10 awesome dog facts!
Get the lowdown on these adorable animals…
Ready to learn some paw-some dog facts? Then you’re in the right place! Join National Geographic Kids as we get the lowdown on our fur-tastic friends…
1. Dogs are the most popular pet on the planet!
A third of ALL households around the world have a dog. These playful, friendly, loyal animals make great companions, but they can also be fierce and tough protectors, or intelligent helpers.
2. They evolved from a now-extinct species of wolf.
Dogs were the first animal domesticated (tamed) by humans, over 20,000 years ago! As they evolved from wolves, their skulls, teeth and paws shrank, and they became more docile and obedient.
Evidence from fossils suggests that five types of dog had evolved by the Bronze Age, around 4500BC. These were mastiffs, wolf-type dogs, dogs similar to greyhounds, pointing dogs and herding dogs. Bow wow!
3. They can learn over 100 words and gestures!
Dogs are thought to be as smart as two-year-old children (and much easier to train!), so many owners teach them commands and tricks.
4. Dog noses are at least 40x more sensitive than ours!
These clever canines have an incredible sense of smell – allowing them to follow scent trails days after they were left. Amazingly, bloodhounds‘ sense of smell is so spot on that it can be used as evidence in court!
Dogs also have fantastic hearing! They can detect high-pitched noises and spot sounds from much further away than humans can.
5. Many work as assistance dogs, helping humans!
Many dogs are trained to work as guide dogs, helping blind people get around safely. Others are assistance dogs, who keep their owners calm and safe, while some brave hounds are search and rescue dogs, who help human rescuers save people from danger.
WEIRD BUT TRUE!
Some working dogs are trained to use their super senses to sniff out explosives and illegal goods, or alert humans to potentially dangerous health issues. Wow!
6. They only sweat from their paws, and have to cool down by panting.
The sweat is much oilier than humans’, and it contains lots of chemicals that only other dogs can detect. Weirdly, it also makes many dog paws smell of cheesy crisps!
7. They can be right or left-pawed!
Like humans, most dogs have a dominant hand – or in their case, paw! To figure out which one it is, you can conduct a simple science experiment…
Watch a dog moving from standing still to walking forwards. Do they start walking with their left leg, or their right? Watch several times, noting down the starting leg each time, and see if there’s a pattern. Many dogs will often lead with the same leg – their dominant one!
8. The Ancient Egyptians saw dogs as god-like!
Ancient breeds like the Saluki lived in the lavish palaces of Egyptian royalty! The pampered pooches had their own servants, were decked out in jewelled collars, and ate only the finest meats.
WEIRD BUT TRUE!
Dead rulers were often buried with their doggy pals, as they believed the hounds would protect them from harm in the afterlife.
9. Dogs use body language to express their feelings.
From their ears to their eyebrows, shoulders, and tail, dogs often use signals and smells, rather than sound, to communicate! Their posture makes a big difference, too.
Next time you see a dog interacting with a person or other dog, pay close attention. Are they shrinking themselves down small, or standing up big and tall? What do you think they’re trying to say?
10. Owning a dog is a BIG responsibility!
Just like humans, dogs have feelings and needs, and they have to be taken care of properly. They need regular walking, healthy food, a clean, cosy place to sleep and lots and lots of love and affection! Make sure you and your family think carefully before you get a dog (or any pet!) to make sure you have the time and means to take one on.