History of Dogs

History of Dogs

It has been a great debate for hundreds of years as to the history and likely evolution of the domestic dog.

Some factors to help in choosing and looking after a pet dog.

What types and breeds of dogs are there : -
From the humble mutts to pedigree show dogs. We list list a guide to 20 of the most popular dog breeds and more information about other breeds and how they are classified.


How to find the right breed of dog for a pet: -
What types of dog make the best pets. Do you want a pedigree dog or a cross breed; a puppy or an adult dog; a rescue dog or one with a family history; just some of the many points you need to consider before selecting your pet dog.


Dogs and children : -
- Which dog breeds are suitable.
- New dogs in families with children
- New babies and your pet dog
- Socialising your dog with children.
All important factors before choosing a pet dog for a family and what to cosider when a baby joins a family with dogs.


Dog Therapists
Therapists who specialise in Alternative Therapies for Dogs. Treatment has normall been thought of as the province of the Vet. but increasingly owners are turning to Alternative Therapists to treat their pet dogs.


Grooming your Dog.
Not an indulgence and something that is just for show dogs; with some breeds regular grooming is essential.


Gifts for Dogs
Some suggestions and examples of things you and your pet dog might like; some essential, some useful, some fun and frankly some that are quite bizarre.


Dog Supplies
Suppliers where you can buy food and other essentials for your pet dog.


Some interesting facts about dogs
  • Dogs were the first animals domesticated by humans.
  • Chihuahuas are the smallest dogs
  • Irish Wolfhounds are the largest .
  • Great Danes are the tallest.
  • St. Bernards are the heaviest
  • Greyhounds are the fastest dogs achieving speeds of up to 45 mph for short periods of time.
  • The most intelligent dogs are reportedly the Border Collie and the Poodle.
  • The least intelligent dogs are the Afghan Hound and the Basenji.
  • It is estimated that a dog's power of smell is 1000 times better than humans.
  • Dogs do not sweat through their tongues but through sweat glands between the pads of their feet.
  • A dog's body temperature is between 100.2 - 102.8 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Dogs have three eyelids. An upper and lower eyelid and a third inside these two. It helps protect the eye from dirt and dust
  • A dogs hearing is about ten times better than a humans.
  • The basenji, an African dog, is the only dog that cannot bark.
  • The New Guinea Singing Dog not only sings but it can also climb trees
  • Dogs, like humans, can be either right or left handed (pawed)
  • Dogs are omnivorous (eat both meat and vegetable foods)
  • As part of a their instinctive feeding ritual dogs will bury bones
  • Shaking things viciously is recognised as being part of their hunting instincts.
  • Dogs often walk in small circles before lying down, this again instinctive (flattening long grass in the wild)
  • Dogs have highly developed internal clocks They usually know when it's time for you to arrive home, feed them, or go to bed if you are run to schedule.
  • Newly born puppies are deaf, blind, have no teeth and almost no sense of smell. Keeping near their mother and siblings for warmth.
  • Generally a puppy is only able to crawl during its first week
  • A pup will begin to see when it is between 2 to 3 weeks old
  • A puppy will develop its sense of smell at about 3 weeks.
  • 3 to 7 weeks after birth a puppy developes its first teeth.
  • Quite often puppy will sleep for 14 hours every day.


Today the most popular theory is that dogs are directly descended from Canis Lupus - the Grey Wolf and that dogs are more closely related to the Grey Wolf than Biologists had previously suspected.

Gray Wolf


Evidence, in the form of remains, suggests that humans and wolves first co-existed over 15,000 yrs. ago. At this stage they probably were still both enemies, fighting for their own survival but sharing the common the traits of being pack animals and hunting in packs.
It is highly likely that this is when they both began to take advantage of each other.
Men, by now, were living in groups within camps and these camps began to attract the attention of wolves, there would probably have been lots of garbage lying about (particularly bones and food scraps) this the wolves recognised as a safe and easy food supply, much easier than hunting with all its possible dangers.
Humans too began to recognise the advantage of having these "camp followers" around, wolves with their keen sense of smell and hearing could warn of impending danger from the wild animals and even hostile humans that would have been present in these dangerous times.
It is easy to see that over thousands of years this dependence begin to be refined. Wolves probably began to recognise humans as pack leaders and humans began to take advantage of other useful attributes of wolves. This would have led to an early form of selective breeding, any animals that were seen as too fierce, unsociable or of no obvious use would be abandoned and only the wolves, with desirable traits, would have been selected to breed; gradually reinforcing the growing co-dependence.
Soon the traits of each group of these "tame" wolves would reflect the needs of the group of humans it lived with: it's size, colouring, senses and even the length of its coat or swimming ability would tend to reflect the needs of the hunters and their environments. Probably, as the number of humans increased, some degree of trade would have occurred between groups, puppies being swapped and traded based on the inbred traits they now possessed - the evolution of wolves into the various dog breeds of today had begun.

