Dogs have been “man’s best friend,” living and working with people for at least 15,000 years. Scientists have learned that canines have special abilities that enable them to pay close attention to human emotions and communication.
Although there are about 4 million more cats than dogs in the United States, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reports that 36.5% of U.S. households own a dog. According to Duke University’s Canine Cognition Center, next to humans, dogs are “easily the most successful large mammal on the planet.”
Dogs Are the Most Popular U.S. Pet With Almost 200 Breeds
Although the AVMA counts more than 74 million cats in the United States compared to 69 million dogs, almost 8 million more households have a dog than own a cat. Dog-owning households have 1.6 dogs on average, while households with cats have 2.1 on average.
Labrador retrievers have been the most popular breed of dog in the U.S. for several years according to the AKC. The second-most popular breed as of 2016 were German Shepherds, followed closely by Golden Retrievers.
Rounding out the list of nearly 200 breeds, the AKC found that American Foxhounds were the least-popular breed at #189. They are simply a rare breed, along with unique dogs like Norwegian Lundehunds (188) and Cirneco Dell’Etna, an Italian hound (183).
Dogs Understand Human Speech
Some people insist that dogs do not understand human language, although many researchers around the world have discovered that the average dog can learn anywhere from 100 to 250 individual words.
Hungarian researchers used an MRI machine to learn that dogs can understand and respond to individual words and also to a human tone of voice. Praise works best when the words and the tone match, something every dog owner knows from experience.
Dogs See in Yellow, Blue, and Gray
Another common misperception about dogs is that they see only in black and white.
Scientific tests show that dogs have only about 20% of the color receptors that people have, so they see softer tones than humans.
Dogs don’t seem to be able to see red and green, and a red toy might look the same as green grass. Although their daytime vision seems a little blurrier than human vision, dogs see better at night and can detect motion more quickly.
Your dog might prefer a blue or yellow toy to a red or green one because a red ball thrown into green grass can be harder for them to see.
Dogs Are as Smart as Young Children
Researchers at the University of British Columbia discovered that dogs know about as many words as the average two year-old child. The top 20% of dogs the university tested could learn as many as 250 words, making them nearly as smart as a three year-old.
Other researchers are testing other ways that dogs are smart. Dog breeds express individual kinds of intelligence.
Hounds and terriers are older breeds bred to hunt prey for people. Collies and retrievers have been bred to perform tasks like herding or fetching birds.
Dogs Sense of Smell is 10,000 Times Stronger Than Humans
Researchers at Florida State University learned that the canine sense of smell was at least 10,000 times stronger and could be up to 100,000 times more powerful than any person. To make the comparison to sight, if a person could read a sign at a third of a mile, a dog with 10,000 times better eyesight could read the sign from a whopping 3,000 miles away.
Dogs have almost miraculous abilities to smell minute odors. A drug-sniffing dog located a plastic container of marijuana that was sealed in a gasoline tank.
Dogs Hear Better Than People
Although dogs tend to lose their hearing as they grow older just like people, their sense of hearing is almost as strong as their sense of smell. Dogs hear sounds from 40 hertz to a high-pitched 60,000 hertz.
Dog whistles usually make sounds at a pitch of 20,000 hertz which dogs can hear and most people can’t. Dogs are much more sensitive to loud noises than people, which explains why so many are frightened during fireworks and thunderstorms.
Almost All Dogs Have Pink Tongues
Most dogs have black noses, while a few have pink or brown ones, but nearly every breed of dog has a pink tongue except for a few special breeds.
Chow Chows and Shar-Peis have blue-black tongues. Some breeds may also have pink tongues with dark spots, including German Shepherds, Akitas, and Collies.
Dogs May Have Worn Leashes Over 8,000 Years Ago
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute in Germany discovered 8,000-year-old cliff carvings in the Saudi Arabian desert that showed 13 dogs and a hunter.
Not only are the dogs realistically depicted, the rock carvings show leashes! The dogs are carved in scenes where they hunt different wild animals along with a hunter who uses a bow and arrow.
Dog Body Temperature Feels Feverish to Humans
The natural body temperature for a dog is between 101 and 102.5 F which feels much hotter than humans’ 98.7 F temperature. Dogs have a fever when their temperature rises over 103 F.
Dogs can suffer heat stroke in hot weather, a condition that can start at 105 F or higher. Make sure your dog has plenty of water and is never over-exercised in hot and humid weather.
Dogs and Cats Both Drink the Same Way
It might seem like dogs are messy water drinkers while cats neatly lap water into their mouths. Dogs lap water into their tongue, forming a mini-cup that they use to pull the water up in a column to fill their mouth.
Cats form the cup in a similar way, but their tongues are much smaller so they lap up less water at a time.
“Man’s Best Friend” has been our companion for at least 15,000 years. Scientists at universities around the world are studying dog genetics, dog intelligence, and dog emotions. Dogs and humans have been living happily and healthily together for thousands of years.
What interesting things have you learned about your dog? What do you think about the amazing things our dogs can do? Please share with us in the comments!