Dog Facts: 42 Different Fun Facts That You’ve Never Heard Before

Your canine companion has a lot of traits that make them your best friend, but there are many things you don’t know about him or her. Dogs are unique, and no one is the same. In this article, we want to hit you with something information you don’t know about dogs and also some information you never thought you would know.

Continue reading to find out the 42 most interesting and eye-opening facts and statistics about dogs, including their history and biology.

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  • The history of dogs dates back 40 million years ago when the animal was called Miacis. This was a weasel-type animal that lived among trees and in dens. This animal evolved into something called a Tomarctus, which is in the same classification as the wolf and jackal.
  • During Ancient Egyptian times, dogs were revered. The process of mourning when a pet owners dog died included shaving their eyebrows and covering themselves in mud while they mourn out loud for days or weeks.
  • If you have ever heard the phrase, “raining cats and dogs” it comes from seventeenth-century England when it would rain so hard the streets would become flooded. During this time, homeless animals would, unfortunately, drown and float down the streets, giving the appearance of it actually raining cats and dogs.
  • There are many stories of the origins of werewolves, but many date them back to the fall of Rome. During this time, basic survival became more important than breeding dogs, so many owners abandoned their dogs. After that, the dogs started to form packs and roam the streets of villages and scare people.
  • Some weird laws exist in small towns and cities across the country. In Palding, Ohio, it is legal for police officers to bite a dog if it does not stop barking at them. In Ventura County, California, pets must have a permit to have sex.
  • You can tell a lot about a dog by looking at its face. Dogs that have a pointy face resembling wolves live longer than dogs with flat faces. Dogs like bulldogs or pugs often deal with more health problems as well due to their facial structure, but these breeds did not get bred for activity and work, they are descendants of royal lap dogs.
  • French poodles are not actually French; they are German. Poodle means pudelhand in German, which stands for “splashing dog.” Many dog experts believe that poodles hair evolved into the puffs we see today when people used to shave the dog to make them capable of swimming faster. At this time they left hair around the joints to keep them warm.
  • Much of the original dog domestication took place in China because dog breeders were revered in this area. This is where dwarfing, and miniaturization of dogs took place.
  • The origin of amputating a dog’s tail goes back to Lucius Columella’s assumption that cutting off the tail prevented rabies. This was common practice in ancient Rome.
  • On September 11, 2001, specially trained dogs were on the scene of the World Trade Center tragedy. These included German Shepherds, Labs, and Dachshunds.
  • The smallest dog ever recorded is a Yorkshire Terrier that was 2.5” tall and 3.5” from nose to tail. This dog only weighed in at four ounces.

