Dogs are believed to be descendants of wild wolves. They were the first wild animal to be tamed. Ancient man probably brought home cub wolves to raise as pets. The pet wolves were also useful in driving away bears and other wild animals. One of the oldest known breed of dogs is the Salukis, which were bred by Egyptians thousands of years ago as hunting dogs. Greyhounds and Dalmatians are also among the oldest breeds documented.
Over the centuries, people have found many ways for dogs to be useful. Dogs helped to pull loads, herd cattle and sheep, and guard their master and the master's property. The Ancient Greeks developed tiny lap dogs, which were meant to be held in a lady's lap to help keep her stomach warm. Bulldogs with huge jaws and short noses were developed so they could hang onto the throat of a bull and still be able to breathe. In more recent years, dogs have been trained as seeing eye dogs for the blind. Dogs have also been recruited to work with law enforcement to detect drugs and explosives.
Today many dogs, such as the Poodle or Chihuahua, no longer resemble the wolf. Other dogs, such as the Siberian Husky and the German Shepherd still show a strong resemblance to the wolf. There are many different breeds in existence today, from the short haired Beagle and Boston Terrier to the long haired Cockers and Scotties. The Beagle may be better suited to live in the city, while Setters or Collies may be more comfortable in the country. The tallest dogs are Great Danes and the Irish Wolfhound. They would probably be more comfortable in a place where they had a lot of room to run and play.
In the United States, one out of three families owns one or more dogs. Most dogs live anywhere from eight to fifteen years. When dogs are one year old, they are as physically mature as a 15 year old human. Dogs can see some color but not as vividly as humans, thus they are considered color blind. Yet, dogs can see much better in dim light than us. Dogs have us beat in the category of smell, also. Their sense of smell is up to one million times greater than humans!
Regardless of which kind of dog you choose- big, little, smooth haired, shaggy, fast, slow, playful or dignified, dogs make wonderful companions. Enjoy their companionship and remember they need plenty of love, attention, and petting to be happy!
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