Dog Facts and Trivia

Here you will find 101 interesting facts and trivia-related items about dogs. Some you may probably already know, but some you definitely won't!

1. Dogs can be traced back some 40 million years to weasel-like animals called the Miacis. These tree and den dwellers later evolved into the Tomarctus, a direct ancestor of the genus Canis, which includes the wolf and jackal. The first dogs were wolves that were attracted to early sites of human habitation at least 12,000 years ago, and the earliest European images of dogs were found in Spannish cave paintings dating back to that time.

2. Man probably domesticated dogs before most other animals, including horses, cattle, donkeys, sheep, goats, chickens and even cats. They have lived alongside people for about 14,000 years, compared to cats for only 7,000 years.

3. The ancient Egyptians loved their dogs so much that, upon the death of a pet they would shave their eyebrows, smear mud in their hair and mourn aloud for days. The Romans weren't too different either, and Caesar was said to have reminded citizens to pay more attention to their children and less to their dogs.

4. Dogs have some odd anatomical features, such as sweat glands between their paws, three eyelids - the third is a membrane that keeps the eye lubricated and protected, and their shoulder blades are detached from their skeletons to allow for greater flexibility during running.

5. It is well known that chocolate can be harmful to dogs, but there are other foods that are to be avoided too. Grapes and raisins can cause renal failure, even in small quantities, and apple and pear seeds contain arsenic, which can be deadly for dogs. Macadamia nuts, cooked onions and anything containingcaffeine can also be harmful.

6. A normal adult dog has 42 teeth.

7. As they don't have sweat glands other than those located between their paws, dogs cool off using their tongues by panting.

8. On average it takes around 63 days from the time of mating for puppies to be born. Puppies are born blind, deaf and toothless, and can be rejected by their mothers if born by cesarean section and cleaned before being given back. A single bitch and her female offspring could theoretically produce some 4372 puppies in seven years.

9. The phrase raining cats and dogs comes from 17th century England, where during heavy rainstorms strays would often drown and float down the streets, giving the appearance that it had actually rained cats and dogs.

10. The shape of a dog's face may suggest how long it will live. Dogs with sharp, pointed wolf-like faces typically live longer. Dogs with flat faces, such as bulldogs, often have shorter lifespans.

11. The legend of werewolves probably dates from the period following the fall of Rome. Human survival became more important than breeding and training dogs, and packs of abandoned dogs would roamed the streets and terrify villagers.

12. There are some odd laws regarding dogs around the world. Police officers in Palding, Ohio are permitted to bite a dog in order to quieten it down. In Ventura County in California, cats and dogs are not allowed to have sex without a permit. And in Iran, it is illegal to own a dog as a pet unless it can be proven to be a guard or hunting dog.

13. The first dog chapel was established in 2001 in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

14. Plato once said that a dog has the soul of a philosopher.

15. French poodles do not originate from France, they actually come from Germany. The word poodle comes from the German pudel or pudelhund, meaning splashing dog, and they were a German breed used for hunting, water retrieving and even herding.

16. The first living thing to orbit the Earth was a dog called Laiki, a Russian stray, on board the Soviet Sputnik spacecraft in 1957. Poor Laiki died in space, but her daughter Pushnika had four puppies.

17. Dalmatians are completely white at birth. They develop their black spots later on as they get older.

18. The term dog days of summer was coined by the ancient Greeks and Romans to describe the hottest days of summer that coincided with the rising of the Dog Star, Sirius.

19. The Basenji is unique in being the only dog in the world that doesn't bark, although it does yodel.

20. As we are the only animals that smile, it is thought that a dog most likely misinterprets a smile as a baring of teeth, which of course is an act of aggression. So take care when smiling at strange dogs.

21. The custom of docking the tails of dogs may go back to the Roman times, where writer Lucius Columella (AD 4-70) asserted that tail docking prevented rabies.

22. Within hours of the attack on the World Trade Center, specially trained search and rescue dogs were on the scene. The first was Bear, an 11 year-old Golden Retriever, who worked 18 hour days in the beginning looking for survivors.

23. 101 Dalmatians may have been an ambitious concept. The largest recorded dog litter to date is 24 puppies from a Neopolitan Mastiff in 2005 (delivered by caesarean section). This was actually a double record as 20 of the puppies survived.

24. Dogs are famous for their sense of smell. They have between 125 and 220 million smell-sensitive receptors, (300 million in a Bloodhound) compared to our 5 million, and the portion of their brain that interprets smell is four times larger than ours. And their wet noses help to collect more of the tiny droplets of smelling chemicals in the air. As a result dogs can detect odours at concentrations about 100 million times lower than we can and can simply smell about 1,000 times better than us. Some can smell dead bodies under water and natural gas buried under 40 feet of dirt. They can even detect lung cancer by sniffing a person's breath.

