Think about Your Lifestyle
Now, the most fun answer would be to pick the darn cutest puppy you’ve ever seen, but that happens to be the absolute last factor in your decision-making process. Yes, cuteness matters, but temperament vastly trumps; a dog’s behavior can change your life in a heartbeat. For example, if you’re more of a stay-at-home kind of guy, a Siberian husky would not be your ideal choice as they are high energy dogs. On the flipside, someone who wants a cuddly companion would do best to avoid a Chow Chow, one of the most aloof dog breeds. You have to be ready to match the behavior quirks of your new pup.
If you live a fast-paced lifestyle, always onto the next adventure, ready for anything, your best option would be to look into sporting or herding dogs. These dogs were bred for endurance and physical activity. Some were specifically bred for farm work, like herding sheep into pens, while others were bred to hunt. Instead of spending their days on the couch, these dogs need to be challenged with various exercises (agility, tracking, obedience) and long walks. Active dogs include:
- Australian Shepherd
- Border Collie
- Parson Russell Terrier
- Siberian Husky
- Alaskan Malamute
- German Shepherd
- Labrador Retriever
- Golden Retriever
- Irish Setter
Least Active Dogs (Couch Potatoes)
- Chinese Crested
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Shih Tzu
- Basset Hound
Toy (Tiny) Dogs
- Yorkshire Terrier
- Toy Fox Terrier
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Pick Your Pooch
Did you know there are over 400 distinct dog breeds? According to Britannica, the dog is a subspecies of the gray wolf that evolved over 12,000 years ago and has since been bred for various purposes – sporting, hunting, protecting, and the best one – cuddling. In order to trace the lineage of the dog, a jump into genetic research and archaeology must ensue. Let’s begin!
About 60 million years ago, a weasel-like animal, the Miacis, wandered the Earth. It eventually became the ancestor of canids (dogs, jackals, wolves, and foxes). The “first true dog” was the Cynodicitis that gave birth to two branches, one being the Tomarctus subsect. From the latter branch, modern wolves were produced around 30,000 years ago. While the actual date of domestication of the dog is debated, it is supposed to be pinpointed in northern Eurasia around 14,000 to 29,000 years ago. Analysts have also considered domestication to date back to China, India, and Africa.
The Smithsonian Magazine revealed scientists found remains of the oldest domesticated dog in North America in Haida Gwaii that lived 13,100 years ago. In any event, dog breeds were created over thousands of years by inbreeding with wolves and various canid populations.
Artwork depicting dogs spans across cultures; caves, tombs, and scrolls across Europe, the Middle East, and North America show the importance of the dog in these societies. On the Arabian Peninsula, archaeologists found the oldest known depictions of dogs in hunting scenes, with some dogs on leashes from 8,000 years ago. In Egypt, statues of dogs guarded burial chambers and even accompanied their owners into the grave. It is supposed that Basenjis, Greyhounds, or Salukis frequented inscriptions and graves. It tells of the significance the dog has held for millenia.
By the Bronze Age (4500 BCE), the fossil record shows there were five types of dogs: mastiffs, wolf dogs, sight hounds, pointing dogs, and herding dogs. As societies determined the special abilities of certain dogs, they learned to breed for capabilities. Terriers were bred in England to chase off rodents, and retrievers were developed for hunting fieldwork (search and capture).
Many breeds are selected by humans for their unique characteristics. For example, the German shepherd and Greyhound were bred for running. The shepherd has an extended body that makes for a “flying trot.” Greyhounds are known for their specific gait because of a thin structure and flexible spine; they can contract and extend their bodies easily while running at top speeds. The Afghan hound’s stature is flexible in the hip points and lower back, allowing the dog to track game in rocky landscapes. Because a dog’s heightened sense of smell surpasses that of humans, many breeds are trained for search and rescue, tracking toxic chemicals, and even explosives. The bloodhound is one of these talented animals.
As of July 2022, the American Kennel Club lists seven groups of dogs: sporting, hound, working, terrier, toy, non-sporting, and herding. Dogs have been bred over the years to the ones we know and love today. And, who knows? Another few years, we might have a more expansive selection of breeds. The popular Goldendoodle was developed in 1969, and finally gained prominence in the late 1990s. On January 4, 2022, two more breeds were officially added to the AKC’s records: the Mudi, a Hungarian farm dog, and the Russian toy, a small terrier.