More Great Facts

  • In the Middle Ages, purebred dogs were highly expensive and desirable, so mixed breeds were required to wear blocked around the neck to prevent them from breeding with dogs of nobility.
  • At the end of World War I, the Germans trained the first guide dogs to help soldiers who were blind from the war.
  • Dogs develop touch as their first sense, and their entire body has nerve endings. They also have sweat glands on their paws, and that is the only area that has them.
  • Contrary to popular belief, dogs are not color blind and can see in color. The colors they see are not as vivid, though, and they can see better when the light is low.
  • Petting dogs is proven to lower the blood pressure of dog owners.
  • Greyhounds are the most ancient dog of any breed. The term “Greyhound” comes from the German word meaning “old dog.”
  • A person standing still 300 yards away from a dog is nearly invisible, but your dog can identify you from one mile away if you wave your arms.
  • Dogs smell 1,000 to 10,000 times better than humans. Dogs have 220 million smell-detecting cells compared to humans having only 5 million.
  • Dogs can smell dead bodies underwater, and natural gas buried less than 40 feet beneath the surface. Dogs also can detect lung cancer by smelling a person’s breath.
  • Dogs leave behind a message in their urine. Other dogs that sniff the urine can tell if that dog was male or female, old or young, happy or angry, and sick or healthy.
  • Male dogs raise their leg to urinate of vertical objects because they want the receiver of the message to know they are tall and dominant.
  • Dogs are as smart as a two or three-year-old kid. They can understand as many as 200 words and make sense of hand signals and movements.
  • The most intelligent dog breeds are Collies and Poodles. The least intelligent and Afghan Hounds and Basenji.
  • During the Renaissance era portraits of dogs showed as a sign of fidelity and loyalty. They were also frequented in a lot of religious art throughout Europe by Leonardo da Vinci.
  • Ozzy Osborne once saved his wife’s Pomeranian by wrestling a coyote until it released the dog and ran away.
  • When someone gets bitten by a rabid dog in ancient Egypt, they were encouraged to eat the roasted liver of the dog to avoid contracting the disease. There were a lot of weird customs centered around dog body parts. The tooth of a dog with rabies got put on a band tied to the person’s arm to prevent infection. Dog menstrual blood got used for hair removal.
  • The United States has the highest population of dogs with France coming in second.
  • If never fixed, a female dog, her mate, and her puppies could have over 66,000 dogs in six years.
  • Chihuahuas share a common trait with human babies. Both are born with soft spots on their skulls that close up as they get older.
  • Franklin Roosevelt paid $150,000 for a destroyer to locate his lost dog Scottie in the Aleutian Islands.
  • During World War II the Russians trained dogs to perform suicide missions with mines strapped to their backs.
  • A one-year-old dog is as physically mature as a 15-year-old human being.
  • 87% of dog owners love their dog curling up next to them by their feet while they watch TV.
  • In 2002 alone, more people in the United States were killed by dogs than by sharks in the previous 100 years.
  • Greyhounds are the fasted dogs on the planet. At their peak, they can reach speeds of 45 miles per hour.
  • The Labrador Retriever is the favorite dog breed across the US, Canada, and the UK.
  • There are one million dogs in the United States named as the primary beneficiary of their owners will.
  • 33% of dog owners admit to leaving their dogs messages on their answering machine when they are not home.
  • A dog’s nose print is used to identify them the same as a human fingerprint is for humans.
  • 79% of people include their dog’s name on holiday and greeting cards, while 58% put their pets in family photos with them.
  • Dogs are the only other animal besides humans to have a prostate.

History

Dogs are part of the Canidae family and are a species of the gray wolf. The dog is one of the two most popular domesticated animals with cats being the other one. For 12,000 years, dogs have lived beside humans as hunting companions, protectors, and friends.

Today there are more than 400 distinct dog breeds, and breeding continues to expand as technology grows. With genetic engineering, we are now able to fulfill distinct societal goals and solve specific problems. The first dogs needed a keen sense of smell and sight, and breeders were able to design the best dog to help with hunting.

In different parts of the world, dogs get treated differently, and that is how specialized breeding started. Some people need dogs for friendship and company while others need them for hunting and work. In the western world, we currently design and breed dogs for companionship but in eastern society, dogs are not held to the same esteem. Dogs are guards and even used for meals.

During the time of ancient Egyptians, dogs were considered to be sacred and were revered by pharaohs.

At the time when we were all hunter-gatherers is when dogs were most useful. Dogs served as herders and guardians of livestock. They were used to scare away predators and protect the animals.

The most common “workplace” use of dogs in western society today is for therapeutic and service reasons. You find dogs used in nursing homes and hospitals to help patients who are recovering from disease or illness. Dogs are also used to aid the blind and as police dogs.

Domestication

It can be hard to understand sometimes how dogs became domesticated, but when you put the pieces together, it makes a lot of sense. When wild dogs were scavengers around tribal sites, ancient humans saw them as a useful hunting partner and thought they could provide much value to their life.

When they acknowledged that they needed to enlist the help of dogs, they began treating them like royalty by pampering them with their servants and offering them the best possible diet. They lived the life of royalty, and only the richest of the rich were permitted to own a purebred dog.

