Dogs are a favorite pet all over the world. It’s estimated there are over 525 million dogs on Earth today. Here are some neat facts about our much-loved companions.
1. Dogs have lived with humans for at least 14,000 years.
When and where dogs were first domesticated by humans is debated by historians. Although, the first dogs are believed to be self-domesticated wolves, first attracted to early sites of human habitation.
In Germany, there are unearthed remains of a person buried with their dog estimated to be 14,000 years old. Early dog remains have also been found in China, dated around 7,000-5,800 BC. There’s even a dog burial site in modern-day Utah estimated to be 11,000 years old.
The first identifiable dog breed dates from about 9,000 BC. It was probably a type of Greyhound dog used for hunting.
2. Dogs have been revered throughout history.
When a pet dog died in ancient Egypt, the owners, if they could afford it, would have their dog mummified with the same care as a human family member. Owners would also shave off their eyebrows as a sign of extreme grief.
It was thought that dogs were a gift from heaven in ancient China. Their blood was considered so sacred it was used in sealing oaths and swearing allegiances.
In the Americas, Mayans kept dogs as pets, but they were also associated with the gods. Dogs were said to conduct the souls of the dead across a watery expanse called Xibalba. When the soul arrived in this netherworld, a dog helped guide the deceased through challenges set out by the lords of Xibalba in order to reach paradise.
3. A dog’s face may determine its lifespan.
Dog breeds with sharp, pointed faces typically live longer on average than dogs with very flat faces, such as bulldogs and pugs. The breeding done to make a dog’s face flatter can lead to various health issues, including skin, eye and breathing problems as well as a poor ability to tolerate heat. The longer a dog’s nose is, the more effective it is for internal cooling.
4. Certain human foods can be toxic for dogs.
Even in small quantities, many human foods should be avoided for dogs. Grapes and raisins contain an unknown substance that causes renal failure in dogs. Macadamia nuts can damage a dog’s nervous system. Onions and garlic may harm red blood cells. Also, chocolate, avocados, alcohol and anything with caffeine can be fatal for a dog.
5. Dogs have 10,000 to 100,000 times better smell than humans.
To put that in perspective, it would be the same as humans detecting a teaspoon of sugar in a cup of coffee, whereas a dog could detect a teaspoon of sugar in two Olympic-sized pools of water.
6. Dogs can read your mind.
Not literally, but dogs are excellent at reading your body language. For example, one study hid a treat underneath one of two overturned buckets. A person standing behind the buckets gave various body cues to indicate which bucket had the treat, such as pointing at or leaning towards it.
When chimpanzees or three-year-old children were faced with this situation, both were initially quite poor at interpreting the body signals until they learned what they meant. Whereas, dogs could almost immediately understand where the treat was. Researchers don’t know why this is, but dogs are clearly skilled at reading human body cues.
7. Dogs can be as smart as a toddler.
Research out of the University of British Columbia has found the intelligence of dogs can rival a human child of 2 to 2.5 years of age. Dogs can understand 150 to 200 words, count up to four or five, and intentionally deceive humans and other dogs to get treats.
8. Dogs can help you with your love life (if you’re a guy).
A 2015 study found that women were more than twice as likely as men to say they were attracted to someone because he had a pet, especially a dog. From an evolutionary standpoint, the researchers suggested women may prefer men with pets because it shows they could be responsible, caring long-term partners to raise children with. Whereas, it’s less important to men because they tend to focus on short-term mating.
9. Touch is the first sense a puppy develops.
When a puppy is born, the first thing their mother does is clean them. This touches all the nerve endings in the puppy’s body and gets the blood flowing. From these tender beginnings, touch becomes part of socialization for dogs that promotes bonds between friends and family members, both canine and human.
10. Dogs only sweat through their paws.
Unlike humans who have sweat glands over most of our bodies, dogs only have sweat glands in between their foot pads. Dogs rely primarily on panting with their mouths open instead of sweating to cool themselves. Moisture on their tongues evaporates and cools their overall body temperature. A panting dog can take 300-400 breaths per minute, compared to their regular 30-40 breaths per minute.