25. Dogs keenest sense is of course their smell, with their hearing coming second followed by their sight.

26. Dogs can locate the source of a sound in 1/600th of a second. They can also hear sounds four times farther away than we can.

27. Dogs with large square heads and large ears, such as the Saint Bernard, are the best dogs at hearing subsonic sounds.

28. Contrary to popular belief, dogs are not colour-blind. They don't see colours as intensely as we do but they do see them, and they also see better in low light.

29. Sight is a dog's weakest sense, and they would struggle to see someone standing still 300 yards away. Despite this, they can easily identify an owner standing a mile away if they are waving their arms.

30. Dogs have a sweet tooth, with some 1700 taste buds compared to cats with only 473. We humans beat both however with around 9000.

31. The first Hollywood canine star was Rin Tin Tin, a German Shepherd. Found wounded in battle in France during the First World War as a puppy, he was adopted by an American soldier called Lee Duncan. This incredible canine movie star made 26 pictures for Warner Brothers from 1918 to 1932 and would even sign his own contracts with a paw print. At one time he received 10,000 fan letters per week.

32. Amongst Ancient Egyptians records are the names of 77 dogs, which refer to colour and character such as Blackie, Ebony, Good Herdsman, Reliable, and Brave One.

33. Currently there are an estimated 400 million dogs in the world, with the USA having the most, followed then by France.

34. The nose print of a dog is as unique as a human fingerprint, and it can even be used for identification purposes.

35. Dogs find it much easier to learn spoken commands when they are given along with hand signals or gestures.

36. It only takes 2 dogs to form a pack, and they are more likely to chase and hunt than a single dog on its own.

37. The most popular dog breed in the UK, USA and Canada is the Labrador retriever.

38. Dogs can be good for your health. Studies show that petting dogs lowers blood pressure.

39. The oldest dog to date was an Australian cattle dog called Bluey, who lived for 29 years and 5 months. In equivalent human years, this is more than 160 years old.

40. A dog's urine contains different smells that will let other dogs know which sex it is, whether it is old or young, sick or healthy, and even its mood.

41. Male dogs don't actually need to raise their legs to urinate. They do this to mark their territory and to leave a message that they are tall and intimidating. Parts of Croatia had a problem with lampposts toppling over because urine was rotting the metal.

42. Ever wondered how smart your dog really is? Dogs are as intelligent as a toddler aged two or three, and they can understand between 150 to 200 words or more, including signals and hand gestures with the same meaning as words.

43. A dog's life? Countess Karlotta Libenstein of Germany left roughly 106 million dollars to her Alsatin, Gunther III, when she died in 1992.

44. Unlucky in love? The best dog for attracting a date is supposedly the Golden Retriever. The worst is the Pit Bull.

45. The largest dog recorded to date was Zorba, an English mastiff, who weighed in at 343 pounds and measured 8 feet 3 inches long from nose to tail.

46. The smallest was a tiny Yorkshire Terrier, which stood 2.5 inches tall at the shoulder and weighed only 4 ounces.

47. The smallest dog breed is the Chihuahua, on average weighing no more than 6 pounds and standing between 6 and 9 inches tall at the shoulder.

48. Greyhounds are the fastest dogs on Earth and can run at speeds of 45 mph (the average dog can run about 19 mph). However, whippets may be faster over shorter distances.

49. One of the most challenging dogs to own is the Akita, so much so that owners may find their home insurance premiums are affected.

50. The noisest dogs tend to be the Beagle and Collie.

51. The quietest dogs are the Akbash and the Basenji.

52. The most ancient dog breed appears to be the Greyhound, their name being a mistranslation of the early German name Greishund, which means old or ancient dog, rather than the colour grey.

53. The tallest dog breed is the Irish Wolfhound, with males reaching 31 inches at the shoulder and females 28 inches.

54. The heaviest dog is usually the Mastiff or the Saint Bernard. These dogs typically weigh between 180 and 200 pounds (when healthy rather than overweight).

55. The most intelligent dogs tend to be the Border Collie and the Poodle.

56. The least intelligent dogs tend to be the Afghan Hound, the Basenji, the Bulldog, the Borzoi and the Chow Chow, although a lack of motivation can sometimes hide intelligence.

57.The hairiest dogs are the Old English Sheepdog and the Komondor. These breeds have long hair all over.

58. The least hairy dogs are the Mexican Hairless Dog (or Xolo) and the American Hairless Terrier.

59. The breed with the longest ears is the loveable Basset Hound.

60. The Collie was once considered to be a vicious dog breed! This is probably because the Scots that owned such dogs were considered a vicious people, and it was only when Queen Victoria took a liking to the breed that Collies became popular with the public.

