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Dog facts for kids

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Domestic dog
Collage of Nine Dogs.jpg
Nine different breeds of dogs
Conservation status
Scientific classification
C. l. familiaris
Siberian Husky pho
Siberian Huskies are pack animals that still enjoy some human companionship.

Dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) are domesticated mammals, not natural wild animals. They were originally bred from wolves. Dogs are sometimes called "canines," which comes from the Latin word for dog - canis. Sometimes people also use "dog" to describe other canids, such as wolves.

A baby dog is called a pup or puppy. A dog is called a puppy until it is about one year old. Domesticated dogs have been bred by humans for a long time and were probably the first animals to be domesticated. Domesticated dogs eat both meat and vegetables, often mixed together with other ingredients and sold in stores as dog food.

Today, some dogs are used as pets while others are used to help humans do their work. Dogs are popular pets because they are usually playful, friendly, and listen well to humans. Thirty million dogs in the United States are registered as pets. Dogs are sometimes referred to as "man's best friend" because they are kept as domestic pets and are usually loyal and like being around humans. Dogs often have jobs, including police dogs, army dogs, service dogs, fire dogs, messenger dogs, hunting dogs, herding dogs, or rescue dogs.

Appearance and behavior

Dogs have four legs and make a "bark," "woof," or "arf" sound. Different kinds of dogs have different kinds of fur. Dogs often chase cats, and most dogs will fetch a ball or stick.

Dogs can smell and hear better than humans, but cannot see well in color. Their eye structure helps dogs to see better in dim light than humans can. They can also see further around before moving their eyes than a human can.

Like wolves, wild dogs travel in groups called packs. Packs of dogs are ordered by rank, and dogs with low rank will submit to other dogs with a higher rank. The highest-ranked dog is called the alpha male. Each dog in a pack helps and cares for others. Domesticated dogs often view their owner as the alpha male.

Origin of dogs

Dog morphological variation
Montage showing the morphological variation of the dog.

All dogs are descended from wolves, by domestication and artificial selection. This is known because DNA genome analysis has been done to discover this. Dogs have been bred by humans.

The earliest known fossil of a domestic dog is said to be from 31,700 years ago in Belgium. Scientists believe that dogs have lived with people for at least 30,000 years. In 2013, a study was published that showed that the skull and teeth of a canid, dated to 33,000 years ago, had characteristics closer to a dog than to a wolf, and the authors determined that "this specimen may represent a dog in the very early stages of domestication."

Another sign of domestication is that sometimes, dogs were buried together with humans. Evidence of this is a tomb in Bonn, where the remains of a man of about 50 years of age, a woman of about 25 years of age, a dog, and other artifacts were found. Radiocarbon dating showed that the human bones were between 13,300 and 14,000 years old.


Different dog breeds (kinds) have different lifespans. In general, smaller dogs live longer than larger dogs. The size and the breed of the dog change the average lifespan of a dog. Breeds such as the Dachshund usually live for fifteen years, while Chihuahuas can reach age twenty. The Great Dane, on the other hand, has an average lifespan of six to eight years; some Great Danes have lived for ten years.

Dogs and humans

Dogs are often called "man's best friend" because they fit well with human life. Dogs can serve people in many ways. For example, there are guard dogs, hunting dogs, herding dogs, guide dogs for blind people (along with other service dogs), and police dogs. These dogs sometimes help police in airports or other areas. Sniffer dogs (usually beagles) are sometimes trained for this job. Dogs were sent by Russians into outer space a few years before any human being was sent. The first dog sent up was named Laika, but she died within a few hours.

As pets

Boy and his dog
Boy holding his pet Jack Russell Terrier
Family pet
A British Bulldog relaxes at a park

It is estimated that three-quarters of the world's dog population lives in the developing world as feral, village, or community dogs. Dogs are not usually pets in these areas.

Pet dog populations grew after World War II. In the 1950s and 1960s, dogs were kept outside more often than they tend to be today and were still used as guard dogs, children's playmates, or walking companions.

Most modern dog owners describe their pets as part of the family. It is estimated there are 77.5 million people with pet dogs in the United States.

A 2014 study using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) comparing humans and dogs showed that dogs have the same response to voices and use the same parts of the brain as humans do. This gives dogs the ability to recognize emotional human sounds, making them friendly social pets to humans.

Best dogs for kids

Cason with Rosie
Little boy with his pet dog

The best dogs for kids are ones that have calm personalities and are happy to socialize with everyone in the family.

Having a family dog can also teach children cooperation and responsibility. For example, a child can help with chores such as walking, feeding, and brushing the dog.

Here are some of the most popular dog breeds for kids:

  1. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  2. Cavoodle
  3. Cockapoo
  4. Labrador Retriever
  5. Schnauzer
  6. Pug
  7. Golden Retriever
  8. Bulldog
  9. Poodle
  10. Beagle

Dog breeds

Big and little dog 1
Dogs are bred into very different breeds: here a Great Dane and a small Chihuahua.
See also List of dog breeds.

There are at least 800 breeds (kinds) of dogs. Dogs whose parents were the same breed will also be that breed: these dogs are called purebred or pure pedigree dogs. Dogs with parents from different breeds no longer belong to one breed: they are called mutts, mixed-breed dogs, hybrids, or mongrels. Some of the most popular breeds are sheepdogs, collies, poodles, and retrievers. It is becoming popular to breed two different breeds of dogs together and call the new dog's breed a name that is a mixture of the parents' breeds' two names. A puppy with a poodle and a pomeranian as parents might be called a Pomapoo. These kinds of dogs, instead of being called mutts, are known as designer dog breeds. These dogs are normally used for prize shows and designer shows. They can also be guide dogs.

10 interesting facts about dogs

Weisse welpen
White newborn Dalmatian puppies are born without spots. They will get their spots 3 to 4 weeks after they are born.
  • There are hundreds of different breeds of dogs and around 400 million dogs in the world.
  • The dog has earned the nickname “man’s best friend.”
  • The largest breeds of dog in the world are the Great Dane, Irish wolfhound, Scottish Deerhound, Neapolitan Mastiff, English Mastiff, Anatolian shepherd, Dogue de Bordeaux, Leonberger, and Boerboel. The smallest dog breed is the Chihuahua (dog).
  • The oldest dog who ever lived was a cattle dog from Australia named Bluey who lived to be 29 years and 5 months old.
  • A dog’s nose print is unique; it is similar to human fingerprints in that no two are the same.
  • Dalmatian puppies are born completely white and develop their spots as they grow.
  • Dogs dream just like humans do.
  • Little dogs are often called toy dogs, or lap dogs – because they’re so little they look like a toy and can easily fit on your lap.
  • A dog is as smart as a 2-year-old child and can recognize around 150 words and gestures.
  • Dogs should not eat raisins, grapes, onion, chocolate, or garlic because it makes them sick.

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Canis familiaris para niños

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