At this time, when a ruler died, their dog was interred with them so they would have protection in the afterlife. To this day, statues of dogs still stand outside burial sites and crypts to guard to deceased remaining inside. Many of the dogs on these statues resemble the dogs we have today.

Understanding Breeds

Once people began to understand the unique abilities of dog breeds, they were determined to try and enhance these capabilities by trying to develop super dogs. Each territory of the world had its breed that they looked towards. For example, in the Middle East, they had the sighthounds, and in Europe, they have the Mastiff.

When hunting and farming became more important, people started to develop herding and guarding dogs to protect and herd animals. At this time in China is when small companion breeds came into play like Pekingese and Chihuahua. These dogs were bred by noble families looking for a calm lap dog.

Characteristics of a Breed

Something interesting about dogs is the fact that they can vary so different from one to the other. It can be hard to believe that are the same species sometimes, but their genetic makeup is the same.

  • Dogs Digestion – Rarely does a dog chew his food. As they eat, they gulp and swallow their food, and digestive enzymes do the job of breaking food up in the stomach. Most of the digestion takes place in the intestines with help from the pancreas and liver.
  • Skeletal System – Dogs have 319 bones and less if their tail gets docked or is absent. A dog’s muscles are similar to that of humans, but their upper body muscles represent half the weight of their entire body.

Dogs are built to run with the exception of some smaller breeds like bulldogs who are not designed to chase animals. The way that dogs run varies greatly from breed to breed. For example, German Shepherds are well known for their flying trot with extreme leg extension from end to end.

Greyhounds are also known for their speed, and they have an unusually flexible spine that allows them to contract and expand their legs so they can have all four feet off the ground at one time.

Another uniquely shaped breed is the Dachshund who is long and low to the ground with short legs. This allows them to hunt underground through small tunnels in search of prey. This dog was initially bred to hunt badgers.

  • Teeth – One of the most interesting biological phenomena of canines is their teeth. They have two different sets of teeth like humans and around six to seven months of age their first teeth erupt to get replaced by 42 adult teeth. They have incisors to bite at things which allows them to tear flesh. Behind those are molars which are there to shear and chew food.

The unique thing about a dog’s teeth is their multi-purpose ability. They serve as their primary tool for eating as well as a mighty weapon when necessary. They have both carnivore and herbivore teeth, which allows them to eat foods of all kinds.

Reproduction

Dogs cannot reproduce until they meet full sexual maturity, which happens around eight or nine months old. Small dogs reach full maturity earlier than large dogs, but they do not reach full social maturity until two years of age.

Females experience their first menstrual cycle between six and eighteen months, and this occurs twice per year after that.

A female’s heat cycle lasts 18 to 21 days and starts with a stage called proestrus. This is a swelling of the vulva resulting in a bloody discharge that lasts nine days. The second stage of menstruation is called estrus, and at this time, the discharge decreases, and at this point, the female becomes more receptive to the male and may accept a seed.

Around 14 days in the third stage begins, which is called diestrus, and the vulva returns to its normal size, and the female will no longer accept their mate.

Males are fertile from the onset of sexual adolescence, which takes place around six months of age. This might take longer for larger breeds, and males are willing to mate with any female.

The typical gestation period for dogs is 63 days from the point of conception. This will vary depending on how many times the eggs have been fertilized. To determine if a female is pregnant, the veterinarian will palpate her abdomen around 25 days after breeding. At this time they can also perform ultrasounds and at 40 days and X-ray will confirm the pregnancy.

Most breeds whelp except large-headed, short body breeds, and toy breeds. They have cesarean sections to deliver puppies.

Final Thoughts

By this point, you should know more about dogs than you ever dreamed. Now you can go to all your dog owner friends at your local dog park and impress them with your knowledge of dog traits and history. We always say you can never know too much about our favorite canine companions.