61. Fido is a very common name for a dog, and derives from the Latin word for faithful or fidelity.

62. The oldest breed in the British Isles is probably the Cardigan Welsh Corgi, brought to Wales by invading Celts around 1200 BC. The oldest breed in the US is probably the Foxhound, which are recorded in the colonies in 1650.

63. One of the rarest dog breeds is the Shar Pei, which appeared in the Guinness Book of Records for vrey this honour for three consecutive years.

64. The grief suffered when a pet dog dies can be as intense as that for a person.

65. Almost 5 million dog bites are recorded each year, with children as the main victims. Female dogs are most likely to bite.

66. Allergy sufferers take note: there are no completely hypoallergenic dogs. All dogs have a small degree of hair that will attract dander and allergens.

67. There are currently almost 75 million pet dogs in the US, with almost 45 million households owning a dog.

68. The first dog registered with the American Kennel Club in 1884 was an English Setter named Adonis. The club now recognizes 161 dog breeds in the US. The FCI (Federation Cynologique Internationale) recognizes over 400 breeds throughout the world.

69. The Greek writer Homer is possibly the first person to write about dogs, and they are mentioned frequently in the Odyssey.

70. When Mary Queen of Scots was executed in 1587, her Skye Terrier was found to have been hiding in the folds of her gown. The little dog had to be taken away because he wouldn’t leave her body.

71. Nearly 4000 dogs served in the Vietnam War, and many dogs are at work in Afghanistan today.

72. The Chow Chow has a black tongue, whilst most other dogs have pink tongues.

73. The Mayans and Aztecs symbolised every tenth day with the dog, and those born under this sign were believed to have outstanding leadership skills.

74. Lassie, the famous canine herione, was originally played by a male dog called Pal, and then later by eight generations of male Collies all descended from the original.

75. The first dog tax or licensing law dates to Schweinfurt, Germany in 1598.

76. During the Middle Ages, it was not uncommon for dogs to be tried and punished along with their owners. In fact a dog was hanged in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692 for alleged witchcraft.

77. Two toy dogs survived the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, one a Pomeranian, the other a Pekinese Sun Yat Sen.

78. Dogs have about 100 different facial expressions, most of which rely upon the movement of their ears.

79. The importance of the humble dog to man is recorded in the heavens. The constellation Canis Major, the great dog, follows his master Orion the Hunter through the night sky. Sirius, also called the dog star, is the brightest star in the night sky, and is located on the shoulder of Canis Major and shows the way for the nightly hunt.

80. Boxers are so called thanks to the way in which they strike out with their front paws when fighting.

81. Dogs are either left or right-handed, just like people.

82. The only dog breed that can blush is the Pharaoh Hound. Their ears and noses become become pink when they are happy or excited.

83. Several breeds have webbed paws that make swimming easier, including the Portuguese Water Dog.

84. Bloodhounds are so called because at one time they could only be owned by people of noble blood, and are a very old breed.

85. Chewbacca, the tall hairy Wookie from Star Wars, was inspired by an Alaskan Malamute called Indiana, which belonged to George Lucas.

86. Most dogs have a double coat of hair, which consists of an undercoat that provides insulation, and an outer coat of guard hair.

87. During the Middle Ages, Great Danes and Mastiffs were occasionally fitted with armour and spiked collars for entering battles or to defend supply caravans.

88. Also at this time, peasant's mixed breed dogs were ordered to wear blocks around their necks to prevent them from breeding with noble hunting dogs.

89. Alexander the Great is thought to have founded and named a city Peritas, in memory of his dog.

90. In chinese astrology, people born under the sign of the dog are considered to be loyal and discreet, although slightly temperamental too.

91. Man's affect on dogs evolution has led to some unfortunate cases. As bulldogs have very short muzzles, many spend their lives fighting suffocation. Nearly a third of all Dalmatians are deaf in one or both ears. And the small skull of a Chihuahuas restricts the flow of spinal fluid, causing a swelling of the brain called hydrocephalus.

92. The ancient Mbaya Indians of the Gran Chaco in South America believed that humans originally lived underground until dogs dug them up.

93. If your dog is not keen on the rain then there is a good reason for this. As their ears are quite sensitive, the sound of rainfall is amplified and can hurt their sensitive ears.

94. A dog's heart beats at a rate of between 70 to 120 times a minute, compared with a human's that beats 70 to 80 times a minute.

95. Smaller dog breeds live longer than larger dogs.

96. With their superior senses of smell, dogs are responsible for most drug busts than police officers.

97. Dogs are omnivores, and so they need more than just meat to flourish.

98. Just like us humans, dogs have a complete set of baby teeth that are replaced by a complete set of adult teeth as they get older.

99. People in Iceland are not allowed to own a pet dog.

100. It is believed that dogs have the ability to predict changes in the weather as they can sense changes in static electricity and barometric pressure.

101. Only dogs and humans have prostrates.