Earth’s magnetic field. As long as the field is stable/uninterrupted, your pooch probably poops at compass points (generally facing north-south)!
6. The first living thing to orbit the Earth was a dog
While her journey ended in tragedy, Laika is memorialized and revered in Russia as a hero of the Soviet space age. The stray dog, scooped up from the streets of Moscow, became part of the Soviet space program as a way to prove and understand that living beings could survive spaceflight and the rigorous launch. She was trained to live in the small environment of the Sputnik 2 capsule, eat a nutrient paste, and to handle the noises of spaceflight.
7. Poodles aren’t French – they’re German!
Of German origin (Pudle or pudlehund, “splashing dog” or “puddle dog”), Poodles were bred for water retrieving. It’s thought that the traditional poodle haircut derived from helping the dog’s swim more efficiently in the water, with the poofy “pom-poms” kept around areas prone to heat loss. The controversy between the French or German origins of Poodles may be related to France’s similar breed, the Barbet, and due to the popularity of Poodles in France.
8. Dogs do get jealous if you give another dog a more treats
A recent study showed that dogs are able to process and understand that another dog was given more treats, or a larger piece of treat. These dogs often reacted indifferently to the treat-giving human, playing hard to get, or acting envious. The scientists who did the study call this behaviour “inequity aversion”.
9. A dog’s sense of smell is at least 1000 times more powerful than a human’s
Not only is Fido able to track down his next meal, or a treat you’ve hidden in a toy, but he also could potentially smell out cancers and seizures. Some dogs have been trained to also alert diabetic owners to changes in blood sugar (also related to scent), to track down drugs or bombs, and to find missing people. The powerful olfactory senses of our canine companions has been one of their most useful features in the human-dog relationship!
10. Owning a dog is good for your health!
Multiple studies show that dog ownership is beneficial to their human counterparts — reduced blood pressure, stress, anxiety, and can just make us enjoy life a little bit more!
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