There is archaeological evidence to suggest that dogs had been domesticated by 10,000 BC. Early remains have been found in present-day Denmark and West Germany. One of the most touching discoveries from this period was in Israel where a young puppy was found in a grave alongside the body of its owner. The usefulness of keeping dogs appears to have developed rapidly worldwide. Evidence of dogs has been found in North America in about 5,000 BC, probably introduced by early settlers from Asia.

As early as 4000BC dogs were beginning to develop into recognisable groups

  • wolf-type dogs
  • mastiffs
  • pointers
  • greyhounds
  • shepherding dogs

These dogs were primarily used for herding, hunting, and guarding.

The next big development was brought about by War (as have many things).
Most of the ancienr "western civilisations" including the Romans, Egyptians, Greeks, Persians and Babylonians all employed huge and fierce fighting dogs in their battles. The Roman Army in particular made great use of fighting dogs to help them spread their empire in the ancient world. They set up units consisting entirely of dogs to make them more fierce many wore spiked collars around their neck and ankles, and making them even more dangerous by the addition of large curved knives. Quite often they were starved before battle, then unleashed on their unsuspecting enemies. The dog most used by the Romans were the great Molossian dogs of Epirus, specifically trained for battle. These dogs dominated battles until they meet their match in Britain, where powerful Mastiffs had been born and breed.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, interest in dog breeding and their care waned. This neglect resulted in many abandoned dogs forming packs and terrorising towns. During the Dark Ages people began to blame dogs for the problems around them and superstitions arose, including those of werewolves and monsters.
Although dogs continued to be used by armies in battle, but now in a growing variety of ways, no longer used solely for fighting. They were trained as guard dogs, sentries, messengers and draught dogs. (It is estimated that during World War I, the Germans used possibly 30,000 dogs, the French used 20,000, and the Italians 3,000. The other Allied forces used thousands more.

It was during the Middle Ages that dog development took another turn.
Still retaining a bad reputationwhich was added to by the spread of the bubonic plague, or Black Death,.

During the plague, in which fleas transported the deadly disease, many via dogs, meant that the dog was often abandoned.. Great herds of livestock were decimated by the disease, leading to people killing each other over food. Few people during this period kept pets resulting in ownerless dogs running wild, often in packs, they ate corpses and killed in groups. Conversely there began a fashion for keeping huge packs of hunting dogs and the more well off people started seeing dogs as status symbols, believing they gave people status and distinction. As a result the number of dog breeds started to increase rapidly. Dogs were now being bred for many more reasons: - their behaviour, size, length, color, facial characteristics and even "strokability" (we see this still happening today).

Later, in the 19th century, dog shows became fashionable and the need arose for specific criteria against which individual dogs could be compared and judged. Enthusiasts in Great Britain grouped together in 1873 to form what became known as the Kennel Club. This led directly to the establishment of stud books and set standards for certain dog breeds. It also set basic rules for shows. Soon after similar organisations began in other countries: the American Kennel Club was formed in 1884 and it's Canadian counterpart in 1888.

The Victorian Era saw dogs becoming even more popular, partly due to the example set by Queen Victoria who herself had a lifetime interest and attachment to dogs.
A persons choice of dog now conveyed your status and whether you were a sportsman or a true lady. Dogs helped people fulfill their aspirations toward a higher station in life and as a result this was period in which many dog classifications began.It was also a time in which many new dog breeds were bred by varying groups of the populace, especially hunters.
In the 1700s and 1800s, many of the sporting breeds, such as the German Shorthaired Pointer, Weimaraner, Vizsla, and other hunting dogs, were bred because middle-class Europeans had more time for hunting as a recreation, however being less affluent than the European aristocracy who could previously afford to keep several breeds. they wanted one dog to perform a series of functions.
Likewise, smaller dogs, toy breeds, terriers, lap dogs also became more popular, and many breeds which were hitherto unknown came to the fore. The different species that we are so familiar with today are the result of this continuing quest to find the ideal dog. Many believe this period was the golden age of the dog.

