Man’s Best Friend The dog is a canine carnivorous mammal
that has been domesticated for somewhere between 14,000 and 150,000
years. In this time, the dog has developed into hundreds of breeds
with a great degree of variation. For example, heights ranging from
just a few inches (such as the Chihuahua) to nearly three feet (such
as the Irish Wolfhound), and colors ranging from white to black with
reds, grays, and browns also occurring in a tremendous variation
of patterns. Dogs, being highly social animals, are known for trainability,
playfulness, and for ability to fit into human households and social
situations. See dog training for details.
fill a variety of roles in human society. Working dogs of all
kinds do traditional jobs such as herding and new jobs
as detecting contraband, and helping the blind. For dogs that do
not do their traditional jobs, a wide range of dog sports provide
the opportunity to exhibit their natural skills. In many countries
the most common and perhaps most important role of dogs is as companions.
Dogs have lived with and worked with humans in so many roles that
they have earned the sobriquet "man's best friend".
Terminology of Dogs
Dog, in common usage, refers to the domestic dog, Canis lupus
familiaris (originally classified as Canis familiaris by Linnaeus
but reclassified as a subspecies of the wolf, Canis lupus, by
the Smithsonian Institution and the American Society of Mammalogists
in 1993). The word is sometimes used to refer collectively to
any mammal belonging to the family Canidae (as in "the dog
family"), such as wolves, foxes and coyotes.
Dog is also a term used by breeders to specifically denote a male
domestic dog. The female is known as a bitch. A young dog is called
a puppy. The words pooch and poochie are generic, generally affectionate
terms for a dog. Many additional terms are used for dogs that are
not purebred; see Terms for mixed-breed dogs. Toy dogs are so called
because of their small size.
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