Test your knowledge of canines. Click on the name of the canine from the multiple-choice list. A new animal will be shown a few seconds after each click.
Dogs were domesticated from wolves in prehistoric times, approximately 33,000 to 15,000 years ago. Dogs learned to hunt cooperatively with humans by helping to track, chase and fetch game. Dogs also became camp protectors by barking when predators approached. The Canidae are the biological family of carnivorous and omnivorous mammals that includes domestic dogs, wolves, foxes, jackals and coyotes. Today, there are about 300 breeds of domestic dogs, many of which are trained for specialized jobs.
There are three aspects of dog intelligence: 1) instinctive intelligence, which is a dog's ability to perform the tasks it was bred for, such as herding, fetching, pointing, guarding, or providing companionship, 2) adaptive intelligence, which refers to a dog's ability to solve problems on its own, and 3) working and obedience intelligence, which is a dog's ability to learn from humans. By these criteria, the most intelligent dog breeds are border collies, poodles, German shepherds and golden retrievers.
There is a saying that a dog is a man's best friend. Dogs are always glad to see you. They wag their tail and lick your hands and face as a form of greeting. Their warm loose skin is pleasant to the touch and provides feelings of safety, security and well-being.
The jobs for which dogs are trained include:
Dogs are fast runners and have a nose 10,000 times more sensitive than humans. Dogs evolved from wolves when stone-age humans started selecting those that were friendly and had specific attributes. This process, repeated over many generations, created many breeds of working dogs. In the 19th century, British and American kennel clubs started to breed dogs for their appearance rather than to perform specific jobs. The emphasis on "pure" breeds through inbreeding resulted in hereditary genetic problems in as many as 25% of purebred dogs registered by the American Kennel Club.
Today, most dogs are used as companions rather than as working dogs. Companion dogs are usually small because they are constrained to live indoors, usually in apartments. Some popular small companion dogs are bichon frise, miniature poodle and chihuahua. Larger dogs like golden retrievers, labrador retrievers and German shepherds require more running room, and they are better suited for homes that have a backyard. It is not a good idea to get as pets working dogs like border collies which were bred to herd sheep or terriers that were raised to hunt vermin and dig them out. These breeds will corral children or dig through sofa cushions. Before you get a pet dog, find out what kind of job the breed was originally developed for, and evaluate carefully whether such a dog will fit as a member of your family.