Dogs Today..........

Today's dogs come in all shapes and sizes and there are estimated to be over 600 dog breeds worldwide. However they still all belong to the same species, which means that all breeds can be crossbred and still have fertile offsprings.
Most of these breeds have been developed by human breeders which means that they choose which dog breeds with which dog, hence they can decide which characteristics are desirable and engineer them. Man has now become a "Dog Stylist" able to create breeds to order: - smaller or larger heads, short or long legs, cute or fierce faces, coats that are short or long rough or smooth and even what colour. Much of this is far removed from the original purpose of dog breeding which was to produce dogs capable of being better at hunting, tracking, guarding, shepherding etc.. So even if the original purpose of breeding and refining dogs has not been completely abandoned there has become a "dog-industry" that concentrates on breeding and altering dogs to suit people's requirements and wishes.
Nowadays, certain breeds, such as the German Shepherd Dog or Labrador Retriever, have become popular throughout the world. Many, however, remain far more localised, perhaps even restricted to one specific region of a single country. Fashion and environment have also been contributing factors.

The Future..........

During the last Century dogs have seen many changes in their looks and their usefulness to man.See our article Old Dogs Gain New Tricks to see some examples of theses changes.

There has always been cross breeds or mutts and what some people refer to as first crosses, the latter being the product of two known pedigree types. Some of these have now been given names which vary from the fairly obvious to the whimsical. Labradoodle, Scoodle , St, Berdoodle and Scapso being just some (it is difficult to imagine Poodles being willing partners in some of those.
The advent of Genetic Engineering may have opened the door to even more possibilities, it is likely its sole use will not be for controlling disease and the other effects inherent in inbreeding for lurking in the background is the possibility of producing dog types to order.

Old Dogs Gain New Tricks
Dogs and man have formed partnerships for centuries. Probably the first animals to be domesticated, dogs have variously been used for hunting, herding, guarding and even as companions. Whilst it may be true that you cannot teach old dog new tricks, it is also true that humans will always try to find new ways to utilise man's best friend.
Some of the roles dogs now perform on a daily basis include:-
Dogs for the blind
There is no doubt that “guide” dogs have expanded the possibilities for blind people to go to many more places and enjoy happier and more fulfilled lives. Many blind and partially sighted people put total trust in their guide dogs, often taking their life in their hands - for example, crossing a busy road. Their dogs also make it easier to move about in snow, ice, mud and other rough conditions.

Hearing dogs for the deaf.
In the UK there are nearly ten million people with some degree of hearing impairment
Many of these people have had there lives changed by dogs trained to alert their severely, profoundly or totally deaf owners to sounds that many of us take for granted. Everyday sounds which hearing people may take for granted dogs will respond to such as:-
• Alarm clocks
• Telephones
• Doorbells
• Cooker Timers
• Smoke alarms
• Baby alarms
The dogs communicate by touch and then lead owners to the sound source, providing the deaf person with greater independence and confidence, as well as companionship and feelings of security.
Dogs for the Disabled.
In an effort to improve the quality of life for many people with disabilities, dogs have been trained to:-
Open and close doors, collect post, put rubbish in the kitchen bin take clothes out of the washing machine or even take off someone’s socks. They can also fetch a wide variety of things on command and recognise several objects by name, including 'fetch the phone' which could be vital in cases of any emergency. Dogs can even pick up crutches and sticks.
Therapy Dogs
Dogs are increasingly being used in active therapy; this may involve visiting hospitals, care facilities, nursing homes, etc. to cheer up patients. Studies of dogs interacting with autistic children have shown that dogs calm them down tremendously just by their presence and with specific tasks such as grooming a dog; the children can learn to focus on a task, something that's very difficult for an autistic child.
Mould Detection
Mould detection dogs are regularly used in European countries such as Denmark and Germany, where mould has been known for decades to be a problem in buildings, they will sniff out mold hiding behind baseboards and walls in houses, office buildings and schools.

Life Detection
Increasingly dogs are used in more specialist areas such as in water rescue and in the search for human buried in earthquakes, landslides etc.
Bomb and drug detection
The dog’s keen sense of smell is sensitive enough to detect minute trace amounts of many compounds, this makes them very effective in screening objects, it is claimed that some trained dogs are able to recognise over 20,000 explosive compositions.

David Bates www.pettrendy.co.uk 2009 ©


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