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50 fascinating facts about dogs

  • New breeds get official recognition all the time

    It makes sense that there must be more breeds than are part of a registry like the AKC, because the "new" breeds have to come from somewhere. The AKC recognizes new breeds every year, most recently the barbet and the Dogo Argentino.

  • Our concept of breed in dogs is fairly recent

    Today a dog breed is defined by pedigree and form: A pug is a pug because both its parents were pugs and because it looks a particular way. But this idea of "purebred" only goes back to the late 19th century. Before that, dog breeds and types were defined by their function rather than their looks or who their parents were.

  • The first purebred dogs in the U.S. were recognized in 1878

    The first nine purebred breeds were recognized in the U.S. by the AKC in 1878. They were mostly hunting and sporting breeds, including some that are uncommon today, like the Clumber spaniel and Gordon setter.

  • The Labrador retriever is the most popular purebred dog in the U.S.

    According to the most recently released AKC statistics, the most popular breed is the Labrador retriever; it's held that spot for 28 years. But this is just among dogs registered with the AKC, and there's no way of accurately counting unregistered purebreds and mixed-breed dogs.

  • You might get better sleep next to a dog than a spouse

    Many of us let our dog sleep on the bed, and advice about whether this is a good thing to do is all over the place. A recent study found that at least for women, it's more restful to have a dog in the bed than another person. The findings reveal that 55% of the women who responded to a questionnaire shared their bed with at least one dog, and most reported that the dog disturbed their sleep less than a person.

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  • Dogs yawn when their people do

    Do you feel like yawning when you see someone else yawn? It's called contagious yawning, and dogs do it too. It's thought to be a sign of empathy, and a study at the University of Tokyo found that dogs were more likely to "catch" a yawn from their owner than from an unfamiliar person.

  • A majority of U.S. presidents have been dog owners

    Most U.S. presidents have been dog people: 30 out of the 45 have had pet dogs. One is even commemorated in a presidential memorial. There's a statue of FDR's Scottish terrier, Fala, at the FDR Memorial in Washington D.C.

  • George Washington helped create a dog breed

    The first president of the U.S. was a dog lover, and he even helped create a new breed. The American foxhound was derived by crossing his line of English hounds with a French breed he'd been given by his friend Marquis de Lafayette.

  • Dogs have a less sensitive sense of taste than humans

    Dogs have fewer taste buds than we do: around 1,700 compared to our 9,000. This may be no surprise to anyone who's seen some of the gross things they'll eat. However, like us, most do get bored of the same flavor all the time, so vary your training treats for the better results.

  • Dogs don't crave salty snacks

    Dogs' taste buds respond to the same basic chemicals as ours, but there's one big difference: they don't crave salt. Because their diet in nature was heavy in meat, which contains plenty of sodium, they didn't need to evolve a drive to seek it out.

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