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Doberman pinscher breed
Scientific classification

Dogs are mammals that belong to the family Canidae, such as wolves, foxes and coyotes. Usually, the term dog is used to mean the domestic breed (Canis familiaris), which is believed to be descended from a wolf-like ancestor. (Some scientists maintain that the domestic dog is a subspecies of wolf, Canis lupus familiaris.)

Dog societies are characterized by companionate hierarchy, in which each individual has a rank in society, and in which there is intense loyalty within the group. Dogs thrive in human society because their relationships with humans mimic their natural social patterns. The dog is always aware of its rank vis-a-vis other individuals in the group, and it may be noted that an assertive dog often considers itself the alpha animal, while considering its human owner to be subordinate

Table of contents
1 Dog breeds
2 Interactions between dogs and humans
3 Miscellaneous
4 Related Topics
5 External Links

Dog breeds

There are numerous dog breeds, which evolved during the domesticated dog's relationship with man over the last 100,000 years. Many breeds are the product of a deliberate process of artificial selection. Because of this, some breeds are highly specialized, and there is extraordinary morphological diversity across different breeds. Despite these differences, dogs are able to distinguish dogs from other kinds of animal.

The definition of a breed is a matter of some controversy. Some groups use a definition that ultimately requires extreme in-breeding to qualify. Dogs that are bred in this manner often end up with severe health problems. Other organizations define a breed more loosely, such that an individual may be considered of one breed as long as, say, three of its grandparents were of that breed. These considerations come into play among breeders who enter their dogs in dog show competitions.

Most dogs are capable of swimming and enjoy it, but they should be tested in shallow water first to make sure that they do not panic.

Interactions between dogs and humans

The relationship between dogs and humans is ancient. Dogs serve humans in many ways.

Dogs as working partner

There are guard dogs, hunting dogs, and shepherd dogs. Dogs have served as guides for the blind, as commandos, have flown into outer space (see Laika), and a dog (P.H. Vazak) was even credited as author of an Oscar-nominated screenplay.

Dogs as pet

Relationships between humans and dogs are often characterized by strong emotional bonds, which run both ways. Consequently, dogs are very popular as pets and companions, independent of any utilitarian considerations. Many dog owners consider having unconditional acceptance from a friend who is always happy to see them to be quite utilitarian, particularly if the dog also leads them to regular exercise. Dogs are quite dependent on human companionship and may suffer poor health without it. Some research has shown that dogs are able to convey a depth of emotion not seen to the same extent in any other animal - this is purportedly due to their closely-knit development with modern man, and the survival-benefits of such communication as dogs became more dependent on humans for sustenance.

For dog lovers, you may like to read How to choose your pet and take care of it.

A portrait of an adult female cockapoo.

Dogs as food

In certain cultures, dogs are grown on farms and slaughtered as a source of meat. Consequently, the conflicts between dog lovers and dog eaters occasionally appear as headline news. In other cultures, dogs have served as a standby source of food. One example is in China where chow chows were often posted to guard family storehouses. During a hard season when the food store was depleted, the dog would be then slaughtered as an emergency ration.


The Dog is one of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the
Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. It is thought that each animal is associated with certain personality traits. See: Dog (Zodiac).

Related Topics

External Links